Saturday, June 26, 2010

Life is a Classroom

Teaching is going swell, it's now been a full month and there have been no revolutions against the teacher (as so many Ecuadorians prefer to take to the street when they disagree with something). I see this as a success that I am something of a decent teacher. I recently gave them all tests and no one failed, I also chalk this up as my own accomplishment. :)

I have also been tutoring privately Marco, one of Jose's uncles (a hilarious man who only calls Jose "Frank" and keeps trying to take me out for ceviche, now that he knows I love it), as well as Franco (a sweet 8-year old who works very hard about learning to correctly pronounce "I like to eat octopus"). I meet with these students fours hours each week, on top of my regular four hours of classes daily.

This week I also started teaching a small group of children (Paulita 6, Santiago 5, Rueben 6, these are all Jose's family, and Santi is his son), some basic English. This has been interesting so far, as they are all different levels and some of them are a little familiar with the alphabet. Some letters have opposite sounds in the Spanish alphabet, such as a=e, e=i, b=v and so on, but they are all eager to learn and I think it will be fun.

My risk-taking behavior in the sport of eating has also caught up with me, as I evidently have parasites. I had diarrhea off and on for about a week, this was my first clue. The second hint came when no matter what I ate, my stomach literally "came to life" with gurgling and other amoeba-like movements. I have since had another grand experience with the hospital on the island (students making stabs at medical advice, and another "nurse" who failed three times at giving me a shot before I refused it and insisted that I no longer had pain and I only needed a prescription to pass the little devils, thank you very much). I've completed the meds and seem to be doing much better, but I am still weary (I blame this on the movie Space Balls, the scene where the alien emerges from the guys belly. Don't eat the chicken. Order the soup.)

On a brighter note, I have found and moved into a small apartment. I am a ten-minute walk from the university, which is nice. I needed some sort of separation between work and home and this helps tremendously. It's the third floor of another uncle to Jose, whom my student Marco affectionately calls "Pato Luckas," which somehow translates to Daffy Duck. I'm avoiding finding out what my nickname is.

The family is very nice and generous. I helped the 16-year old son study for an English test and they cooked me a whole lobster (This was, of course, while I was still trying to starve the little animals inside of me and it was something of an awkward dinner as I tried to speak broken Spanish to cover the queasy howls coming from my midsection). ¡QuĂ© rico!

The apartmento is great: it's totally furnished, I have wi-fi, there is a place to do laundry (a stone and faucet for handwashing), a little kitchen and fridge, a small tv to watch all the World Cup action, etc). I have excellent views of sunrise and sunset, and the neighborhood is relatively quiet. I say “relatively” in order to give credit to the illegal choir of roosters that sing me awake each morning (illegal since there is a law that no poultry is allowed in town, only in the highland farms, however it is not enforced. But they know they are guilty, you can see it in their wide eyes and jumpy reactions, they have something on their conscience).

I’ve been spending a lot of time (especially while at home sick), just watching the action of the neighborhood, as it is usually more interesting than the three channels I receive with my rabbit ears. For instance, this morning, I observed a truck deliver a full pig to the lady up the street. The bare-chested man parked along the curb and began to sharpen a large knife as the customer came out and they appeared to be making small talk and negotiating a fair price. Once this was settled and the blade prepared, the man lobbed off the pig’s head and feet, tossing them back in the truck bed. He then, being a gentlemen, hoisted the carcass on his bare shoulders and carried it to the laundry stone and sink area for the woman to clean and then cut up as she saw fit, to finally be transferred to her own freezer. This all took place in about ten minutes. He then sauntered back to his truck, the driver’s side door patched with primer, stopped briefly to kick his rear tire, and then climbed in the cab and turned the corner, the head and feet spilling across the truck bed as he made the turn. Such a lovely day in the neighborhood.