Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Birthday Post

Easter Egg dying! Thanks Mom for the dying kit...the kids loved them! They had no idea that we did this, or why we would color eggs...but they had a blast! We boiled a few, but then I realized we didn´t need to boil all of the eggs, because they could eat them the next day anyway (why do we always boil the eggs? for refrigeration or just good egg salads the next day??)

My landlady, Doña Anita, and her daughter, Magaly. They invited Grigs and I to Magaly´s 16th birthday, just upstairs. It was quite the party with blacklights, a big dinner, little shots...they even had cigarettes in candy dishes! The teenage boys were smoking away the whole night...just ridiculous. The dad got up and made a big speech on how it was a bittersweet day since he was saying goodbye to her 15 years, as now she is a ¨full fledged woman.¨

Birthday tradition: Shoving your face in the cake. We then proceeded to dance until 4 am...luckily I just had to hop downstairs to go to bed and they kindly turned down the music....a little.

Ah the infamous ¨dance pictures¨. These are from when the teachers did their little baile in front of, um, the whole town. It was incredibly embarassing and no one remembered their steps except for yours truly. We had to wear wigs and ridiculously high cut skirts...ughh. Which leads to the group photo.....

TADA! Omg this is so embarassing. I refuse to show close-ups to anyone...simply for the fact that I look like a taller Dolly Parton reincarnate. And everyone noticed how my ¨top¨ was more or less made poorly and didn´t support anything the good Lord gave me. Oh well...that´s show business!

Earth Day! I took my girls to the park and we drew Earth Day salutations and facts with chalk. It was awesome because everyone was stopping to look at what we were writing.

This was the area we basically covered. Unfortunately, three hours later there was a horendous downpour and it all got washed away. But as my mom always says, it´s the thought that counts.

Thanks for all the birthday wishes and packages! You guys are amazing...still remembering me from so far away! It feels great to be 24...I´m in my mid-twenties now!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Shake it señor!

Just realized, my last post was my 100th post! Thanks to everyone for your comments and support on this blog, by the way. It´s been quite a journey and even more enjoyable with you guys reading about it and joining in on my ridiculous stories.

Some might have heard, pretty much just my parents since I´ve been complaining about it, but the school garden I was in the process of building was bulldozed this week. I get to school, already with a brand new shovel and a bag full of seeds, and I see a GINORMOUS MOUND OF MUD in the exact spot where Grigs and I had been digging last week. Like it seriously came out of nowhere. The Directora of the school claims she had no idea that the municipio decided to dump all their mud there, but they did. Thanks, Señor Alcalde. Just adds to icing on the cake. After some talks with my program director, I might proceed but in the form of a tire garden....less possibility of bulldoze-ment, and if they are going to plow over it, at least they might stop and look at it first...maybe.

Four more months guys....America´s so close I can almost taste it.

So instead of people being worried about, oh I don´t know, girls not passing their grades, or attendance issues, or general school issues...the teachers are worried about what they are going to perform for Día del Maestro, or Teacher´s Day. As if there weren´t enough days we need to celebrate here. Classes ended early the other day solely to discuss our ¨game plan¨ for Tuesday. Thursday is the big performance day and we need to do a dance in front of the other teachers from the other schools. I´m included since I´m a teacher, fair enough. However, I like my anonymity and ¨half-time¨ status at the school. Not participating in some of these things (which gets real old, real fast) is nice and I get to use the Gringa Card as an excuse.

But this time, since it´s my last Teacher´s Day, I figured I´d participate. Last night was our first ¨practice¨ and I showed up with the English teacher (my next door neighbor), and three other teachers. The English teacher, Deysi, was Reina of her parish and Vice Reina of Zamora Chinchipe...and she still acts/dances/poses as if she still were the Reina.

The Directora was glad I was there, so I felt like I earned some Brownie Points on that one. Then we meet Chivo/Ochiv/Chito I don´t remember his name, but he was the cutest little dance instructor. Clad in camo cargo pants, a white wife beater and white Nike hat, our little man was ready to rock and roll! He put on traditional Ecuadorian music and we just danced away. This guy was incredible...he was shaking his butt like he was an Ecuadorian Beyonce, none of us could keep up with him. I was shvitzing like crazy and he just kept moving that booty like nobody´s biz-nass. I seriously thought he was a 17-year-old girl trapped into a 30-year-olds body. And he wasn´t gay, no offense, which I totally thought he was. Especially since he´s trained almost all of the reinas in the province, not to mention is organizing the biggest Quinciñera in the province (which I want to try to get a ticket to but looks doubtful...). When he bust out his Michael Jackson moves (which they want an installment of in our ¨number¨) I almost died. Not only because he was good at it, but also because people still can´t get over the fact that Michael Jackson is dead and so maybe we should stop dancing as if he were still alive (let´s just tone it down a little, hmm?).

Definitely an amusing night. I just hope I don´t make a fool out of myself come Thursday. Why we have to dance, I don´t know. But this country is all about the dancing.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Fanesca Friday

A very Happy Easter (and/or Passover) to all! Here the Easter season is very different, as Easter isn´t really celebrated whereas Good Friday is the major holiday.

We were off from work Thursday and Friday. Grigs and I started digging a garden I am making for the school on Thursday and Friday I got an inviation for the traditional lunch. Sindy and Madgy invited me to join them and both sides of the family (the same Baptism crew I chummied with last weekend). We got there around 10, helped them prepare a salad (you´re gringa! you know how to make salad then!) and then helped them fry the fish. As with all Ecuadorian lunches, there is a soup to start. On Good Friday, they eat Fanesca, a soup made of pumpkin, 12 grains (for the 12 disciples I´m just told), and fish. It´s ok....a LOT of soup, but a big deal to make and eat down here. We then had fried tilapia and rice...that was really, really good.

Afterwards, we just sat, rubbing our bellies. The men of course lifted their shirts over their potbellies and complained of the heat. It was super hot that day...they invited me to go to the river, but I didn´t want to risk a possible horrible sunburn. Even in the shade I could feel my skin bubble.

Yesterday there was mass, but no special dinners or lunches. Everyone was surprised when I told them we don´t eat Fanesca....what do you mean you don´t have fanesca? It´s still surprising to them that people have other traditions in other parts of the world. I told them how that even in America, not all Easters are celebrated the same. For example, what I always remember from our Polish Easters is the butter lamb...Ecuadorians didn´t seem to think that was as cool as I do. That was the highlight of Easter, not to mention Easter egg hunts! Eggs and the butter lamb. I also explained that Greeks celebrate Easter at a different time from Catholics, because they use a different calendar...it made for quite an interesting discussion.

But I am also learning too that not all ¨Catholic nations¨ celebrate the same way. When I was studying in Mexico, I noticed that it was a much more religious country than Ecuador. And Spain celebrated their religion in a totally different manner. For them, Catholicism was more of a tradition, something they had to do since they had been practicing it for so long. Whereas in Mexico, Catholicism was a way of life, a way of being. Here, it´s half and half of the two. For some it´s the most important thing in one´s life, God is everything. However, at the same time, they only go to mass when it´s required. They do mention ¨God¨ in a lot of their sayings: Dios le pague--may God repay you; Si Dios quiere--If God wills it. I feel that most here are god-fearing people, but the actually practice of a truly catholic life (i.e. sex before marriage, adultery) is non-existent. Once again, I am learning it is hard to generalize over one culture (Latinos) as the intricacies that make up that culture, really separate it from the rest.