Friday, December 02, 2011

Ibagué, Colombia (seis)

It's been a quiet couple of weeks; my friend Annie is coming to visit me tomorrow (estoy tan emocionada!) so I'm trying to save what little money I have by not leaving the house and instead trying to go to the gym regularly, attempting NaNoWriMo (it didn't go well, I only managed about 3,000 words) and watching endless TV, which doesn't really make for great blogging material.

So, as I've not been doing much, I thought I'd outline a typical day for me, here in Ibagué:

I wake up around 8am, shower, have breakfast and pack my bag for the day - a bottle of filtered tap water (I can't drink the water at my project as it makes me ill), my teaching materials, plus phone, keys, etc. I get the lift down from my flat, get buzzed out of the building by whichever security guard is on duty and walk up the road to la 4a to catch my bus. The great thing about the busetas (as they're called) here is that you can flag them down anywhere on their route, so I don't have to walk too far. I catch the number 6, boarding the buseta through the turnstile at the front and paying the standard fare of $1400, which is about 50p.

The radio is nearly always playing and I normally try to get a window seat so I can look out at the city as we drive through it. The journey takes between 20 minutes and half an hour and we pass through the centre of Ibagué, and then down into the barrio where my project is based. It's one of the poorer neighbourhoods and you can tell, from the size and state of the houses and from the potholes in the road (although to be fair that's not saying much as there are potholes everywhere in Colombia). I ding the bell at the back of the bus to request my stop (again anywhere on the route) and get out.

My project, Por Amor a Ti, is based at the family home of Rey, my manager, and his Mum, who cooks the food, plus his brother and his brother's son. Rey's sister-in-law lives nearby and occasionally helps out, and his nieces and nephew come over regularly to see Rey and their grandmother. I normally arrive at the project around 9.30am to set up the room that we use as a classroom, which is the main reception room of the house. I normally teach between 3-8 children at one time, sometimes more. I teach every day - Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the older kids and Tuesday and Thursday for the younger ones.

After class I help set up the dining room - a covered courtyard at the centre of the house, arranging tables and stools, and getting the drinks ready - fresh juice with at least a kilo of sugar mixed in that I pour into cups and hand out. We can seat about 30 kids at one time and normally have at least two and half sittings between 11.30am and 12.30pm, which is when we serve lunch. Lunch for the kids can be soup or beans, almost always served with rice and sometimes plantain or potatoes.

After we've served the kids, I get lunch, some soup generally and always rice with vegetables or stew. I take my lunch break between 12.30pm and 2pm depending on when the kids arrive, and I spend it preparing lessons or updating the site and facebook page I created for the project. Then I teach again, tidy up the classroom and head home around 4.30pm.

After work I sometimes meet up with Karin and Carole, either in town, or we'll walk to Carole's house which is about 15 blocks out from the centre. There we'll eat, chat and sometimes watch a film. We sometimes get our nails done (it's so cheap here, only $5000, which is around £1.65!) or we might go out for coffee or food. Otherwise I'll head home and watch two hours of 30 Rock, Community and Seinfeld whilst also browsing the internet and updating my tumblr, which is boring for you all to read about, but pretty fun for me! Then I'll read my book (currently Notes from Underground by Dostoyevsky), update my diary and head to bed around 10pm.

And then I do it all again the next day!

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