Hello friends! As this Sunday, I have been in Ecuador for 12 weeks. Muy interesante. As I’ve mentioned previously, it doesn’t really feel like a long time, particularly since I started teaching English three weeks ago.
In this post, I have decided to write several questions and answers that you might be wondering about my 12-week-long Ecuadorian life. So, I’m going to interview myself (ha, ha) and hope you enjoy learning some new information.
What has been your favorite thing to do so far during your time in Ecuador? A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to experience my first FUTBOL game in Ecuador. My host sister, Gatita, and I watched her favorite team play on a Sunday afternoon. I loved experiencing the excitement and energy in the stadium. Latin Americans are by far, the most passionate sports fans I have ever seen.
What fun things are you hoping to do in the near future? Just the other evening I found out that one of my students, Alejandro, is a nature guide. This means that he can take groups of people hiking, which is very popular here because we are surrounded by mountains and volcanoes. So, hopefully in the next week or so I’ll take a hiking adventure. Fun!
What do you like to do to relax? There are three things I enjoy doing to relax. First, I enjoy going on walks to a nearby park called Parque Ecologico. Check out the picture of the park. Next, I enjoy reading and writing in my journal on the terrace of our house (that’s just a fancy way to say the concrete roof). And finally, I enjoy watching movies.
Do you enjoy teaching English? I do enjoy teaching English. It is quite different than what I have done in the elementary school setting, however, it is new and exciting each day. I am continually challenged by my students and have a good time learning English grammar alongside them. I must admit that I never realized how little English grammar I knew. Thankfully, I am now learning about many verb tenses and other components that make up our language.
Have you met your goal of integrating more speaking into your English classes? I am still working on this but have gotten into a pattern of having specific parts of the class be “speaking” parts. I like listening to the students and of course, they like trying out their English skills.
How do you get to and from class? I walk to class each afternoon . . . and absolutely LOVE it! One of my greatest joys these days is not driving anywhere – and walking everywhere. Particularly since the weather is usually quite comfortable, I enjoy being outside on my way to class. My classes end each evening at 9:00pm. Since it is dark, the wisest way for me to get home each evening is via taxi. Therefore, I hail a taxi and pay the $1.00 fee for a ride home. Funny enough, each evening I seem to have the same conversation with a new taxi driver. The driver always asks me where I am from and what I am doing in Riobamba. I always tell him my story, while simultaneously explaning that I only speak a little bit of Spanish – hinting for him to speak slowly. The ride home is only about 4 minutes, which is just about the time our conversation starts to come to a halt.
Are you taking Spanish lessons? I am so glad you asked. 🙂 If you remember, when I was living in Quito for the first month, I decided that I needed to continue taking Spanish lessons in Riobamba. I did take lessons for four weeks when I arrived, but was not happy with my teacher. This week, I began lessons with a new teacher and am really enjoying the lessons. My teacher’s name is Cesar. Just the other day, I explained to him that in the U.S. there is a salad with his same name. He found that perplexing and a little bit humorous. I meet with Cesar every day for 2 hours in the afternoon. It’s intense, but so far it has been rather helpful.
What has been your favorite meal to eat? Our cook, Maria, is by far one of my favorite people here in Ecuador. She has a HUGE heart. She is also an amazing cook. Each day, we have soup with lunch. Therefore, I will tell you my two favorite soups. I have enjoyed both a pumpkin soup (make from a real pumpkin – not a can!) and tomato soup with hard-boiled eggs. I know those soups don’t sound very exciting, but trust me, they are delicious.
What has been your least favorite meal to eat? I don’t feel like I am being completely honest here because I didn’t actually eat the meal. However, the least favorite meal served at my house has been soup with tripe and sangre. You might wonder what sangre is . . . because I did. Well, it’s blood. Yes, soup with sheep intestines and blood. Gross. I just couldn’t force myself to try it and felt really bad about being disrespectful toward my family and Maria. Again, I have really enjoyed all of the other foods here – it’s just that one that caught me a bit off-guard.
So . . . what are you doing for Christmas? Again, I am glad you asked. I have decided to go to the U.S. over Chrsitmas and New Year’s. I will be in Denver for Christmas and then in St. Louis for the rest of the time. I am truly looking forward to being with family and friends and enjoying some of the comforts back home (for example, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – sad, but true).
What have you learned about yourself and about life so far? Where do I begin? Seriously. Well, as some of you know . . . some parts of this journey have been difficult so far. Not necessarily bad, just hard. More specifically, some days have been challenging because I do not speak Spanish fluently. I have found that there is often a huge gap with the potential in conversations and relationships with others when you don’t speak the same languge. This lack of connection has been difficult and lonely for me. With that being said, I am slowly working on this area in a few different ways. For example, just recently, I met a new friend for coffee who speaks English. It was really nice to connect with her . . . and speak in a language with ease. Also, I am hoping that starting new Spanish lessons will positively contribute to an increased depth in Spanish conversations with others. Next, I continue to learn about how important it is to be flexible in a new culture. With this, I learn that it is often not respectful or kind to frequently impart my culture onto others. Therefore, I work on keeping an open mind and often remind myself that my culture is not always right. Go figure. Finally, I continue to learn about the importance of listening to my heart and who I truly am. This might sound obvious to many, however, because I continue to meet new people on a frequent basis and am placed in new situations, I often need to remember to be true to myself and not sacrifice who I am at the core.
I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about my life in Ecuador during my “interview.” Between now and my next post, feel free to comment and write any additional questions you are wondering about things here. As always, I look forward to hearing from you! 🙂