February 3, 2009


I feel like I'm still in Salem.
Only the buildings are hella ugly and the people speak Spanish. And the wages and prices are far less.

Yeah, this is likely the ugliest town I have ever been to in my life. I cringe when the locals ask me "What do you think of Manta?" Uggggh. It is essentially a city of cracking, crumbling, tumbling cement buildings whose paint began to chip about ten years ago. Quito has colonial buildings which are gorgeous. As does about every other town in the world. And where are the artisans? You know, the locals selling their cheap tourist crap or their household trinkets for $0.50? They're not here. Sigh. I was seriously disappointed when I realized this.

Manta's economy is built on tuna. Tuna fish. And yet if you go to the store, a standard small can of tuna costs between $.90 and $1.10! About twice as in the States! You can buy fish at the market. I've not taken that risk yet. :)

It's easy to find a full lunch on the street for $3. And quite possible for $1.75. You will receive a glass of juice dilluted with water, a bowl of soup (ALWAYS yummy), and a plate of rice, meat, and patacones. Patacones are made from platanos, a type of banana you will find in the grocery store in the States that seems to have sort of square edges and can be quite large. Patacones are basically thick slices of platanos that have been squished to the size of a double-stuffed Oreo. They're quite bland.

We usually eat a large plate of rice, some patacones, and whatever else that's in the dish. I sure do miss french fries.

Speaking of Oreos -
Nestle is here.
Nestle is almost every product on every shelf. Monopoly to the max.
I have boycotted Nestle for about 6 years. It's usually not too difficult. In the US their food products might take up 5% of the shelves or less. Here it's about 85%.

Why the boycott? They have gone against the World Health Organization, UNICEF, World Alliance for Breastfeading Action, and the list goes on... This has been a known issue for more than 30 years.
How so? Uncounted infants have died or become severely diseased in third-world countries because of Nestle's propaganda. Nestle gives the formula to the mothers until they stop producing milk, then requires the mothers to buy it. The moms do not have enough money, prompting malnourishment. The formula itself is not equivalent to breast milk (as we all know), and the drinking water is contaminated, prompting many infant deaths.
Wiki article:

So I'm fairly unhappy when I go shopping.
By the way, consider shopping ethically. Don't keep your faith at church. Shop with stores that respect life. Like Target. Not Walmart. Just please think about whose lives you are harming or helping before you choose the cheapest products.

We don't eat beans here. I assumed all Latin American countries ate beans. I suppose I thought so because I've traveled Mexico so very many times. I love beans. About six weeks into my stay I found a roadside restaurant that sells beans. And I was SO excited! AND I bought a to-go box of beans just because they were so amazing. (Only $0.50. What a steal!)

And know this - just because you live in Latin America, you don't necessarily eat burritos nor even tortillas. Ecuadorians do not eat tortillas. Confusing.

As you would assume, the cold/winter season in the US is during the same warm/"winter" season in Ecuador. Although I am roasting hot in the sweltering sun and humidity, they still call this winter! The rains will come soon, and the temperature will drop. As I understand from internet research, the temperature does not substantially drop. Ecuadorians say the summer "gets cold," but this is relative; they don't know what a "cold" day in March feels like in Oregon.


From Wachovia to Wall Street

My last day working for Wachovia Securities was November 28, 2008.
My first day working on Wall Street was January 11, 2009.

I find it quite ironic.

Eh-hemmm. My first day working at Wall Street was January 11.

I went from retirement and securities to teaching English at Wall Street Institute (WS) in Manta, Ecuador.

My job is awesome.

I am paid $4/hr to teach English to high school students, bank executives, a chiropractor, a safety director at a wood mill, a retired 60 year old who wants to visit her kids in the US, and dozens of others who eagerly come to class.

WS is a franchised school of English which focuses on learning grammar more by interaction than by rigid book format. I do not have to prepare for class. I arrive, take out a book and box of activities, and follow the directions. It took a few weeks to understand the format, but now I don't stress at all about class.

I usually have 1-2 students per class. The students are awesome. I love the opportunity to give such individualized attention. But I've got an issue - I have no formal training in English grammar! It's quite humbling when my students who have only been studying for four months know what an auxiliary verb or the present perfect verb forms are, and I don't.

My signature trade: I give my students high-fives when they do something well. The first time I meet a student they look at me for a split second in complete disbelief, then burst into a smile as they "give me five." What a simple way to acknowledge successes!

And everyone loves receiving the Hi-5s... Especially the adults. I think it reminds them that they're also meant to have a blast when learning.

My supervisor's name is Ruth. She is Belgian and speaks Flemish. Top that! She is always giggling, happy to help, and has a silly - funny Dutch accent when she speaks either English or Spanish.

:) I am blessed.