Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Men in the Yellow Cabs

The men in the yellow cabs never cease to provide an adventure in my life here.  As stated in my facebook post yesterday, a taxi driver graded my Spanish skills during our six minute drive last night.  Just in case you were curious, I passed; I received an A from him.

Tonight's taxi ride, an eight-minute drive, still has me laughing.  
It's slightly PG-11, so you may stop reading if desired.....

First, I got this $2 taxi ride for $1.50 because I bargained him down and did my, "I'm a pitiful but cute gringa and don't make much money as teacher" face.  He agreed to my terms, mainly because of the protruding lower lip.  Then, within that eight-minute time frame, we progressed from me living here in Cuenca, me not having a cuencano boyfriend, how jealous/possessive Latino men can be, him finding out that I'm not having sex with boys here in Cuenca, me being a virgin because of my faith & for other logical reasons that I strongly believe in, him being shocked and almost speechless by this fact, and finally me being congratulated for being a virgin.  End of ride.  To describe this conversation, the word "progression" would be an understatement.

After 24 years of saving myself for marriage, it honestly does not bother me one bit to talk about this subject with anybody at anytime, but it was just HILARIOUS how in eight minutes we jumped from topic-to-topic, ending up talking about my sex life (or shall we say, the lack thereof).

Thank you, South America, once again for the laugh.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Say What?

The zero article.
Countable and uncountable nouns.
The structure of reported speech statements.
When question words function as subjects.
Zero conditional, first conditional, second conditional, third conditional & mixed conditional. 

Who knew teaching your own language could make you feel so nescient at times?
Conclusion:  I came to Ecuador to learn the grammatical facets of my mother tongue.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Honestly, each day is filled with uncountable adventures, and it's such a challenge to have to choose between blogging or grading the English essays instead.  Today, however, I am being a rebel.  The essays can just take a back seat.

Yesterday, I was walking back to my house from running an errand, and I saw a 75-year old gringo walking towards me.  Now, this is not unusual per se.  There are many retired gringos (Americans) living here in Cuenca, but this one was unique... On the top of his head, he was fashioning a baseball hat, and not just any baseball team mind you. The mortal enemies of the St. Louis Cardinals: the cloddish Chicago Cubs.  I had every urge to "booo" at him whenever he approached closer, but I decided to demonstrate my classier, more refined side.  How funny that out of all the teams and out of all the places, there would be a Cubs fan right here in Cuenca. [Side note: personally, I think the government should establish a law banning all Cubs fans from traveling outside of United States borders.]  *smile*

May I just say that every bathroom up until now has been very clean and fully stocked with toilet paper? Congrats Cuenca, Ecuador. Congrats.

Americans are trusted here.  I never would want to abuse that.  Let me offer an example... All Latin American countries I have been to have the same system of walking into stores with large bags or backpacks: you must first check them in at a desk and/or a locker (mainly for safety reasons). This past week I went to a local grocery store, Tía, with my colossal backpack.  Needless to say, I was trying to remain patient as I attempted to stuff my backpack into the itsy-bitsy locker. The guard asked me, ¿Eres Americana? (Are you American?)  I responded that yes I was.  He then proceeded to tell me to go ahead and take my backpack into the store, no problems.  Americans are treated like royalty.  I want to continue to live up to that. (Slightly interesting though that it's almost reverse preference for my nationality, make sense?).

I am amazed at the generosity of some people.  It makes me re-examine my own life and my own heart.  I had a really hard day today -- woke up with a throbbing headache, shaking and just aching all over my body.  The family that I just started tutoring in Spanish called me this morning, and finally ended up inviting me over to their home so they could look after me, at least for the next 24 hours.  Whenever you don't feel well, the warmth of a family is all it takes sometimes to nurse someone back to health -- not necessarily the strong medications.  In addition to having me in their home, we also just devoured a delicious, homemade chicken soup filled with fresh vegetables.  I cannot thank the Lord enough for His provision and the generosity of this family.  I truly am a blessed girl.  I fully acknowledge this.

I am hoping and praying that these little beasts will just disintegrate into thin air over the next few days, but if not, I am still enjoying Ecuador, and it is precisely where I am supposed to be. I would not change that for the world. I am so grateful to be in South America again.  En serio po.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Bad Party in my Tummy

For the past week, I have been feeling really crummy.  I thought my lack of energy, extreme dizziness and other symptoms were merely due to the extreme altitude change.  I mean, come on, I changed from 550 feet of elevation to about 8,000 feet.  Every time I climb the four flights of stairs at the CEDEI institute, I am panting like I had just finished a marathon. [Side note: I figure if I can get in shape at this elevation, then when I come back to sea level, I am going to be in FINE shape. Boo yah.]  Getting back to feeling crummy.... today I went to the doctor and found I have two parasites in my body.  I will be taking some strong medication for the next seven days to eradicate them.  It's actually more common than you think.  Until full recuperation,  it goes as follows: water, movies, water, reading, preparing lessons, water, and sleeping.

On a happier note, as I was walking down the street today to get some copies, every single radio and TV were turned on full blast. All to the same station. All to the same channel. Every one is gathered in the local stores and cafes to watch the soccer game between Chile and Ecuador.  Technically, I could just walk around town and hear the game progress as I stroll.  Needless to say, I had a big grin on my face as I peeked into the stores and cafes to see the extreme fans rooting and/or booing at the ref's calls.

Alright, need to go attempt to make some sort of dinner that the three of us (me + 2 parasites) will enjoy.  Talk to you soon!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Why learn English?

To start off my English 304 class today -- my more advanced group of students -- I thought I would make them give me all the details of their weekend activities, which always allows them an easy speaking activity. My 17-year old student started off our discussion by telling me he had a hangover on Saturday morning.  I responded with, "WOW, not my idea of a great weekend. Hey, wait....... what's the legal drinking age here in Ecuador?"  He mumbled underneath his breath, "Eighteen."  With enlarged eyes, I replied with, "WHAT THE HECK?  And how did you get into the club in the first place then? Didn't they card you?"

With a sly smile, he responded with, "I told them in English that I was an exchange student and really wanted to visit a club here in Ecuador."  

Good job practicing English outside of class.
But darling, in the future, let's use our language skills for legal activities...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

One month in Ecuador

Today, October 7th 2012, I ate guinea pig (cuy) for the first time. I feel that now it is officially necessary for me to commence my blogging adventures yet again.  Even though I've been in Ecuador for a month, it has been a time of transitioning on my end -- not at all in the cultural sense, seeing as the Latin culture is my second home, yet more in the sense of figuring out my schedule at the CEDEI English Institute and my social life here in Cuenca.  After two years of lacking a social life in graduate school, I feel as though I am trying to compensate within one month's time: explored Cajas National Park, bathed in a well-known Thermal Springs, eaten at a good variety of restaurants (including fresh seafood), and am slowly getting to know more and more of this city of almost 500,000 people.  So, are you ready to travel the world yet again with me?  ¡Vamos!

For those who are wondering, guinea pig does not taste like chicken.  I will have you know that not everything under the sun on God's green earth tastes like chicken.  I only had two very small bites because I still am not sure how my stomach will handle the new meat source, slightly greasy for my tastes.  Hey, but at least I can say I tried it. :)

The Andes Mountains are breathtaking today, with the fog slowly rolling down from the heavens to the town itself.  Oh my.  Pinch me.

Yet another adventure was coming home from church this morning to find this beautiful tarantula you see in the picture.  She was just a wee lass though.  When I was kid, Papa Dudley introduced me to tarantulas; actually we had two of them that would crawl all over me and probably double the size of this one shown.  Some of the grandchildren of the house where I'm staying were playing with her and making all sorts of scared noises as they tried to pick her up.  They put her really close to my face, thinking I would be scared or disgusted, and I just picked her up and let her crawl all over me.  Needless to say, I think I left the kids without words, absolutely speechless. La gringa loca strikes again.

Before coming to Cuenca, I had a list of four churches that I wanted to visit.  This morning I visited the church ( that interested me the most -- merely based on my investigations from the USA home base -- and honestly, I think it might be my home church during my ten months here.  Love the P&W, the ministry opportunities are out-of-this-world (e.g., orphanage), and the people seem genuine and warm.  I will continue to pray about it, but it was such a precious time to worship with my brothers and sisters here in Cuenca, Ecuador.  FUNNY STORY:  I went with a fellow teacher from the CEDEI today to service, and after the worship time, the pastor asked the visitors to raise their hands so that they could give us a small gift.  Well, Tracey and I were like, "Meeeeh, we'll just stay under the rader this time around."  Then we saw the GIFT.  A freshly picked red rose (shown in the picture).  We looked at each other, and at the same time, mouthed "ROSE."  We raised our hands immediately.  And then we giggled to ourselves for the next five minutes.  Flowers, yes please.

I am still trying to get the hang of cooking here -- due to my working schedule, the new METHODS of cooking (sometimes taking twice as long) and just the new variety of ingredients available (and some not available like in the USA).  Whew, it's all a process but well worth it. However, I have already made an asparagus and pumpkin soup, both of which I learned here in the past month.  Also, this week, I am going to attempt some delicious croquettes, another Cuencano dish and maybe the famous "locro soup" of the region (  My favorite fruit so far here, that is not available in the USA is called "granadilla" -- gross looking, best tasting ever. Guaranteed.  Hopefully, my cooking skills and cuisine knowledge will expand during my time here in South America.  That is the goal at least.

Well, dear reader, I really must start planning my lessons for tomorrow and this week.  My supervisors sometime this week or next will be observing me (unannounced).  Feel free to follow me on this blog, especially seeing as I still have nine months of South American adventures awaiting me!  Blessing after blessing.  For reals.