I’ve just finished my fifth week living here in the middle of beautiful nowhere, aka Salasaca, Ecuador. I literally can’t believe it’s been this long, the time has flown by. I’m now more than halfway through my entire trip, and because it’s felt so short I’ve started considering extending it past Christmas. Nothing is final though because it’s turning out to be a really tough decision.
I’m still working as a volunteer at Katitawa school, a small private(ish) school that runs about thirty kids from a Quechua Indian community. The school is funded by Robert (the director) and donors and previous volunteers from all over the world. One of the main things that make this school different than the others in Salasaca is the presence of the volunteers. Being exposed to so many different cultures is something really special (for the kids and us), and the contact with native English speakers can definitely be an advantage in a world where speaking English seems to be so valuable.
I’ve been continuing my job as assistant to the kindergarten teacher, and I have to say I’ve developed an incredible admiration for anyone who teaches kindergarten as a profession. It can be a challenge to say the least. We have a new teacher who is absolutely amazing compared to the one we had when I first got here though, and she makes everything so much better. But she was sick almost all of last week, so the first day she wasn’t there I found myself trying to keep eleven four year olds busy for three hours with no prior planning.
Three hours sounds like a short amount of time until you hear “Yo terminé!!” (I’m finished) thirty seconds after giving them an activity you were hoping would last a good twenty minutes at least. After we colored several pictures, cut out circles, sang all the songs I could think of, painted handprints, rocks, pinecones, our clothes and some paper, we finally went for a walk to pass the forty five minutes remaining until lunch. Take it from me, one adult to eleven tiny children in an Ecuadorian countryside isn’t the best idea. After doing some serious sprinting and backtracking and almost giving up as they ran rampant through llama fields, roadside drainage systems, and a graveyard, I vowed I would never have children. (Just kidding, mom ;)) But we did all (miraculously) make it back to the school with wet shoes, muddy faces, and painted clothes just in time for lunch.
Besides the kindergarten I’ve also been teaching some English classes. Before this I had no teaching experience at all, so it’s been a challenge for sure, but one I’ve enjoyed. It was exhausting getting my planning together the first couple of weeks, but when everything started coming together the results were very rewarding. I think with enough preparation and experience I could really enjoy being a teacher in life back at home too.
I’m still living here at Pachamama, the volunteer hostel, but most of the people who were here before have gone and new volunteers have come. Right now we are eleven; three Brits, two Australians, two Americans, one Swede, one German, one Icelander, and one Slovakian. It’s a fun group and I’ve made some good friends, even though we regularly argue about things like what puddin’ is and how to say Adidas properly.
Right now I’m planning on leaving this coming Monday and doing some traveling with my British friend Lucy for a week, and then coming back for the school’s fifteenth anniversary party on November 10th and 11th (and also just because I can’t bear to leave completely yet). After that I’m not sure, but I’ll go back to Quito to see if I can help the Susongs for a little while at least.
In conclusion I was going to make a list of all the things I miss from home, but it turned out I couldn’t think of enough for a proper list, so I gave up. The only thing I truly don’t want to live without are my amazing family and friends who I miss so much. Other than that I’d take Ecuador any day. I love living in the middle of nowhere. I love seeing Chimborazo out of my bedroom window. I love riding in the back of a pickup through panoramic sunsets or up the side of a mountain. I love hanging out with people from all over the world. I love coming home to Quechuan people dancing in the living room (..sometimes). I love walking to school on dirt roads. I love deciding which volcano we’re going to hike this weekend.
I don’t think I’m ready to go home anytime soon.