The first week of school!

Here they are, snapshots from the first week! What a great start to the school year.
Look for more next week.
Cheers!
Jody

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September 9, 2011. Classroom life. No Comments.

Nadia’s adventure - continued…

Hola a todos,

So here I am coming to the end of my time here in Ecuador. I’m happy to say it hasn’t gone by too fast. I have been on the road more or less for the last week and a bit, finally making my way back to Banos my old stomping ground, hanging out with friends in the Capital Quito and spending a very cold and windy night at the edge of the breathtaking crater lake Quilatoa.

I finished my work at the reserve just over a week ago and as challenging as some of the work could be and as cold as the showers were, I have to say I miss it. I spent most of the last week working at the school in order to have everything in place before I left. I had to finish up materials, write a manual for future volunteers that come to teach English and mostly introduce the children to the work and practice what they were already familiar with. A month is such a short time and yet I had already gained most of their trust. by the end they were inviting me to work with them, which means they were enjoying themselves. I barely entered the class and I would get “Nadia, English?” I look forward to hearing about their progress.

I also enjoyed the afternoon work, which usually consisted of planting or weeding in the organic garden, preparing coffee beans or my favorite making bread for breakfast the next morning. My first attempt at the bread was very successful I must say and set a high bar for the other voluteers. With a variety of potential ingredients I decided on an orange chocolate loaf. I’m excited to start making bread at home, although it will be hard to beat fresh orange rind from the morning harvest and cocoa from one of the leading producing countries. I tried another recipe though with spring onion, rosemary and spices that should translate well back home.

I won’t miss however the burrowing bugs that gave me an unrelenting itch, sharing my shower stall with a tarantula, “shot-gunning” for people leftovers to supplement our rationed meals and racing to the breakfast table to secure a bowl of oatmeal, or not being able to figure out which of my things is giving off a the funky smell in my room.

What I will miss the most is the crew, and their open mindedness and willingness to learn and share their experiences. The group can make or break the experience and for me it made it. I happened to be the oldest during my stay there, with some 19 year olds and the rest in the early and middle 20s. Age didn’t seem to play a role for the most part although I was dubbed “abuelita” meaning little gramma.

When we went away for the weekends however they saw that I was far from an abuelita with my all night dancing and salsa moves. The weekend in Canoa for example, when I last wrote, was full of dacing barefoot on the beach as well as chowing down on delicious empenadas at 3am, refusing to try a drink called a “scorpion” and wading in the pacific while waiting for the sun. It finally came out the day we left just in time for us to soak up a bit.

The next weekend was spent in the capital of Quito. Isabel took myself and another volunteer Kevin to a famous old local Salsa bar. This is where the hard core salseros come. I was taught some new moves in French by a local who had spent some time in Switzerland, travelling is full of surprises.

Our last weekend together we all headed to Banos. For most of the young folk it was a weekend of adventure, zip-lining, mountain biking, hiking, but for my new found Ecuadorian friend Isabel and I, it was a weekend of relaxation. Taking advantage of no schedule and sleeping in till noon, eating tasty food, soaking in the local natural hotsprings and resting up for a little dancing at the local discotecas.

I was happy to see that things haven’t changed too much, most of all the spectacular views. Of course that’s not just Banos, Ecuador is full of spectacular views. I never get tired of seeing snow capped volcanos jetting up out of the already soaring Andes. From lush jungle vegetation, to the rocky and sparse paramo and the colourful quilted land in between. I made my way through all of it on my way to Quilatoa. Local legend has it that this crater lake is bottomless but scientists say about 250 metres. Standing on the rim of the crater about an hour hike from the lake below was breathtaking. As the clouds passed over the sun, the light moved accross the walls of the crater aluminating the vegetation and the bringing out the turquoise colour of the lake.

I happened to meet an american girl who was on my “chicken” bus from Latacunga city, but who I couldn’t see for the all the people that we had packed in the bus along the way. I was trying to figure out where the bus driver meant when he would yell “mas atras! mas atras” (further back). One guy had to exit through a window because he couldn’t get through to the door. Lucky we weren’t stopped by the police.

But when I got off the bus, there she was and together we headed off to the rustic cabin accomodation deciding to share a room. After we hiked down to the lake together and got a brief Quichua lesson from 2 little girls who rent horses to tourist, we were ready to hike back up and recharge with some local fare. The way up was definitely harder than the way down. At almost 4000 metres I was catching my breath every few minutes.

That night we sat around a wood burning stove, their only mean of heating, exchanging some travel stories with a Dutch family and a couple from Quito. Back at our cabin a fire had been put on for us in our stove and we had 5 layers of blankets to keep us from freezing. It was a peaceful sleep, with just the sound of the wind howling and the fire. I was ready to head back to civilization the next day though and we lucked out with a ride back to Latacunga from the couple from Quito.

So that is where I am writing you from now, Quito. I hung out with my friend Isabel last night before she had to head back to the reserve this morning, as she has 2 more weeks of work. I only have a few days left and no real plans. There are a few things of interest close by including a huge indigenous market this Thursday.

Despite Ecuador’s size and having now spent a total of over 3 months here between this visit and my last, there is still lots to explore. I already have a list of places for the next time I’m here, which I hope will sooner than 6 years, as well for the sake of the friends I am leaving behind.

So until you see me back home or we chat on skype or email or facebook, I sent all of you an ambrozo de Ecuador.
Ciao y hasta pronto.

Nadia

September 9, 2011. Professional Development. No Comments.