...it's been far too long, and I should be ashamed. Feel bad for me though - I'm the one who now has the job of trying to recap the last month in an exciting and entertaining manner.
My parents and auntie Peg were here visiting the last week in January (that's my excuse for the lack of blogging...I needed recovery time after they left ;)). It was so good to finally be able to show them my life here. It's nearly impossible to describe what this place looks like and what all we do, so you really do have to experience it for yourself to understand. It was also fun for them to finally meet all of the people I've been talking about for the last 6 months - staff, volunteers, and especially the kids. I'm pretty sure dad left with 3 little girlfriends (all under the age of 6), and everytime I've talked to him since they were here, all he does is ask about Catherine, Celia, and Rosita! To say the least, the fam hit it off with the kids, and I've felt as though my popularity has been steadily decreasing since then (both with the kids AND with my parents, actually).
Last Friday, we took about 50 girls to a park near the Center. We frequent this park often, and it's always quite amusing to observe how our rough and tough street kids are too good for the actual playground equipment. They would much rather climb trees, climb walls, run through the weeds, pick the weeds, play in the mud, or play with the drinking fountains than swing, teeter-totter, or go down the slides. Our little outing became even more interesting when a group of students from a "normal" (ie. not for poor street kids) school showed up at the park. The differences between the two groups were astounding. As previously mentioned, our kids do not prefer to use the equipment designated for playing, and if they do, they sure as heck do not use it in the manner that was intended (for example, one little girl thought it was much more fun to put the gymnast rings over her head and around her neck, rather than using her hands to hang or swing from them). The teacher of the "normal" kids was constantly hovering and cautioning her students (and ours....poor lady got so many dirty scowls and nasty remarks in response!), while we simply let our students go about their business, with complete confidence that they would be fine, would take care of themselves, and would magically return from all corners of the park (it's a big park) when it was time to leave. Colleen and I both agreed that the cleanliness and matching outfits of the other kids made them not nearly as cute as our dirty, disheveled children (who would have thought?).
In my English class, we are working on writing and saying sentences as of late. The other day, the girls were doing a worksheet where they had to write a sentence next to the picture (ie. "This is a blue shirt"). When Johanna came to the picture of purple pants, she asked me how to spell the word purple. I had already written it on the board for another student, so I pointed to the chalkboard and said "it's right up there." She mis-interpreted my point and verbal direction (it's also a very likely possibility that my verbal direction was not all that clear said in spanish), and when I went to look at her paper a few minutes later she had written "These are Welcome pants." Turns out, the "Welcome" sign in the classroom hangs right above the chalkboard and, when confronted about this, she was absolutely positive that that's what I had pointed to.
As much as I am not generally a fan of Valentine's Day (because it's comercialized and silly...and I deserve chocolates and flowers any day of the year, not just on February 14th ;)), I warmed up to the holiday a little bit this year. We had a pretty good time making valentines all day long, exchanging valentines the next day, and I even received a few roses from students and other teachers. I caved in and bought flowers (you can't beat $2 a dozen) for all of the females in the house....on February 15th, of course. And on that note, Happy President's Day (the holiday of this month that I prefer to celebrate).
As of February 17th, I've been here for 6 months! I can hardly believe how time flies by - depending on when exactly I book my return flight for, I only have about 5 months left in Ecuador. This realization saddens me, makes me nervous, excites me, and scares the shit out of me. Mostly, I cannot imagine leaving my kids come July, and I have NO idea what I will be doing/want to be doing next year (and by next year, I mean, in 5 months). Suggestions welcome.
On that note, I must sign off. Hopefully this little ditty has fulfilled your needs and desires that I have been ignoring for the last month. I also truly hope that you are all doing well, and I look forward to hearing about the happenings back in the good old United States of America!
Hugs and Kisses,