Sunday, December 23, 2007

Goodbye to Anddrew, Rick, and Katie

For the past month we were glad to host three friends escaping the -6 temps from Boulder.

Andrew Clinkingbeard was here for a month, and friends Katie and Rick joined him for two of those four weeks. It was great to see these familiar faces, again reassuring us that we indeed have NOT dropped off the face of the earth. I can't possibly list all the highlights of the time these three spent with us; with experiences ranging from climbing snowy volcanoes, to motor-biking through the jungle, to sushi-night at our house; we had a blast. Here's to you guys for making it happen and coming down here! It meant more than you know!!!!!!!!!! (and I'm talking about more than the imported Bushmills!) You guys rule!

Now, who's next? Bueller....Bueller....

Now playing: Agent Orange - Living In Darkness
via FoxyTunes

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Invasion

I had a request to invade "Tim's" blog. So here you go, G. I thought it appropriate to go ahead and post since I am at home nursing a head-cold while Tim and our Boulder friend, Andrew Clinkingbeard (no, he's not a pirate--that's really his name) are up in the mountains. After a successful acclimatization climb up Illiniza Norte, the boys have moved on and will attempt Cotopaxi, Ecuador's third tallest and very aesthetically pleasing conical shaped volcano. Wish them good weather thoughts. I am positively bummed to not be with them right now and am full-on facing the reality of the sinus surgery my kindly, slow-English-speaking doctor claims I need now so I'll quit getting sick.

Things have otherwise been going well. Perhaps when the boys return, Andrew can do a guest posting on the bull fight he attended while we were at work earlier this week. This past week and a half, all of Quito has been celebrating Fiestas de Quito, the culmination of which was Wednesday and Thursday. Part of the traditional celebration is daily full-on Spanish-style bullfights. Thanks to the bullfights, our classes have been half full for the last week. This made my psychology 11 class particularly difficult as I only have six students when everyone is present. But Quitenos are fiercely proud of Quito and their traditions and there's not much we can do about that. Parents get mad at our principal for suggesting that perhaps education is more important than bull fights, but what do we know? Maybe it's not.

I do want to tell everyone about an incident we had at school that has really been weighing heavily on me. Last Tuesday morning, one of our 8th grade students was kidnapped by two armed men while waiting for the bus. This was horribly devastating and continues to be so as the boy still has not been returned. Everything we hear is rumor, but last we heard, the family is negotiating with the captors who are asking for some crazy sum of money that the family probably does have. Upon asking my students about this, they say taking a child is very uncommon. Usually, captors take an uncle or the father--the man of the house. Indeed, several of my students' uncles have been kidnapped before and one had a dad who narrowly escaped capture. I think that day I experienced my first depression-related culture-shock. This had never happened to a kid at our school before and I didn't understand my students when they said this was something they were afraid of. In a Theory of Knowledge class, we were brainstorming how to decrease our ecological footprints and some kids of course mentioned they could walk or ride a bike, but were quickly cut-off by others who said they would all get kidnapped if they did this. I told them they weren't going to get kidnapped. I had no idea.
I've since made my mild peace with this because I've realized that kids face violence everywhere. One thing we don't have to worry about here is school shootings, which was a worry that always occupied the back of my mind while teaching in Colorado--home of some of the worst school violence in history. It hurts to know my students have to live with this fear. But I don't suppose it's any worse than anything they would face somewhere else. I must say, it was a different sort of wake-up call.