Friday, June 24, 2011

Happy in Ambato

Last Saturday was so much fun! It was my roommate´s birthday and we had a pot-luck lunch/dinner/and dancing. We cleaned our place on Saturday morning and then starting around 2pm people came over and used our kitchen to cook. We had tons of pasta salad, hummus, 7 layer mexican dip, and lots more. I made strawberry shortcake with the bisquick my dad brought me and we made real hand-whipped whipped-cream. It was so good! The Ecuadorians had never had it before and they loved it. So the whole day we just relaxed and hung out and then at night we went to an awesome club. It´s on of those where you pay a bunch to get in ($8) and then that money goes towards buying alcohol for the group. We ended up getting tons of bottles because our group had about 18 people. Then we just danced salsa and bachata and reggeaton. Super fun night! Sunday was not so fun because I had to clean the apartment because Lucy had to go somewhere with her boyfriend for father´s day. But thankfully one of my friends came over and helped me clean. It was a disaster!

This week has been pretty slow. I´ve just been working and such. I think I´m going to Baños tonight and then going to see the monkeys again tomorrow. I love the monkeys! Then on Sunday we have a going away party for one of the guys who lives in my building, Papo. He is an Italian teacher and is leaving July 1st. It´s crazy that he and all of us are leaving so soon. This is just the first of a million goodbye parties. But it reminds me how happy I am that I´m coming back to Ecuador next year. I´m definitely not done here.

I´ve also been asked to do more at the university. I´m starting to be asked to contribute to magazines and help create curriculums. It´s cool that they trust me so much and want my help. Now if I could just get paid more for it...

I have also become a really good guacamole maker. It´s so cheap here! You can get 4 avocados for $1! So I make it all the time. That and patecones are my usual creations. But now that I know people like strawberry shortcake I´m sure I´ll make that too. Because you can get a bag of 50 strawberries for $1. Produce is so cheap! However, you have to know which stall in the market to go to. There are some nice ladies who charge me a fair price and others charge me almost 10x the amount it should be. Then they get surprised when I say that it costs too much and I´ll go somewhere else. I guess the blonde hair is deceiving.

Other than that, I found a cheap flight back to Ecuador. It should be around $730. The only catch is that I can´t book a real return ticket yet because it is too far in advance. So I´ll have to change that ticket and I think the change fee is $200. But even with that, $900 is not bad. It´s worth it!

And I think visa stuff is finally coming along. Sara assured me that the papers were being signed and I might have them in my hand as soon as next week. That´s good because if we don´t have them next week we NEED them the week after. Because people start leaving the 12th of July.

Not much else is new. I´ll try and post again soon :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

One month to go

Crazy! As of tomorrow I have one month until I go back to the states for a little over a month. It's so strange to think about because so much still needs to be done. The visa thing is taking longer than we thought it would because they aren't doing much work for it. Thankfully I think we got Sara (the director) to forcefully start working on getting us our paperwork. None of us want to come back here on just a tourist visa and have to deal with all it in September when we come back.

The job with the rector was put on hold this week because he is partying in Orlando, FL. I guess he should have thought about English lessons before going to the states...

My other job seems to be going quite well. I have about 5 universities that are really interested in an exchange program. But none of them can really do much for it until next fall when all the faculty come back. Hopefully though, with 5 interested, one will pan out.

My classes are going smoothly. We have about 3 more weeks of regular class and then exams. It will be tight to finish all of it but I'm sure I'll get it done. I just hope they do their end of the deal and study! We read "The Most Dangerous Game" in my advanced class and they really liked it. They are making a movie out of it too. If you haven't read it, it's a short story by Richard Connell and it's awesome.

I really love living in my apartment. Last weekend we had a birthday party for the Italian teacher who lives below us and tomorrow we are having a party for my roommate, Lucy. We are having a cook-out here on the balcony and then going to a salsa club. Maybe this time I'll learn how to salsa? We'll see...

But, the exciting news of this post, I met a very nice guy named Miguel at the party last week. He works at my university in the post-graduate section and his English is really, really good. I'll keep you updated if anything interesting happens. But as of now, we've gone on a date about everyday this week and I really think I like him. Crazy!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Sad Goodbye

So last week all the volunteers and I made our way to Quito for our End of Service Conference. It was awesome to see everyone but sad to know that it would be the last time I'll see many of these people. On Thursday we had a few meetings to talk about our time here and then some of us went out to dinner together and chatted about our futures. Friday was the big conference day and we discussed what teaching has meant for us and how we can use it in our future jobs. We also talked about who is staying (about 9 people are staying in country!) and who is leaving. That night we had a really nice dinner party at a famous Ecuadorian restaurant (the food was good Ecuadorian, but was still pretty bad). We all gave speeches about each other and thanked our directors for everything they had done for us. The on Saturday we all said goodbye and headed back to our sites. It was a really nice time together but it was clear that some people weren't there. In total, 5 people left before their year was up for one reason or another. Out of 33 people, I think having only 5 quit is a good sign. The new February group only had 15 volunteers and already 5 have quit. Crazy.

The craziest part of my trip to Quito came Saturday night. We all went out to a bar and one of my friends had someone put ethanol in her drink. We didn't know it at the time and just thought she got really wasted. But after several hours she still wasn't anywhere near okay. The next morning we took her to the hospital and her blood alcohol content was 1.6! (The legal limit is .08). So basically the doctor said she almost died. It was pretty scary for all of us to hear that. The doctor also said it was a common thing for bartenders to do. They just slip ethanol in a drink and no one knows until the person is incapacitated. She will be fine though. But in our adventures of running her around to different doctors and police we had to go to the police hospital (where Correa was held back in September). You can see all the bullet holes on the walls and I can see where several people died on the ledge between the streets. It was kind of surreal. And of course the police couldn't do anything for her because their system is so crazy. We went to 3 police stations to get all the necessary paperwork only to find out that she needed to have more bloodwork done to file a complaint and that the police doctors couldn't do that until Monday, when clearly the results would be different. Oh well, that's Ecua-police for you.

The on Sunday I was a little sick so I rested most of the day and geared up for my full week of teaching. I think I'm finally getting into a groove with my students and with the book because they did much better on this quiz than previous ones. And in my level 8 class we are reading "The Most Dangerous Game" and I think they really like it. It's a pretty awesome short story that grabs the attention of most people.

I also started a really stupid new job. My director asked me if I would teach the president of the University and his two friends English. I said sure but had no idea what I was getting myself into. For the first day they showed up 45 minutes late. Then the next day they didn't show up at all and when they finally came in they asked me to give them class (to which I said no because I was doing something else). They just really want things to be their way all the time and that's not how class and teaching works. So now they've recruited an Ecuadorian teacher to teach them English (through speaking only Spanish) and I just sit there and help with pronunciation. It's the dumbest job ever because I'm 100% not needed. But I'm getting paid for it so I guess it's okay.

This weekend I have a few birthdays to celebrate and a bunch of planning to get done. I can't believe I leave Ecuador so soon!! It's crazy to think about!