I dont have much new or interesting news to report to you so I thought I would use this journal entry to give you a better idea of what my day to day life is like. Please don´t be jealous.
Every single day starts between 6 and 6:30 when Oso lets me know it is time to feed him. He generally does this by inching his way up from the foot of the bed until we are nearly nose to nose then placing his dinosaur paw on my face. The sun is always up by 6... thank you, equator.
Once his majesty Oso has been fed, it´s time to feed the chickens. 100 chickens to be exact. I put on my polka dot rubber boots (thanks mom!) and a jacket since it is super chilly in the morning and head out back to the chicken coop. Feeders get filled with ground corn and waterers with agua. Chickens are either really mean or really stupid as they all find the need to peck at anything that moves, namely my legs and hands. I definately prefer eating chickens to caring for them.
This is where my days begin to vary....
On weekdays I have a 7:10 bus to catch to Guayan where our school garden is. The bus ride is about 20-25 minutes through the ruralest communities of Santa Ana. It is a dirt road, hardly wide enough for 2 cars to get by. Being the rural part of Santa Ana, however, it is more common that we are trying to fit the bus by a person walking a few cows down the road. If I get a seat next to one of the teachers, we spend the ride gossiping about other teachers and schools or talking about how I am going to take them back to the States with me by packing them in my suitcase. (no joke, this is a common conversation.) If I have to stand or I get a solo seat on the bus I listen to music.
Once in Guayan, I am usually bombarded by the kids until the Director invites me into the office for cafecito (coffee and bread). We sit around and chug coffee, I politely decline the disgusting cheese, and we plan the day.
At 8:00, school has officially started and what better way to kick off a 4 and a half hour school day by having breakfast. The kids each have their own cup and they bring it to the kitchen to get their colada which is a government issued oat-flavored drink. This is served with cookies. Once the kids have finished their breakfast it is time for them to get to class. There are 54 students in grades ranging from preschool to what is equivilant to 8th grade. For all these kids there are 3 teachers.
By this time, a few mothers have arrived at the school to help me in the garden. We do everything from weeding and watering to turning soil, rotating compost, to building a seed bed. Usually somewhere in here another joke will be made about taking someone to the states in my suitcase.
At 10:00 the kids have recreo or recess. The kids are free to do what they want but the majority want to hang out with Señorita Kelly. One of the mothers will usually make us garden-workers something to drink. This is typically warm lemonade. For a while, the kids would teach me their games during recreo but lately there has been an interest in learning American games. Duck, Duck, Goose and Capture the flag have been especially popular.
Depending on the teachers´moods, recreo can last until lunch is served at 12:00 or the kids may have to go back to class for a short time. I am always amazed at how little learning goes on at school. Lunch is usually rice and beans or rice and tuna. Sometimes just rice.
At 12:15 The teachers and I walk up the mountain back to the bus stop to catch the 12:30 bus back to the centro (center of town) where they catch busses back into Cuenca. I am home by 1:00.
After 1:00 I am generally free to do whatever I want. That usually includes coming in to the city, washing clothes, playing soccer with my neighbor kids, watching a movie, atttempting to cook, hanging out with kids in the center of town, napping, bathing (since there is generally no water after 4:00), or hanging out with my landlord´s family that comes to the house in the afternoons. On Wednesday nights I teach an english class to highschool students in Cuenca which is more like a tutoring session than anything. Thursday afternoons I teach an english class to kids in a nearby town, Tepal.
More often than not, I make my way into the city at least a few times a week. In Cuenca, I can enjoy internet, diet coke (coca cola light which is NOT the same, but good enough), check my mail, the super market, and usually dinner with nearby Peace Corps friends, Mike and Mary. On days I come into Cuenca, I try to make it back to Santa Ana by 9:00 pm because much later than that and there is no guaranteed ride home for under 10 bucks which is more than 2 days pay for me. Thats not to say there aren´t trucks I can hop in the back of but as far as official, trustworthy transportation 9:00 is about as late as I should be.
Once back home, it is time to feed the dog and settle down unless, of course, there are random highschool students stopping by for help with their english homework. A couple episodes of Desperate Housewives or Seinfeld and its time for bed.
So there you have it... more than you ever wanted to know about my daily life here in Ecuador.
Next week we are having a Thanksgiving dinner with Peace Corps friends. We rented a cabin in the national park and are going to have a feast (minus the turkey... add some roasted chickens). I hope you all have an awesome Turkey day and I´ll see you in a month!!
Danielle... any ESL things you think would help me teach young children would be great! I heard you are doing Thanksgiving with Jenny and John... maybe you could hand them off and I could get them at the wedding!? If its easier by email that would be great too!
Late Happy Birthday shout outs go to Steph and Sue!
Hannah... I was spiderwoman for halloween!