Monday, October 30, 2006

Humor in Truth

I´ve always thought that people who are really funny are that way because they have had a rough life. People laugh to come to terms with whatever they are having a hard time with. The reason I thought about this was a joke that I have with a friend of mine. She works with the street kids, abut five or so years old. I work with boys aged 12 to 18 who are in jail, and the joke is that in a few years I will be teaching her kids English...which isn´t very tactful, but also the other day the kids at the jail had a talent show and a group decided to perform a play that they had written themselves.

In short it was about a kid who was playing soccer and having a fun day untill his drunk father needed cash for more alcohol. The kid went out begging for money and finially met up again with his father who wasn´t happy with the small amount of money his son had brought home. So the Dad beat the son to death. The audience loved it. They thought it was the funniest thing they had ever seen.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

They all look the same to me.

The other day I went to an internet cafe and used the internet for about an hour. When I went to pay with a five dollar bill, they didn´t have change. (And just when I think my spanish is getting pretty good, something like this happens.) So we chatted for a while, just shooting the breeze and him trying to explain to me to come back in a few hours and I could pick up my change then, and me casually responding with delightful wittisisms like ¨I don´t understand¨ and ¨please tell me again.¨ But eventually we got everything understood.

So I went to work and came back later that night to pick up my money. As I walked in the guy asked if I wanted to use the computer again and I said no, I wanted my money. And he must have remembered how well I understood Spanish, and how much I enjoyed it when people spoke really quickly, because he spoke at about the speed of light. I eventually understood him to mean that he wasn´t going to give me my change. He was going to give me more time on the computer to use of up the rest of the five dollars. So I said ok, and just to make sure, I said that I would come back another day to use the computer, and he said ok.

When I got home I chatted with my roomate a bit. She´s Norweigan, tall and has long really blond hair. She told me about the wierdest thing that happened in the internet cafe today. They must have been having some sort of promotion. She went in and used the internet for an hour and when she went to leave, instead of her paying them, they tried to give her four dollars.

So obviously, they had thought that we were the same person. It was all cleared up. I went in to tell the internet guy...unfortunatly my roomate was sick and wasn´t with me. So when I went in to tell him that there were two foreigners that would be patronizing his store, and that we weren´t the same person he asked, ¨Are you sure?¨

I´m pretty sure that to this day he doesn´t believe me. And he won´t untill he sees us both at the same time. Although, I have to admit...I´m not sure anymore, is this like something out of fight club? Or a beatiful mind? Has anyone else ever seen both of us together?

Monday, October 23, 2006


You know what is a big fat lie? This idea floating around that roosters crow in the morning. Let me tell you the truth. They crow all the time. Five in the morning, ten in the morning, four in the afternoon, midnight. And if there happpens to be two, they take turns so they don´t get tired and have to stop making noise for a few minutes.

It´s true.

I´ve seen them.

The truth will set you free.

No, wait, I mean the truth will wake you up at four a.m. and inturrupt your nap at 3 p.m.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


I was a bit sad that the short time I lived in San Diego I never got to feel an earthquake. I didn´t want to feel one that did any damage or hurt anyone, just a little shake in the ground would have been enough.

When I moved to Ecuador I never would have thought that here would be where I would feel an earthquake, but last Sunday there was a tiny little shake in the ground, two in fact. I wasn´t nervous untill I felt the second tremor and remembered that I live on the ground floor of an apartment with five stories on top of me. Then I stopped being nervous and took a shower instead.

If I had any brains I probably should have taken the time to have a picnic outside, away from tall buildings...but that´s what happens when you grow up in the midwest, you always have the mistaken idea that you are safer inside a house, maybe in the doorways or next to a wall. Comes from all the tornado drills in school, I imagine.


The idea of a long-distance relationship is very strange to most people in Ecaudor...and I think in all of South America. When I mention that I have a boyfriend, whoever has asked immidiatly asks next, in Ecuador? And I say no, he lives in the United States. And then they ask again, to be sure, ¨But you don't have one in Ecuador?¨ As though I would have two. And it seems that is exactly what they are asking. They are so confused when I say that I don't want two boyfriends, I only want to wait till I can see the one in the US again.

Here if people are apart, it´s not strange to have another boyfriend or girlfriend for the time one minds.

El Cárcel

I´ve started teaching English at a prison for kids. Well, youths, the kids there are aged 12 to 18, and most of them are there for robbery or drug use. It was pretty intimidating at first. You walk in the door and there is a soldier guarding the front door in full camo uniform. You give him your ID and walk in to see a bare dirt courtyard with rough-looking teenagers staring at you.

Then one of the kids comes up and offers to take you on a tour of the place. He shows you the bakery, the kiln for ceramics, the cupboards they are building in another workshop, the metal working room, the classrooms, and the little hearts that the kids have made out of wire with initials in them. Finally he introduces you very politly to the directors, one of which he calls Mom. Then you notice that the guard, with his tall leather boots and camo uniform is the goalie for a soccer game.

I love working there. Most of the kids really want to learn English, and if at times they are too loud and boistrous, and basically too much like teenage boys, you can't be irritated for long because the next words out of their mouth are, ¨Teacher, como se dice ojos en ingles?¨ And when I say eyes, they respond with, ¨You eyes beatiful.¨

After two hours of English, it´s time for snacks and either soccer or volleyball. The kids push and shove each other to be the first to give me or the other teacher, (My friend Liz from Michigan) pieces of their orange or to offer a banana. Then my friend and I hang around for another hour or so to talk with the kids or play sports with them. It´s really fun, and I can tell that my spanish is getting better daily by speaking with them...but that´s the selfish part of the day because it´s just fun for me.

One student has already decided that I am his Godmother. I can´t decide whether that´s better or worse than Liz. She´s his matter how much she denies it.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Library Project

It´s hard for me to imagine living in a place without a library. Whenever I move to a new country or even a new city, the first things I look for are the bathroom and the nearest library. I can´t even count how many libraries there were in my hometown, between the public library and a library in every school, there must have been dozens. I also loved going to thrift sales or discount stores and buying books for a quarter a piece. I always took for granted that if I wanted to read, I could do so.

It´s different in Ecuador. There just aren´t any libraries. Not in the cities, not in the schools, nowhere. There are bookstores here and there, where you can buy books for eleven or more dollars. When a full meal in a resaurant costs a dollar fifty, and kids sell cigarettes on the streets for pennies, eleven dollars for a childrens book is an impossibility for most people.

I teach English to some kids from Columbia. They are refugees and in December are going to move to either Switzerland or Canda. A few days ago I was teaching them the names of places, Police Station, School, Library....etc. They didn´t even bother to learn library. Why bother learning that? they said. I said that there were lots of libraries in both Switzerland and Canada, and they could go whenever they wanted, and read books for free. They almost didn´t believe me. It was like I had told them that they could get free candy and puppies and money whenever they wanted. But once they believed me, it´s impossible for me to describe the excitment on their faces. They started grinning at each other and speaking Spanish quickly untill I interrupted them with, ¨Speak English please!¨ Then they stopped talking because they can´t really have a conversation yet only knowing, ¨How are you?¨ and ¨one two three four five.¨

Anyhow, that brings me to my friend´s project here in Ecuador. She is a librarian and wants to build a library here. She´s found a great place for it. It´s this foundation that teaches kids who work in the markets. These kids are too poor for their parents to spare them the time to go to school, but this organization, wants to help however they can. It provides workshops for parents and children to make their crafts they sell in the markets, and offers classes for the kids and tutoring in the mornings and afternoon. (It´s called CENIT, This is the place that Anna is going to set up her library. All we (I say we because I am trying to help any way I can.) need now is some money or books, and in a dream world, maybe even a computer or two.

So I´m warning everyone I know that what they are going to get for Christmas are cards saying, ¨This much money has been donated in your name to the library project in Quito Ecuador.¨

Also, I´m asking anyone with access to books in Spanish or English (if the books are in English, children´s picture books are what are most needed) to send them to Ecuador. (e-mail me for an address) and if anyone has too much money this week, to donate the excess. Anna is going to set up a paypal account, again, e-mail me for the exact details.

If anyone wants more information, please feel free to e-mail me. Also feel free to visit the website, to learn more about the organization that we´re working through.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Dream job.

So it turns out that I have found my dream job. I actually have two dream jobs, both of which I would love to do forever. Kind of sucks that both of them are kind of difficult to come by.

1)Author. I have a book written, and a pretty damn good one, by the way, but I just need to wait for a publisher to give me money and publish it. Not as easy as I´ve just made it sound.

2)Teach English as a second language to kids with classes no bigger than 12 students. Now this is a ridiculously easy job to come by, and pretty well-paid, provided one wants to live in Korea or Japan. Not so easy to come by if one wants to live in the United States...but not impossible. Teaching kids is so great, because they look at it as an adventure most of the time, and they think it´s exciting to try and communicate with someone who doesn´t speak their language. If I ever see my students outside of school, they always run up yelling, ¨Teacher! Teacher,¨ and give me a hug. And then they don´t speak another word of English the entire time because they are too shy around their parents and friends and wouldn´t want to make it look like they were actually learning anything with me.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Typical rich tourist

It is amazing how fast a person, can become desensitized to the poverty that surrounds me...I mean...not me, other people. The reason I say this is because I was thinking today that one of the biggest problems in Quito is how hard it is to get change.

I get money from the ATM, and it always comes in twenty dollar bill form. The main problem is that no store anywhere will take anything except exact change. If you buy food at a huge grocery store for $15.71, and try to pay with a 20, they will look a you like you tried to pay with poop. Much less trying to buy a lunch for $2.80 from a small corner restaurant when all you have is a 20.

Anyhow, this relates back to my first sentence. ¨I was thinking today that one of the biggest problems in Quito is how hard it is to get change.¨ I am such a stereotypical rich tourist. I don´t see the people living and begging in the streets, the five year old kids juggling or doing cartwheels for cars at red lights to earn spare change, the schools with no textbooks or libraries, the violence, or any of the other problems. All I see is that I have two twenty dollar bills and no way to pay the 60 cents an hour the internet cafe charges.