Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dia de la Madre

For Mother's Day I had some big plans with my host-brother (Guillo) and cousin (Virgilio). On Saturday I went with my cousin and we bought a big flower arrangement. In the house we had to sneak it past Patricia. Virgilio distracted Pati while I snuck the flowers into the little bathroom near the front door that nobody uses. Then later I passed it through the house to my room. That night we celebrated with a dinner with the family.

On Sunday I got up at 5:30 with Guillo to make orange rolls for Pati. A little later came Virgilio, too. We started making them and were waiting for them to rise. After all these years watching Mom make orange rolls for Christmas and Easter, I didn't realize that she let them rise overnight. In retrospect, I do remember normally seeing a bowl on the counter with a towel draped over it, but that only came after. We just sacrificed an hour waiting for the dough to "rise" and then continued the rolls. We finished fixing up the rolls, which only made like nine rolls because we didn't have time to let them double. We also made a coffee cake. I was arguing with Guillo and Villo about the crumb topping because they said it was impossible to form crumbs if I add butter to dry ingredients. They kept telling me that you couldn't form crumbs unless you made them by hand. I had to make my own little experiment in a separate bowl to show them that if there are more dry things than butter then it would form little balls.

We also made French toast, and Guillo made bread with an egg in the middle (he cut out a hole in the bread and cooked the egg in the hole in the frying pan). Guillo decorated the plates up, and the three of us walked in to Pati's room with her breakfast. What a fine breakfast that was.

Trip to Portoviejo

At the end of April I went to Portoviejo to see Marcelo, the exchange student who was in my house in 2004. He had was just finishing his summer break so he invited me to his house. That Friday, I barely caught the bus out of Machala, went to Guayaquil (3 hour bus ride), and then to Portoviejo (3.5 hour bus ride). Marcelo picked me up and took me on a little tour of Portoviejo (he likes to call it Portohueco or Polvoviejo. "Hueco" means hole referring to the numerous potholes in the city and "Polvo" means dust referring to the streets that are filled with it).

We went to the beach city of Manta that night for his dad, who's a doctor, because he had a presentation thing to go to. We went back to the house and Marcelo had some friends from his high school over for karaoke.

The next day we ate a ton: encebollado for breakfast, mapi mint ice cream, ceviche for lunch. Marcelo and I went with his dad to the farm. It had cacao, banana, and cows. We just walked around for a while and sucked some fresh oranges.

It started raining so we left, picking up yucca bread and a corn bread thing on the way home. That night I went to a ballenato concert with Marcelo and his friends. At midnight we all wished Marcelo a happy birthday. We finished the late night with his friends and slept.

Sunday we went to La Crucita, the beach that we went to on the Rotary trip earlier this exchange year. Before we arrived, we stopped for lunch, and I had a typical plate from the province of Manabi: viche which is a soup with peanuts (common in Manabi), fish, and plantains.

We went to the lookout point place where people parachute from the cliff. We got to see one guy jump off! We headed down to the beach, and I walked on the shore with Marcelo a little. It was kind of overcast so we didn't swim at all.

Back in Portoviejo, Marcelo, Leonardo (Marcelo's brother), and I packed our bags and got on the bus for Guayaquil. We got to their apartment at 12:30 at night and crashed. Marcelo had early classes the next day so he left, then later Leonardo sent me off to the bus terminal for my trip back to Machala. That was a super fast trip.

Super Super Senior

After my family left, I had to start yet another year of high school, making it my third time as a senior. Since my old class graduated, I had to join a new class with new people. It was nice though that the teachers already knew me and that there were three other exchange students in my class: Kelsey from the USA, Flavia from Brazil, and Tjarko from Germany. Regardless, school was still boring.

Exchange students

We had Spanish classes on Thursdays and Fridays. Those on Thursday were with a male teacher with whom we would just look at dictionaries and write little stories. Those classes on Friday were with a female teacher with whom we would just read aloud stories and talk about them.

One teacher who I don't think I'll ever forget is Richard Clavijo. He taught my class economy and geoeconomic problems. He was always so critical with the homework and the projects of the students (luckily with the exchange students he wasn't as harsh). In his class if we the exchange students did the work, he gave us smiley faces next to our names because we don't really have grades. He would always come in to the class and shout about the rows of desks saying they're crooked. He would also ALWAYS say "o-ey-ee" (at least 5 times a class) whenever something embarrassing or awkward happened. That actually became pretty funny and now Flavia, Alexis (an exchange student from Switzerland who was in another class but still had Richard as a teacher), and I say it sooo often.


Once in Clavijo's class the students were having an organized debate up front. I was near the back with Flavia and my classmate, Jean, who was in front of me, asked me to hand me his backback which was behind me. I leaned back in the chair (plastic, might I add) and left all my weight on one leg, causing that leg to break off. So I was on the floor, the debate was stopped, and everyone was looking at me. I got up and gave a little wave and Richard says "o-ey-ee" while everyone was laughing. How embarrassing.

The broken chair and me

In English class, we had a teacher from Ireland. He had a strong accent and would always mention how Americans use so much slang and so many idioms. He didn't speak any Spanish when he came, but he's learning it now. In his class (the most difficult English class) I mainly just read and occasionally chimed in if he asked me a question. He would only speak English to the students and seemed to continously nagging the students to speak English back. It seemed like a pretty tough class to control because they all just talked so much and didn't like to do work.

English teacher from Ireland

Thursday was my last day at Pacifico. In the morning there were only exams so Richard booted Flavia and me from the class, and we went to the cafe bar place to watch the World Cup with Andres, my buddy from the bar.

Doing the Texan cowboy pose with Andres; Andres wants to go to Texas and be a cowboy so he can say "You lookin' at me?" like in the Western movies.

When we went back to class, we just took a million photos. The next class was with Richard so he made everyone go to the front of the class and said a goodbye message to me. I am going to miss the crazy experiences that I've had in that school.

Johnny's brother and sister!

Brunners in Guayaquil

We left Machala for Guayaquil, stopping for some yucca bread and yogurt and sugar cane on the way. We met up with Marcelo, the exchange student in our house in 2004, and went to eat some crab. We also met up with my host-father's neice, who I had never met before that night. We walked up Las Penas which is the old neighborhood in Guayaquil situated on a hill. We went all the way to the lighthouse at the top. We went back to Johnny's apartment to prepare for their flight home.

Later that night Johnny, Rachel, and I drove to McDonald's and got a bite to eat (that's what we did on Johnny's last night in the USA).

We packed up and headed out early with all their suitcases. We got to the airport, and Johnny, Marcelo, and I sent them on their way back to the USA.

Machala with the Brunners

We stayed in my current house and had a huge breakfast. We basically spent this whole trip eating and eating. We left for Frutilandia which is a little restaurant place where you pick fruit and corn flakes and yogurt and such and it's so great! I'm sorry to say that it's now closed. Ugh! Anyways, we met Mathilde, an exchange student from France, and Flavia, an exchange student from Brasil, there and socialized as best we could (Flavia doesn't know English and Andy was the only one who spoke Spanish).

We went to an art exhibit downtown of the crucifixion of Jesus due to that it was Good Friday. We continued on to the house of the president of my Rotary club's house. There was a little party and we ate fanesca, a dish of grains and fish eaten on Good Friday.

At the end of the day we drove to Puerto Bolivar to visit my first host family. I got to show them the house and then we just talked (most of them know English so they could have a conversation).

The next day we started off going to the shopping mall of Machala - big times! We toured my counselor's husband's shrimp farm and got to eat the best ceviche in the world (I'm still workiing on getting that recipe). He also showed us the shrimp in the pools. We left for Pasaje, said a quick goodbye to the Morochos, then left for Guayaquil with Johnny.

Day with the Morochos and Machala

We all woke up to a loudspeaker that was on a municipal truck telling people to take their trash out. It was on repeat and was parked near the house. It was sooooo annoying and the entire day that song was stuck in my mind. Dad and Johnny accompanied me to the barber shop where I got the majority of my hair chopped off.

We stopped at a banana plantation and Johny (the dad) explained to us the process. Then we went with the Morocho's to an ostrich farm and saw those weird creatures.

Sporting the hats

We drove on to Puyango, where there is a petrified forest, and spent most of the day with the huge trees.

We sped back to Pasaje and packed our bags at lightspeed so that we could get to Machala on time. With the Minuche family (my current family and whose house we all stayed in) we went to the weekly Rotary meeting, where Andy did most of the work translating, and then we left for the house of my host-father's aunt to eat.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Day 2 in Cuenca

As was foreseen, we went back to the artisan market to finish our shopping. We went on a tour of an old cathedral and then a Panama hat museum.

Fact: the Panama hat is actually from Ecuador and is just know as the Panama hat becuase that was where it was popularized when Roosevelt was building the Panama Canal. Here we call it sombrero de paja toquilla (the type of straw).

All of the family got hats EXCEPT for Julie; she just got a little coin purse of paja toquilla.

We went to have lunch near El Cajas, the national park with the lakes and mountains, and we had trout, the speciality there. Since it was pouring down buckets of rain didn't get to go through the park. Bummer. We went right on to Pasaje. During the trip we watched Avatar and because the road is so bumpy and rocky, it felt like we were in the movie during all the action and flying scenes. We all were pretty much sick of driving and tired, but when we got to the Morocho's house in Pasaje, they had friends over waiting to greet us with a little party, where we also celebrated Johnny's birthday.