Wednesday, November 30, 2005

More new photos

Hi ladies and gentlemen. I added 8 more photos to the end of my "Autumn in Juneau" album, all taken during my dad's visit in September. Click here to be transported there.



Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Now testing the emergency complaint system

(I apologize for the interruption of your regularly scheduled blogging. A Thanksgiving post will resume shortly.)

OK, I have had it up to here (theoretically indicating a spot well above my head) with the copying fascism here. It is literally impossible to just go somewhere and make your own damn copies. (Or wash your own clothes, or serve your own food at a salad bar, or pump your own gas, or do ANYTHING yourself.) Yes, there are plenty of copy places for relatively cheap, but you still have to go in, talk to someone, and explain how you want your copies (enlargement, cropping, dark/light, front back, etc etc etc) and wait for them to figure it out. Why do I even need to make copies you ask? I have to make copies every single day for my various classes. Why can't I make work-related copies at my place of employment you ask? Well, I can if I want to a) use the really old copier that has about 2 settings and makes illegible copies no matter how much toner you add. No to mention that it is sitting on Juan Carlos' desk and that you are in his way the whole time you use it. At least he's super goodnatured and always chats with me and remembers to ask me stuff like how our thanksgiving went. Or b) Fill out a detailed copy request form, get it signed by my boss, and wait a day for the part-time woman to make the copies. Which is incredibly typical of Ecuador.

But, ok, I can adjust. BUT today I got a call from my BOSS (at the behest of part-time woman)asking "Do you really need 20 copies of such and such page?" !!!!!!!!!! For the love of god. This is the first time I've even requested copies, since usually such bureacracy does not mesh with my lesson planning timing. (And in my defense, I'm not just lazy, it's just usually counterproductive to plan much in advance for one on one or small groups, since you really want to adapt your lessons around how it went the day before)And yes, my biggest class is 5 people, so no, I don't need to hand out 20 pages tomorrow. But it is a reference page with much useful information on it and I didn't feel it necessary to wait a week and find the book again and fill out another form the next time I want to use it!!! Cultural differences be damned! Are they trying to save paper? That argument goes out the window since they don't make any attempt to recycle anything in the whole country. Trying to save money? How about the salary they have to pay part-time woman, all the fancy carbon copy forms they have to have printed up, and all the phone calls to check if I really need that many copies. But that's how it is here... all those jobs that we replace with some combination of technology/efficiency/self-service at the first opportunity in the US, here there are more than enough people willing to work for as little as it takes. Vending machines? No need... there are thousands of men, women, and children who make their living combing the streets, buses, etc selling every refreshment you could ever want. And so it goes.

I swear, I'm going to spend my time in the US doing nothing but making my own copies and using free internet at the library, washing my own clothes in a laundromat, and serving myself heaping plates at Old Country Buffet. Just because I can.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Double feature!

Once again, both Katie and I have decided to grace the blog with a new post on the very same afternoon. (That's right, keep scrolling for more alaskan weather reports and holiday excitement.)

I have exciting news!

1) We are currently preparing to host our Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. The menu includes roast chicken, veggie casseroles, mashed potatoes, apple pie, cherry pie, and probably some other stuff I don't remember. And, thanks to me, sweet potatoes that I bought at the market yesterday (se llaman camotes, if you were wondering), and the traditional can shaped cranberry sauce. Mmm. By the way, when I say "we" are preparing, I meant Jennie and I both went shopping today. Sara, Tasha, and other assorted friends went to the bull fight today! The festivals of Quito have been going on for a week or so and end up on the 6th of December in huge parties with fireworks and whatnot. Like the 4th of July. The bull fights at the Plaza de Toros are a tradition for these weeks... I declined the offer to attend quite heartily, as you can imagine. Though, I have been amused by another tradition for the Quito festival, which are chivas. Chivas are basically these big open buses that people rent out, and basically they drive around the city blasting loud music while the people hang off the side and drink. Just another in the long list of Ecuadorian customs that would be so incredibly illegal in the US.

2) I also celebrated the harvest in my own special ecuadorian way yesterday... it's hardly possibly to buy fruit in small quantities. At the market they mostly sell you preset batches of fruit for $1. And as I mentioned before, $1 buys a lot of fruit here and it all ripens at once. So yesterday I had to face my bag of tomates de arbol (see my picture for reference.) They are more of a pain to process than other fruit becuase they have all these tiny little seeds like tomatoes, but they're harder and you don't really want to eat them. So fortunately we have an awesome blender to rely on. A couple hours later and I had not only a very full stomach, but also a pint of juice, but a liter of blended yogurt and a jar of makeshift tomato de arbol/mango chutney to go with my indian food. Pumpkin pie has got nothing on that.

3) Ok ok, now for the ACTUAL BIG NEWS!! I officially bought a ticket back to the US in march! Ostensibly to arrange a work visa, so they can't complain that I'm taking a vacation at a non-vacation time. Coming into Chicago March 2nd and flying back here March 21. With a nice trip out east in the middle, which will hopefully squeeze in two tuesdays in addition to wmshc :) I'm enjoying Quito, but I can't wait to see all of you and eat fabulous organic food that won't give me tropical diseases and breathe non-polluted air.

4)In response to those generous souls who have inquired as to what I might desire in a holiday care package... All I'm craving is:
- organic/natural granola bars (kashi and trader joe's are my favorite brands... just no raisins please!)
- music! I didn't bring all my cds, so my supply is a bit limited, and the big ricky martin posters at the tiny little cd store chain here don't exactly bode well.
- if you're feeling really indulgent, you could pick up some tv show dvds for me, since my buffy and lost dvds have served me well but I'm wearing them a bit thin.

5) One last announcement. As promised, here is my house phone number: (593) 2-243-4437. It's easier to get me on my cell phone (593) 9-474-8420 but it might be cheaper to call a landline. Llamame!

And it burns burns burns / the ring of fire

We went to see "Walk the Line" last night which was SO GREAT. So great. I've been vaguely obsessing - is my wont - about the movie since yesterday. I was prepared to be highly skeptical about Joaquin and Reese doing their own vocals, but oh my gosh, they were unbelievable. Such wonderful singing, such wonderful acting, such a good good movie!!! If you miss out on it down in Quito, Cita, we definitely have to watch it in March. So great!

Oh right, and happy Thanksgiving. We had giant delicious Thanksgiving dinner with Alysia and her boyfriend and her housemate and his girlfriend and her brother and his wife (So. Many. Couples.) and got the weather forecast from Alysia's boyfriend, who works for the weather service; he promised us sun and snow this weekend, and damned if he wasn't right. Yes, my friends, after ten days and 15+ inches of rain, the skies have temporarily cleared and my coat has temporarily stopped being wet and smelling like mold. Mmmmm. For that, among many other things, I am thankful.

Public Market is this weekend, which is a giant holiday market wherein crafty people from as far away as Anchorage come and set up booths in Centennial Hall, and there's strings of lights and food vendors and piped-in carols and homemade soaps and knitted hats and a bazillion different people selling beaded earrings, and in short it's just like every other holiday market everywhere, but no less enjoyable for the fact. Tonight we're going to see Alysia in the annual burlesque show, which promises to be good times with more partial nudity than ever before. And then tomorrow I get ANOTHER day off. How delightful!

I hope everyone spent Thanksgiving with people they love, and I'm getting very excited to see lots of you in three weeks and two days!



Thursday, November 24, 2005

Hey! It's my favorite American holiday!!

But I'm in Quito. Right. Well, I don't get to share my thanksgiving with the bridges or the mahoneys, but fortunately it can still involve lots of eating. I made my morning class tell me what they were thankful for, and i fed them cranberry juice. The thing I was thankful for was that my crazy new student didn't show. Oh wait, what's that I used to tell the Homeroom kids non-stop? Your positive thing doesn't count if it's something negative about someone else? Oh well, scew them. Ok ok, I'm thankful for all of you wonderful people out there who love me and put up with my rambling :) And mangoes, and shapenote singing, and buffy. And other wonderful things that don't spring to mind at the moment. My evening class (for this guy who is the president of a pharmaceutical company here, and when I go I get all ushered through a million doors and offered beverages and such) canceled, which means a) that I still get paid since he canceled at the last minute, and b) I can kill time in this internet place and talk at all of you. I'm across the street from the indian place I am meeting my roommates and the rest of the english teaching gang for dinner. Not the most traditional thanksgiving, but it's really a goodbye dinner for the roommate who is going back to nevada with her fiance tomorrow. Poor Angie, she's missing thanksgiving at home, but leaving before our big dinner, which is scheduled for sunday. We figured it would be a good idea to push it back to a day when we weren't working all day and could actually cook. I did have a pumpkin muffin this morning, courtesy of Sara and her baking-from-a-mix frenzies. And ironically I think I ate some turkey for lunch. There was definitely something in the soup at cenit.

And now I'm off to eat curry! Special thanksgivingy love to everyone.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

marketing and etc

So the market in Otavalo was pretty fabulous. Definitely one of the most chill and authentic markets I've ever seen. Only a smattering of tacky touristy stuff. The Otavalenos have been producing artesania (traditional handicrafts) since before the Spanish came and forced them to do it for slave labor, and now it's a more liberating way to share their culture and (mostly) make some cash. The cool part is that it's not just a lot of crap they're selling that they picked up somewhere, you can see them all wearing the clothing and hair ties, belts, using the blankets etc. And you can see them knitting and weaving and such as well. Also, what a polite crowd. I mean they will be persistant if you are shopping at their stall, but never once was anyone anything but superpolite and no one would dream of giving you a hard time if you move on to the next stall. And almost everything is really nice quality and supercheap. I mean, alpaca coats and handwoven blankets that would cost a fortune the second they were imported to the us. It's very textile heavy, so keep that in mind when you get your holiday packages :)

Sara and her cousin Tasha are good at the touristy overloading on pictures, which nicely compensated for my practical strategy of not bringing my camera. So hopefully I can grab some pictures from them and share the absolutely breathtaking scenery we bussed through, and the cute kids at the market. We had absolutely perfect, gorgeous, sunny, weather all day. Which is more than I can say for the bus rides. It's incredibly cheap and easy to travel in Quito and around Ecuador by bus... it's 25 cents anywhere locally, and aprox. $1 per hour of distance outside Quito. And to travel outside the city you don't even have to go to a bus station or buy a ticket... You just go to a main road and hop on a bus that says your destination. The trade off is that the buses are horribly unreliable. First off, they stop every two second whenever anyone wasnts to get on or off, and they travel these curcuitious routes, and get held up in traffic and whatnot. This is why the Trole and Ecovia, with their fixed stops and designated lanes, are a godsend in Quito. Not to mention, the last three buses I've been on have all had to stop and kick off the passengers, for some unknown reason. The first one was a local bus, and the driver at one point hopped a curb and hit some people (not badly from what I could see) and either didn't notice or didn't care. Then a few minutes later we pulled over and they kicked us off and only gave us our money back after a lot of complaints. Then both the bus to Otavalo and from Otavalo stopped on the side of the dusty highway, presumably with mechanical problems, and sheparded us onto another bus (of course more crappy and without the enjoyable movie from the first bus).

More soon on my crazy new student, my gringa roommates, and hopefully a confirmation of a plane ticket to chicago!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Hard rain's a-gonna fall

So by the end of the day we will have gotten 2-3 inches of rain. JUST TODAY. That's NOT EVEN TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION the fact that it's been pouring buckets mercilessly since Friday. FRIDAY.

Fortunately, I've thus far managed to avoid drowning by coming home after work last Friday, putting on my pajamas, and not emerging from either house or pajamas until this morning. On the up side, I started and finished three books this weekend. On the down side, it's depressing as all hell. We've been told that this is the time of year, after it gets dark all day but before it actually starts snowing, when everyone in Juneau goes insane and stir-crazy. Now there's a shocker.

Goals for this afternoon: buy myself waterproof shoes that don't involve 10 minutes of lacing and unlacing every time I want to put on my rain pants, try to talk Richard out of going to the planetarium because it involves too much walking in the rain, get sushi at Seong's because it involves almost as much walking in the rain but it's SUSHI so who cares, make it to the bus without getting washed out to sea, get from the bus stop to our front door with the same objective, put on dry clothes, figure out how I can never go outside again.


Friday, November 18, 2005

1 word: mangoes

So, my blogging frequency has slowed a bit since I've been busy with what is becoming the same old same old... lots of commuting between english jobs and cenit. The apartment is working out really well, all my roommates are really chill and enjoyable. And they just keep coming... we're up to 7 people now. Sara, her two cousins, 2 other roommates, me, and 2 boyfriends. one cousin and boyfriend were on vacation until yesterday, and they're leaving after a week. So they'll probably be crashing in one half of the common room, which is clearly meant to be a dining room but is currently occupied only by the ironing board. The crush of people is partly my fault, as I moved in a bit early, before other roomates are leaving, but they were happy to oblige and I have my own room and everything. And then once people leave I get to move up the medium room, which has a closet and fancier plugs so that I can actually purchase electronic equipment such as a tv. Very exciting.

Because the schedule at cenit got switched around a bit, I usually go directly to the market to meet the kids rather than meeting at cenit first. This is very exciting because I actually have a chance to poke around and purchase produce. Which I haven't done very much of because most of my shopping is done at Supermaxi (Yes, someone really should have warned the owners of the biggest supermarket here that he's probably infringing on the trademark of a feminine hygiene product, but so it goes.) and I can't bring myself to purchase more produce than bananas and onions since there is so much beatiful bounty at the markets. Plus I would much prefer to patronize the nice women at the market where I work. Yesterday I finally arrived early enough to haul home a huge bag of mangos and avocados home with me. Each for a dollar. Oh my lord. I'm so glad I came around to the loving mango side of things, because boy am I in the right place. And the avocados were like butter. Swoon.

Speaking of markets, tomorrow I'm heading off to Otavalo (finally) with Sara, who is a very experienced shopper judging from the amount of stuff in the apartment, which is exciting. I can't believe I'm buying christmas present already! Of course they've been decorating for xmas since halloween, or earlier, since they don't have a thanksgiving timed holiday to pretend to wait for. And as for that wonderful all-american holiday, the benefit of living with a bunch of midwesterners (plus jenny, from bristol, uk) is that we are going to host our very own big thanksgiving bash. I'll make sure to bring the cranberry sauce. yum. I'm sure some pictures will result from that, so I can reward your sucking up mom.

Un buen fin de semana a todos!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

It still feels slightly odd to be here at the museum after dark, like I'm in the middle of the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler or something. Since most of my time here is spent with the outside darker than the inside - not even counting the times the sun ISN'T actually up, like after 3:30pm, or when I work evening receptions - you'd think I'd be used to it by now, but no. Now I have a little time before I go meet R at the shop, so I thought instead of wandering the cold stormy streets of my adopted homeland, I'd stay here and kill time the best way I know how: by blogging! Except all I can really think of to write about was the excellent tuna-salad sandwich that I got at Rainbow Foods this afternoon. R and I have had some weird upset stomachs this week, which have made us cast a wary eye at the copious amounts of expired dairy that we so ebulliantly bought last weekend ("99 cents for organic milk???? Do you think we can finish off two half-gallons before it expires tomorrow? That sounds like a challenge to me!!!!"), but which haven't stopped us from actually consuming said dairy. I've been getting through the past few days on mainly fruit and rice cakes (after which I tend to eat a rich dinner, drink a glass of expired milk, and start the whole process all over again in the morning), but today that wily tuna sandwich caught my eye. And it was worth every penny - well, I'm in Alaska where everything costs twice as much, so it didn't FEEL like it was worth every penny I actually had to cough up - but I was willing to forgive them, just this once. (Okay, let's be honest, we always forgive Rainbow because they're the only natural grocery store in Juneau and we love them.)

Okay, must stop discussing tuna sandwich. I'll tell you instead about the 9-week-old PUPPY that I'm going to meet and play with as soon as R gets off work!!! He was bought to replace Cobalt, our poor little dog-sitting charge who passed away in September, and apparently he's completely different from Cobalt - a totally outgoing, good-natured, roll-with-the-punches kind of pup - which is probably a good thing in the long run. R and I might be left alone with him for an hour (Ellen said we could stay with him if we wanted while she puts in an appearance at somebody's birthday party, yay!), which hopefully is not enough time for him to develop a mysterious/lethal infection, which is what happened the last time she left us alone with her dog. Heh.

My library books are starting to be due after the last day of my internship in December, which makes me feel much closer to leaving than anything else. In honor of my impending departure, I'll start a Things I Miss About The Lower 48 list (I figure there'll be plenty of time for the Things I Miss About Juneau list later). In no particular order:

1. Fresh herbs (And, really, any produce that doesn't crawl onto your doorstep to die within minutes of purchasing it. Do you people know how lucky you are that your bananas have a "yellow" stage in between "bright green" and "dark brown"??? Or that you might conceivably get to witness a point in your scallions' life cycle when they still stand up by themselves???)
2. Shape note singing
3. Live music not performed by locals with more earnest enthusiasm than talent, bless their tone-deaf little hearts
4. Inter-library loan
5. Autumn (well, a little late for that, but a girl can still dream)

Hmmm, that's all I can think of for the moment. I'll add to this list as I remember more. Now I'm off to meet R and go play with Ziggy! Have a good night!



Monday, November 14, 2005

New Juneau photos

No time to post, since R & I have to run off to Astronomy Club (don't ask), but I uploaded a new photo album ("Autumn in Juneau")... just click here!

More soon.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Listmania: aka Book orgy, and Movies I´m itching to see

Yesterday was heavenly... I finally have a place of my own, and though there are 5 of us living there at the moment, everyone was either out of town or out all day. So I did what I do best... grocery shop, cook, eat, and read. I haven't been reading that much since I've been here... I've been more in DVD mode. But yesterday I read enough books in one day to justify actually making a list. (scary?)
1) Finished rereading Harry Potter 6. I think I enjoyed rereading it more than any of the other HP books... no irritating plot holes, and lots of unresolved intrigue to ponder for future books. Counting the days til it comes out in Spanish!
2) The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing. It was on the bookshelf in the apartment, and I know there's a movie coming out soon. Definitely dug the book... it's a total chick book but not dumbed down. It's kind of what I wanted Bridget Jones' Diary to be. But I don't have high hopes for the movie... the strength is definitely the smart writing, and it's more a collection of vignettes, not really plot based.
3) The Kite Runner, which probably everyone in the world has already read but I have been avoiding since it seemed pretty heavy. But again, there it was on the bookshelf. I don't think there would be so much fuss about it if Afghanistan wasn't such a hot topic these days. I definitely appreciated that is a really beatiful account of the afghani experience that's unrelated to all the sensationalism after 9/11. But, man, do the Afghanis have a depressing history or what! Reminded me of Angela's Ashes, exept mostly without the humor.

More pop culture goodness:
Movies actually coming to quito in the next month or so!!
1) Harry Potter
2) The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

Movies that are so not ever coming to Quito. Grrrr...
1) Serenity
2) Walk the Line
3) Brokeback Mountain

Bootlegs anyone?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Not to draw attention away from R's excellent update

But I just wanted to say a quick hi before jetting off for my luxurious 3-day weekend (who loves veterans and their accompanying holidays?), during which I will attempt to not lay eyes on a computer if at all possible. Lots of stories about awful local concerts (okay, I like folk music and sing Sacred Harp - clearly my tolerance for musical imperfection is vastly higher than a majority of the population's - but Richard and I had to WALK OUT of this sucker, if that gives you any indication of its lousiness) and hiking up to Spaulding Meadows and whopping snowstorms and idiotic mistakes that result in my having to manually alter over 3,000 electronic records (aren't they supposed to stupid-proof computer programs for boobs like me?)...

...but you'll just have to hold your breath until next week.

In the meantime, if anyone wants to find me a job in Austin, it would be greatly appreciated.



P.S. Oh, and I was going to credit Betty Biedrzycki, the mythical housecleaner from my mother's childhood who came up with the subject line of my previous post as it was passed on to me by my mom (oral history in action!) - but I didn't find out how to spell her name in time to credit her with the rhyme. Consider the situation rectified.

Cheesy e-card music and bad italian pop

Is what I am currently listening to. Thanks respectively to the woman at the computer next to me, and the kind people at the internet place. Also I am currently amused by something that just caught my eye on google news, the first line of an article from the guardian: "Exactly one year after Americans re-elected George Bush, the president came face to face with his own toxicity."

OK, all internet randomness aside, I actually have lots to report, now that I have survived my first week of official english-teachingness. Ok, so it´s a 3 day week, but definitely a Loooooong 3 days... On top of being sick, it has involved getting up before 6, and dragging myself, all of my teaching materials, a change of clothes, etc, ALL over the city on various forms of public transportation and on foot, while teaching 2 classes, volunteering at cenit, (plus attending a variety of meetings and lining up a new apartment) and home maybe by 7 or 8 pm (well after dark). Then trying to juggle sharing the daugher's tiny room with the niece, picking out my least rumpled nice clothing from my luggage which is living in the sons' room, and trying to get in the bathroom and/or kitchen in between the 8 other people and 2 dogs that currently call the place home. Good thing I'm getting the hell out tomorrow afternoon! I am officially moving in with 2 other teachers from EIL... one girl is from st. louis, the other is british. The place isn't particularly nice judged by the standards of my current abode, (most especially the kitchen... the oven settings literally consist of min - max) but a place of one's own is certainly nothing to sneeze at. And I will have my own nicely sized room, it has 2.5 baths, a washing machine, and it's in a complex with a guard and whatnot. And the resources of 2 roommates who have been living my life here for months... Sara, the fellow midwesterner, actually even taught one of my classes before me. She's filling me in on all the best bus routes and I'm already planning on accompanying her to the market in Otavalo next weekend, and as she's been there 3 times she can hook me up with all the best deals. Excellent. Come christmas/hanukkah time you too will reap the benefits. Yes, you.

I'm definitely digging EIL... everyone is super nice, they have a FABULOUS library of resources, a kitchen that makes me swoon, and my boss is a solid guy. He's kind of the most uptight and anal person you've ever met, except then you turn around and he's either swearing and smoking or wearing a paper hat and chasing his 4 year old student singing a song about the zoo. And he totally gives it to you straight, plus gives you all the support and/or flexibility you want, all of which is fabulously refreshing after a year of being at the beck and call of mr. micromanager "best wishes for a healthy and happy new year" boss.

As for the actual classes, it's been a little weird so far because I had no idea what to expect. I'm actually very comfortable with my 7 am class for the 4 business people, since it's about the same size and almost the same level as the class I taught in Northampton. But again weird, because I'm picking up from where Sara left off a month ago when they canceled classes, though now they changed their mind. I was warned from the start by justin (boss) that its a problematic class... they haven't really progressed, largely from lack of attendence, and tried to blame Sara. And I got the behind the scenes gossip from Sara that the teacher before her (who was actually her boyfriend... ah a new little incestuous community for me to join!) basically just spoke spanish and hung out with them, so so they loved him and hated her when she actually tried to teach them and they didn´t know anything. Anyway, so I have all this baggage, and a textbook that they supposedly have gotten to a certain point in, except that they clearly didn't actually learn the material since half of them can't even use the past tense, which was like a whole book ago. I can handle partially teaching from a textbook, but it's a bit challenging under the circumstances and when they're supposed to take a test after so many units. I saw the test and there's no way they would ever pass unless I specifically taught only the random specific points it covers. That was great... first day on the job and I'd already run into the classic selling-out challenge for teachers. But crisis averted after a nice chat with justin in which he basically told me, between us, screw the tests and teach what they need to know to progress and see that progress. So I'm only selling out in the aspect that the company, Perforec, which I took to just be one of those generic-corporately-named companies which one wouldn't know or care what type of work actually goes on behind the paper pushing, turns out to actually be a serious petroleum drilling company. Yay being a foreigner willingly supporting possibly the most evil force in Ecuador (and I have the Perforec pen and keychain to prove it!). The "petroleros" think a good time is making a pretty penny out of large scale destruction of ecuador's land, which has the lovely side effects of forcing the indigenous population out, and polluting what remains of the natural resources. I guess at least they have good benefits for their employeees... heh.

My other class is working two afternoons with this 7-year old girl. I'm totally afloat with that one... it's weird because I've worked so extensively with kids, and I've done the english teaching, but I have no clue what to do with the two put together. Kids understand so little of what you're saying, so you really have to be super on top of engaging them in a variety of activities and refining the language that you use. My learning curve is really big on that one... or small... or whatever is bad. So far we've colored a lot and played a few games, loosely related to reviewing colors and animals. Which is fine because she's a bit shy so we are just getting to know each other. But if I actually want her to learn anything I'm really going to have to dig deep and prepare a lot. But definitely a good skill to hone, so I'm not complaining.

OK if you've bothered to read this far I'll get to the good part. So far I'm only teaching these two classes for a grand total of 6.5 hours a week (not counting planning time). At 6.50 an hour plus a generous compensation for traveling offsite, if my math is currect, this earns me almost a whopping $50 a week. But at $200 a month that's already twice my rent! And everything else is so cheap here that I could easily subsist on that much, as long as I don't travel. Which of course I do plan to do, but if I can get some more hours I won't even be dipping into my savings! Which is good news for my plans to do some more extensive south american traveling after I've had it with Ecuador, following by trading up to the other end of the spectrum of the cost of living as a poor culinary student in Santa Cruz.

So, check out my life working out! And I even have some contacts for choirs in Quito that I might be able to join! Once I go home and get some sleep, I may actually be excited by this. Prize to you for finishing all my excruciatingly fascinating ruminations on my week. I can probably russle up some cute KT stories of my own...

Monday, November 07, 2005

no snow, but lots of non-weather-related changes

So after a few days of absolutely nothing going on, my life is kicking into high gear. I didn't actually make it to Otavalo yesterday, since I should have known better that my friend Stephanie wouldn't make it up in time to meet me at 8. Which was probably for the best, since I was sicker than I thought. (Just a stupid cold... i havent had any digestive problems yet, as it were.) So after waiting for 45 min on a street corner I gave up, bought some Robitussin, and confined myself to bed for 24 hours. After rising from my sickbed this morning, I had kind of a rude awakening. My landlady, after telling me yesterday no problem I could stay another week while apartment searching, says, oh by the way these people are moving in so you need to move your stuff out and you can share this other tiny room with my niece. Great. So I hurridly packed up all my crap and rushed out to meet with my new boss.

That's right, I think a new job deserves a new paragraph... I offically have accomplished my long-awaited goal of being an english teacher in ecaudor! on friday i got the call that there´s a place for me at EIL (Experiemnt in International LIving), or "the experiment". The one and only place I applied. I got a short tour and intro today, and believe it or not I agreed to start my first class tomorrow at 7 am. That's right folks, whoever thought we'd see the day! (The schedule actually works out really well because I can fit it in before my volunteering at CENIT, so won´t have to change to the afternoon and work with new kids and volunteers. And the sun is shining brightly and dogs are barking up a storm around the neighborhood by 6 am, so the whole morning thing seems more natual here.) The class is 3 days a week on site at this company, teaching 4 of their employees. I just got the textbook an hour ago, and I have no idea what I'm going to do with them. My brain is still not functioning on higher levels very well. Then on Wednesday I'm going to start my second class, working with a 7 year old girl. There is nothing if not variety to the teaching here... should be anything if boring. Aside from the overwhelmingness of the actual teaching part of the teaching job, let´s focus on the exciting aspects:

1) I will make, after taxes, $6.50 an hour. Which, by Ecuadorian standards is about as good as it gets. To give you an idea of the value, here is what I could buy with an hours wage. 26 rides on the bus or 4 full course lunches at a restaurant.

2) It will probably work out after all to live with a couple of the other teachers there. Given my current living situation, I cannot move in fast enough. All the other teachers that I met seemed really nice, and apparently they all live in the area and hang out together.

So, good changes, but lots at once. And hopefully after jumping into the class tomorrow I will feel less overwhelmed. Heh.

Also, congrats to Katie for her internship!!! As evidenced by the above description of my life here after more than a month, you are already waaaay ahead of me on the planning process. Hopefully you will stay in austin long enough for me to come check it out :)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Snow snow beautiful snow / Slip on a snowflake and down you go (that one's for you, Mom)

Juneau solar statistics: Current sunrise, 7:24 a.m. (half an hour before I go to work). Current sunset, 3:58 (half an hour before I leave work). And six more weeks to go before the shortest day of the year...

After weeks of creeping downward from the peaks, the snow finally made it all the way down the mountains. When I left the house this morning at 11, everything was furred in up to an inch of lovely white snow - which, thanks to our good friend Southeast Alaska precipitation, was icy and crusty enough to actually stick to everything, instead of plopping off by noon the way normal snow would. Covered in thin snow, the mountains are all different shades of black and white and grey, and look like somebody clicked them from "Color" to "Black & White."

I got the internship at the Austin Children's Museum, which means that I'll be doing educational workshops and scout sleepovers on Friday nights and Saturdays until June, and then after that I get to continue on with them, working at some of their 30 (?!) children's summer camps as an actual Paid Employee (please be suitably impressed). I'm pretty excited about that. However, now that I've managed to book up all my free time in Austin, I'd better find something to actually fill the remainder of my weeks there...

That's all the news from these shores! Until next time...

Friday, November 04, 2005

¡Mas fotos!

So I figured that I had better a) actually post the pictures of my house before I move out (assuming I can find an apt before monday, meanwhile I'm going out of town for the weekend... heh) and b) take advantage of this free time, since I have yet another day off from CENIT and will probably start working soon. If mr. director guy gets back to me ever... i hate how everything just stopped for the holidays and I have shit to do but sit around and wait for people to call me.

Anyway, enjoy the pics!

Also, I realized why my mom's attempt to call my cell phone didn't work. When you call internationally and the city code begins with a 0, you omit it. Hence my number dialed from the USA should be 011-593-9-474-8420. Hopefully I can get my voice mail up and working this afternoon... for some reason it isn't working and I have to go to the service place. Then tomorrow it's off to Otavalo to the market!!

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Ah... the sweet smell of money. Or the potential for getting money, as it were. I picked up my ATM card today, thanks to my gracious mother for sending it super-speedily. Which #1 proves that my system for getting mail and even packages actually works. (hint hint) and #2 means that I can follow through on my plan, just hatched over coffee, to head to the market town of Otavalo with my British friend Stephanie this weekend. We've both been kicking our heels in the deserted city... everything's shut up for the holidays this week and everyone has gone away on vacation. Including the family i'm living with... they just up and left without telling me! I woke up yesterday and everyone was gone and their bedroom doors were all padlocked. Not that I'm complaining... I definitely have taken the opportunity to cook elaborate meals while singing along to my wmshc recordings. I just think it's a bit odd, particularly as they have a dog who they seem to have just abandoned in the yard. I've been feeding him some scraps, so I guess he won't starve. My apartment search has stalled a bit due to the holidays... the Indiana girls didn't pan out, since they don't actually have an opening until December. I found some other good listings, but haven't heard back since I imagine everyone is out of town. Sigh. Meanwhile my month with the fam runs out on Monday. Of course I won't be put out on the street, there's 5 million hostels, and stephanie said I can crash with her as well. I just want to be settled already. OK, I'm getting kicked out of the SAE club with free internet, since they're closing early because, what else,... the holidays! I'm going to buy something chocolatey to fill my constant craving, ever since I got to quito. My fellow volunteers agree that they all share this craving... something in the mountain air? most likely the pollution. Anyway, I'm calling it reserach, working on trying out all the chocolatey products so that I can send the best ones to y'all. My favorite right now is a Nabisco product called ChocoSoda... soda crackers covered in milk chocolate. Mmm, salty and sweet. OK I'm really kicked out. Chocolatey love to you all.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

tell the repo man / and the stars above...

Yesterday I was supposed to meet R after work, and he made the grievous mistake of agreeing to meet me at the downtown library. Since I get out an hour before him, this left me more than ample time to check out five books (I was only prevented from choosing more by forcibly walking over to the video section). Which, added to the stack of unread library books that I checked out of the Douglas Library last weekend, brings me up to a grand total of ten. And that's not even counting the five unread books that I either brought from home or bought at the used bookstore here. And the sick part is, I'm only posting right now because I have an hour to kill before yoga and I'm pretty sure that if I left work early I'd go back to the library and check out MORE books. I think I'm addicted to picking out books. Now, don't get me wrong, reading them isn't that bad either... but MAN do I love picking out books. I think I need help.

Tomorrow morning at 7am (stupid time difference... this never used to happen when I only deigned to associate with people in Eastern Standard Time) I have a phone interview with the Austin Children's Museum. Don't get too excited - it's for an unpaid internship on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons. But the fact that I'm applying for slave labor makes me very mellow about the whole thing; the most stressful part of the whole operation will be making sure I've actually been awake for long enough to produce coherent sounds by the time they call. But it involves leading educational workshops for kiddies and Girl Scout sleepover groups and such, which sounds hugely fun. And I felt like I needed some little thing to anchor me to Austin, so that I actually go... I was worried that I'd get all discouraged about finding a job and an apartment amongst the huge influx of Katrina refugees, and that I'd just take the easy way out and not go. And I WANT to go. I'm just not that good at having blind faith in everything working out. So if I get this position, then I'll be obligated to move to Austin, and once I'm there I'll be obligated to find work and a place to live, and that makes me feel better. Somehow.

I have a few more miscellaneous pictures that Christina took that I'll get around to putting online one of these days. In the meantime, happy Halloween, and dia de los muertos, and so forth. I'm a little bit in shock that I only have 6 more weeks here. Yikes!