About Me

I am in South America from October 3rd until December 17th! I am spending the month of October volunteering in a child care center in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. Then I have a month and a half to explore Ecuador and Peru!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

My first weekend in Quito

To pick up where I left off...

On Thursday I began to teach English to the older kids (age 4-5) in the daycare. There are about 25 kids in that one classroom. So instead of teaching all 25 at one time I took them in groups of five to a small classroom. The are so much fun to work with in small groups! The first thing I taught each group was how to say "hello." Then I went over numbers 1-5. Some of the kids already knew the numbers from their homes or from the last volunteer who taught English. After that I taught each group three colors--green, blue and yellow. I had squares of each color that I laid on the floor and when I said the color in English they were to run to the square and stand on it. The kids loved it!

Some of the groups were difficult to work with. I do not think some the kids are used to listening and doing what they are told. I am sure after a few English classes they will understand how it works and it will be easier to work with and more fun for them and me. A couple of the groups were amazing though! Some of the kids are completely interested in learning English.

Thursday afternoon I was in a Pasteleria (a bread and pastel shop) eating a delicious pineapple pastel when I looked out the window and saw people running down the streets and sidewalk. Then a moment later I saw men jogging back in the other direction. I wondered what was going on...

Then someone said there was a building that was on fire. I finished my pastel then went into the street and saw flames coming out of the second and third stories of a building. There were bomberos (firemen) and their trucks and hoses fighting the fire. There was a large crowd gathered to watch. I only stayed for a moment to see what was going on then left the area...big crowds are not a good idea.

Yesterday was the independence holiday in Guayaquil so we did not have classes at the daycare. That left me with a 3 day weekend...

I spent the day with a nueva amiga, Veronica, and her family. I met Veronica at the airpot when I arrived and she helped me to find my taxi to get to my host familys house. She was my first friend in Ecuador :). I got her phone number and added her on facebook.

Yesterday morning, at about 11:30, Veronica and I went for a walk in a very popular park here in Quito called Carolina. We had been walking for about half an hour when a man approached us and asked for 50 cents. Veronica reached in her purse to get it and then the man said "Give me your phone." Veronica said she didnt have it and he said that he had seen her with it a few minutes ago and if she did not give him her phone he would kill her. Veronica gave him her phone. He ran away. We walked away.

I had not understood much of what happened because they were talking very quickly and, of course, in Spanish. I thought he wanted to borrow her phone to make a call but was very confused when he ran away with it. It was only when we were walking away and Veronica said "We just got robbed" that I understood what had happened. We walked away and I held her hand very tightly.

We promptly got a taxi and went to her house.

Veronica said that had never happened to her before, but it had happened to her friends. She said sometimes they ask for money and it is best just to give it to them and not make them angry. That is why she was going to give him the 50 cents. The way I understand it is that its similar to "The Toll Bridge Troll." They make you pay a fee to pass, even just in a park.

It all happened very quickly and surprisingly peacefully. People in the park probably didnt realize what had happened. It was very tranquil. Veronica was so strong and calm. We went back to her house and told her mom and sister what had happened and she called the phone company and cancelled the phone. Veronica said she was very happy that he just wanted her phone. He didnt even ask me for anything, and I probably wouldnt have understood him if he had. I was not carrying anything on me for him to have anyways.

The rest of the day was amazing though. Her family took me to a town nearby, Cumbaya for lunch. We ate at a Chinese restraunt with Ecuadorian influences. I had fried rice with veggies. It was delicious! After that we went to the Mitdad del Mundo "The center of the Earth" Latitude 0. Yes, I straddled the Equator! I was in the Northern and Southern hemispheres at the same time! The Mitdad del Mundo is very interesting to me. There was lots of information about Equinoxes and Solstices. I also learned that on these special dates people who live in a town inside a volcano (inactive) perform ceremonies. Too bad I wont be here for the winter solstice!

Veronicas family is amazing. They took their whole day to show me Ecuador. Veronica is 21 and she has a sister who is 24. They and their father all speak English. Our conversations went back and forth between Spanish and English. Later that night we went to the historical center in Quito to eat and have a drink. I had a Strawberry Daquri, my first legal drink! Oh yes, and Veronicas family invited me to join them for the Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead celebration on November 2. And they said if I am back in Quito on December 6 I can stay with them and join in on Quito holiday festivities.

Today is a big soccer game here in Quito. Ecuador and Uruaguay are playing to go to the World Cup in South Africa. I am going to Veronicas house to watch the game. Go Ecuador!

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