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Field Trips, Halloween, & Dia de los Finados

News from Catazacon… (courtesy of Elena)

Hannah and I have had a wonderful week back to school in Catazacon. On Monday Hannah took on the children by herself while I went to Corazon with Juliana and her 3-year-old daughter, Valentina, to have a cesarean. As it turned out, we have to wait a week, but in a few days I will have a new member of the family! Hannah and I had a good teaching week- the children are learning the animals in English and have a ball singing Old McDonald. Hannah’s family invited me to dinner on Tuesday, so Tuesday night we both learned to make “llapingachos” (potato tortillas) with peanut sauce, plantains, rice, and salad- yum!!! On Friday there was a soccer tournament for the students at a nearby village, so Hannah and I helped chaperone the fieldtrip, which among other things included riding in pickup trucks (the normal means of transportation) with all the children and cheering our kids to victory!

As each day goes by, we become more and more attached to our families, which will make our rapidly approaching goodbyes even harder.

Trick-or-Eat?! (Maria Aurora update!)

Amelia, Rani, and Ben have been enjoying their last few weeks in Maria Aurora (we haven’t even found time to sit down to write a blog post until now) celebrating Halloween, working and spending time with our families, and teaching at our respective schools. Last Monday, on Halloween, we threw around the idea for a little party to celebrate, though those in the village had no prior knowledge of the holiday. Little did we know that all the kids in the community, as well as Ben’s family, would be excited and willing to throw a party, complete with carved pumpkins, dancing, and some free candy provided by Ben’s host mom’s store. We were shocked and thrilled to see the kids complete with full-blown Ecuadorian costumes. Unexpectedly, we likely had a more exciting Halloween Eve then ya’ll up north, thanks to the snow!

Starting last Wednesday, we had vacation yet again for the holiday, Dia de los Finados. This essentially consisted of three days filled with family time, bread baking, and plenty of colada morada (this weird goopy delicious purple drink that tastes like the inside of an apple pie). All three of our houses were overflowing with extended family from Quito and beyond. We enjoyed going to the Pisces (a local swimming hole where they sell delicious tortillas) and visiting our deceased relatives’ graves at the cemetery. All in all, a relaxing and rejuvenating couple of days.

We’ve gotten back to work this week, with 5 whole days of school in a row! Rani has been volunteering at a health clinic in Moraspungo three mornings a week. She’s enjoyed observing and aiding the doctors, while also learning a bit about the medical system here in Ecuador. Ben and Amelia (almost always with the company of Rani) have also continued their afternoon English and art classes. The Tuesday afternoon art class helped us finish up the mural by putting handprints around the map. Ten kids running around with black, oil-painted hands was a slightly stressful situation, but fun nonetheless. English class is always an adventure, and activities range from scavenger hunting to play-writing.  Rani and Amelia hold exercise classes twice a week, and the first two were generally successful. We put our women through a range of aerobic drills, from tai chi to crunches to ridiculous moves that we make up on the fly. By the end, the women are exhausted, and we’re pretty pooped ourselves.

We’re all a bit surprised by how fast our last weeks in our communities have been passing, but we are absolutely without a doubt and 100% unequivocally certain that yucca is delicious. Oh yeah, I guess we’ll also try to do good, make the most of our time…all that good stuff.

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