Semana cinco:

So I swear people here are part mountain goat. They just run up and down hills like they are flat surfaces. And they are most definitely not. Usually the owner of whatever property will use a machete to carve out stairs of a sorts, which are uneven and extremely slippery when wet. This past week I tried to mountain goat my way down the path as I was late for school. I ended up slipping and sliding my way down. The children thought it was pretty funny that I was covered in mud. My mom did too, she laughed so hard she had tears in her eyes.
So this week the señorita Monica was unable to teach classes Monday which meant I had the key for the day. I was in charge of instructing thirty children in Spanish. I definitely had my work cut out for me and spent the day as Monica normally does, bouncing from group to group trying to keep them focused and busy. We learned fractions and planets, addition and English phrases, a little scientific method, and there was a lot of soccer. By the end of the day I was exhausted, but I only had to teach one by myself so they couldn’t have suffered too much. I locked up and left. Tuesday when I showed up, the door was still locked and Monica had not returned. Well here we go again. They were completely unable to focus. They refused to sit still and I had to physically separate Daymili from Darwin who were trying to stab each other with pencils. I now think that children are like computers, they can sense anxiety and show no mercy. I went over Ecuadorian culture and did some language. I found out that most kids do not start to read until they are ten or so, which I find absolutely horrible as all of their workbooks are designed for them to read much earlier. Instead I have to do their work for them, walking them through every problem and writing the answers on the board so they can copy meaningless letters into their books. I called it a day half an hour early, which seemed to please them just fine.
Wednesday I was on my own again, which I decided was fine. I focused on what I could teach best, Math, Science, and English. It went much better and I think they began to respect what little authority I have. Thursday, thank goodness, Monica returned and was able to efficently teach the older groups while I got the two younger ones. I am currently trying to explain the very abstract concept of addition and a change in numerical places. For example, that 26 and 14 equals 40 not 310. By Friday we were getting much better and all the children were rewarded with art classes. I was walking down the mountain when I heard shouts of ‘seño!’ I turned and saw Carla, Lucho, and Anahi running towards me. They were headed to the village, and wanted to walk with me as far as possible. I was surprised to feel the small hand of Anahi slip into mine as soon as we started walking. They happily chattered at each other and me the whole way down the mountain. To which I normally responded ‘que bueno’. They are impossibly difficult to understand and I get about ten percent of what they are saying. But they did not seem bothered. I’m pretty sure I smiled the whole way home. These beautiful shy children have started to accept me as one of their own. I played soccer and Lobito this week, and was completely overwhelmed by good mornings and good byes. They have started to wait for me to leave to walk with me as far as our paths overlap and will wait for me at that spot in the morning.
Hilda has started to teach me how to cook. She thinks I’m helpless because I don’t know how to cook properly. I now can make sancocho, a traditional soup made with green bananas. Initiative is what counts here. I will continuosly ask how I can help and get the response no relax! So now I just start doing things. Dishes, sweeping, feeding the chickens, essentially things that if I mess up it isn’t a big deal to fix. I started the fire to cook the other night and Vicente, my dad, told me I was very good at the country life. I love the country life. Things are simple and quiet here. Smiles mean everything and people are genuinely caring.
Hasta la semana proxima.

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