Friday, June 29, 2007

El Fin de las Classes y cuy

Well, today I finished my Spanish classes in grand form.

For two hours this morning my professora and I did some final Spanish studies. They were important things like how to make fun of someone or how to curse.

After that, we went on a field trip. It was great. I had said I wanted to try typical Ecuadorian food, so she wanted to show me the real thing.

We went to the south of the city, and as I said earlier Quito is so big! it took us about an hour and we talked in Spanish about Politics, books, la vida en general. We went to a street that was full of incredible different types of food:

entire pigs fried where they were serving everything that was inside.

Pig and cow intestines served with their blood (for fertility of course)

Rabbits roasting over the fire

Women with piles of herbs for traditional medicine, and the most interesting thing is that many of the buildings were made out of adobe.

We went from this street to la professoras restarante favorito. Where we had.... wait for it
It was cooked on the roticirie and served with patapoes and a sauce made out of the cuy lungs. But I have to say, It was pretty good. Think--fried chicken. We also drank chicha, which is basically fermented fruit, but the way they make it in the amazon with women´s saliva. This Chicha was made with a machine, but I think I have to try the real thing.

I´m glad Meghan didn´t come because of all the meat (she was studying hard) but it was a great expierience.

Everyone we´ve been talking with and studying with has been really great. The lady who runs the school took Meghan and I out last night to drink a cerveza and see the old town at night. We listened to traditional music and watched the light bounce off the buildings and the sky.

I have to say Quito is a crazy city. On first look it is dangerous, dirty, and unorganized. But after some time here I have realized there is a certain beauty about it. Yes there are some beautiful old colonial buildings, but the beauty is in the gente--the people.
Nothing ever stops here. The cars don´t stop at the lights, the people don´t stap walking when cars almost run over their toes, the discotecas blast music into the night. There´s something so beautiful about all of this movement. The city is alive.

tomorrow we leave for Otovalo, where the Quechua sell their wares, and the mountains are awake with volcanic activity.

Va a ser muy Bien!!

Hope the pictures don´t make you sick!
By the way click Speak Your Mind Here and leave me a comment
I miss you all.

Meghan says hello too.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

El Volcan pinchi something

Well I haven´t written in awhile so I thought I would also write a positive entry.

Meghan and I are living with a rich Ecuadorian family and going to Spanish class every morning here in Quito. It´s a lot of fun and a lot of my Spanish is returning. We have dinner every night at 8 and breakfast at 730.

They are a very nice family, but very formal. The abuela is very passionate about the state of Ecuador and she says that the economy is terrible, the government is corrupt and her country is falling apart. It was incredible how stoic she became when speaking of these things. The family is very accommodating.

Today we went up the Teleferiqo which is a gondola into the Andes up an active volcano that was about 12,500 ft. It was amazing. We could see everything. The city seemed to grow the higher we got. And we were able to see the Cotopaxi volcano covered in snow in the distance. It reminded me of Denali in Alaska. It was gorgeous.

I don´t have pictures because I don´t have my camera or my cord. Meghan took pictures and I will probably post them when I return.

All is good. We are going to visit El Mitad del Mundo (the ecuator) with our professoras tomorrow. It should be interesting.

A buddhist Lesson

So, its been awhile since I´ve checked in, but I must first say Todo bien!. Everything is great.

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the jungle. I was robbed.
Meghan and I got up early in the morning to get a taxi to the bus stop for the cloud forest. I really should focus on the cloud forest.
Anyhow all of these men came up when the taxi stopped to help us load our bags in the car. I was thinking, wow, what nice people-- they want to help us gringos out a little.
Meghan was smart. She was mad and didn´t trust these men. Anyhow they loaded us up and I was smiling and saying, ¨Muchas Gracias¨ in lala land. Then we arrived at our bus stop. And my little man-purse was missing. Of course I thought oh I must have misplaced it, but no. Meghan knew. Those friendly men were probably already enjoying my camera while listening to Greg Brown on my ipòd.
I was a little bit upset, but hey, there was no money nor passports inside. The one thing that really hurts is my bible, Lonely Planet Ecuador was inside.

So I believe it was a lesson to not worry too much about material things. I am totally safe, I have my passport, my girlfriend, and I have my friends and family. Really what more can I ask for?

A man told me that around 70% of the tourists who come here get something stolen. Ay que pena!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

First Night

Earlier today, Meghan and I arrived in Quito. It took us 12 hours because we flew through San Salvador and San Jose. I had some seperation anxiety when we had to leave Costa Rica. Just from the airplaine window view, I got quite nostalgic.

Flying over Quito was an expierience in itself. It is a HUGE city surrounded by the Andes. It seemed so condensed and it spread for miles and miles. On the plane I spoke with a Quiteno and he gave us some ideas about what to do and see,he was very kind.

When we came out of the airport there was a lady waiting with a sign that said Dahren y Megan. Both of our names were spelled wrong but it was comforting to have someone there. At that point, the spanish began. She didn't speak any English so I had to dig out my rusty Costa Rican Spanish to communicate--but it worked. She understood me and we talked the entire ride.

She told us a little bit about the city and about the good things and the bad. I just finished a book about the oil exploration in Ecuador and I was trying to get some dirt about that. She instead wanted to talk about the Colombians who are giving Ecuador a bad name.

Regardless, we made it to the spanish school and eventually found a european style hostel. The altidude is giving me a bit of a headache (over 8000 ft.). But the tourist section that was supposed to be ridden with problems seemed generally safe. They call it "gringolandia" and it makes sense. There were bright lights, ethnic food, Salsa and Cumbia playing, and muchos extranjeros.

More to come. Tonight we sleep.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Vamos para El Ecuador

So I sent out an email, and so it is official. Tomorrow evening, Meghan and I leave for Ecuador.

This Blog will, for a month, become Daren's travels in Ecuador. I will still be learning of course but in a different way. You can subscribe by clicking on the link to the left and joining the Google group.

We will start in Language school in Quito, and then tr to make our way to the coast and the Galapagos islands.

I got pricked today for Yellow fever after much toil and thought. I think I made the right choice.

I must say, I am a bit nervous and not completely sure what to expect when we get there.

I guess that is part of the adventure.

Friday, June 15, 2007

A Breath of Fresh Air

I don't want to say this is the reason that I chose teaching because it is not, but damn, what a great thing to have two months off of work. Summer time and the livin easy!

Yesterday I cleaned my classroom and the day before that, I attended our graduation in which we had 22 Graduates, which was our largest graduating class ever. One of the nice things about my school is that at graduation, all of the graduates are invited and encouraged to speak, there is no valedictorian, they are all celebrated.

Some of my students

Most of the speeches were just simple thank you but there were a few that were quite moving. One student looked at me and said, "Daren, I struggled in your English class and you were quite tough to the class at large, but one on one, you were the best English teacher I've ever had."

It's words like that that make my time at this school worthwhile. I don't care how reluctant or rude the students were to me in class, at graduation, everything changed.

One of the other teachers said something to the students that really resonated with me he said, "You are not individuals, don't think that its just you receiving that diploma. We are all graduating with you. Your teachers, your family, and your friends. Don't think that you are alone, we are all accomplishing so much today."

I agree wholeheartedly.

I am so glad I have this time to rejuvenate myself.

May the living begin.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Look Up ^

I have been playing around with photoshop and I created a new header. I also played with the HTML--yes I am a geek. please be understanding.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Almost there

I can't believe it is almost over (my first school year that is). Interesting events this week:

Two girls under the influence of multiple pills from an unknown origin.

Mother came crying to school because her daughter was taken away from her ( the same one who swallowed too many pills)

My microwave was bashed in by a skateboard
My bike was picked on by an angry student (Do they really hate me?)

I am afraid of what the summer holds for many of my students. There are too many kids that I feel like are close to hitting rock bottom but aren't quite there and have the consistency and safety of school to keep them away. Summer means less structure, less rules, less responsibility, less supervision, more drugs, more alcohol, more danger, more freedom.

I am crossing my fingers.

but on to more interesting things: I found this beautiful cover of an old song by two of my favorite singer-songwriters, Ray Lamontagne and Damien Rice. Please listen and be moved.