Sorry blog readers, I have been slacking on my posting. But in this case no news is good news. Everything is good here.
Last week my students in both classes threw parties for me. They were so cute! My first class took me out to eat at a restaurant in Ambato. I felt weird signing into the system and then leaving campus when it's not allowed, but it was worth it. Then I came back to campus and my other students had thrown me a surprise party. They got a huuuuge cake and as is traditional here, they shoved my face in it. I ended up showing them classic party games from the States like chubby bunny and pin the tail on the donkey. It was a lot of fun.
Then that night I rushed to Quito to pick my dad up from the airport. It was great to see him! We went to Cuenca the next morning and walked around looking at churches and parks and the river. We also went to a cool museum with shrunken heads and awesome representations of all the indigenous cultures in Ecuador. Then there was some Incan ruins out back that were fun to walk around. That night we went up to a viewpoint to watch the sunset, but there was no sunset because of the clouds.
The next day we took a tour to Ingapirca, Incan and Canari ruins about 2 hours from Cuenca. It was an awesome trip. The guide was truly bilingual and did a great job. We got to hear about how they built the area and why they built it. We also took a short hike down to see a face carved in a mountain. My dad said it was a bit like Mount Rushmore, but I disagree. I also got to explain to my dad that the ecua-tradition is to not ask permission, this way no one can tell you no. And it came in handy when we ran off from our group so I could get a picture with a llama. After that we had a nice lunch at a posada (guest house) and traveled to a church that was built in a mountain. It was up an intense amount of steps.
Then that night we flew back to Quito and had a delicious dinner. The next day in Quito we explored the old town, the Panecillo (statue on a hill) and a market. We also got lunch with two of my friends. We were supposed to take a taxi service to Ambato but the taxi service forgot about us. Awesome. So instead we took a bus and I'm not sure my dad appreciated the ecua-bus experience of bad movies, loud noises, and annoying people. When we finally got to Ambato we had a nice dinner and I got a free birthday dessert.
The next day we headed to Banos and Puyo. In Puyo we went to a monkey reservation and hung out with a bunch of monkeys. It was so cool! They just came up to you and jumped on you and ran around and swung from things. But the experience was dampened because my dad lost his camera when one of the monkeys stole it and smashed it against a tree.
Next we took a bus back towards Banos and stopped off at a waterfall with a tarabita. Surprisingly my dad was not scared at all. We walked around the waterfall and then took the tarabita back up. Since no buses wanted to stop and pick us up on the side of the road we were thankful a nice woman picked us up.
After that we came back to Banos and rested while drinking some locally brewed beer at our awesome hotel. We also had dinner at this great French/Mediterranean fusion place. It even had an awesome $20 bottle of wine. So much better than the sweet boxed crap they sell all over the place here.
The next day we walked around Banos and came back to Ambato to have lunch with my roommate. Then my dad went back to Quito and I went to go teach my classes. It was way too fast of a turn-around. I was still on vacation mode and trying to teach. Not cool.
On Tuesday I was supposed to give a test to a group of "expert" students from the university. However, someone in the testing department switched the tests and so we couldn't give it. This caused a lot of people a lot of frustration and so they moved the test to Thursday. But that meant I had to cancel my class again for Thursday even though my class was scheduled to take their exam then. So now I have to give part of my exams Monday (because most of them have a field trip with school Friday) and have to grade everything in one night. Oh the joys of being a teacher.
There is also one teacher that I really can't stand here at UTA. He is about 80 years old and so unprofessional. If someone asks him to do something he just flat out says no. And he never follows the rules and always thinks he knows best. I take offense to this because I know what it takes to be a team player in an education setting. Yes, you might think you know what is best for the students but sometimes you have to follow other peoples' rules to keep your job. So today he came in to help give the "expert" exam and he told the students they had 2 hours before the listening. After an hour and 15 minutes he told the students they had 15 minutes left and then they would start the listening. I tried to point out that he told the students they had 2 hours and now he is taking 30 minutes away from them and he kept saying "no it's 2 hours for the whole test." Well, I believe you that it's 2 hours for the whole test but you told them they had 2 hours before the listening. Argh, he just didn't listen. So most of the students didn't finish and it was just so unfair to them. But there wasn't anything I could do.
I also had a meeting with my boss today about doing some extra work for more money. She is going to give me $280 more a month to work 1.5 hours a day in the mornings trying to set up a professor exchange program. She wants to send 2-3 teachers to the states to teach Spanish and bring 2-3 teachers here to teach English. This way everyone would get a chance to experience a new culture and learn more language. I think it sounds like a great program and if any of you know a university that would like this, please let me know.
I'm also going to ask her if I can help with the testing next semester because it is just ridiculous. There are no rules here and it's driving me insane. When I walked into the "expert" test there should have been a set of guidelines for the test and they gave me nothing. They also have no rules on cheating and leave it up to the professors. They need rules. I caught a student texting during her exam and so I took it and called that cheating and the university doesn't necessarily want to back me up on that. So annoying.
This weekend I have to make-up the class time that I missed last week for my birthday, so I'm going to be sitting in a classroom for 6 hours grading exams. I'm not going to ask my students to come because I told them they could take a field trip and we planned it and last week the university told me we couldn't do that. So to me, they made up their time and I'll just have to sit there and make-up the time according to the university guidelines. Boring, but I can use the time to grade.
Nothing exciting is coming up. So hopefully no news will mean good news again.