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Entries about english teaching

Goodbye to Guayaquil

Guayaquil


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Monday 28th

Today I went back to my now-former-workplace to do a few final things and say goodbye to everyone. These things included: paying a visit to Western Union to transfer most of the money from my Ecuadorian bank account to the UK, making use of the printer to print off my flight e-tickets and my Madrid hostel reservation email, collecting a parcel from Emma from the post office using a slip that had arrived at work while I was away, going up onto the flat roof of the building to take photos of the view on each side, going out for lunch (seco de pollo) at the booths round the corner for the last time, and having an exit interview with the Director of Studies.

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It was relatively late in the afternoon by the time I got back, so I didn't do much else apart from go out for dinner. I had a churrasco (at this place, a thin steak with ratatouille-type vegetables and two fried eggs on top, with chips and rice) and then a cup of morocho for pudding.

Tuesday 29th

In the morning I got a bus into Guayaquil city centre for a last look-around. I visited the Central Market for the first time - as soon as I entered I really wished I'd discovered it much sooner. It was filled with fruit, vegetable and herb stalls, stalls of sausages hanging up, stalls selling sacks of flour, beans, pulses etc., and stalls selling tins and packets of food as well as more general non-edible household goods. It was very much like the Daily Market in Otavalo and the general market in Banos, only without the café-stands selling guinea pig, other typical Ecuadorian dishes and slices taken from whole roasted pigs.

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Then I walked past the hotel where I stayed with Mum in February, so on an impulse I went into its café and had a cup of their wonderful hot chocolate. Then I said goodbye to the iguanas in Iguana Square and carried on straight ahead to the Malecón.

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I climbed up one of the viewing towers next to the River Guayas, which is what I'd done on my first visit to the city centre on my second full day in Ecuador. It was perfectly sunny, without a cloud in the sky.

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My next stop was the Artisan Market, another place I had never been inside before for some reason. On the way there I walked past La Barca Azul, the lunch restaurant where I ate several times and took most of my visitors to, but I didn't feel hungry enough for lunch yet so I didn't go in. At the market I had a quick look round and then took a bus back to Urdesa.

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As soon as I'd dumped my stuff I went straight out again, this time to the Banco Pichincha cash machine to take out the rest of the money I had left in my account. I'd left enough in there to change into Euros once I got to Madrid, so I wouldn't need to use my HSBC card there at all, and hopefully have some left over as well. Before I took the bus back to my street corner, first of all I bought a sandwich and a carton of coffee milk from Oki Doki (a convenience store... I remember finding the name very amusing when I first got here) and then I did a little bit of shopping at Mi Comisariato supermarket. Amongst other things, I bought a bottle of Ecuadorian créme de cacao to take back to the UK.

Two minutes before I had to get off the bus, 'Vivir mi Vida' by Marc Antony came onto the radio. I've heard this played so often on the buses (and elsewhere) ever since I arrived in Ecuador that I've come to consider it my Ecuadorian anthem; it felt very appropriate and right that it was playing on my last bus journey here. It played on my arrival and now it was accompanying me on my way out.

Then I packed everything and at 4pm I somehow managed to get my big and incredibly heavy case down four flights of stairs and out onto the pavement, along with my rucksack, laptop case and a couple of bags of rubbish to put out.

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Then I flagged down a taxi to the airport. The fare was $4, so since all the change I had left came to just above that, I just gave the driver all of it.

Posted by 3Traveller 03:53 Archived in Ecuador Tagged hotel market airport cathedral buses iguanas ecuador guayaquil english_teaching malecon_2000 guayaquil_metropolitan_cathedra ecuadorian_cuisine river_guayas Comments (0)

Quito: Historic, bohemian Guápulo district

Mindo and Quito


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Wednesday 23rd July

Originally I'd planned to go back to Quito as early as I could, to give me more time to go to places I wanted to see before I left for good, but I ended up not leaving Mindo until 1.30pm because before that I had an interview for a job at a small language school in Bulgaria! I successfully found the only computer with working Skype in a reliable internet café. The interview went really well and I was offered the job at the end. If I accept, I'll be due to start work in the middle of September.

The later leaving time from Mindo meant that when I arrived at the usual hostel in Quito it was late afternoon and I decided I was too tired to go out again properly. I just rested for a bit and then went out for some dinner at Achiote, a restaurant Dave and I went to last month. It does Ecuadorian food and the quality is really good. I had shrimps in a coconut and vegetable sauce with yuca chips and a cold salad as accompaniments.

Thursday 24th July

In the morning I went for a walk in Guápulo district, which runs picturesquely down a hill within walking distance of the hostel. It was really hot and sunny. Before I walked down the hill I took some photos of the amazing view next to a statue of Francisco de Orellana, a conquistador who was the first Westerner to cross the Amazon region to reach the Atlantic Ocean (he was also the founder of Guayaquil, out of interest.)

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I went down the hill to the beautiful white Sanctuary de El Guápulo, which unfortunately was closed apart from the entrance area.

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Then I climbed all the way back up again, packed my stuff and took a taxi to the airport for my flight to Guayaquil.

Posted by 3Traveller 15:56 Archived in Ecuador Tagged airport hostel quito andes ecuador mindo explorations english_teaching colonial_church Comments (0)

World Cup Final, leaving drinks and my last day at work

Guayaquil


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Earlier today we all met up at someone's flat to watch the World Cup Final and have a barbecue buffet at the same time. Germany was my seeded team in the teachers' World Cup sweepstake, so I ended up winning $50! Thanks Germany!

Yesterday evening I went out for my leaving drinks with my now-ex colleagues. We started off at Arthur's Café in Las Peñas. Although the food took a long time to arrive, it was good, and we had a fantastic view of the river and the lights of Guayaquil round the curve of the bay. A supermoon was out and we also caught sight of the Captain Morgan ship (which turns into an all-you-can-drink floating bar on weekend nights) sailing up and down.

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From Arthur's Bar we climbed to the top of Cerro Santa Ana next door, going up the steep steps and paths round the side and back of the hill rather than the main ones at the front. My idea was to take some photos from the terrace at the top before stopping in at different bars on the way down. I remembered the only time I had tried to do this on a night out before, the terrace turned out to be closed to the public after midnight, so I was keen to get to it before then this time around.

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To my joy, when we got to the terrace the lighthouse was still open, so I climbed to the top of that and took in the amazing views of the terrace and chapel directly below me and then spread out before me the lights of the city, the bridge joining Guayaquil with Daule and the darkness of the River Guayas and Isla Santay.

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The upside to the often oppressive year-round hot and humid daytime temperature of Guayaquil is that after dark, even in the middle of the night, it is never ever even the slightest bit too cold. Permanent t-shirt weather. The humidity goes down and when there's a bit of a breeze going, like there was tonight at the top of the hill, it is pleasantly balmy. Although I was happy and having a great time with the rest of the group, at the same time it felt slightly poignant at the top of the lighthouse because I knew it was almost certainly the last time I'd be in that position with this view.

From the upper terrace we moved on to the lower one and found seats outside on the terrace of the wooden Puerto Pirata bar, 'the pirate ship'. We spent quite a while there, with the lighthouse looking over us, before we moved on down the hill.

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We stopped at a succession of small quirkily decorated bars, including one where I saw two dressed-up clowns in full makeup sitting in a corner having a drink together (!). Our final stop was slightly bigger bar with a dancefloor we took advantage of for a while before heading home in taxis.

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On Friday 11th I had my last teaching session; my Friday class of public sector English teachers from 5 - 9 pm. It was quite touching at the end because the students were all really nice, despite the fact that I've only had them for three once-a-week classes. One of them even said "you're a best teacher!" (sic)... during the break halfway through the lesson, one of them (who is a head teacher, out of interest) told me she loved the activities in class because they were funny... I wasn't 100% certain what she meant, because something I've noticed a lot of students do here is use the word 'funny' when what they mean is 'fun' - but I didn't think it quite appropriate to make her elaborate in that situation. I suppose it was still complimentary whether she meant 'enjoyable' or 'amusing'! I just smiled and said thank you and that it had been a pleasure for me to teach them, which is true.

It was an eventful class in other ways as well. Within the first hour I looked up at one point because I saw through the window out of the corner of my eye two people standing on the staircase outside the classroom looking down; standing there were two ex-students of mine that I had in FCE (First Certificate of English) prep classes on Saturdays until I went on holiday with Dave! It looked like they really wanted to speak to me, so I put my head outside the door to have a quick word. They seemed startlingly excited to see me. It turned out that they were just about to take the speaking part of the FCE exam. A few encouraging words were in order before I returned to my class.

Not long after that, 'I' from receptionists/course co-ordinators came in with a phone to take some photos of me and the class to put on the school's Facebook page to commemorate the fact that it was my last teaching day here. After the official photos had been taken, some of the students made her take photos with their phones as well.

During the class I had them doing role plays to practise doing the different parts of the PET (Preliminary English Test) speaking test. Lots of moving chairs around and changing between being the examiner and one of the candidates. Hopefully they are a lot more aware now of what type of activity they have to do for each part, and how to do them.

I leave for Loja tomorrow; I won't be in Guayaquil again until the 24th.

Posted by 3Traveller 09:30 Archived in Ecuador Tagged parties night football barbecue ecuador guayaquil explorations english_teaching cerro_santa_ana las_peñas Comments (0)

Back from the Galápagos. Cuenca tomorrow!

Puerto Ayora, Baltra Island and Guayaquil


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A very early start for us this morning. A taxi arrived at 5.45 to take us, Bud and Gale to the port, where after having our bags rather cursorily checked, a water taxi dropped us off at the speedboat. The journey this time was better because the boat was much less crowded so there was more space and fresh air. On arrival at Puerto Ayora we were met by the G Adventures representative (I've forgotten his name now... sorry!), who asked Dave and me to meet him nearby at 9 and then took Bud & Gale to their next hotel. We said goodbye to them because we wouldn't see them again. It had been a pleasure sharing many of our Galápagos experiences with them.

Dave and I had some breakfast at a nearby restaurant; scrambled eggs, two rolls with cheese, coffee/ hot chocolate, juice and fruit salad with yoghurt.

At 9 we were put into a taxi to the ferry, on the other side of Santa Cruz.

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Once on the ferry it took ages to leave; then on the other side there was another wait for the LAN bus to turn up. Even after it arrived and everyone got on, we had to sit there for ages waiting for it to depart to the airport. I started to get really worried that we would miss our flight. Other passengers, with a flight even closer than ours, complained, only to be told that we were waiting for another ferryload of passengers. Once the latter had arrived and got on and the bus finally left, we had only 30 minutes until our flight was supposed to depart! The bus journey took up further five minutes. On arrival we rushed to the check-in desk, only to be met by a 'CLOSED' sign... luckily for us there were three or four others who needed the same flight, who had their tour guide with them - she got the check-in girl to print boarding passes for them. After they'd gone through the girl printed precious boarding cards for us too - thank goodness! We rushed through the passport and baggage checks as quickly as we could (the terminal was tiny, which helped) and arrived at the boarding gate 15 minutes before the given departure time. Luckily for us, nobody had been allowed on the plane yet. We had made it!

I managed to get some half-decent photos of Baltra Island as we took off and of the River Guayas, rice fields and of Guayaquil itself as we descended. We were given some lovely little Ecuadorian snacks mid-flight.

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Once we'd got back to my flat we rested until the evening, with only a trip out to find an internet café because the internet wasn't working properly at the flat for some reason. We had intended to tell our families about our engagement but by the time we got to one that had phone cabins, I thought it would be too late at night in the UK, so I just checked my email instead.

In the evening we had dinner with three of my former students at an Italian café near to the language school! They were from a class I'd been teaching until last week and this was their idea, something they wanted to do as a thank you to me. When they found out that Dave was with me they insisted that he come too. So we went and had a nice chat and some delicious pizza and dessert with them. At the end, they refused to let either me or Dave pay for our food! Very kind and generous of them.

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Posted by 3Traveller 04:26 Archived in Ecuador Tagged coast airport dave ecuador galapagos_islands guayaquil english_teaching unesco_world_heritage_site ecuadorian_cuisine Comments (0)

Dad's birthday

Guayaquil


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Today and for the last couple of days I have been feeling a bit wobbly inside. I so wish I could have been able to say 'happy birthday' today to Dad on video chat, or even better, in person. It hurts so much to know that I will never be able to do that again. I told one or two people at work about it today and they were really sympathetic, which helped.

I feel the urge to write about an incident from about a month ago that also made me feel distinctly wobbly inside.

It was after my Friday 4-8 pm public sector Upper Intermediate 5 class. A student (now called 'M') offered me a lift home, saying "My family is in the car outside, we wanted to give you a lift because then we can see different areas of Guayaquil". She had never offered me a lift before and I had never met any of her family. Secretly I thought this was a rather peculiar way of offering a person a lift, but accepted with thanks anyway. Now before I go any further I need to mention that 'M' knows about Dad dying, because the class was told about it in their first lesson back after Christmas by the teacher who took it for a couple of weeks in my absence. In my first lesson back with them 'M' came up and said how sorry she was to hear about Dad. The subject had not been mentioned since, however.

As we were driving to my flat she spoke to me in English. After a bit of normal chat, the conversation took an unexpected turn;

'M': "Who do you live with?"
'T': "One of the other teachers. We're housemates"
'M': "And who does your mother live with, in England?"
'T' (taken aback): "Um. Well, she doesn't live with anyone now, but people visit a lot..."
'M' (conversationally): "So, how did you feel when your father died?"
'T' (stunned): "Well..." (short silence while I gathered composure, aware that I had an audience) "Very, very sad. Yes..." (short silence) (change of subject)

Now 'M' is a very kindly person and I could tell that she had absolutely no idea that either of her two latter questions were intrusive. Luckily she was sitting directly behind me and although I had half-turned round in order to be polite when speaking to her, she still couldn't see my face properly. I still tried not to show anything though because I knew her children and husband could see more of my face and I didn't want to embarrass 'M' by revealing through my expression that I thought these questions inappropriate.

Luckily I arrived at my flat only a few minutes later, so I could have a quick bite to eat and have an early night.

Posted by 3Traveller 10:12 Archived in Ecuador Tagged dad ecuador guayaquil english_teaching Comments (0)

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