Sunday night we went to the house of our in-country contact, Raul, to meet our host parents and have a great potluck dinner. Everyone left with their families and began the next phase of our trip, and the one that will take up the majority of our time here. So far, Ben, Rani, and Amelia have settled into their placement in Maria Aurora and are having a great time. We have had some trouble with the school, mostly because of our lack of communication abilities and confusion on how life works here. Rani is planning on continuing to work full-time at the elementary school, Ben is going to the high school to try to spread out the English-teaching talent, and Amelia is planning on splitting time between the two. After one week in our town, some highlights: swimming with our new friends and host siblings in the river, playing cards in the afternoon, pig intestine soup (oh wait, lowlight?), Antony (Rani’s 3 year-old host brother), 11 hours of sleep per night, hammocks, inordinate amounts of food being foisted upon us, and pickup trucks. Hopefully next week will see us get closer to our host families, find a groove in our teaching schedule, and start thinking about doing Independent Projects that will consume more of our free afternoons.
Hannah and Elena have been loving Catazacon! As could be expected, we have been having some language problems, but everyone has been very patient and forgiving. During our first week we have had many new, exciting, and interesting experiences… Elena and Hannah have been going to St. Francis of Assisi Church every day for the evening service. Some of our more novel church experiences have included going to a funeral, leading “Dinamicas”, active, dancing songs, and sharing the evening snacks of bread and coffee with the community after the service. Some other experiences in our village have been: watching the dancing practices for the St. Francis of Assisi celebration, eating overly abundant meals with our families, visiting family plantations of cacao, banana, lemon, corn, and orange, swimming in the river with children, learning how to wash pigs, drying cacao in the driveways, learning to cook plantain and cheese tortillas, playing soccer, and talking with the wonderful people of Catazacon. The Catazacon school has about 20 children, who all are very enthusiastic to learn! They have already learned the colors and the basic numbers. This coming week we will continue to teach the children in the school, and in addition we are going to begin teaching the high school students and adults English classes in the evening. We are also thinking of building a playground as our independent project.
After five long days apart, the whole group reunited in Moraspungo on Friday afternoon. Ben’s host father drove us all to meet up with our wonderful leader, Jenny in San Luis de Pambil. We were so happy to get to swap stories and experiences from the past week. On Saturday, we woke up bright and early for a day at Piedra Blanca- a nearby tourist attraction. We were actually followed by the Ecuadorian Tourism press while we learned how to make coffee and chocolate with natural, freshly picked and toasted beans. We hiked around the area and even swam in the piscina (river swimming hole). If you want to see us on TV you can stream in live on the internet Saturday October 15 at 1:00pm central time on “Gama Visión”! Tomorrow we are looking forward to a relaxing day of picking fresh fruit and preparing for another exciting week in our communities. We will write again soon when we are all together again in two weeks!