Courtesy of Hannah…
Elena and I both agree that last week was our favorite week in Ecuador so far. Although we have been loving the teaching aspect of the Global Routes Program, we got a vacation from the school for 5 days that allowed us to spend all of our time with our host families. Fortunately for us, this past week was also centered around “Day of the Dead” in Latin America, so we got to experience first-hand all of the time and hard work that goes into the preparation for the celebrations. We both awoke early (Elena at 4:00am on a couple of mornings) to prepare the traditional Guaguas (bread) and colada morada with our families, and spent Wednesday through the weekend attending the various services and gatherings at the cemetery with our host families. Most importantly, this past week gave us the opportunity to truly relax with our families, accompany them on trips to the finca to work, and to other nearby towns to help run the daily errands.
Last week was also rewarding for us because we finally began the construction of the playground at our school! On Monday afternoon, at the construction time we decided on at our past parent-teacher conference, we were happily surprised to see every parent come to the schoolyard with their own sugar cane and machetes, quite enthusiastic to work. The sugar cane “casita” or playhouse is coming along really well and very fast! We also traveled to Quinsaloma with a few helpful parents to sign a building contract with a company that is going to help us with the metal slide, seesaw, monkey bars, and swings. Everything will be completed within the next 2 weeks so we will keep you posted with pictures from the worksite! After all the pieces have been finished we plan to do an art project with the students by decorating a walkway through the playground with hand-painted stones. There will even be a “blessing” party that the parents of our students are going to organize on the opening day of the playground.
Lastly, our week ended with a surprise visit from our fellow Global Routers yesterday at my host family’s house. We have gotten so used to seeing each other with all of the program trips we’ve had recently that this past week away from one another in our separate communities felt like months. We made up for the lost time by singing some requested songs for my family, playing “cucharas” or spoons, and eating natural coconut ice cream – our favorite. Speaking of singing…Elena and I found ourselves yesterday evening once again in the midst of a karaoke party with my host sibling’s friends. I was pressured into singing a super cheesy song from the movie Titanic and Elena decided on belting a hit from Queen. Needless to say, we hope are performing days are over.
(Stay tuned for updates and pictures from Maria Aurora!)