Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mission to the Sierra

Overnight bus to Quito : better than I expected, at least on the way there. They only blasted music on our way back. However, I still missed those 2 nights sleep, I really hope I learn to sleep on buses for our trip south!
Monday I had a meeting in the morning about my visa, ugh straight off the bus. What a nightmare! Paperwork, whoever invented that… So the hostel owner here said a friend of his from school was working in the immigration office and could help me so I spoke on the phone with him and all seemed too easy. I had done a bunch of research on the internet and figured I needed a bunch of things and an actual visa, not just an extension of original 3-month stamp. Well to keep a long story short: I was right since things had changed recently and was then left to gather everything I needed within a few hours in Quito, pay ridiculous amounts to get the visa, to the immigration office and to this guy who turned out to be a lawyer that worked in immigration (but that I knew more about what I needed than he did?) No wonder no one trusts lawyers here!! I was pretty nervous since I had to wait another 2 days for them to process it just praying it would come through but all’s well that end’s well and that mission is complete!
Otherwise…. Monday we slept all afternoon since we hadn’t on the bus and then made our way to airport to wait for Simone, and wait, and wait and por fin!! Ya esta!! I’m so happy to have a friend and travel companion!!
Tuesday was my other meeting for my visa then that afternoon we were going to go to Mindo but well…. By the time we left it was pouring, I mean POURING. Not sure I’ve ever seen anything like it. We were staying at a friend of ours (Chenty)cousin’s place (amazing view! on really clear days you can see both cotopaxi and chimborazo, the biggest volcanoes and chimborazo is halfway across the country!) and walking down to the bus was like walking down a waterfall. We got soaked before we even got on the first bus and by the time we reached the shopping centre to drop off the keys, well we could’ve swum all the way there and arrived drier! Plus by that point it was quite late so we decided instead to pick up stuff for dinner and head home. We were going to go out but then decided we were too tired and just watched a movie. Dinner was delicious if that can compensate for doing nothing all day!
Wednesday we did go Mindo, early in the morning though it took us the whole morning to get there, I think navigating the buses all the way across the city to the north terminal took longer than the bus ride out to Mindo!
Now, Mindo… I had heard loads of wonderful things about this town in the cloud forest so perhaps my expectations were a bit high, but there really isn’t much there. One street lined with tour agencies, hostels and restaurants. Just for tourists, nada mas. Didn’t help we were there during the week either. Plus we’d all been zip-lining so we just decided to hike through the cloud forest to a waterfall. Mindo is famous for it’s birds and butterflies but apparently you have to go to the butterfly house to see them since we didn’t see a single bird and very few butterfies…
But it was wonderful to hike through the cloud forest again, nothing like an intense uphill struggle in the extreme humidity to make you feel like the least fit person in to world! Later we continued on to find the waterfall, but there was a sign saying you had to pay. However there was absolutely no one around so we just went in. Hiked down to the river and along it to a nice but smallish waterfall. Someone had obviously tried to set up something along the river but a landslide had put an end to that idea and everything was in disrepair. Then all the way back up again, and just as we were leaving, a man came out and asked us what we were doing. When he figured out we had just come out of the path he demanded we pay the $9. Well, that might not seem like a lot to you, but here that is a lot. Especially for nothing. But his wife was yelling from the house about calling the police and we ended up settling it with a $5. Before that the bridge into the cloud forest had been closed so we saved a dollar and took the “cable cart” across. For a place with nothing, it sure was expensive! Food was about twice the price of anywhere else and as beautiful as it was there I think we will be avoiding small tourist towns from now on. At least in the big tourist towns you can get normal food.
After our sweaty adventure we attempted to get a warm shower (our $4 room only had cold water) but somehow only Chenty succeeded… mine was cold and the light didn’t work! And then we treated ourselves to pizza. I went to bed since the bed was incredibly soft and I was dead tired but Simone and Chenty decided to go out, only to return 2 minutes later with the verdict that there really was nothing in este pueblito!
6:30am bus back to Quito, mad adventure to pick up the keys and head to the house, (witnessed a crazy fight between the bus driver and a taxi driver, not sure over what, decided to switch buses... you know you're in Quito when...) drop off stuff, back downtown to get my visa and bus tickets. No more morning bus so we decided to hop on the bus that night. Was 4 mins late to the visa office (had no idea of the opening hours) and almost got turned away but managed to convince them that I had been told 2:00 (dos) instead of 12:00 (doce)…. And I HAVE A VISA!!! Finally, I can relax. Flight home for March 4th and ideas of working all spring again, relaxing in the summer and heading to Japan in August. Pretty excited =)
Thursday afternoon we walked around the Mariscal Sucre with Chad (who happened to be in town, can’t believe how many times we’ve run into each other!) and I bought some street art that I saw the guy do, all with spray paint, incredible!
From there we went to the shopping centre again with the intention of watching a movie but then decided we didn’t have time since we had to go get our stuff and make the bus. So Chenty and Simone decided to go ice skating for the 30 mins that was left of public skating. (I opted to take pictures since the more I try to skate the more I fail!) It was Chenty’s first time and I was prepared to laugh at him spending more time on his butt than on his feet but instead I was blown away when I realised he could skate better than me on his first try! Anyway it was still hilarious to watch them! I guess that was my winter since it was so cold in Quito (none of the houses are heated so if it gets down to 10C outside, it’s 10C inside too).
Back to grab our stuff, leave it at the bus station and literally run over the Mariscal again to hunt down Shawarma/Kebab/Donair (why are all the names arabic but still change from continent to continent??) since Quito is the only place you can get them here. And on to the bus for the ride home =)
Got back yesterday at 6am, slept all morning and went to Puerto Rico to visit in the afternoon. Made an amazing fruit salad for dinner (finally!) and went out for a bit last night. Miserable weather here, but we need it! I’ve ruined my flats, my sandals and a pair of jeans… the roads are pure mud.
Going to relax this weekend then back to the ‘grind’ next week but we’re leaving in 2 weeks and motivation is kind of low, I can come here with the best of intentions but things are just too laid back. Oh well, I have real projects for Jan/Feb now!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ecuador, meet Canada. Canada, this is Ecuador.

Not quite sure what I did last week that made it fly by so fast but let’s see…
Chad arrived Monday and stayed until Friday, it was so nice to have some company! And really neat to have someone from ‘another life’ come be part of this life. I know that sounds weird…..
Monday I impressed even myself and made a huge `Thanksgiving` dinner for everyone since we were 2 homesick Canadians and both of my grandmas had e-mailed describing the dinners they had made in mouth-watering detail... that kind of did it, no other solution to stop my drooling! Not easy though, so many things you can`t find here (though Gladys is amazing and always seems to have just what I need in the freezer, odd things such as brussel sprouts!) and we had to do with a huge chicken instead of a turkey but for the most part I feel, given the circumstances, that it was a success. Especially pumpkin loaf for dessert!! I had been craving it so bad and it actually worked out so now I have to make more! And so I had likely the only outdoor Thanksgiving dinner of my life.

There was another little fiesta in Puerto Lopez (Columbus day here) which involved some good conversation and more attempts to teach me to dance, I’m learning, maybe? Or perhaps I just care less that I fail miserably!!
Tuesday was a lazy day, but it was the perfect lazy day because the weather was so nice… we just relaxed along the beach all afternoon until classes: reading, talking and playing cuarenta.
Wednesday was somewhat more productive. We got up early and headed out to Rio Ayampe. Hiked up there but it was really sunny and I almost think the wet forest is more jungle-seeming was it`s cloudy. But there was a good deal less mosquitoes! After almuerzo in Ayampe we walked all the way back through Las Tunas and down the beach to Puerto Rico where we had a short visit with my familia from last year.
Thursday was up and off to Machalilla on the bikes, actually a very pleasant ride, only about 35mins each way. Got in some reading on the beach and biked around Machalilla until the only restaurant open had almuerzo ready, Machalilla doesn`t seem that small but there`s really nothing there!
Friday…. Huh can`t recall doing anything much.
Saturday I jumped on the bus (which broke down and took forever to get there, first one I`ve been on that`s broken down had to happen sometime!) to Montanita to join Chad for the day. The one time I went last year did not leave me with a good impression of Montanita. Gringo-surfer-party town and nothing else. It`s not even like being in Ecuador! But I have to say I warmed to it a little bit more this time (they have a bakery with whole grain bread!) but I still won`t be heading down there every weekend like the guys seem to. We wandered about the town and then went on a mission to hunt down Alex (from the States who was here a couple weeks ago). He`s volunteering at a sanctuary place that has a convent, a university and an orphanage. He get room and board just for helping out, pretty sweet deal. He helped us find the only corner of town with restaurants that actually do almuerzos ($1.50 for one of the best I`ve had instead of $5 for wimpy pizza or something). After lunch I read on the beach and Chad rented a surf board and attempted to tackle the waves, though they weren`t that good yesterday. Later we found a stall that actually sold veggies for very cheap and whipped up an amazing stir-fry before I had to hop on the bus back home. I had decided not to stay overnight even though some other volunteers I had met Friday were going down and there was a big fiesta because I wanted to sleep last night seeing as tonight I`m taking the night bus to Quito. But then I ended up joining in on a friend`s birthday party here and perhaps didn`t get as much sleep as I had intended anyway. Oh well, I think either way I`m going be exhausted next week, a bit of practice for Nov/Dec…
Today I`m catching up on some stuff, just bought my flights home! just saved me another over $300 =) I`m getting good at this.
So next week I will be internet-less and off discovering a bit more of this country finally.

Monday, October 12, 2009

a taste of the city life

So Friday was up and off early to the big city! We got away in decent time and survived two uneventful bus rides totalling four hours. (I over-indulged on Jipijapian (!) banana loaf again…) Somewhere near the end of the journey I realised my phone wasn’t sending text messages and then wasn’t even letting me write them. For people who know me, you’ll be wondering why this is a problem since before coming down here I think I could’ve counted the number of texts I’d sent on one hand. But here, the vast majority of people do not have daily access to the internet and I simply cannot communicate with some people in Spanish on the phone. (Plus I have 500 free msgs a month and it’s expensive to call here!) So I took my phone into Porta customer service in the bus terminal but after waiting an eternity to talk to someone, the lady turned out to be no help at all, she just changed all the settings on the phone pronounced it officially screwed up and told me I would have to send it in to be repaired for 3 days. Well I wasn’t going to be in Guayaquil for 3 days, in fact I had no plans to be in or near a city with a repair centre for 3 days. Ugh, disadvantages to isolated small town life. So I resigned myself to being text message-less for the next few days and try to take it into Manta on two separate day trips next week. But just a minute ago I somehow managed to fix it myself, I'm very proud nevermind relieved at saving two mornings, a phone-less week and $8 bus fare. (Yay for me!)
So back the real story, we were now quite late and worried that the hotel would be full, which it was. But our extremely nice taxi driver (probably the only nice one in the whole city!) showed us to another one around the corner that only had their nicest room left. ($15 a night with view over the main park, I’ve paid more for much worse! Though a viewless (and likely much quieter) room would’ve only been $10)
After a very challenged phone conversation with my friend (Lazaro, whom I’d been tutoring and who was working at the fair) we ended up taking the Metrovía (trolley) back up to the bus station(totally pointless) where his nice Czech friend picked us up and took us across the river to where he lived right next to where the huge fair was. The fair was well, not sure what I expected but not that, not sure why. It was a ways out of town (hence having to infringe on his friend’s generosity once again to get a ride back and avoid paying $20 taxi fare), and just huge. Line up to get in was ridiculous, by the time we left it was so crowded, litter everywhere, ten different songs being played at once, someone handing you a leaflet (or a free sample if lucky) every 5 steps… however there was only one ferris wheel and a random haunted house. Other than the free salsa concert and the generic (for Ecuador) food court, everything else was geared toward selling things. Everythings! Absolutely anything you can imagine. The usual, cars and beer, and every variety of local jewellery under the sun but also hot tubs, massages, palm reading, hot dog buns, oat milk substitute, Persian rugs, underwear, leather jackets, water bottle stands, organic banana jam ($1!! Had to buy some and should’ve bought more!), refrigerators, baby food, shower curtains, you name it. All in large themed (so we could easily by-pass some since we weren’t going to be bringing the newest in fancy blenders home) dome tent halls packed with stalls. It was great! For about 2 hours… by then we’d managed to walk around the whole place and were exhausted from not enough sleep and a more than long enough bus trip. So despite the fact it was apparently Guayaquil’s independence day (though didn’t see much partying just hoards of people) we tucked it in early glad to have seen that and quite excited about just relaxing the next day.
And relax we did on Saturday! Plus perfect weather, no sun so a bearable temperature for probably one of maybe five days a year... Slept in , hunted down a breakfast spot (perfect breakfast, I was full for the rest of the day – little café below the Hostal Madrid, 2 blocks from Parque Centenario, the guy was actually so helpful and patient with our order and then gave us the best directions I have got yet, with hand signals and landmarks. The food was amazing, I had 2 huge bolones de queso (balls of mashed plantain with cheese and butter), un batido de mora (natural mountain blackberry milkshake/smoothie) and shared a fruit salad with Sara. Decently priced too. Pure happiness! Then we followed those perfectly clear directions straight down the modern river-front Malecon to the Cultural Centre and the museum which was amazing too. We slipped in as students although I’d forgotten my card and so for 50c enjoyed a modern Ecuadorian art exposition, historical pottery exposition with pieces from all of Ecuador’s many aboriginal tribes and a chocolate exposition with, best part, free samples!! Finally a nibble or true dark chocolate and an expresso glass of drinking chocolate of which I had to ask for the recipe… (cocoa powder, milk, cornstarch, almond powder, vanilla and brown sugar).
After such a wonderful morning, it’s amazing we managed to enjoy the afternoon too but we certainly did. We wandered off in the general direction of the cemetery only to run into a large artesian market that I had no clue existed. It had the same stuff as all the markets here do but was quite large and an amazing variety. I now have a painting for my hostel-house wall as soon as I get some tape!
Sara grabbed lunch at a normal street restaurant that always specializes in delicious varieties of chicken soup but I was still full from breakfast and the drinking chocolate. We were pointed in the right direction by a waiter but managed to get a little lost, to be fair his ‘3 blocks straight that way’ was more like 6 and zig-zagged across a highway but we made it eventually and slipped into the cemetery. It’s huge and has to be among the top 3 most beautiful places in the city. I vote number one though I suppose Las Peñas and church on iguana park come close. We didn’t explore much of it but soon found a quiet corner and sat reading under a plumeria tree for… awhile? Until the sun seemed to be getting lowish. So peaceful, we could barely hear the city and other than some ants and an annoying security guard that came stood right by us for several minutes before finally muttering that we couldn’t take pictures (too bad we already had!), it was heavenly… excuse the pun. I guess that’s why I like cemeteries? People might think you are weird for reading and writing letters in a cemetery but they will leave you alone and generally there’s nobody there. Just the dead and I think they like being visited and having strangers ponder who they were in life. It also shows how different places view death. Here for example you can see how Catholic it is, the difference between rich (that actually have graves) and the poor (that just get initialled wooden crosses that fade within 2 years) and how life here is much more about the present than the past or the future.
From there we headed back across the city to our hotel with an excursion to a grocery store that we needed to pass twice and ask directions countless times before we finally saw it. Freshened up and headed out for dinner. I had ceviche but was not too impressed (well not everything in a day can be perfect!) it was too oily, sweet and salty. The only thing it was not too much of was limey which really should be the dominant flavour. Watched a bit of the game, which we lost! =( With our hopes of getting to South Africa seriously dimmed the city was pretty subdued for the rest of the night. After dinner we walked back up the Malecon and all the way up Las Peñas, 444 steps to the Cerro Santa Ana that I actually didn’t quite make it up to last year. A view worth every step, city lights in all directions… We were supposed to meet my friend and his friends up there but after an hour and not getting through on the phone we just headed back.
This morning was up super early and into a cab that dropped Sara off at the airport and me at the bus terminal from where I successfully navigated my way back home and only bought one new bus food: a large square bar of sweet roasted coconut with nuts (?) whatever, it was delicious and very filling.
And now I am ‘home’, caught up on life (laundry and blog) and ready for another week!
Side note: Interesting conversation can come from the most unlikeliest of places, I believe I chatted with old man who owns the laudromat (and so folds my socks) for at least an hour about everything under the sun from the recession to human nature to stem cell research to the oil fields, the fishing industry, evolution, the definition of beauty and religion. How fabulous, that was my thanksgiving right there.
Finally met the girl I’ve been helping with French as she’s studying it at university (she sends me topics and I e-mail her notes and worksheets since their prof gives them nothing and learned French out of a grammar book) and she bought me a jugo and invited me to visit her home 20 mins out of town and have a free guided tour of the nature paths they own some weekend!
I also had a surprise visit tonight from Raul, my sister’s host brother (although they’ve actually never met) from Quito as he was here this weekend for a diving course so we hung out and I am going to stop writing this now, post it tomorrow, and go to bed so I can get up early and make us crêpes before he leaves tomorrow!
PS, Chad is coming to visit tomorrow too, how perfect does that work out, no sooner does one friend leave than another arrives!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Secret beaches and a stroll in the tropical forest….

I want to say I did something worth adding to the blog Friday but I can’t remember what it was… Almost no one showed up for class (as has become the trend, I’m just doing individual lessons now. They seem so eager to learn but then stop showing up. So frustrating!! It’s hard to cater to everyone’s needs when they are at so many different levels, but it was going so well for the first 2 weeks. Oh well, I have a job for January/February now so my fingers are crossed for that!)
Anyway, Friday Sara and I were talking with one of my students and his friend and they spontaneously invited us to go a ‘new’ beach with them. ‘New’ because they wanted to check out the surfing conditions, he thinks it could be the next hot spot. So Saturday we hopped on the bus and hiked into a random beach to the north. It would’ve been picture-perfect except for all of the garbage. Fisherman haul out loads of garbage and dump it in the ocean thinking it will just disappear… thinking ahead is not the forté of this area. You just live in the moment. Hence the lack of infrastructure, health care and a decent education system. But despite both Sara and I’s first thought being “I wish I had a huge bin to clean up this mess”, it was a nice little beach. We did some ‘rock climbing’, chatted for a bit and started to make our way down the beach. About halfway down the guys spotted an old net and decided that would clean up the beach after all! So we made a rope out of the fishing net and strung almost 300 bottles together. It felt rewarding but you really couldn’t tell that we had done anything. Amazing how 300 bottles can just ‘hide’ on a beach. And apparently there is a way to recycle them here…. I sure hope so after hauling them the rest of the way down the beach and into the back of the first truck that passed (that happened to be his friends from Manta heading to Montañita for the weekend, everyone knows everyone here!). Julio cooked us an amazing dinner (he used to own a restaurant) and we contributed dessert. After they taught us to play the national card game ‘cuarenta’ (forty), which I quite like since it’s different from any other game I’ve ever played and does have some strategy involved… which I have apparently picked up quite quickly as I beat Julio 2-0 on Monday!
Sunday Sara and I got up early and were originally going to go into the tropical cloud forest via Agua Blanca but we ended leaving later than planned and right after hopping in the taxi-moto, I realised I would really rather hike up Rio Ayampe (much closer, no need to pay park entrance fee and we could take a bus back whenever, although perhaps not quite a cloud forest). So we apologised to the taxi-moto driver and jumped on the bus to Ayampe instead. I had seen Rio Ayampe briefly last year but hadn’t hiked up it. It is down the coast and in the ‘humid’ forest as opposed to the dry tropical forest surrounding Puerto Lopez. All of the water for this part of the coast is pumped out of that river and trucked to the various towns and villages. It was really worrying to see how low the river was since this is supposed to be the rainy season and it really hasn’t rained. No one seems to be worrying except to remind you that water is precious but we’d better get some rain soon or I might not be showering in Jan/Feb….
We started by hiking up the river, which proved to be difficult seeing as we had to take our shoes off every hundred metres to wad across the river. It finally became nearly impossible and I was wondering how they take guided bird watching tours up there when we spotted a road up the mountain, and lucky for us, a tiny and very steep path up the mountain that we successfully scrambled up all the while praying the road would lead back so we wouldn’t have to slide/fall down it… but we were lucky. The road was obviously how most people went up the river and we continued to follow for a while, until it turned into more of a path and criss-crossed the river again after an abandoned mine. We ate out picnic lunch on a concrete couch in the middle of nowhere surrounded by greenery, the river and a decent amount of insects. (I ended up with so many mosquito bites, repellent and all. I don’t know why, they just love me! And most of the time here I don’t even see or hear them, I just get bitten. I’m quite used to being perpetually itchy.)
Headed back along the road, waited for ever for a bus, ended up getting a ride back along a detour route through the forest, rather bumpy, and then just napped for the rest of the day.
So far this week has been preparing classes that keep being cancelled, walks to the beach and back(not enough time to stay there before I have to head back), planning our trip and trying to figure out my visa, and finally this morning I got up and actually biked to the entrance to Agua Blanca and back in 45 mins! I feel like I did something. And am really going to try and do that everyday. But the air is so heavy here I don’t have nearly my normal level of energy or motivation. But I really am going to try!
This weekend I am going with Sara to Guayaquil as she flys out of there on Sunday morning and it happens to be Guayaquil’s independence day or something on Friday along with the end of the fair, so hopefully something interesting to do!
(ps feliz cumpleanos mi hermanita! tqm!)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Week 4 – routine sets in…

So Saturday actually turned into a do nothing day. Which was perfectly fine with me. We ate lunch at the market (my kind of first time actually). You get the set plate and it`s 2$ there though I have seen signs for ones that are $1.25. (US of course) So the almuerzo (lunch) always comes with soup, nice hearty soup, this one had huge chunks of yuca, fish, plantain and corn (cob and all) floating in it, so delicious! Followed but a plate of rice topped with a filet of fish (you had a choice of meat), lentils and a bit of cabbage in lime juice. I know it doesn`t sound like much, but it so fresh and huge servings. Either the soup or the main plate would be enough for a meal. Next time perhaps I`ll see if I can take the main plate with me for dinner instead, a dollar per meal that I don`t have to prepare or clean up = sweet deal!
Kate and I made dinner for everyone Saturday, ran around buying everything and made pan de yuca, roasted veggies and then smores for dessert. Yummers.
Sunday was a rise and shine day : We whipped up some sandwiches and hopped on our bikes off to Agua Blanca (Indigenous archaeological site, tiny village and sulphur springs). Really nice ride actually and the bike I have to use here is awesome, I need to use it more often but have somehow managed to keep very busy this week. I went with Kate, Katharina and Galo. Christian (other guy who lives here) and Brendan (random dude from the States who’s been hanging out here) joined us up there with motorbike (cheaters!). We walked to the laguna (sulphur pool that absolutely reeks but since it’s supposed to be healing people will quite willing jump in and wallow in the mud, sometimes plastering themselves with it and then letting it dry, ahhh exfoliating!) and then ate our lunch and briefly checked out the museum before hopping back on the bikes. We figured it was nearly a 30k round-trip. The rest of the day was kind of a write-off. Ran into Alex again after he ditched us Saturday and bailed him out since he had forgotten his debit card in Quito, silly ass. We hung out a bit along the Malecon and tucked it in early.
Monday I tutored, then tutored again, then hung out with Kate and planned evening class, taught evening class, ate and grabbed a taxi out to Las Tunas for a fogata en la playa (finally! We haven’t been able to have one yet and I miss our bi-nightly campfires from last year!) Introduced the boys to smores, a hit once they caught on the idea that you eat the cookies, chocolate and marshmallow all together….. and I tried fire-roasted plantain with cheese, delicious! Kate and I walked back to Puerto Rico early as Tuesday morning I went with her to teach classes.
I’m happy I’m not teaching with the schools again although I would’ve liked to have done up a curriculum for them (and still might with some volunteers that come through another program) but adults are so much better. Not exactly easier, they have higher expectations for me and ask more difficult questions. I can’t just play games with them all the time and so much of the material is kid-focused so it’s hard to find interesting activities that aren’t too baby. But anyway, helping Kate out was fun, kids are the same wherever and there is nothing greater than their unconditional love. We played Jeopardy at the second school and those kids actually got it.
Wednesday… another normal day of tutoring. Met another American girl, Sara, who is volunteering at a school here in Puerto Lopez but is leaving in less than 2 weeks.=( Her family happens to own the new karaoke place and everyone seemed to just end up there that evening. But I left early, after Europe I’m used to people smoking near you and at least here they only smoke at night, but I still can’t handle it in a closed area. Plus I don’t know any of the songs.
Yesterday, I tutored, walked along the beach with Katharina (all the way to other end! And only got a tiny sunburn!) Planned stuff for the evening and talked to Sara for awhile. Taught class, after one of my students brought the jewellery he makes, gorgeous stuff out of silver, wire and stones. He uses old silverware (forks and spoons) and bends them into the nicest bracelets, so original! I even got a small bracelet as advance payment for my tutoring. Also ran into an older couple from Québec in the street who have been travelling South America for two and half years in a Volkswagen camper van, crazy!! Such interesting people, I hope I can do that when I retire… Every time their visa is about to run out they just go to another country. Next week they are heading to Colombia to find a boat to Panama and then slowly making their way back up, hoping to be home by March, over 3 years on the road!
Today, I’m teaching almost all day… I feel like I’m really working (when my students actually show up) and I can’t wait for the weekend!!
[Written yesterday (friday) morning]