Friday, September 22, 2006

Academia Cotopaxi
As promised, here are some pictures of the school where we work. It's a little less than a 15 minute walk to school from where we live and it's preschool through 12th grade. There are about 550 students in all (including early childhood) so it's not too big. The campus is kind of divided between the upper and lower school but nothing is too far away ~ Chris and I can stop in and say hi during the day or run into each other at the copy center.

Here is a picture of chris in his classroom - like we mentioned, the labs were renovated over the summer so it's pretty large and it's great that he's moved in ~ now he just needs all the boxes unpacked so he can find all the supplies for his labs....

This is one of the fourth grade classes I work in~ reminds you of elementary school, eh? Each of the two fourth grade classes have 19 students, which is really large for this school ~ which is where I come in to help.

I took this other picture (below) from the window of my classroom. The green is the lower school field where they have recess - and play lots of soccer, and then we look out at the mountains (sort of a theme here in Quito). In between the buildings we can see planes landing and taking off all day because the airport is right in the middle of the city.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I wanted to post a few pictures we took from our terraces so you can enjoy our view with us. We spend the most time on the terrace that looks out over the city. It gets the afternoon sun and is a great place to hang out in the evening. Chris is starting to fill it with plants which makes us both very happy.

Here's another part of the view - luckily we're on the 4th floor so we get to see the city and the mountains.

Here's a plant on our terrace and the house across the street (and hello kitty).

This picture is of our short, one way (una via) street. There's a guard who's there during the day who keeps things clean, keeps it safe and kind of manages deliveries and anything else that's going on during the day. You can also see the edge of Qutio's largest park - Parque Metropolitano, which is right behind our house ~ it's a great place to take walks (although it has lots of hills) and breathe fresh, clean air.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

first stab at posting

Hola amigos y amigas ~ ya estamos!

Things are good and Quito is a city. We are well and the transition has been remarkably easy. The folks here are very kind and patient with us as we bumble our way through their language and their culture.

This picture is one of the views from the hotel we stayed at the first night here.

Academia Cotopaxi is the name of the school at which we work. It takes its namesake from a local volcano (Cotopaxi) which we can just see the top of on clear days.

Because of her brilliance, Sharon is well on her way to being a full fledged teacher. She has already been promoted to a "paraprofessional" and should be through with her student teaching by January. As you all well know - she's amazing.

We miss everyone at home but are truly excited to be here and feel this is an important step in our journey through this very short time on this Earth.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

We had quite a time of things getting our butts out of the states. As many of you know, we had to jump through a lot of hoops and get rid of a lot of stuff (yard sales and Craig's list and give aways). Susan was really amazing and put us up for a week before we left - but she did a lot more than that. Susan - you are an unbelievable person and although I knew you had to be - I never really understood until we stayed with you - thanks for everything. One of the conversations that we had before we left went something like this ~

If something happened and we were never able to go to Quito, our lives would still be changed forever.

We have never experienced such an outpouring of unconditional love and support. Our families (near and far) and friends just kept telling us that they were there for us and that 'whatever we needed - anything at all' they were there for us. Our wedding was amazing, and this support rivaled that celebration. We cannot even begin to express our gratitude to all of you - to the Strommers and Jon for the party and so much more - to Kitty and Susan for giving us the best week ever before we left and letting us know how much we are loved - and of course to our families who never let us forget how much they love us and never, ever stopped taking boxes and boxes without ever thinking twice.

And once we arrived here... how wonderful that the first (and so far only) piece of mail we received was none other than Quinn's Finan Family Newsletter. It made us feel so at home to have that paper in our hands and read all about the goings-ons.

The first few weeks were quite a whirlwind ~ we moved into our apartment on the second day and we couldn't be happier. We're on the fourth floor (that's quatro piso en espanol) and have three terraces (okay the third one is actually a bit of overkill) we can sit in the morning and afternoon light. The one we sit on in the afternoon and evening has a nice view of the mountains and the city. We have a great, open kitchen and have been doing lots of experimenting with the fruits and vegetables here. It turns out Ecuador is a pretty good place for vegetarians - lots of lentils, quinoa, and some other cool legumes called chochos and some type of corn called choclos that are very fun to eat. A Spanish teacher at the school gave a little workshop on what to do with a lot of the fruits here so Chris has been juicing and making some delicious fruity margarita-type drinks.

We're figuring out how to run our household - things like getting our big water jugs filled and gas tanks - there's a few tricks to all of this since you have to have things delivered when you're not home. Luckily, our maid is awesome and immediately started taking care of business and there's a guard for the street who's around during the day. Also, the people at the school have been so wonderful ~ they really help you every step of the way. They took us around the city every day for the first week to shop for household stuff, set up internet, cable, apt. leases etc. and they even have messengers at the school who can take your money and bills out to be paid ~ funny thing about Ecuador, there's no mail service to people's homes (so where do the bills go? - we don't know) but we do get mail delivered to the school.

Speaking of the school, it's a really special place and it's been great so far. We walk to school together every day. We've had three full weeks with the students back. The science labs were being renovated over the summer so Chris just got into his classroom this past week. He is teaching four classes (that means four preps!). I've been working in the 4th grade with two wonderful Canadian teachers and I've gotten to do a lot of direct work with the students and the administration has asked me to do my student teaching right away so I can be a co-teacher for the fourth grade. The people we work with are great - funny and sarcastic and a very social bunch. There are a lot of like-minded people here that we have a lot in common with (makes sense since we all ended up here) and it's been very easy to start to make ties and get to know people. There's alway something going on and we went with several other teachers to a rainforest resort last weekend. It's a really nice community and we've started exploring the city ~ there are lots of fruit & vegetable markets, indigenous craft markets and a touristy area called 'gringolandia' that has lots of restaurants and bars.

Well, we can't quite fill you in on the last 5 weeks in one posting, so there will be more soon. But so far it's been very exciting and fun and we're starting to develop a routine and become part of the international/ex-pat community.

We hope everyone is doing well and look forward to your postings and news. We love you all so much and feel so lucky to have so many wonderful people in our lives.