Thursday, February 25, 2010

heading home...

Ooops I haven't updated this in over a month and I am currently in the bogota airport in the middle of my intense 2 day trip home. I did have an entry written up on my usb to be posted but well I guess I didn't post it did I.
Anyway, I've had a wonderful last month. Went up with some friends to Quito to pick up hermana (fantastic to catch up with her after 13 months) We cooked in the hostal, went to a real cinema and saw Avatar and to Ecuador's only skating rink where I think the ecuadorian outskated the canadians... shame on us. From Quito we headed off on a quick trip down the north coast. Atacames, Mompiche, Canoa... The beaches were all nice though it was the cloudy season. Got in some good salsa dancing in atacames and canoa, Kim got beaten up by tranquil Mompiche (stung by a ray while trying to learn to surf and then cut her head open on the bus) It was a nice little trip, but by now I appreciate staying in one place more.
Kim visited me in Puerto Lopez for almost 2 weeks that flew by! We cooked, went to the beach, read, went to montanita and a small aquarium (almost more like a rescue centre) down to the south, up to a village in the tropical forest where we donated some things to the one tiny school and spent the day painting it, went flying in parapente (paragliding, crazy, closest to flying as you can get, once in the air very relaxing and i even got steer a bit!) walks along the beach, crazy carnavalling and she helped me with my classes. time just seems to fly for no reason.
Carnaval took up almost 5 days, we only really went the one night. Got attacked with foam, water, eggs and flour. yuck! got some people too but I think I got more than I gave. washing that off one time was enough for me to decide that I didn't need to all 4 nights and tried to avoid it as best I could though I still got a bit of foam and water. Another night went on the ferris wheel (real little fair there all month!) and then out dancing. Mostly though that last month was so deathly hot I didn't have the motivation to do anything.
The day after my sister left I learned I got a job at home that I had had an interview for, and that it started on Mar1 so I had to quickly change my flights and cancel my last french classes and say my goodbyes. I was ready to go, I just want to open a cereal box and not have to look for bugs. but it was tough too and I'm already sitting here missing things...
Went up to Quito yesterday with Jorge to gather some more visa papers and briefly met up with my sister again since she flew out earlier today to Brazil. Ran into one then two other friends from our town really randomly that we didn't even know were in quito, I mean there's 2 million people there, crazy coincidences.
Everyone's stomachs have been off and on, I've had the worst ear infection since Sunday night only today is it feeling a bit better, I went paragliding sunday and Jorge, while pullling us to help us take off, nealy ripped off his baby toe. Landed went over to the car and there was blood everywhere, lovely. Straight to the clinic, which is supposedly free but the governement sucks so bad there's never enough supplies I had to run and buy everything from syringes to painkillers to the actual thread. They were stitching him up for nearly a half hour and the he had to spend the rest of the time in bed almost and grumpy of course.
Meanwhile Kim bashed in face while rafting, no tenemos suerte!!!
But everyone is on the mend now and nothing more can possibly happen.
I kept getting asked when I was going back, Jorge's family kept telling me that know I have a family in Ecuador and my students made a dinner our last class and say they hope to continue when I return... and I will return, but hopefully not too soon. I feel like some home time right now and doing more, working harder. The culture and the heat just kill my motivation.
But I did have a great time, I can now say that on a good day I am truly trilingual, the French classes were great, I have a powerpoint resource I can re-use many times, I can cook on a gas stove, barter for veggies in the market and feel like I really lived in Ecuador, with the people. (and the bugs, rats, heat, dirt and mosquitos too of course!) There are things I don't like but there are things I love. Fresh juice and delicious soups from scratch, sitting along the beach with wireless internet = work, the people (most of them), cheap and more available public transport, ingenuity (our light switch was a string attached to the mosquito net that you could just pull and the 2 wires would flick apart to turn off and then jerk it again and most times they would touch and turn on again, worked far more effienctly than I ever would've beleived) how green everything is, how you never have to care what you look like before you go out, fashion basically doesn't exist and people worry a lot less. On the other hand, not much food variety (no mas arroz!) not much security or heath care, poor education... they'll believe whatever sometimes. medicine is cheap and you never need a prescription they just go and but pills and believe they cure whatever, I got so nervous not knowing what it was I was taking and what are the side effects and can I really take these 2 at the same time? but on the other they still really very much on natural rememdies or what their grandma's tell then like don't eat certain foods if you have an infection, others if your liver hurts...
garbage is everywhere though I think people are becoming more aware, they don't seem to burn it all anymore and there are a more trash cans. a few less stray dogs.
people live simply and things are cheap, decisions are simple. you have money you spend it, you don't well then you don't eat much and hope you have a good family to lend you a bit. Everyone gets excited about action movies and ice cream. I mean everyone. Most people wnat to learn and they learn a little bits of everything and quickly, they know a bit in each language but no one is bilingual. Sometimes I feel like I don't know much since they can dance like crazy, cook delicious food, do crafts, play music, soccer, surf... but then I realise that I am trilingual and when I want to, I read and write very well, even spell in spanish better than most of them.
Don't really know what my point is... theres and good and bad in everything and I have meet some of the most generous people down here. some of the most dishonest too.
I'm going to miss it but man am I am glad to be going home and off the road.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Living the beach life….

Apparently even I can fall prey to being a beach bum. So sorry I haven’t been keeping this updated. Really haven’t been up to much and that’s been great, after so much travelling I was just ready to sit around, although we are heading out tomorrow to Quito to meet up with my sister (whom I haven’t seen in 13 months, so excited to be reunited!!!)
So basically I’ve been immersing myself in the language and the culture (the interesting traditions of new years: they do up these elaborate life-size dolls of mostly famous people who were of some prominence in the past year (Michael Jackson was definitely a favourite, though I saw cartoon characters too….) and it symbolises the old year. At midnight they drag it into the middle of the street and burn, chao old year and all it’s sins, on the next. Families eat about 3 meals generally, the last at midnight in different relatives houses (I was so full). Then everyone dances in the biggest street fiesta I have ever seen until dawn. But they don’t do polar bear dips (mine was a trip to the beach on new year’s eve) and they don’t count down of anything, no one seemed to know when it was midnight exactly, pretty much how time always is down here. Oh and the fireworks, going off everywhere, its amazing more people don’t get hurt but I haven’t heard of many accidents at all.
I’m staying at my boyfriends place and I have been helping him out in the bar/juice stand along the beach where he works with one other lady, super nice and great fun. Yes, I squeeze fresh orange juice on the beach, hahaha. It’s pretty relaxing, too relaxing, I’m about ready to be a busy person again. I also teach basic French to tour guides in a school on the other end of the beach (yes I walk to work barefoot in the waves….) So far the classes are great, I really enjoy teaching enthusiastic adults. And since I have no materials, preparing lessons takes up a lot of my time. Also with internet here, I must’ve spent 3 full days just trying to do up my application for a job in March, and it’s still missing a lot of things.
But not everything is so ideal, the heat can be terrible, I’m currently drowning in my own sweat even though it’s not that sunny outside. And the insects are bad, don’t bother me that much, I just kill them (I killed a scorpion yesterday!!) There are these bugs called ‘griollos’ everywhere. Everywhere. And the mosquitoes are as bad as ever. I was also stomach sick for almost a week, that zapped all my energy. Exercise consists of that walk to work, it’s just too hot for anything else. I’m never hungry, I eat because I have to (and because the food is normally delicious here) but I still gain weight. I even enjoy the cold shower. I’m so used to everything being dirty and unorganised and no one ever being on time or showing up when you arrange to meet them. It’s no wonder nothing ever happens here. I can enjoy it for now but…. Not quite my style.
So yes, that’s about all there is to update. Went on one day trip to Portoviejo to shop and visit my hermanita and went to a lovely beach near MontaƱita another day, where they make fantastic pies and cheesecake, passion fruit pie, incredible! Well off to take my laundry in, check the internet, prepare class, perhaps go for a swim, pack for tomorrow and then 2 hours of classes. Hasta luego!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Heading Home

The last 2 days just kind of slid by… watched a weird movie at the hostel and then packed for the final time (!!!!) On the 27th , figuring we should see some of Lima, we went to Larcomar, this shopping complex on the ocean. Rather hoity-toity and nothing special, have to say the waterfront in Lima is well, ugly. Then a micro downtown, which turned out to be much further than the thought from the map, Lima is a true big city. So by the time we got there we only had time to frantically ran around the plaza, to the post office and to try and hunt down Peruvian ceviche (fail… we ended up with the Peruvian version of MacDonalds…). As we got back to the hostel, already slightly late, the hostel guy informed us very surely that the international buses leave from the other station on the other side of town, a good hour away. Well the bus was leaving in an hour. Panic time, grabbed stuff and taxi and rushed off to the nearest station, the main in the hope that it was leaving from there as otherwise our chances we pretty slim. Well the hostel guy had no clue what he was talking about, we were at the right station and all that stress for nothing. Really nothing as the bus didn’t end up leaving for another half hour.

Longest bus ride ever… really not so bad at we had the best seats (the only 4 downstairs in a separate compartment past the bathrooms (yes talk about stink!)) But the best bus sleep I had since it was too hot or too cold then and no one snored, no babies! Oh but the heat and the stench in the day, the thermometer read 35C but it must have been more and so stuffy. Ended up snacking just to avoid boredom…

After 27 hours we finally got there, but dropped off at a different station and had to walk to the main station where Jorge was waiting for us (with flowers =) and yes I smelt like a cow) Grabbed the last bus to Jipijapa and them crammed ourselves in a taxi for the final leg of the journey.

And yes that was over 2 weeks ago.... Im back in Ecuador where nothing ever gets done. But I´m still holding out with the hopes that I´ll have internet in the next few days and can completely update this pictures and all. I still do intend to keep it up! But all is wonderful, I have a beach life, hahaha. I´m teaching French and helping Jorge in the juice stand/bar and making plans for when my sister comes to visit, can´t wait!

Hasta pronto!