Its about time I posted again... I just realized the last time I posted was in December and so much has happened. First off, NEW YEARS! I went to the beach with a couple of other volunteers and had a blast bringing in the new year. I learned all kinds of Ecuadorian traditions. For example, wearing yellow undergarments is supposed to bring good luck. My favorite tradition is the burning of "Ano viejos" which are paper mache dolls that represent the old year. They are in shapes of soccer players, cartoons, and of course... the Simpsons! One of my favorite things is a good fogata (bon fire) so burning these ano viejos on the beach was a GREAT way to start of the new year.
The next big event was my best friend visiting!!!!! I went to pick Jennifer up from the airport at midnight on the the second and we traveled to Portoviejo the next morning. I was so excited to see her that I decided to jump in the cab instead of step and fell. I ended up spraining my ankle on the first day of Jennifer's trip... she can definitely say that she got to see more than just the tourist side of Ecuador, because we spent hours at a clinic. That is, once we found one where a doctor was present (that would be the 3rd one). I got a $20 x-ray which was a pretty sweet deal, but then was told basically nothing. He gave me a prescription and I clearly said that I wanted pills- pastillas- and not a shot -inyecion-. I DO know these words in spanish and they sound nothing alike. However, my host mom went into the pharmacy and preceded to get the take home shot which our maid had to give me in my behind. This sparked the comment, "eres muy blanca" (you are very white) as if she hadn't noticed before haha. My little brothers (not so secretly) loved this injury. One of them nicknamed me "kangrujo" for hopping around so much and the other stole my crutches every time I walked in the door so that he could attempt to use them.
Jennifer and I didn't let this little injury get us down... I went out and bought crutches and we set off on the beach trip that we had planned.
The first day we went to Crucita with a friend and Jennifer went paragliding. I was jealous, but I have plenty of time to go back again. Unfortunately, we had another little snag in our trip. I was "watching" my friends bag while she went running on the beach and 2 guys on a motorcycle managed to come by and steal it. We were engrossed in our books and not paying attention and of course the sprained ankle kind of limited me from doing anything. It was very unfortunate... Ecuador did not hold back at all for Jennifer. The rest of our trip was pretty smooth... except for my face plant. That was at the beginning of my time with the crutches and eventually my skills improved. We spent a lot of our time relaxing on the beach, reading books, and drinking fruity drinks. Jennifer got really good at ordering drinks in Spanish for us... such a good little waitress! haha One night we went to Manta where I have some other volunteer friends and Ecua friends. We went out to a discoteca and I rocked the crutches look. As if 5 giant gringas didn't call enough attention, here I was hobbling around. We had a great time- Jennifer got to learn all of the top latino songs and I got to do a lot of "mom chair dancing." I have to say, I got pretty good at it. The next day my friend David took us to one of his favorite surfing spot. It is a small beach with lots of fisherman and no tourists- it was a pretty cool local experience for Jennifer to have.
Unfortunately she had to leave me and I had to get back to teaching... on crutches. Luckily, my classroom has rolling chairs which I took full advantage of. One of my students even said, "teacher, it is your car." Despite the foot injury, teaching has been great this cycle. I have a lot more confidence as a teacher, but I have some new challenges. One of my classes is tiny- 4 students! Luckily, it is high intermediate so I can do a lot of spontaneous conversation activities if necessary. Another class has 10 students and they are so quiet! I had to have a conversation with them about how English is a SPOKEN language so they have to speak. Some days that class is super boring, but I am finding more and more activities that really work for that class dynamic. My most difficult challenge is my Beginner 2 class of 31 students! My biggest class last cycle was 17 so this was a huge jump for me. I have had to adjust a lot of my activities to work with a larger class, but I had a great week with them and am feeling good about my new strategies. Unfortunately, I have had to be much stricter in a class that size, but I am surprised at how well they behave now. I am giving myself a pat on the back for my new found classroom management.
In January we had our Mid-service conference with all of the volunteers which was really motivational. It game me lots of good ideas which I took back to my classroom and it really kicked me into gear getting some community projects started. These 6 months have gone by so fast and I only have 6 more. In the works are: an advanced class for English professors in Portoviejo, translating for medical mission trips for groups from the US (random connection we just made!), and possibly horse therapy for kids with special needs (if my host mom follows through- fingers crossed). Hopefully I will have an update on those soon.
Right after mid-service I had a site visit from my directors. I was nervous, but it was actually super helpful. They came and observed my classes and gave me great feedback and constructive criticism that I have really put to use. We also got some time to just hang out and talk through our project ideas, etc with them.
1.superbowl "party" planned for this weekend. Treating ourselves with American snack food! yay
2.Went to a huge music festival - Nawi- my friend won a t-shirt in a dance competition!
3.Carnival is coming up... BIGGEST CELEBRATION OF THE YEAR FOR ECUADOR!