Here are the thoughts of Joanna nee Lake as she spends time in Ecuador, and beyond... Disciple, Fairtrade Freak, Psychologist in the making. Now part of the Blundell Jones clan.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

6 months down!!

well after the political turmoil of the past few weeks, this week has seemed quite boring!! I don’t feel there’s much to say at all! oo but news of the country, is that the coast is suffering not only from floods but also from an epidemic of dengue fever!!!

The new president
So, Alfredo Palacio is our new president, he seems to be doing ok at the moment, shuffling round his ‘cabinet’, changing minister’s… though some people still aren’t happy with him!! We’ll just have to wait and see if he turns out to be like the rest… oo interesting thing I heard on the radio, they were talking about how it would be to have a female president – in this country I reckon it would be nigh on impossible that a woman would be voted in, they’re so machismo!

Oh dear, officially a teacher!!
Hmm… turned up on wednesday to find out I had to go to a teacher training course with the head of education for the province of quito. Normally just the headteacher and a teacher have to go, but in our case the head of edu asked for all the teachers from the Remar school to go – so I went too!!! Three days of 4 ½ hours of being talked at has left me completely exhausted!! It’s tiring enough having morning’s of lectures in English but in another language, you have to concerntrate, and hard!! It was interesting though some of it felt abit pointless – felt abit out of my depth with proper teacher’s surrounding me i.e. who’ve actually had training in a university to do what they do!!! Hmmmmm…. Good for my Spanish though!
Coz of this training, just gave 4 lessons this week, and saw an improvement in the behaviour of cuarto and cinto – or at least it felt easier! Sweet moment when anne and I entered the classroom of tercero, 2 girls bounced up and down saying ‘nos toca ingles, nos toca ingles’ – 'it’s our turn for English', so that was encouraging!!

Other news in Remar
I really haven’t a clue where the week’s gone in terms of Remar…I know I’ve done some card preparation, some lessons prep but other than that, it seems a blur!!! But good news, the wee baby that was ‘abandoned’, spent the week in hospital where they operated on the growth, which just turned out to be some kind of fat deposit (phew!) and she came home thursday… the lady who left her, came back, with another child… this time saying it was her sister who had left them (though tati is waiting for her to say that she’s really the mum…)… but anyway she’s now living in Remar too… we’ll wait and see what happens! But the baby is doing well! yeah!

Short and sweet this week…21days till my family arrive on Ecuadorian soil!
Oodles of love Me x

p.s. oo just had my hair cut!!! first time here!! i'm now sporting a lot of curls!!! doubt it'll last long though, i'm sure you all know what i'm like with not being bothered with my hair!! and when i arrive at reamr at 8am in the morning, it's not like i'm going to be wanting to spending ages sorting my hair! chao x

Monday, April 25, 2005

Marching for 'el pais', and up to 4000m!!

Well I shall start with the historical events of this week!!! Been involved in a ‘revolution’ (!!!!!)… Lucio is the third Ecuadorian president to be ousted by mass public protests in the past 9 years…

Whilst I was watching the country seemingly fall apart on Wednesday morning, with protests getting more violent in the capital, such headlines from England could be found on The Beeb website:
‘Parties fight over council tax’ ‘Rover cars to be made in China’ ‘Stars out for the Guide to the Galaxy’
now, what kind of news would you prefer to hear/ be a part of?? I know which I’d choose, it’s far more interesting (though saddening!) to hear about getting rid of presidents, uncovering corruption than to hear about Rover cars going to China!! There’s never a dull moment here in South America!!

Out to march
So, my role in all this: I arranged with Anne (german lass) to go to the cinema with another german friend of hers and some Ecuadorian friends on tuesday evening to see ‘Entre Copas’ aka ‘Sideways’, or so I thought!… when Andres arrived he commented that he’d like to go on the march they’d just passed and anne jumped in ‘yeah let’s go, we’ll accompany you’ … so that’s where it all started, and we left the car somewhere safer then we walked down to join in the march picking up another chum on the way. This guy’s house was just opposite where the march was passing so we joined in right at the front!! To be honest I felt abit ridiculous, I mean he wasn’t my president!! But I got into it, shouting ‘Lucio fuera’ ‘Lucio fuera’ (Lucio out) and ‘Democracia si, dictadura no’ (I think you can work that one out!!)… We were walking in the middle of the road, I reckon about 200 people mainly students but other ‘normal’ people as well! As cars passed us, there were people waving flags, people tooting their horns (which they’d been doing ever since a week ago friday as a form of protest). We continued walking and our numbers started to dwindle and I was thinking, is this it?? Didn’t seem a very impressive protest! But then we arrived at the end of Parque Elijido, and there was were the big protest was!! A traffic jam of cars, and I reckon several thousand people protesting!!

So what happened?
We made our way closer into the crowd of people chanting and shouting and waving their flags… they were being stopped from going any further by the police… every so often the police threw new bombs of teargas at the protesters.. then we heard that a Chilean news reporter had died from suffocation as a result of the gas…the police started getting more aggressive with their gas throwing so we decided to leave… reckon this about 10, 10.30pm!!

And what next?
So that was tuesday night, and the first death of these protests (total death count 4, with hundreds injured)… it struck me that it seemed such a senseless way to die! But I guess the life of a news reporter takes you to dangerous places! So wednesday morning, it all seemed abit desperate, now that one person had died, we didn’t have a clue what was going to happen next, how it was going to end! That morning after helping abit in the kitchen I had to fold a load of card using the special technique so that they ‘quedan bonita’ (look pretty) and whilst I did this I watched the events unfold on the TV! Saw the protests getting worse near where we were the night before, and in the historic centre as protestors tried to get closer to the presidential palace…throwing rocks, being repelled by gas…mostly students of both university and college age… then we heard that the Chief of Police had renounced his post coz he didn’t want to see Ecuadorians fighting Ecuadorians any more… then at 1.30pm the Congress announced that they had voted that Lucio leave his post, that he was no longer president…

The results, and the future…
So I thought: yeah, at last, an end to the problems but ah ha no… Congress inaugurated the vice President Alfredo Palacio… but protests continued, this time changing to ‘Todos fuera’ (All out) ‘Politicos fuera’ (Politicians fuera)… el pueblo (the village, the people) don’t want anything to do with anything that has anything to do with (?!!?) Lucio! Ni Alfredo, ni el Congreso, ni nada (not alfredo, not the Congress, not anything). So that is where we’re at, we have this new president but the people don’t want him!! Friday the US was calling for new eleccions, which is what the people want – a chance to choose for themselves… Though talking to my Ecuadorian friend the other day he was very pessimistic that anyone good would ever be in office. We shall just have to wait and see what happens next!! There is so much more I could say about the events here but I don’t want to bore you as I’m not the best of writers, but click below to see some photos from the local press of the events, which will give you a better idea of how things have been!

Effects on Remar..
Hmm… the recent protests haven’t had a good effect on the children… we had rather a serious incident the other day. The children decided to play ‘huelga’ (strike) and were apparently throwing rocks (a terrible example of imitative play!), and one girl of 8 got hit in the head with a rock and blood was pouring down her face, red and thick!!! ¡Que susto! (what a shock!)… her mum cleared it up (Beatrice, a ‘volunteer’, from Columbia that lives in Remar) and it wasn’t a big wound… but it was a hard slap in the face of how events such as these effect children!! The other thing is that the office of remar is situated right in front of the Consejo Provinical (Head office of the province) which was one of the most busy sites for the protesting! Hence rather dangerous!! On wednesday one of the boys in remar, alberto, 13 years, was leaving the office with his responsable (the person responsible for him) and for some ridiculous reason they decided to walk through the march – it was after Lucio had been ‘botado’, got rid of, so they thought it would be calmer. But it wasn’t, and they started to walk faster through the crowd… but then alberto fell… he’d been hit by a teargas bomb in the head which knocked him to the ground when he hit his face! Thankfully his responsable managed to pick him up and shout ‘Ambulancia’, and they took him speedily to the hospital. Alberto ended up with 12 stitches in his head, and 24 on his lip and chin. I saw him on friday and poor thing, he looked rough!!

Other news in Remar
We only had 2 days of lessons coz of the political crisis, both of which were quite tough!! On monday in our second class, the kids were completely apathetic and lazy, and it was impossible to motivate them – I was fighting a losing battle to keep their attention!! Been helping with the cards abit too this week, making the cards ready to send to the shops, which actually took a surprisingly long amount of time!! There have been two sad points which also have positives… first that Jenifer and Juan Diego had to be sent elsewhere for their safety. Their mum had turned up saying she wanted to see them, but really she wanted to take them with her – fair enough you might say but no, she’s an alcoholic and a drug addict that lives on the streets who maltreated her children! (Jenifer is suffering from malnutrition, at 4 years old you’d easily mistake her for 2yrs! As I did when I first knew her!!!) So that was sad as we didn’t get to say goodbye!
The other sad point was that one friday a wee abandoned baby girl arrived – just recently born, no more than 20 days!! With a large growth under one arm, and some horrible burns on her neck. Sad situation but there is also a positive!! If no relatives can be found by the authorities, Tati is going to adopt her! She’s had a rough deal, but God has a beautiful purpose for her life…
Oo sweet moment this week was maribel, for 2 days running when there weren’t classes she asked me if we could do English as she didn’t want to be lazy!! Can you believe it?? A wee child asking for work to do?? So we continued trying to learn the 14 animals we’ve been doing!

Up to 4000m
So bringing yous right up to date, this weekend I went on a trip to see 2 of the 23 things that my guidebook says you shouldn’t miss (hence why this is late!) – the market in the paramo (highland) village of Zumbahua and La Laguna de Quilotoa.. I went with anne and 2 german friends of hers… a 10 hour round trip!! It was great fun though, the scenery spectacular… got some interesting photos, especially of the market… all the indigenas in their clothing… 5 pineapples for 50p!! (can you imagine??)… fried pigs heads! We got up to see the market at 7.30am, then headed up to the Laguna at 9ish in the back of a camioneta (truck thingy) and ended up doing a 4hr 20min hike around the lake, and I almost collapsed!!! Four reasons for this, first, that I didn’t sleep well so was tired anyway, second, that I’m unfit, third, that it was at 4000m and the altitude affects you, and four, I was in trainers which aren’t designed for climbing up and down mountains – they have NO grip!! But I did it!! But I have to say, never again!! If I don’t do anymore serious walking all the time I’m here, I won’t be disappointed!! The other exciting thing was I learnt a bit of quechua (the main language of the indigenas) from the dueña (owner) of our hostal… It was quite bizarre to hear them having difficulty speaking Spanish!!

Oo just thinking what else there is to say, and just a wee point of interest is that the other thing they’ve made a big thing of is the election of the new papa! Lots of news coverage of that too, though of course the main thing taking up newspaper space is the political situ, which I think it will do for some time to come!! Watch this space!
Well I hope you’re all well!!! It’s now less than a month till my parents and my bro come to visit me, VERY exciting! Sending you all loads of love in the places were you are! Me xxx

oo just came to me, i forgot to mention about my night out dancing! we arrived at a place recommended by a friend of anne's, and it was almost dead (reckon coz of the marches!) and the music dire (no bearing to the marches!!)... so after a while of sitting round we decided it was make or break time - and rather than try and dance to this dodgy music that we'd try somewhere else.... so off we trotted to 'No Bar' - which was jam packed! quite a good night - what was good was that the music was a real mixture, bit o salsa, bit o hippy hop stylee (my hip hop stylee dancing got a few weird looks! think Micheal J Fox in back to the future! the people aren't ready for it yet?!), bit o cheese (hmm not so good - YMCA!!! 'i will survive' was fun though!), bit o Lenny Kravitz! girls up dancing on the bar!! (interesting!!) ... one thing that struck me was the fact that the youth culture here doesn't seem that different from at home (coz of the USA influence!) - they know all the bands and groups that we do, and dress in a similar way! you see all these 'Street' ecuadorian young lads! kind of comedy! 'down in the hood!' Got home at 2.30am!!! can you believe it??? fair exhausted the next day as i had to get up at 7.30!!! now, tis all, chao xxx

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

NEWS FLASH - President's 'gone'

just a wee update...

things been getting really ugly here - first death last night as the result of the people protesting - a chilean newsreporter died from inhaling too much gas at the march last night (oo too which i went!!!)and a second person today. The situation has been worsening terribly - people have been outside the Congress and in the historic centre trying to get to the President's palace all day - with violent clashes between protester's and police...but then at 1.30pm, El Congreso - the congress - announced that they had voted that Lucio has to go! Praise the Lord! It was all getting abit hairy, and although not all is sorted now, things are looking up at last for ecuador!

check out the beeb for an overall blurb on the situ!

P.S. don't worry, i'm safe!!! and i was fine on the march.. more news to follow!

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Strike one...

Well what a week it’s been!! In a sense a lot has happened and in another it feels like not much at all…

Arty relaxtion…
I’d been thinking how I’d love to join in the taller (workshop) with some of the activities just to have some relaxation, some time to let go in a creative manner but alass the programme is not for me!! But this sunday I got to get creative, it was actually work but I enjoyed it!! Tati asked me to make a load of signs for the bedroom doors, to give them all names – so had fun buying bright coloured card and foamy stuff to make letters that stand out!! Spent like 4 hours on sunday afternoon making them – 4 hours? to make a few bedroom signs? You must be thinking, but ah-ha, it wasn’t just that, I also made all the signs for the ‘new timetable’ of activities! It was very satisfying work!!

Timetable, smimetable…
Well, so much for helping with this new timetable of activities for the kids that i was telling yous about last week… I don’t really know what happened but not one afternoon did I get to join in with what the 'new tias' were doing!! Tati had also spoken with me about getting the girls more organized in helping do chores, and we came up with a timetable for that but the very day I put it up I discovered there was a clash with another timetable, about which I had not been told!! So wednesday on my ‘unscheduled’ day off (coz of ‘el paro’) I set to once again and came up with a new schedule – not least the fact that 2 girls leaving Remar also put a spanner in the works!!! But I think that it’s now sorted, just a matter of getting the girls to actually stick to it, and not to moan too much!!

Because of Lucio, I’m burnt!!!
I’ll explain… I said on sat that the minister of education had called an end to classes to support the strike (paro), so monday the kids had no classes (though tues the minister had changed his mind, and all were back in classes!!! Grrr) – so monday morning, Tati asked us to entertain the kids so they didn’t get up to mischief – doing some kind of art or something… but anne had the great (?) idea if taking them to the park! Well it seemed like a great idea…. So about 10.30, we had all the kids (those that live in the girls home) ready and waiting at the gate to leave, 24 kids in all with just me and anne to look after them!! Argghhhh!!! And we had to walk half an hour to the park, which wasn’t very popular with the kids, especially the little ones (group ranged from 2 ½ to 13) who had to be carried part of the way – all were saying they were really tired but miraculously when we arrived their energy was replenished and off they went running round the playground!! We stayed there about an hour and half, then had the long walk back, which was slightly stressful with the older kids running off ahead, not wanting to wait for the ickle ones!! So, later on in the afternoon, my face started to feel abit tight and at this point I was talking with anne and tatianna and they informed me I was rather red!! Ahhhh, how embarrassing, I HATE being burnt – so I ended up with a red face (back and front), neck, bit of shoulder, and now have a rather ridiculous pattern of brown and white on body! Grrr!!! My mistake was forgetting to put suncream on when it wasn’t sunny!! Never again!!! BUT I hold to the fact it’s Lucio’s fault, coz if it wasn’t for him, the schools wouldn’t have been in paro!!!

People in the streets…
Well the paro turned out not to be a big as hoped for – the spectulated 10 mil indigenas certainly didn’t appear! Where I live all was very quiet, though a lot quieter than usual – there were buses and taxis functioning but not many – though the trole bus wasn’t working at all… The Supreme Court of Justice – what a joke! – (La Corte de Suprema Justicia) a few blocks from my house, was surrounded though… There were demonstrations in various parts of the city, mainly in the centre – but Lucio had put some 700 policemen in the streets surrounding the Government Palace so that no-one could get near him. There were some quite violent clashes (oo with plenty of tear gas!) between the police and demonstrators, with reportedly 79 people injured. But, it seems nothing has changed!!! Hmmmm… although lots of people didn’t join in the paro, they seem to be protesting in the nighttime in their 1000s… not sure how this will end!! Hopefully Lucio will do the right thing, and stop his dictatorial activities and bring back democracy! Douglas (husband of Maria Augusta, Scottish) says it’s never a dull moment in terms of the news in a Latin American country, not like England (this week I read on, all about how cookie monster is ‘going on a diet’! how is that top news??)

Feeling all studenty again!!
Oo it was great, I went out with anne and 2 ecuadorian friends of her’s to a bar… we were supposedly going to a ‘book reading’ (hmm??!!!) but when we arrived, all the people inside looked so bored out of their minds and all over 50, that we decided to go elsewhere!!! So we went to ‘El Pobre Diablo’ – I had been thinking about how much I wanted to hear some jazz, and as we entered much to my delight, that’s what was playing! Had a really good evening, chatting, chuckling, munching (delicious fruit salad served with muesli, yoghurt and honey – tradition here!), and there was a really lovely atmosphere in the bar – hopefully I might go then one day when there’s live jazz!! That’d be cool… though what I really want, is to hear my bro play!! A lass, I shall have to wait awhile!!

And on that farm he had a dog..
So this week, we didn’t have a full week of classes firstly coz of the paro, and then yesterday we didn’t give primero their class coz some students from a college came to give a party to the kids (oo how I wished I had my camera with me)…but in 3 of the 4 classes we managed to get them starting to sing Old MacDonald!!! Very exciting!! I don’t know much about how long it takes kids to learn, but I reckon 3 weeks to learn 14 animal names is a long time??? (and some don’t know all, for example in the test we had to give the classes, Segundo, averaged 5 out of 14, and that was with selecting the correct word from the board!!) But hey ho, we’ll keep pressing on!! Oo today we celebrated, slightly belated coz the day is 13th abril, ‘el dia del maestro’ (the day of the teacher), and we got included – a wee bit of tasty cake, cola, and nibbles and got given wee cards from the ‘local council’ supervisor for education! So there you go… I’m officially recognized as a teacher!!

So yep, another week has gone, and now it’s just over a month until my parents and my bro come to visit!! Yeah!! Very exciting!! Well I’ve given yous all my news, whether it been exciting or deadly boring, it’s now time for yous to give me yours!!!

oo wrote this this morning but am uploading it now.... check out this link for BBC lowdown on ecuadorian political situ!!!
Lucio has now declared that the quiteños (people of quito) now have no rights - which means for example that the police can effectively enter any home and take what they want... obivously the people are upset!! and one form is protest is an almost continual tooting of car horns in the streets to the rythm of 'Lucio fuera' (Lucio out), and people waving white flags from their cars to signify the desire for a free country! not sure what'll happen...
oo random point... in the internet cafe got some dodgy dance music playing, and i heard a voice say 'this is Gatecrasher at Republic Sheffield with Hallam FM' - how weird is that?!!!!! must be listening over the net?

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Enough is enough!!

There have been several changes this week with the adolescents in Remar which means things are now more strict which they need (although they don’t like it!!)
The new regime…
Wednesday a revolution occurred with the card-making business…no the girls didn’t revolt, it was a good revolution as it badly needed shaking up - praise the Lord!! At the beginning of the week after a ‘telling off’ for badly made cards, it dawned on Tati that more organization was needed and that the girls needed to be supervised all the time which I couldn’t do now that I have classes to take and prepare for! So Gloria was put on cards full time! Oo and what a relief on my part coz after the ‘telling off’ I just felt I couldn’t anymore, enough was enough, I didn’t have the energy to keep it going… but now new life has been breathed in the business, Gloria is doing good!!! Beatrice is also going to be in charge, they’re going to alternate week’s of supervison and I shall just check on quality control and that. Feeling all upbeat about the cards once again coz as you know I’ve been feeling somewhat disillusioned for a little while now… it’s also really good that it’s now a completely ‘home-run’ business – Beatrice even went out to visit the Christian bookstores to drum up more business which is excellent as she’s got the real gift of the gab! But being Columbian I sometimes can’t understand her as they generally speak really fast!

The gels…
Starting to miss the gels now though, as I don’t get a chance to spend time with them either in the cards or in the identity workshop coz of me English classes (oo I want to have my cake and eat it don’t I, never satisfied)!! Though I got abit oversensitive this week as they were making fun of my abundant mistakes when I speak – it’s a good lesson in being humble hanging out with them! And although it’s not very nice, the up-side is that it means they feel comfortable with me! But now that I’m accepted, to have only 6months left doesn’t seem like any time at all to spend with them! It’s really a life work!

Oh dear, country to rack and ruin!
“Pichincha to strike april 12th. Patience has run out. The return of the 3 fugitives was the last straw…” Headlines in a newspaper on monday… hmmm…the political situ is getting worse (see wednesday’s blog for more info) The mayor of Quito and the principal of the rest of the county (called Pichincha) have called a strike until ‘the country returns to democracy’. Every day as I read in the free trole newspaper the situation seems to be getting worse! Friday the department for education called a strike in all educational institutions from friday until thursday – the big protest day will be wednesday (now the 13th on the 12th), and I’m not to go into Remar that day for my safety! Wednesday this week people were demonstrating outside the Supreme Court, and it all got a bit nasty, with injuries and lots of teargas… Thursday students from the catholic university went on a peaceful march, all dressed in black but Janeth (Ecuadorian latin linker studying English at the Cath Uni) said that government bod’s were taking photos of individuals to be put on record and she was saying some might go missing… hmm, bit scary!….Yesterday the papers said that some 10,000 indigenas are going to come to Quito on Tuesday to join in the protest… A lot of people are very angry with Lucio (the president), and if he doesn’t make some changes, I don’t know what’s going to happen! Watch this space…

Well this week 3 new gels have come to volunteer in remar for between 1 and 2 months– 2 brits and an american…so tati has put me ‘in charge’ of them. With Tati we’ve set up a timetable of afternoon activities that we’re going to do with the kids to keep them out of mischief (oo and they’ve been getting up to lots!!). I’m really quite excited about it coz it’s something I’ve wanted to do but not been able to firstly because of the cards, and secondly because I’ve been alone, and it’s A LOT of work for one person to organize…But the plan is that we’re going to have drama class, art class, storytime, outdoor games and video day! Though, in a slightly pessimistic (or rather just realistic?? forward thinking?) way I’m thinking of what will happen when I’m left ‘solita’ (alone) once again in june! But maybe some other people will come to help?! Hope so!!!

Old macdonald had a farm, eieio…
So English classes on the whole this week have been a lot better, kids more adapted to having us teach them and to learning English.. though still not easy – especially with the ickle kids. It seems crazy trying to teach the littleuns English when they’ve hardly learnt their own language! Though had fun giving some of the classes a game of animal bingo, and hopefully we’ll be able to think up lots of exciting ways to teach them –I don’t want to be a boring teacher, I want the kids to enjoy learning!!! any ideas welcome!!

Volcano erupting…
Just heard yesterday that Volcano Reventador has been ‘erupting’… it’s situated east of quito in the oriente (3 types of land in Ecuador: costa (coast), sierra (highlands), oriente (jungle)) and depending on how the wind is, we might end up getting ash here! Paquita said if your parents hear about the probability they’ll probably be worried but just tell them that quito is situated right under Volcano Pichincha… Alexander von Humboldt once made a comment about how strange Ecuadorians were: that they are happy when listening to sad songs, that they sleep peacefully under active volcanoes, and there were a third comment but I can’t remember it (can anyone help??)

The wedding
oo this morning watched part of the wedding of charles and camila with paquita, i was asleep for most of it (not realising it would be shown, otherwise i would've got up earlier - not that i'm a great monarchist or anything but it's a contact with home!), so just got to see the second half - the blessing in windsor castle... it was nice to see it but it was weird to see so many english faces, and how pale they all looked!!! it was weird also to see people dressed up in scarfs! (though on a cold quito day you can spot people with scarfs and gloves!!!)

Don’t reckon there’s owt else to say… continuing to enjoy my time here, although it’s not easy!! Was thinking of taking a trip today to join anne in otavalo with a friend of hers but decided I just need a day to rest! so hope you’re all resting well!
Oodles of love till next time! Me xxxxxxxx

Wednesday, April 06, 2005 water, eggs and fun...

oo wee bit late this week, didn’t have time to write on saturday, wrote it on monday rather than save it up for this sat but then forgot my disk!!… so anyway, how did you all pass easter?? Hope you had fab times!! Our mime in church went well on easter sunday though unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of it, somehow they didn’t record… sniff sniff… was good fun though!!

The death of ‘El Papa’
The death of the catholic pope dude, John Paul 2nd, has been a BIG deal here… when it occurred, every channel was covering it… though got really annoyed by the comment of one woman remembering when the pope came to visit ecuador in the 80s coz she said it was as if Jesus had returned… how can she put the pope on the same level as Jesus? It almost seemed idolatrous the way she said it! To me it’s all abit crazy… oo other thing that all the channels were covering was the return of Abdala Bucaram, known as ‘El Loco’, the madman, a former president who fled the country with millions of sucre (money before dollars). I found it soo strange that all the people of guayaguil were welcoming him with open arms, really happy he'd returned, when he’s robbed them of so much! Armando said that his people are very forgetful and that policitians can easily trick them… it’s a sad situation! And with those that remember, the current president is NOT a popular man for letting this rogue back into the country… hmmm….

Gato en ingles significa ‘ cat’
So last monday, anné and I started giving English classes – first of all to tercero (third grader’s… not sure of the equivalent in England.. year 2?), it went quite well, I felt quite enthused afterwards as I’d learnt so much from anne in the first few minutes.. but the rest of the week wasn’t soo good.. especially our last class with the mas chiquitos (the smallest ones), we both felt completely drained and ‘depressed’ afterwards, it was so discouraging… trying to keep the attention of 23 boisterous 5ish yr olds is hard enough but trying to teach them another language when they don't know their own, well, you can almost forget it!! But we will keep on perservering, and do our best to teach them!

Connoisseur’s corner
Well, the only thing I’ve tried that’s new was… hot chocolate with cheese… what???!! Are you crazy? I hear you say… actually it’s not as weird as it sounds and is quite tasty! It’s not your traditional English cheese (which I miss sooo much - what I would give for a chunk of cheddar!!) that they use, more a sort of mozzarella which doesn’t have a strong flavour. It’s grated so that it starts to melt… it’s abit difficult to eat but it is tasty, though I have to say I do still prefer just to take a plain hot chocolate. OO easter wasn't so bad on the easter egg front after all! My parents sent me a pack of mini eggs and a pack of mars mini eggs, then my wonderful chum emmie also sent me some – some mini fairtrade and mini creme eggs (though got slightly squished in transit - yoke slurging out!) – so i did pretty well in the end!!! Lucky me!

Arrghhh… fed up of machismo!!
I’m not an aggressive person as I’m sure you all know, but these men here are really trying my patience with their comments and ‘psssttt’'s… ahhhh!!!! The other day, i was standing watching a drama, minding my own business and 3 policemen decided it was their right to start talking to me...trying to ‘chat me up', I just ignored them completely and thankfully that was that… Then as I was walking to church, happily in my own little world, some guy started walking alongside me and decided to start talking to me.. I continued humming away to myself and completely ignoring him… but he didn’t take the hint striatght away.. but in the end he did and he went away thinking I don’t speak English!! Hee hee… oo and yesterday (sunday), some guy said ‘Buenos Dias’(Good morning/day), and I ignored him and he said rather more aggressively this time ‘Buenos Dias Señorita’… by this time I’d passed him and he didn’t make anything of it… I just don’t understand how they think it’s their right to make a comment to a complete stranger and expect to receive a friendly response!! And there’s always someone who’ll just give you a ‘sssss ssss ssss’ – arggh ‘estoy harta de esto’ (I’m fed up with this!).
Arghhh, and the urinating in the street… I know I go on but really! Two men this week just as I’m walking by decide to relieve themselves right in front of me – urgghhh!!! but it's not just me, there was an article in the free trole bus newspaper the other about it!

Papallacta, feeling hot, hot, hot.
Friday night I went with some church amigos to papallacta, some thermal springs about 2 hours drive from quito… we arrived rather later than planned, about 8ish, and one would think us crazy for putting on our swimsuits in the cold, cold air, but once in the water, you don’t feel cold anymore, it's delicious… I got so toasted through that when we got out (at 10pmish!!!), I still didn’t really feel the cold! We came back down from the mountain to a village called Puembo, to where Rafa’s family has a ‘holiday home’… really bad night’s sleep as I had to share a bed, and ended up with just a quarter of it so felt like I was going to fall off at any moment… saturday, got up in a chilled fashion, long breakfast… then I played my first ever game of futbol!! Can you believe it?? I was pretty bad, but I got better, though I need A LOT of practise!! I had a really good time with them all (Daniel, Rafa, Daniel, Esteban, Jose, Diana, Jimena, Mari-Ester, Eduardo, Andrea, Wendy)…and my Spanish is improving all the time!!! took some photos whilst in the springs but we look like ghosts coz of the effect of the steam!!

‘me gels’
coz of starting English classes, I’ve had to give up helping the psycho-workshop with the teenage girls which is a real shame… but hey ho…It’s a really great thing for the girls but I know that Anna Maria (the ‘psychologist’) is finding it quite discouraging as they don’t get into it as one would expect with ‘normal’ girls – but when you consider their backgrounds and that expressing oneself creatively has never been encouraged (in fact more frowned upon), their behaviour makes sense! Cards last week was also abit of a bain! I wasn’t with the girls much (and neither was Gloria, supposedly taking over from me) coz of classes and ‘being mum’ accompanying the girls to the dentist many times!!, which meant they were rather a law unto themselves and not much work was done, and some of that that was done, wasn’t good… arghhh….

“Encerrados” – locked in

funny moment of the week... when was it? Oo Thursday – anne and i were leaving at the same time 3.30, i normally leave later but i’d done an 11-hr-day the day before (normal being 8, now 8.30) so had decided to leave early but when we arrived at the gate and we couldn’t get out!! Just as we’d decided to leave the padlock refused to open!! The key wasn’t working, somehow it had got damaged! Various methods were tried for getting it open, sledgehammers, saws but it wasn’t getting anywhere – and the key got completely bent! After waiting 20mins we decided rather than be locked in indefinitely that we’d climb underneath the gate!!! So under we went, crawling on our bellies but trying not to get too dirty as neither of us was going straight home! It was rather amusing, and i regretted it slightly when later my knees and elbows hurt (i never was any good at assault courses!!) but we needed to leave!! Made us chuckle lots though!! It was just so incredible that we were locked in!!!

Hmm… so that was last week… bit discouraging at points but I keep going, 6 months to go! Hope twas interesting to read… keep in touch, oodles of love me xx

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

oops i'm forgetful!!

just a quickie, to say i'm still here!!
last night i wrote my latest blog offering but being very forgetful i forgot to bring with me today my disk to upload it!! so to those of you who have faithfully logged on to catch the news, you'll just have to wait a wee bit longer!! all's good, but feeling very tired, and just got 'chastized' for the quality of the cards going downhill - but it's impossible for me now to keep an eye on the girls now that i'm giving classes in the school which take a lot of time!! preparing, giving, marking! oo my vocation isn't primary school teacher!
love to you all xxx