To catch up…
First Day of Volunteering in Quito…
I arrived at the school with the other student who lives with me after a ride from our host brother. I first looked at the building thinking, “Random mansion in the city,” only to notice us walking towards the gate. The school here is brand new with marble floors, full computer lab, three stories, open courtyard, and is fit for the Upper East Side of NYC.
I introduced myself to the volunteer coordinator and was told to wait for the chica that would be joining me to the project.
Just like every Monday in Cusco the director told each student which teacher they were to have classes with that week, but before that they introduced the new students followed by applause. I enjoyed the applause in my honor.
Evelyn, who speaks English, is from Quito and a student at the university next to the school, the volunteer coordinator (who invited us to her birthday party this Friday, but I thought she asked us to plan), and I left the school for the project. After a thirty-minute bus ride into the most dangerous part of Quito, I am told; we arrived at a small two-story schoolhouse.
We met the older group first. Eleven boys and girls ranging from 9 to 14 years of age gathered around to hear our introductions. They told us about themselves. Most of their mothers are domestic employees and their fathers in construction. They want to be rappers, cooks, futbol players, and teachers. Very welcoming – I was a bit concerned they would not warm up to me so quickly, but they all listened, had questions, and were generally interested in me.
The younger group, thirteen in total, each gave us a hug – one by one. They handed me their toys and to see if I could get the ball in the cup, which I could not. When asked if they wanted me or Evelyn to be with them the resounding YES was because I was a boy and therefore was a professional futbol player. Hope they are not too upset when they find out they will actually be my futbol teachers – though who better to teach me?
We only visited the project today to meet the kids and know the bus route, so we returned early and I had time to burn so I decided to explore the “MegaMaxi” a grocery store the size of Ikea.
With the local BMW dealership displaying new models on the first floor with the parking garage, Cinabon, and a massage place I went up the moving sidewalk to the second floor. I stopped at the Telefonica store for a new SIM card for my tiny cell phone. Then made my way into what I am now calling Wal-Mart on pills from the GNC Health Store. With 30 plus register lanes, this store has absolutely everything one could need. Food, books, bicycles, play sets, televisions, cosmetics, electronics, a music store, a sushi bar, clothes, and shoes are among the few items available for purchase. I do not know why but this Wal-Mart super cousin whose been to boot camp was easier to swallow, maybe I am just happy to see this form of mass consumerism as a little reminder of my long lost USA home.