Saturday, September 26, 2009

Week 3 - nuevos amigos y viejos amigos

So picking right up where I left off... Sunday afternoon Kate and I walked down the beach to the next village of Las Tunas, the ocean was really high and a storm the night before had eroded the bank back so far that half of the old bamboo beach hut had collapsed (tan triste!!). There is internet now in Las Tunas, just out of someone’s home, so Kate checked her e-mail and we headed back along the road. Liz made us a delicious dinner as always and we made smores for dessert (yummers, and to note: if you have neither campfire nor microwave, a toaster oven works even better!) Attemped to watch a movie but it was too long and we just crashed. Monday morning Liz made us these vegan oatmeal pancakes, delish! Later that morning I had to cancel class because I was briefly quite ill but I can’t pin that on the pancakes, it’s just part of life here and if that was it then I am one happy camper. Monday afternoon I laid on the beach for a bit since it was sunny and tried to plan our SA trip…
Monday we really started up evening lessons, I now have 6 students plus 2 more starting next week so we’re going to divide the class into basic and intermediate, one hour of each. My students range from a tour agency owner in his 60’s to the coolest 12-year kid that works here sometimes. A challenge with all the different levels but it’s been great so far, really casual, we can just chat and I get to learn a lot Spanish through the discussions. Plus I’ve recruited Kate to help out while she’s here and two other American guys have shown up to sit in too, it helps to have other English speakers to bounce my theories off!! Explaining English grammar is ridiculous, I really didn’t invent this language! But for the most part it’s a conversation/communication class and we agree that grammar is not important especially when native speakers don’t use proper grammar!
Tuesday, um, I tutored in the morning since I was sick Monday. Got another nice meal. Taught evening class again… Normal day.
Wednesday was fun! I got up early and headed out to Puerto Rico to help Kate teach her English class in the schools but then there was a volunteer group from Guayaquil so they only had classes in the afternoon. So…. We went for another really long walk along the beach, past Las Tunas, all the way to Ayampe and back. A good 2 and half hours…. Nice to get some exercise! Liz made us yummy lunch again and I lazed around there until heading back into town to plan my evening class. That one went really well and after Kate, myself and Alex (a cool cat from the States who’s staying a few days since he met Kate in Quito, where he will be living for 2 months but had this weekend free so decided to chill down here) made dinner. Meanwhile, the town had been setting up for a fiesta right in our street. This was actually the first one I’d seen so far (last year it seemed there was one every weekend!). For those who have never experienced an Ecuadorian village fiesta I’ll sum it up: Step one – convert the street in a discotheque with streamers of flags, a huge stage and dwarf tables and stools down the side. The locals set up food/drink stalls just outside and that’s all set. Step two – Get a guy with a huge microphone to shout random stuff all night and a DJ to blast the salsa music until 4 am plus the odd go-go dancer for more ambiance. Step three – pick your favourite Catholic saint and parade her down the street with the whole village following. (This one was for the Virgin actually) And add in a mini-beauty pageant with some uninterested teens for fun. And…. VoilĂ ! You have yourself a true fiesta where everyone (literally, little kids and old grandpas) drink Pilsener and dance until the wee hours. Still tough for me to get over the idea that’s it’s totally cool here to party with your students. So we introduced Kate and Alex to this phenomenon seeing as it was in our street and with the music blasting I couldn’t have slept if I’d wanted to. But I did tuck it in at about 2am, I can only handle so much of that!
Thursday, lazy morning for me. Made pineapple-upside pancakes for brunch with Alex that almost succeeded, the next time they will! Still delish. Then Alex, Katharina (the girl from Germany from week 1, she had all her stuff stolen in Quito and has come back here for 2 weeks until her next flight goes since she didn’t get her replacement passport in time to catch her original flight, how awful!!), went to tour a private garden. Turns out I know the people, an eccentric British couple who have lived here for 10 years. He is an archaeologist working with the 2 guys who live here and she is a botanist/biologist I guess. They had 2 little kids whose first language is Spanish and go to public school, I can’t imagine how bad they must stick out with their red hair!! Anyway, really cool what she’s done the yard, she could tell us all about the plants and their uses, plus the insects and lizards. She also gets the schools involved, encouraging the kids to value nature and living an extremely ecological lifestyle, amazing. There is so much that we could do, it’s just having the time and right now the access to things and the knowledge. She washes all their clothes with these seeds that soaked overnight really do work just as well as detergent. After my class, Alex and Katharina made the most amazing fresh paella for me. I wish I could hire him. Then we chatted with friends along the beach.
Friday it was up early and off to tutor then straight back down and onto the bus with Kate to Portoviejo since she needed to pick up her replacement credit card that was being sent DHL and the nearest office is over 2 hours away. (She had her bag stolen too if I hadn’t mentioned that, overnight bus from Quito. Moral: Quito is dangerous and that is why I am not living there. And you can never be too careful, constant vigilance!!) Met up with Tita briefly in the mall, stocked up on black tea and mozzarella and success with the credit card!! Got our dose of heat and sun too, yuck. Then right back on the bumpy dusty bus back home. Oh but the best part: Bus food!!! We got taffy, empanadas de queso, corviche, pan de yuca and finally, the banana loaf from Jipijapa!!! It’s back! Almost worth going there just for that loaf. Price had gone up but the quality, hot out of the oven, had not. We just may have eaten the entire loaf yesterday…. Finally, last night we hung out along the malecon again and briefly checked out a new karaoke place that had just opened.
Today is going to be cooking day. With Alex around I have a feeling this can’t fail to be delicious. Then tomorrow we’re planning on burning it all off and biking to Agua Blanca.
So I guess I have settled in now. Still having to remind myself to break bills whenever possible, no flopping on the bed there’s a mosquito net, toilet paper (despite it’s name) is not meant to be put in the toilet, if you feel like wearing short sleeves you need a second skin of sunscreen and repellent, dish water can’t go down the sink (wash in basin and give to plants), recycling sadly doesn’t exist, monitor your drinking water supply at least a day ahead of time, shop in the morning if possible, the chocolate is cheaper at this store but the milk is at that one…
PS- check out Kate's blog to see Jojo (our dog) getting his nightly massage from Perlita (our cat)!!

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