Finally made it there !
I did a tech exchange with a fellow volunteer posted in Machala, the 4th biggest city of Ecuador. I spent an amazing four full day between work and vacation.
I don´t do so well with the heat/sun it seems (weird skin reaction? bleh) but loved that dirty industrial hot polluted city that somehow reminded me of Lanzhou.
The trip down, a dramatic curvy steep fall from mountains to the banana trees was gorgeous. From 2500m to 0m in about 3 hours….
I taught a couple of French classes because the tourism older students (15-17)´s teacher was basically asked two years ago to teach French on top of teaching English. Does she speak French? Nop. She was told to study on her own online and follow a two-month Summer course. So she was grateful for anything I could bring to the table. For me, it was great to be in a non-all-boy school for a bit. I loved the diversity on the coast (see the group photo, I´m seriously white as a cachet d´aspirine and it´s pretty sad!), how people were more outgoing (this teenager who came up straight to me and tried all the French he knows – not much, but still – was fairly different from my Cuenca students who shout “I love you ” from the second floor when I´m walking in the playground and then hurry to hide behind a pillar), how the girls in the class were “pilas”, smart and eager to participate. It was also just fun to see different uniforms (tennis women for the girls, Indiana Jones for the boys?), the different pace at school….
But the best part of Machala was…. food. SO GOOD.
We went to the port with P´s host dad and bought some fish that had been literally fished a few minutes before, shrimps and “conchas”.
I was seriously spoiled by P.´s awesome host parents because the dad BBQed the fish one night, the mum made a ceviche de camarones y conchas and an arroz marinero… Incredible. With a day on the beach at Jambeli and another ceviche, I had my fish fix yet I want more….
I also loved P.´s host parents because they are fron the Sierra and settled down in Machala 12 years ago because there were jobs there. Nice break to meet people from the Sierra who don´t critizise the “monos” (aka “monkeys”, that´s the sweet nickname Sierra people give to the coastal people. Nice, I know) and actually admit that now they couldn´t see themselves go back to the cold and uptight Sierra….!
Pretty crazy though. The host mum told me that there is discrimination even on the coast: it´s easier for a Sierra person to get a job on the coast (even if there are coastal applicants) because I guess the coastal people agree with the reputation they have: “lazy and not hard at work”…. Coastal = cigale, Sierra = fourmi….
Coming back to freezing Cuenca (the heat wave is GONE) was quite a shock. Well, I guess I did my little lesson part telling my host mum how great my four days with the monos were and how I loved the atmosphere there….
Definitively look forward to discovering the jungle when I get a chance !
Back to work here now, with pretty much one teacher left for me to work with (one in the U.S., one pregnant and sick, one who doesn´t care, one who somehow ended up being assigned to ALL the meetings possible at my school.), which in a way is good because that teacher needs way more practice than the others
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