I'm still culture shocked over the lack of malls, MRTs, bars, 7-11's, cafes, AC, paved roads....but I can fall asleep to the sound of ocean waves outside my window, and buy whole pineapples for 15 lemps (less than a dollar). It's a simpler life for sure, like by a million times. Oh, and Gangsters Paradise plays on the radio here.
I wake up in the morning around 3am from roosters crowing outside my window, and by 7am I'm picking up a little boy named Noe on the way to school. His home is made of wood planks and mud tracks run across his front door. He's small, so I ride him on a bike and we bump along a dirt gravel road, splashing through muddy potholes and past lingering neighbors. Men whistle and yell as they pass by, packed in the back of pick up trucks, and the sun is scorching our foreheads before we make it to the Kinder metal fence.
Our classroom is new and beautiful, a well structured wooden room on cement stilts with open air windows for the breeze to come through. There is no electricity, but sunlight brightens the whole class. It was built recently by a missions team, with lots of nice donated furnishings like colorful plastic chairs, study bookshelves and new crayon boxes. I enjoy being there, and I think the children do too.
The kindergarteners here are no different from any kids aged 4-6ish...they are loud and energetic and love to be held, but some of them come from very poor families in the community. I'm still learning names. They don't speak English, and I don't speak that much Spanish. I'm working on it. Their teacher is a passionate and creative woman, but she speaks no English either so even just helping out gets frustrating sometimes. But like I said, I'm working on it. Next week I'll start English lessons with them, I hope all goes well!
Volunteering at the Kinder is my main responsibility here, but since we are sparse on volunteers at this moment I've also been checking out the older kid's classes, a program called PEP. This is just free English classes for grade school children, since their public schools only have class 3 hours a day and doesn't include English. It's like a 'bushiban' in Taiwan, but the structure is lax-as is with the lifestyle here in general. The kids show up whenever they feel like it, but the ones that do learn a lot!
We have to be inside before night falls, for safety. This means I go to bed around 9-10pm every night! There is nothing open anyways, not even the 'pulperias' (convenience stores) that are scattered around every street corner.
In my spare time, between getting off work and going to bed, I stare at Spanish dictionaries and textbooks and try to cook or workout. I try to meet friendly locals and if I do, I usually stay for a while-grateful for any company! But I mainly go online and live my past life vicariously through others. That past needs to die down eventually, because I don't feel like I'm fully here. Like, I still haven't gone swimming in the beach at my front yard yet. To be fair it's only been a week, but you know...sometimes you need to let go of the past in order to fully embrace what's ahead.
A warm welcome from my new buddies!
Morning walk to school
We love photos!