Thursday, September 29, 2011

To Market

Before I even begin to write about the incredible fruits, vegetables, and dairy purchased at the market today, I need to write about how I was able to afford this amazing food.

I am not going to go into deep detail about my financial situation right now, but I will say this: ATMs  are an absolute pain while traveling. Yes, they make it "convenient" to withdraw money from the States, but it is expensive. My financial... issue, we'll say...  all started because I had to take out money from my account in the US in order to pay rent, because our landlord makes his tenants pay for three months at a time. (Don't ask me why, and yes, we are planning to move out in December if possible.) Needless to say, I did not have that money lying around, so I had to use an ATM. The interchange fees, ATM fees, and banking fees ended up costing me $20. Now I realize that $20 may not seem like a lot of money, but when you see how much food I purchased today for $15, you will see how vital that $20 could have been to my life. Anyway, I will not be getting paid until Monday, (and even that is not a guarantee), so I was left with just enough money to pay for the bus to get myself to and from school all week and go to Bailoterapia twice. My roommate, (Tina), and I have been living on rice, pasta, bread, and eggs since the end of last week. That's not exactly a healthy person's dream scenario; it's just what was left in our home to make.

Here comes the part where we were able to go to the market:

Tina and I were incredibly hungry yesterday at school. Our stomachs were growling, but again, we had no money and therefore couldn't do anything about it. One of our coworkers, (a 62 year-old amazing man who recently moved here with his wife), overheard us talking. He was a personal trainer for years in the States and lives a very healthy lifestyle, so he was definitely bothered by the lack of fruits, vegetables, and protein in our diet. At school this morning, he walked into the teacher's lounge, handed me a $20 bill and said, "Please go to the market and get yourself some good food." I was overcome with gratitude. We will obviously be paying him back after we get paid next week, but he did not give it to us expecting to receive anything in return. Generosity truly is spirit.

*Side note: I realize that we were in no way, shape or form starving, but this was an incredible gift to receive, and so I needed to share. We are so fortunate to have such a great crew of people to work with.*

So... here is what we were able to purchase!

10 Eggs
2 Cauliflower
12 Onions, (2 red, 10 white)
3 Avocados
6 Peppers
6 Tomatoes
12 Bananas
Mandarin Oranges

All of this for a grand total of $15.
(We plan on using the remaining $5 to purchase bread, cereal, and yogurt.)

Thank you, Ken for bringing healthy food back into our lives and tummies! :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Let's Get Physical!

I am in love...

with BAILOTERAPIA, (dance therapy)! 

My friend Lisa is an avid bailoterapia attendee and she invited me to join. The emphasis of the class changes everyday, (salsa, kickboxing, etc). Today's emphasis was abs and lower back. I am definitely feeling the burn! :) The class was outside in the middle of the park. I paid a whopping 50 cents for a great one-hour workout. I plan on going every Monday and Tuesday night after my Spanish class- SO fun! It was nice to be outside and hear Spanish. You would think that with being in Ecuador I would be speaking in Spanish all the time, but I've been doing way too much talking in English lately. This will be a great way for me to expose myself to español AND get myself in shape.

As some of you know, I used to be a Turbo Kick instructor. I have been missing it like crazy. I remembered the music but forgot the instructions in Wisconsin. :( Because my mom is AMAZING, she sent me the rounds so I can do them here! I am super excited to start classes here! It most likely won't be anything formal, but it does my heart good to know that I'll still be pumpin' it in Ecuador.

Last but not least, running... Oh how I have such a love/hate relationship with running. At this point, I'm feeling a bit more hatred due to the altitude. I can't believe it is still affecting me. I've been here almost six weeks, and it still takes my breath away. I am, however, incredibly excited to run like a gazelle when I return to the States. Dug Road Trail in Decorah won't know what happened to me! :)

And now the day is coming to a close. I'm happy to put an "X" on that Lazy Log of mine! It's simply a calendar that I put an "X" in on days that I work out, but it's a great motivator; (thank you, Andrew Peterson). If I see a few days in a row with blank squares, I know it's time to get myself in gear! I am lucky to have so many great opportunities to get physical. Now to fit in yoga... :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Long Time No Post

It has been two weeks since I've last written a post. I forgot how beautifully tired you get those first few weeks of teaching. I've been teaching, sleeping, and eating the last two weeks. (Suuuuuper exciting, I know.) I've been happy though, and that is what is most important.

I'm already falling in love with my kiddos. I can tell that leaving them in July will not be easy for me. One student in particular, Juan David, has stolen my heart. He is a blind student in my tercero de básica class who is easily the sweetest child I have ever met. His classmates take such good care of him. It is a beautiful thing to behold. It has been challenging to make accommodations for him, but his willingness to learn and his patient demeanor inspire me. I am so looking forward to working with him even more as I will now be tutoring him in math as well! :)

I started Spanish classes today, (finally!!!!). I know my confidence will grow immensely. I'm beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to learn from a great teacher! :)

Outside of school, things have been going pretty well. I moved out of my host family's home and into an apartment with a coworker. It was a difficult decision, but with making $400 a month, I couldn't spend $300 to live there another month. I already miss them like crazy, but I am fortunate to have an awesome roommate to help with the transition. :) My family dropped me off saying I will always be a part of their family and the doors are always open for me. They are incredible. I am so lucky to have them in my life.

I will hopefully get a chance to post pictures from my host sister-in-law's baby shower soon! The internet was out at our apartment all weekend, so my goal of catching up in blog world didn't happen. As for now though, I need to prepare for tomorrow. :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

First Day of School! :)

Today was my first official day with kiddos! I cannot tell you how good it feels to be teaching again. It is a part of me that has been missing; I feel much more complete after today! :)

In Ecuador, there is no "kindergarten;" school starts with what is called "primero de básica." I will be teaching segundo, tercero, and cuarto de básica, (1st -3rd grade). I will be teaching math, English, and reading for segundo de básica and English and reading for both tercero and cuarto de básica. Today, I spent my entire day with segundo de básica. There are a total of six sweethearts in this room, and I am incredibly excited to work with such a small group! The opportunities seem endless. :) Tomorrow starts my normal schedule in which I will be moving from room to room. I am so looking forward to meeting my other students.

For now, I must be on my way; I've got school work to do! (YAY!!!!)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

It's the MOST wonderful time of the year!

I may be on a different continent, but you better believe that I am sporting my PACKER gear today! I am praying that the internet works tonight so I can watch the Packers take home their first victory of the 2011-2012 season!!!!! Check out the support from my CEDEI School coworkers! :)

The following video is of my kindergartners from last year on the 100th Day of school, which happened to be the week before the SUPER BOWL. I felt it was appropriate to share.


Weekends and Wonderfulness

Sorry for being MIA! The internet is not always easy to come by in Ecuador, and when it is, I’m usually sending emails or skyping with loved ones. I will try to be more on top of things! Anyway this last weekend was full of great things, HOWEVER, I forgot my camera for almost ALL of them! L I hope you still keep reading anyway!

On Saturday morning, I went to Paulina’s panadería to learn how to make canchos, (they are like croissants)! It was an incredibly fun morning. I definitely got laughed at a lot for how slow I was at the folding process, but they all kept telling me that I just need more practice! They sounded like my mom when we’re making Christmas cookies. I don’t know if I will ever roll out dough as well as that lady! Back to the panadería: I want to tell you everything we did, but I plan on going again soon, so next time I WILL bring my camera, and then I will be able to have pictures to go along with the adventure, so stay tuned! J

It has been QUITE chilly here the last week and a half. And no, just because I am on the equator does not mean that it is hot all the time. (At this point I wish it did! ha.) Cuenca is located in the Andes Mountains, so cold, rainy weather is common during this time of the year. It actually hailed on my way to the center today! Yikes! My friend Christian and I decided that it is “Midwest November” weather right now. The only difference is, I didn’t bring my Midwest November clothing with me! So, on Saturday afternoon, instead of going out and exploring, I cuddled in with sweatpants, wool socks, (thank God I brought those!), my favorite sweatshirt, (with the hood UP), three blankets, and watched movies ALL AFTERNOON. It was delightful. Can anyone guess which movies I watched?!?!

If you guessed While You Were Sleeping and The Family Stone, you would be correct! Of course these two movies made me feel like I was back in Decorah, snuggled on my unbelievably comfortable couch, with apples and spices cooking on the stove, just looking forward to the most wonderful time of the year: CHRISTMAS! I promise that I will not go on a Christmas rant. I will do my best to wait until December to do that. (It IS however only 108 days away in case you were wondering.) So yes, that was my Saturday, and I enjoyed every second of it.

On Sunday, I was taken ALL over our region of Ecuador with my family. Again, NO camera! L (They told me that we were going for a “spin.” I didn’t realize that meant five hours of sightseeing!) There were so many things I wanted to share. We went to an absolutely gorgeous church on top of a mountain. It was breathtaking- the view inside and out. Then, of course, there are just things I want to take pictures of like guinea pigs, chickens, and pigs on spicks EVERYWHERE, or the beautiful landscape that is the mountains and colorful homes, or our lunch: half a chicken, tortillas, potatoes, bread, and pop, WITH leftovers, costing $9.00. It floors me every time. When we got back to Cuenca, my coworkers called me for another adventure. This time, I DID have my camera!

Lauren, (one of the science teachers), bought a slack line and has been using it often. We went to a park near my house, set it up, and did our best not to fall! (It’s SO tricky!) Here are a few pictures of our slack line adventure near the Tomebamba River:

Lauren also takes “Tela” classes. Here is a picture of her, high up in the tree. She’s such an acrobat!
All in all, it was a wonderful weekend. J

A side note: I am SO excited for classes to start! Our first day with kiddos got pushed back to the 12th due to construction at school. I am beyond ready to be teaching! I miss it more than I can even express. This week we’ve been working hard getting our teacher room ready at school. (I do not have my own classroom as I will be teaching English and reading, therefore we have a teacher workroom to share.) I so wish that I would have taken a “before” picture of this place. It was horrifyingly disorganized. Let’s just say that this room became my project, (aka I was dying to put my organizational skills to use!). Everything now has a space and a CUTE label to go with it! (To all my Postville coworkers: those fonts are still coming in handy! Ha!) Now let’s just hope it stays this way. Pictures of the school will be coming soon. I want to wait until we are done with all the painting and construction, so again, stay tuned!