Thursday, February 18, 2010


The three day mayhem that is Carnaval just ended. And thank the Lord. I don´t think my liver could take anymore Pilsener. Here are some bullet points to sum up quite an eventful (and sadly, last) Carnaval 2010.

- Friday: The school decided it would be an excellent idea to have all the girls go up to this little tourist spot and play carnaval (shoot foam and throw water balloons, generally soak as many as fast as you can). I went up on a whim, opting not to go to the basketball game the other girls were playing in. Good thing, as there were about 5 adults to 40 kids...only two of which were actually WATCHING the water. It was at this place called Las Burbujas (The Bubbles) and it´s a break in the river, so there are little streams and mini waterfalls...geez, I can´t even describe it in English. Anyway...there´s water. And they had the scooper trucks out digging the stream deeper. Bad idea. I basically had to save three people from drowning since no one can swim here. I was like a very untoned, pasty Pam Anderson running to save a little boy and then a PROFESSOR! who was trying to save a girl. The girl was in the worst shape, I couldn´t find her dark little head that was barely bobbing above the surface. All the while, other girls were yelling at me that my sandals were floating away. A girl is drowning people! My $3 sandals don´t make a difference! Gracias a Dios, everyone was fine. And I made everyone GET OUT OF THE POOL! If only I had brought my whistle...

-Sunday: Valentine´s Day. I decided to go to Zumbi and meet up with Grigs. It was an absolutely GORGEOUS day...strong sun, perfect blue skies, great pool weather. We took a dip in the pool, went down the waterslide. Then headed over to a nice table and got beers served to us all afternoon. Even got some empanadas thrown in! As the sun was setting we had enough beer flowing through our veins to dance a dance or two. Then I decided to get up and participate in a ¨women´s contest.¨ I jumped up on stage...turns out I was a candidate for Miss San Valentín! I was representing the good ol´ US of A. Out of nine women, I made it to the top two!!! Basically had to shake my butt the whole time and blow kisses in the crowd. Unfortunately, I lost. It was a close race...the girl beat me in salsa...which was totally unfair since they are basically BORN to dance salsa here. Oh well. I got two beers and a chance to dance with the single mayor (which was brought to my attention several times).

-Monday: A moto cross race was down the road, so Grigs and I went with my friend Rumi and then Jason from Loja met up with us. We then decided to go to Chicaña, the most well known place around here for Carnaval. It was fun...a LOT of people. And very trashy, we noted. It was weird, like it´s hard to describe but it was just gross the people that were there. Everyone was like super mis-matched, all wet and stinky and drunk. Like state fair type times 10. And all playing¨cholo music (hick-like). We danced around...watched one of my STUDENTS participate in the wet t-shirt contest. Thank god she didn´t win....

-Tuesday: Tried to sleep in, but the music and hot air made it impossible. So Jason and his friend Oswaldo and I went to Zumbi to get one last whiff of Carnaval. It was really cloudy and a little chilly, so we tried not to get wet (basically impossible...). Didn´t spend a lot of time there, saw the rain clouds coming so we skadaddled. Made sure to get some empanadas de verde from the black folk before we peaced out. Then as I got back to Yantzaza around 8 or so, all nice and dry, two guys carried me into the fountain in the parque. Just great.

Well, it´s all over. But today start the fiestas in Yantzaza! Need to rest up this weekend. I slept 12 hours last night and I still need to catch up.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Yesterday I was invited to my very first Quinciñera. ¨Quinces¨ as they are sometimes called, are coming out parties for Latina girls when they turn 15. Here they are somewhat popular, but you usually have to have money for them. I kept thinking of My Sweet 16 the whole time...but this was really nothing like that.

I asked around and found out I needed to a) dress-up b) wear high heels (grr) and c) get a gift. So I did all of that, had my English lesson with this guy who works in the Municipio. He is ¨dating¨ this Ukranian woman online, and needs help with his english so that when he goes out to the Ukraine this spring, he can communicate with the translator (she doesn´t even speak english...). Weird, but he´s a really nice guy and the lessons I feel are actually productive.

Anyway, after the lesson I headed over the party. I asked Enith, the mom of the quinciñera, what time I should really come, because they always say 7 but no one shows up until 10 pm. She said they´d actually be punctual, so I had to be there by 8 since they were serving the dinner then. I got there at 7:45.....and things didn´t start until 10 pm. Oh Ecuas...

I actually only know the mother, the daughter I had never met. I guess it was some sort of big deal, this dinner. Because three of the nuns showed up, the director of the radio in town, and yours truly. All important representatives of the greater Yantzaza area. Ha.

The dad, I got to meet, which was really interesting. He has been living in the US for the past nine years and came back a month ago. He told me that he had made a promise to the family he´d be back for his daughter´s quince and sure enough he made it. However, the family was definitely not used to dad being back. The parents are getting divorced and the daughter didn´t seem too thrilled papi was back in town. I mean she doesn´t even really know him after being away for so long, and it was very obvious too.

They had a microphone and major speaker system set up in this empty apartment they have in their building. It was weird because there were about a total of 25 people, so I don´t know why they needed a microphone. But it was done in very Ecua style, where appearance and show is everything. The dad got up and said a few words, then presented his daughter with her present. She didn´t want to open it in front of everyone, but he insisted. She unwrapped it and it was a laptop. She kinda flopped it around, showing it to people...didn´t seem too thrilled. Again, I´m not sure if this is the girl or the dad...but I think it was a combination of both. Not your typical gift of a BMW SUV or what they show on tv. But it was still kind of a big deal.

We had a toast and then a nice dinner. I tried to sneak away, but got to sharing some cervezas with one of the cousins outside, dancing on the patio. It turned out to be a lot of fun. It definitely demonstrated to me that teenagers are awkward no matter what part of the world you are in, the dance floor and dinner etiquette definitely showed that. She looked beautiful, though, and it was really cool to be a part of this experience.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Gracias por las camisetas! Fotos

When I came back from the States, I brought a bunch of t-shirts that my Aunt Sharon donated for my little rascals. Here are some of the pictures I promised. Thank you so much, Aunt Sheshie! The kids love them and they were really excited to get ¨EHigh Eschool Musical¨ wear!

My buddy Andy. He won second place in the Michael Jackson dance-off the night before.

La Estefany. One of my favorite girls. She is so cool. Her and Delia always come over to my house to play. The girls are just starting to get ¨novios¨ so they have been busy writing and passing secret notes back and forth to each other´s brothers. It´s hilarious. And EVERYONE knows who they are writing to, so it´s not like a huge secret anymore. Takes me back to my days when I´d stick in a note in a guy´s locker and wait for him to circle yes or no. They do that here too..Indica: Si o No.

My niñas before playing in their first basketball game. They are in the county tournament. We won 20-6 on Friday! I told them it was because I was wearing my lucky Superman calzones...

Heaven forbid there be a tournament or ocasion without a parade. I marched along the road...very awkward because we just did a vuelta. I think a total of 10 people saw us marching around. At least I got to snack on some mango (30 cents!!)

The famous Iglesia of Los Encuentros. This is the last stop before leaving the cantón of Yantzaza.