27 Sep

Boring Weekend

Nothing invokes self-pity more so than vomiting. Diarrhea is uncomfortable, but vomiting is like getting kicked in the stomach repeatedly. It squeezes the tears out of you. Luckily, it didn’t last long. I woke up at four am yesterday and endured an off-and-on stomach ache for about three hours. That’s all. But then I was pretty tired the rest of the day. Instead of hiking up Pichincha like we were going to do, we ended up staying home all day. We watched a DVD we brought with us called “Ghost World.” It’s this quirky story about alienated people, basically. After watching it, Eileen and I talked about being losers. The conversation went like this:
Eileen: We’re losers.
Tim: I know. I was thinking the same thing. We’re essentially one loser split in two.
Eileen: Why are we such losers?
Tim: Well, would you really want to be a normal person?
Eileen: What do you mean?
Tim: I mean, if you were a normal person, you’d have to talk about stupid things like sports and what you did last night at the bar.
Eileen: I don’t know.
Tim: What don’t you know?
Eileen: I don’t know. Do you want some bread?
Tim: No. You do know. I mean, don’t you prefer meaningful conversations?
Eileen: Are you saying that normal people don’t have meaningful conversation?
Tim: No. I’m saying that I’ve observed a lot of social normalcy and that it’s boring. It involves talking about a lot of stupid crap.
Eileen: Oh.
Tim: You’re just don’t like criticizing anyone. Not even privately. Don’t you have any idea what I’m talking about?
Eileen: How about crackers?
Tim: Sure.

PS: check out new pics in coppermine.

24 Sep


So, I’ve got a couple stories. First one: Eileen and I were coming home from classes one night on the “trole,” which is just an ecologically friendly, but crowded bus. It has its own special lane, so it’s faster than many of the other busses. Anyhow, it was standing room only and I’m talking to Eileen when I feel an unusual pressure right below my right hip, approximately where my pocket would . . . So I reached down quickly and grabbed a hand. Yes, that’s right a hand. I held onto it and pulled it up and stared its owner down. He was an older guy and he looked surprised and tried to tell me that the bus was bumpy and that he had just accidently placed his hand in my pocket. I stared at him a little more and he looked away, a sure sign of subservience among the pickpocket species. He walked away.

The next day, we were walking with the entire group to catch a bus for “Selva Alegre,” which means “Happy Forest.” Why were we going to Happy Forest? To eat guinea pigs, naturally. So Eileen and I stopped for a few minutes to help a friend who was suddenly feeling ill. We hurried to catch up with the rest of our compatriots only to find that the bus had already left. Luis, the Ecuadorian Spanish teacher leading our excursion, informed us that we would take a taxi and try to catch the bus. A thrilling high speed chase ensued. There were five or six of us in two taxis. We weren’t sure which bus to pull over, and the driver in our taxi was much faster than the driver of the other taxi, which contained Luis, the native Ecuadorian and the only one of us who knew where to go. Thus, the high speed chase involved a lot of looking backward to make sure the authority taxi was still with us, and a lot of looking forward to try to ascertain which bus to pull over. After pulling over the wrong bus, the chase got faster until, minutes later, Eileen shouted “esto, esto” and we waved our arms out the window and honked until the bus stopped and let us on.

And finally: Eileen and I went to a folk music concert last Saturday. We talked the ticket price down to two for $15, walked in and found some seats. After two or three songs, a man from Ambato(about two hours south of Quito) sat down next to me and began chatting about his cattle processing career, his carpe diem attitude, and his being favored by God. He bought us wine (in a box) and candy (Halls mentholyptus). He was very nice and patient, but as the evening wore on, he got drunker and drunker and therefore became much more difficult to understand. It was at this point of low intelligibility, of course, that he began to tell us that his wife had left him. He had hit her twice, and another time, he had given her a leather jacket, which she didn’t like, so he gave it to another woman. Woops. His wife took their son and moved to Quito. He asked our advice, told Eileen several times that she had beautiful eyes, and then wanted to change the subject when we suggested marital counseling from a priest. The evening ended with him insisting on taking us home in a taxi on his way to the bus station.

That’s that. Orientation ends today. We’re sure to become homesick in the ensuing weeks, so keep reading and keep responding everyone.

By the way, this should be our correct phone number for anyone who wants to call us: 011 593 99 807 971

19 Sep


We’re starting to feel guilty about moving out of our host family’s place because we’re starting to really like them and it definitely improves your Spanish when you have to communicate with native speakers. We’re also starting to doubt that it’s financial smarter. The $300 per month at la casa Ordonez includes food — cooked for us by a wonderful cook. But it’s far away. The bus ride to our schools is 20- 40 minutes each way. We’d be spending two hours a day on a bus if we stayed there. Versus 40 minutes if we moved. And the air’s worse at our current location. I mean it’s horrible. I feel like we’re going to shed years from our life spans by inhaling all this pollution

We have a week left of orientation, and I’m becoming aware of the impending shock: we will no longer have a full schedule; 28 of our American friends will be gone; we’ll be moving from our present location; and Eileen’s lesson planning panic attacks will increase in strength and frequency.

There’s also this issue of our internal clocks being messed with. Back home, it’s mid-September. Fall is coming soon. Sunsets will come earlier and earlier until the days are just twelve hours of sunlight. Here, there’s currently 12 hours of sunlight everyday. And no real seasons. Soon, our Wisconsin-calibrated circadian rhythms will tell us that something is wrong, that we’re in the wrong part of the world. Right now, it feels like we’re pretty much on vacation, even though we’re really busy. And so, I think we, or at least I, have this subconscious feeling that when we come home, everything will be more or less the same, that everything will have been more or less frozen in time for us. Of course, since I’m articulating this feeling right now, it’s not altogether subconscious. But . . . see, now I’m speechless, cuz the rest of what I’m trying to say is truly subconscious knowledge.

16 Sep


Hey everyone. This is the first chance we’ve had in the last few days to get to a computer/internet. We have Spanish classes in the morning from 7 to 8:30 then seminars on culture, teaching, health, etc. during the day and from there we go to teach English classes from 5 to 7:30 pm. Generally we get home around 8 or 8:30 and eat, lesson plan/complete spanish homework and finally get to bed. It takes us about 30 to 40 minutes to commute, so sometimes we can get some work done on the bus, but we’re looking forward to being closer to our work when we move. Yes, we have rented the apartment we looked at last weekend. They are going to furnish it completely – we made a list of everything we would need down to pots pans silverware, bathroom rug and they will provide these for us. We are sad to leave our host family… but it will be nice to get out of some of the pollution and be in a nicer neighborhood.

Teaching: I taught my first class yesterday. We are practice teaching in groups of three, rotating what days we teach. I was a little freaked out before my class because the first day didn´t go that well and I REALLY didn´t want to fall flat on my face. So I planned the heck out of the lesson, spent 3-4 hours working out a lesson for a 90 minute class and it went well! There were maybe one or two rough spots, but the class really seemed to like the lesson and there were no classroom management problems,so I felt pretty good about it.

We´re starting to get to know the volunteers here pretty well, it is nice to be around some intelligent funny people.

11 Sep

apartments and a phone

We´ve been apartment searching today, looking at different neighborhoods closer to where we’ll be working. I think we´ve found a good deal (it would be cheaper than where we are now) we are going to call them tomorrow and let them know if we want it. It is an apartment attached to a home, but we´d have a separate entrance. The neighborhood is up on a hill close to lots of bus lines and it is a nice, safe place with a smaller-community feel than the place we are staying now. There is a floreria where you can buy a dozen spectacular roses for a couple bucks. I guess Ecuador is one of the biggest exporters of roses in the world — yea for cheap flowers! The family that is renting the apartment pretty much found us: we were sitting in front of a small store looking at the classifieds and a nice car stopped, a women asked us if we were looking for an apartment and said she was renting. So we went to their house, saw the apartment and they pretty much said “what can we do to the place so you would want it?” They said if we want they can set up a meal plan, internet plan, they can funish it, whatever we want. AND it´s recently painted, and the bathroom and kitchen are in the process of being tiled this week. We also would have a patio where we can dry clothes or just enjoy the view (which is beautiful since it´s on a hill). So, yeah, we like it. But we´d be sad to leave our host family, our host mom is an AMAZING cook. Each meal is better than the next. Tim and I have already asked her for cooking lessons. People warned us the Ecua food is bland, but whatever she does, it´s great and everything is so fresh that the flavors don´t need a lot of seasoning. I´ll have to write another post sometime just on the food. The juices here are unbelievable.

We also purchased a cell phone yesterday. Our director pretty much told us it would make life here a lot easier if we had one. We can text message other volunteers for just a few cents and this way we can receive calls from the US at no charge (to us– wink). She said there are international calling cards you guys in the states can use that are about 16 or 17 cents a minute, but we´ll try and look into it. Anyway, if you need or want to call us our number is 011-09-980-7971 We´ll probably get another one in a few weeks so both Tim and I will have one, but I think this number will be mine. Anyway, we miss you all, it´s been so nice to read the comments, keep em coming! Abrasos (hugs) Eileen