I am finally starting to feel like I have a real life here in San Vicente, and I am no longer on a strange, confusing, extended vacation. I bought a bike last week and I can finally get around on my own without paying for taxis or trying to predict the nonexistent boat schedules. Freedom!! Sort of.
I got it at a second-hand bike shop and it’s not in the best shape, but it moves AND they put a basket on it for free, so I really couldn’t ask for anything more. I was so excited to show it off to my host family, but when I proudly rolled it into the house my host dad took one look at it and immediately proclaimed, “it’s broken” (“está dañado”). Whoops. I asked what was wrong with it but unfortunately my technical Spanish bicycle vocabulary is subpar and I had no idea what he said. He promptly rolled it off to a bike shop nearby and brought it back to me the next day, telling me everything was fine now. Hurray! That day I took it across the bridge to Bahia, and when I was about a third of the way across the bridge I noticed things were feeling a bit bumpy. I looked down and realized the front tire was completely deflated…ruh roh. I got off and started wheeling it, planning to walk it the 5km to the bike shop in Bahia where I had bought it to ask them to fix it. After I had been walking for about 5 minutes, two guys wheeled up to me on their bikes holding a bike pump and asked if I wanted them to pump up my deflated tire. Of course! How nice of them! They stopped and pumped air into my tire, but it immediately deflated again, meaning there must have been a pretty big hole. I told them thanks for trying, but I’ll just take it to the bike shop in Bahia. One of the guys unzipped his backpack to reveal an entire bag chock full of bike accessories and equipment. Without saying anything they flipped my bike over, disassembled the tire to take out the inner tube, found the hole, and patched it up with their professional bike supplies. All right there on the side of the road, without saying a word. I asked if they worked at a bike shop and they said no, they were just taking their bikes on a trip for the weekend and had been fixing them up before leaving. I asked if I could pay them anything but they refused and rode off on their way. I think that’s the nicest thing complete strangers have ever done for me, and it put a smile on my face for the rest of the day. Random acts of kindness are the BEST acts of kindness.
I finally started my English classes last week, as well as theater classes with Samantha, a Youth and Families Volunteer who lives in Bahia. I didn’t want to teach English and I really just agreed to it as a way to get to know some of the kids and parents in my town, but I have to say I am loving it. I am teaching two classes split up by age (7-12 in one group, 13-18 in another) and I have about 45 kids in total. The best part is that it’s in the afternoons and it’s not affiliated with any of the schools, so I can make the classes fun and create my own curriculum…meaning we mostly just play games.
I wasn’t really looking forward to these classes but they are starting to become the highlight of my weeks. Who would have guessed!??! I also went to my first Ecuadorian birthday party last week and had a blast eating tons of food, drinking beer, and dancing. Birthday parties are HUGE here – they hired a DJ and I’m pretty sure at least half the town came out to dance to reggaeton music very, very late into the night. The Ecuadorian way of drinking beer is different from the American way of drinking beer – the idea of everyone having their own bottle/can of beer is completely foreign. Pilsener comes in 24oz bottles and one person, usually the host of the party, walks around with a single glass and pours about half a glass for each person, one by one. When the host gives you the glass you drink it as fast as possible and return it so that he/she can refill it for the next person. I actually learned this tradition when I was with my host family in Tumbaco – for father’s day we went to a big family party and my host sister was in charge of filling the glass for everyone. I didn’t know about Ecuadorian beer drinking so when my host sister gave me a glass of beer I thanked her and started sipping on it slowly. She kept telling me to drink faster but I didn’t understand why so I continued sipping. She got so frustrated with me and basically yelled at me to drink the entire glass IMMEDIATELY. When I finished she took the glass and began filling it for other people…whoops! Lesson learned. Luckily this time around I knew how it was supposed to be done and I made sure to drink my glass as quickly as possible so as not to enrage anyone.
Here are some pictures from the party, all taken by a 5 year old 🙂
With the exception of biking and birthday adventures, I’ve just been hanging out with my family on the shrimp farm and with friends in Bahia and trying to enjoy my time here as much as possible. Last weekend I went to San Clemente, a little beach town about half an hour outside of Bahia, and saw one of the most amazing sunsets I have ever seen.
Next week I start working at one of the high schools in San Vicente – I’ll be working with 3 different age groups on themes ranging to self esteem, values and decision-making, drugs and alcohol, and sex ed. I’m excited and nervous to start working with high schoolers…most of my work thus far has been with younger kids. I’ll be working with them between now and January, so I hope they like me!
Ending this post with my current absolute favorite song. It’s really, really, popular here, but I don’t know if it’s well known in the states. It’s called “Vivir Mi Vida” by Marc Anthony.
Voy a reir, voy a bailar
vivir mi vida la la la la
voy a reir, voy a gozar
vivir mi vida la la la la
A veces llega la lluvia
para limpiar las heridas
a veces solo una gota
puede vencer la sequia
Y para que llorar, pa que
si duele una pena, se olvida
y para que sufrir, pa que
si así es la vida, hay que vivirla la la le
OR IN ENGLISH –>
I’m going to laugh, I’m going to dance
I’m going to live my life, la la la la
I’m going to laugh, I’m going to enjoy
live my life, la la la la
Sometimes the rain comes
to clean wounds
Sometimes just a drop
can overcome the drought
And why cry, for what?
If it hurts too much, forget it
And why suffer, for what?
If this is your life, you must live it