FTJ: 9-9-08

Today was my fifth day of school, and I had Specialty again. Today we had the tests for Graphic Arts and Ceramics. In ceramics, the teacher is Sr. Lopez again. I began to make an apple, but I decided to change it to my hand. I liked it a lot. It was life size, and I put it over a small sphere. The girl next to me also made a hand. It wasn't better or worse than mine. There were others that were worse. One guy made a very weird turtle, the Turtle King, with a giant hole in its back. Weird.

One problem with my Spanish is that I don't have a variety of words. I only have one word for "weird," and I have to repeat it many times.

After ceramics we had the Graphic Arts test. The teacher talked a little bit about art, that they only draw in Graphic Arts. I decided that I want graphic arts and Ceramics. I hope that I get them, because I'm not going to get the sixteen points I need to be able to choose. I drew my face with the faces of my family. I failed, but the professor told us that we draw from our imagination, not from real life, or I would have drawn my hands.

In the afternoon, we had Artistic Anatomy, but the teacehr wasn't there. So we played a real game of basketball. It was very funny, because I'm so much taller than the other students, and I could get the ball easily. Also, on Tuesdays we have gym class, and we wear our sport uniforms and sneakers. It's a lot easier to play sports in this uniform than in the regular one.

The last class of the day is gym. The professor is a young man, a little younger than my dad. He spoke a bit about the class, and after gave us a Magic Square puzzle, where you have a 3x3 square, with the numbers 1 to 9, and each column, row, and diagonal has to add up to 15. I was the second student to finish it, and the teacher let me leave early, at 12:30. I take the school bus, though, and I had to wait a half hour. In the end, the bus driver didn't show up, and I had to use a public bus anyway. Lourdes, a teacher and a friend of Anita, helped me find the right bus.

285 more days.

Well, I guess when I take a break from posting for 10 days, people stop reading. Whatever. Posting has resumed, and will be done regularly Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Caio.


FTJ: 8-9-08

Today was my fourth day of classes. I had specialty in the morning. Like in my school in the US, I say that before the break is in the morning and after the break is in the afternoon. In the morning, I have four periods of specialty. Today, we tested in painting and sculpture to see which specialties we should take. I made a picture of the Municipal Building of San Antonio. It was terrible. (Hindsight: Don't try and say it wasn't, Mom. It got a 10/20.) All the other students can paint better than me. But I don't care. It was the first time I've painted. I was better in sculpture. We had to make a bird out of clay. I made a roseate spoonbill. It wasn't very good, but I saw worse, and so I was content.

During the break, I played football again (Note: Soccer, for all you Americans out there.). I wasn't perfect, but I was better.

The professor of social sciences wasn't there, and I suppose that I have to wait another week to see what science is about this year. When there isn't a teacher, we can do whatever. I don't remember what I did.

The professor of History of Art is very weird. First, it's difficult to understand what he says. And also, he has a weird face. He's old, and he has as much hair in his ears as on top of his head. He talks about a lot of weird things. Like, from what I could understand, according to him, women should watch the house and men earn the money, atheists are stupid, and something about "gringos" that I didn't understand.

286 more days.

So... I am so sorry about the ten day gap in updates. First I was sick, and I stopped writing in my journal for a while. Then I kept forgetting my journal at home. And then yesterday I was going to and I didn't. SO, I apologize. I'm going to start a Monday-Wednesday-Friday update system, which hopefully I'll stick to.

Big news for today, I almost passed out! I want to describe it in epic detail so I can use it later in my novel. It was during the Flag Day celebration. I don't feel like describing it now. You'll have to wait until yesterday's journal entry.

We were standing in line, five straight lines, lifting first our left foot and then our right in a faux-march, as we were standing in place. The drums were louds in front of me, and the trumpets louder. The music stopped, and for a few moments, there was only the sound of feet rising and falling in unison. The Inspector spoke loudly and clearly, ordering us to stop marching with a word I could not quite make out. We all turned to face the center, and I saw the back of the boy in front of me, his shoulders lifting slowly as he breathed. The ceremony proceeded, and my attention slowly drifted away. I suppressed a sneeze that was building up in my nose, watched the pigeons fly back and forth among the rafters, tried to find all my teachers among the stands. It was only when the Rectora began reading out the averages of the students that I noticed my hands were feeling very heavy. I was holding them behind my back, but they were slowly gaining weight, and I wished the Inspector would call out "¡Atención!" so I could let my hands drop to my sides. After a few long moments of waiting, he did, but with my hands no longer supported, my arms began to grow. Trying now to find some way of lightening my arms, I clasped my hands in front of me, ignoring the Inspector's whispered "¡Deje de moverse!" The movement threw me off balance, and I began to sway very slowly in a circle. This, of course, made me stagger slightly to the left, and I tried very hard to steady myself.

It was then that my vision began to change. At first it was bright colors, the yellows and greens that muted and disappeared, and I shook my head to try to find them. This only blurred my vision, exacerbating the problem, and I tilted my head back to reorient myself. There was a flutter of wings above me, I heard this very clearly, but I could not see the bird to which the sound belonged. My hearing muted, and I could not hear the speech of my classmates behind me or the footsteps of the Inspector as he prowled the ranks. As my vision disappeared completely, I felt as though I were falling inside myself, as though my eyes were windows in a pitch black tower that looked out onto a sunny world, and I was falling away from the windows, the circles of light slowly receeding until they too were swallowed up by the darkness. I rubbed my eyes with my hands, a slow and exaggerated movement, as though I were moving through a syrup. I felt the sensation above me, above my center. The being which is usually above my eyes was now down nestled in my stomach, feeling someone's hands rub someone's eyes. I blinked, and I could feel my lower eyelid touch the upper, but could register no change in light.

I felt a hand at my shoulder, pulling my away from my designated place. I followed blindly. After a few steps, I heard a buzzing noise, breaking at even intervals that I realized were words. The buzzing continued, and then the light colors returned, but all as white, the darker ones a black-red, and I saw the bars of the basketball hoop above me and realized I was still looking up. The hand stopped me where I was, and there was the sound of plastic scraping against stone, and then the hand was pushing me down into a chair. The white brightened, intense now in its visibility. There was a muffled "Tranquilo" and my savior was gone. I put my head in my hands and waited for my senses to come back.

So, yeah, that's basically how it went. I waited in that chair until the whole program was over, then caught a bus and went home. I went straight to bed and tried to ignroe the bright sunlight. At around 10:30 (I got in at 10), I remembered I still had some headache pills left over from the stomach infection treatment, and I took those. I stayed in bed until about 3, at which time I got up and took a shower. Then I practiced my guitar until 3:45, and went to my guitar lesson. I'm all better now, so no need to worry. It was just the extreme sunlight.

Thanks Ben, for commenting and reminding me that people actually read this. If I forgot to thank someone, I'm sorry, but it has been a while since I posted. I love you guys.


The Dark Miasma of My Soul

So, I'm sick. I was here for three weeks, everything going good, and I caught Teenager Syndrome. For those of you who don't know, Teenager Syndrome is a very serious disease in which the affected teenager thinks he or she is invicible, and thus pays very little attention to personal safety. I woke up at 3AM on Saturday with a splitting headache, which persisted more or less throughout the weekend, and then on Monday I had stomach pains and a fever. The doctor says it's the disease foreigners get from drinking the water. He perscribed some pills, and the fever went down and the headache went away. The stomach pains are much less, but still some faint unease.

So, no journal update today, because I forgot my journal at home. Actually, I filled up my entire hardcover book my mom gave me, and will now be writing in the totally awesome leather-bound journal that was a gift from Michael's mother, Heidi. So, Michael, thank your mom for me. Oh, and thanks for the pirate cup too. If you look in the picture of my bedroom a couple posts down, it's there. It's been useful.

That reminds me. A bunch of thank yous to hand out.

First, a TOTALLY GIANT-SIZED THANK YOU to Silvia. With sugar on top. Sorry for not thanking you sooner. Also, thank you to Michael, who is another LTRFTW. I didn't get your email though. If you sent it to venturboy@gmail.com, I don't use that anymore, although I'll check it after posting. For the future, send it to jacob.austin.breneman@gmail.com. Thank you, Stephandsome, for bringing your stunning visage to the blog. Thank you Ben, for asking questions. To answer your questions, their response is varied. Most just accept it, but one or two just like messing with them. This one girl will just randomly hug administrators who come into our room. Totally throws 'em off. It's hilarious.

Hey, and a thank-you to my dad, who I missed last time because he posted under my mom's email. Also, you're not taller than me, Pop. Not even close. Well, close, but no cigar.

And, to those of you who thought you might see your name here and didn't, sorry I forgot you. Leave a comment, and I'll thank you next time.

More blog related stuffs! Tom Lieber, a TA from MITES who unfortunately wasn't one of mine, made a podcast of my journal entries, on the blog JacobAB For Lazies, which is Microsoft Sam saying my entries. If you want to hear them, either follow the link above, or click, on this blog, the title of the blog post, like "FTJ: 5-9-08." The first one is the 2-9-08 entry, and they go up to today. They're pretty funny.

School is still pretty boring. My history of art teacher is a nutcase. Apparently, he starts off each class with a little nugget of "wisdom." This week's was "Marriage is between a man and a woman, not two men." Thank you, Mr. Last-Name-I-Can't-Quite-Understand. Seriously, that guy has a giant nose, giant ears, and more hair coming from those than on the top of his head. First guy I think I've seen in real life with a combover. He's also the only teacher I don't really understand, except he says "Sí, señores" all the time like we're agreeing with him. Everyone just rolls their eyes when he's not looking.

So, I love all you guys. Keep commenting. Caio.


FTJ: 7-9-08

Today... All my journal entries begin with "today." I'm going to change this.

This day, I went with Javier and his friend Miguelángel to a waterfall in Atuntaqui. I CLIMBED A MOUNTAIN! In a manner of speaking. I didn't go to the top of the mountain, but I climbed a big part. It was very beautiful, with a lot of water and rocks. I was lucky that i wore a jacket and jeans, because there were a lot of thorny plants. I took photographs.

287 more days.

And of course, I don't have the photographs with me, but I'll put them up at some future date. Thank you to the new people who posted, like Pam and Ben. Ben, I know you used to read my old blog. Thank you. And you will never get book long posts until I publish. Sorry.

Love you guys!


FTJ: 6-9-08

Today, Anita and I went shopping for the flour for the pizza dough, and other things. We tried to go to the paper store, but they were all full of people. We decided to go shopping for my school supplies tomorrow.

In the afternoon, Anita went to the Pizzeria in Atuntaqui, but I stayed in Ibarra in order to go to an AFS meeting. Rosalina and Carolina went with me to the House of the Arquitects, which sounds remarkably like something from The Matrix. It's the arquitecture school here in Ibarra. Three of the other foreign exchange students were in Quito for the weekend, but Lotta, Daniele, Camille and I were there. We ate some appetizers and got our passports. I ate a pitted olive, thinking it was an unpitted olive. Ow? We have to go to the immigration office to get the Senso, the card that says that we're foreigners here for a foreign exchange program. You have to pay a $200 fine if you don't get the Senso within one month of arriving in Ecuador. Anita said that we're going to go all together to the office on Friday.

I like seeing the other foreign exchange students. Lotta was sick, and had no voice. Camille's brother here has left to go with AFS to Germany. Daniele has adapted well, but he speaks little Spanish.

My brother called me today. He told me that he's reading my blog, and that I shouldn't get mad in defense of AFS. (NOTE: I hear you, Jesse.) It was good to talk to him. He understands what I'm going through, because he went to South Africa with AFS for a year.

Ecuador played football against Bolivia today, and all they televisions in all the shops and restaurants were turned on to the game. Ecuador won 3 to 1.

288 more days.

So, I tried to upload a picture of me with my haircut yesterday, but the computer at the internet shop wouldn't recognize the camera. So, instead, here it is today. I know you're all freakin' out about it, but whatever. I didn't want to get into more fights with the administration. (You'll just have to what until that day to find out what happened... Dun dun dunnnn.) No, really, it wasn't that much. Some stupid administrator told me to cut my hair. <rant>The administrators here are just like the school administrations in the US, kinda petty. I mean, what's the point of cutting my hair? What exactly does that achieve? It's about power. It shows the students that the administrators can do whatever they want. Some kids were playing soccer while we were waiting for the bus today, and some administrator walked up and said "Go take that ball to Inspection." Because he could. Losers.</rant>

So, any of you high school students who are thinking of using your Spanish skills in a real life situation, I have some advice for you. Por vs. Para and Ser vs. Estar are the two most difficult things I'm working with in Spanish right now. It's not the subjunctive, it's not perfect participles. It's what we were supposed to have learned in Spanish I and II. It's stupid. Spanish can't just have one "to be" and one "for," no, can it? Lamecakes.

Even more fun stuffs!: Tom has created a podcast that puts audio to all my blog posts. We're currently working out some way to put them directly on here, but until then, Paula, Alex, http://jacobab-for-lazies.blogspot.com/. Thanks again, Tom!

And thank you, Mom, M, and Jessica, for the comments. Love you guys!


FTJ: 5-9-08

Today was my third day of school. I think I'm going to write every day the number of the school day, to see how many there are. I won't succeed, because I'll forget when I'm sick, but I can try, right? A kid has the right to dream, right?

I had English again, and I learned what I'm going to do this year. Instead of taking the class, I'm going to do some excersizes in Spanish. For example, my homework for today is to read a page of homophones and then write three sentences with each word. The teacher still treats me like a child, but I don't care.

We had composición plástico again also. I still don't know what we do in that class. Today, the teacher chose six kids. I was one. We stood in front of the blackboard for a few minutes while the rest of the class watched us. After, some kids tried to draw us in sillhouette in order to see if the class could guess the identity from the posture. Yes, they could for five of the six. There was a lot of confusion. The instructions weren't very clear, and two students tried to give me the marker to draw instead of them. (I couldn't because I was one of the six.)

During the break, I played football with Ricardo and some other students. Alex didn't want to play, because he doesn't like football. I was very terrible. I didn't want to run, and so I was the goalie. I didn't block anything, but I still had a lot of fun. I didn't know who was on my team, but I eventually figured out that Alex and some others were, and when I got the ball I gave it to them. It is very difficult to play football in the uniform. (NOTE: Seriously, I'm going to need some new shoes soon. Or at least a shoeshine.)

After the break, we had speciality for four classes. In the first class, the teacher wasn't there. Some students left to continue playing football, but I stayed near the room with Alex, because I wanted to be there when the professor arrived. And, when he did, he asked "Where are the other kids?" I was happy that I wasn't one of the kids playing football.

There are four specialties, painting and sculpture, or graphic art and ceramics. You have to choose one pair of classes, because otherwise no one would choose sculpture or ceramics. The teachers of sculpture and painting talked to us about why we should choose their classes. The sculpture professor was fine, but I thought the painting teacher was going to have a stroke, because he was so animated. He said that painting is the most beautiful form of art. I have to go buy school supplies.

Two Weeks Here In Ecuador!

289 more days.

I cut my hair.

I was going to fight with the administration about it. I was going to tell them that in my religion, you're only allowed to cut your hair once before you're eighteen, and I had already done that. Then my brother gave me some very good advice: I'm not Teddy. Specifically, the way I look really doesn't matter to me. So, I went ahead and cut it. Yay!

Dear Feelings Book, my life is spiraling into a dark miasma, mainly because my Feelings Book entries aren't as good as M's.

Hooray for inside jokes!

FTJ: 4-9-08

Today was the second day of classes. First I had math. I have taken Calculus in three dimensions, and this class is Algebra. Algebra! It's incredible. The professor began with series: "4, 8, 12, 13, 16. Which doesn't belong?" Oh my God. But the good thing is that I only have math on Thursdays for and hour and twenty minutes.

During the break, Alex, Ricardo and I went to play basketball. We were all terrible. We played in the gym, which is very dirty. But I guess that it isn't used for games with other schools or anything. It is an art school, after all. Some students were playing football (NOTE: I no longer think of it as soccer, and all of you who do are wrong.) in the gym as well, and sometimes I got hit in the head by the ball, but I laughed a lot.

290 more days.


FTJ: 3-9-08

Today was my first day of school! It was very good. First, Anita and I walked to the bus. I memorized the route for the rest of the year. You have to pay forty-three cents, but Anita told me that AFS is going to reimburse me the money. The bus is more like those in the US, uncomfortable. There isn't enough space for my knees.

When we arrived at school, the children had lined up and Anita put me in the line for 4B. Here, they have courses from one to six, with A and B for all. There is 4th A and 4th B, with twenty-five students in both. I thing there are between 150 and 250 students in all the school. Anita introduced me to my classmates, saying that I am from the US, and that I am quiet. The kids were very nice. I met Ricardo, a large guy but not as large as me, Edwin, the guy who sits in the seat in front of me, Alex, a skinny and interesting guy with glasses, and others. (NOTE: My dad once told me this story that he never realized just how big he is in comparison to the people in Latin America (My dad lived in Mexico and Uruguay) until he was on a bus one day, and in walked this ginormous guy, who was way bigger than everyone else on the bus, and he was an inch shorter than my dad. That's what it was like for me meeting Ricardo, except I'm easily five inches taller than him. On an unrelated note, it's interesting being in a place where "Renan" is pronounced fine, but people have a problem with "Jacob." People who go to Spruce Creek probably know what I'm talking about.)

The first class on Wednesday is English The teacher is a woman who seems to me a lot like Mrs. Adair, from middle school. It's intersting. She's nice, but she treats me as if I were five. She repeated every word to me when she told us, first in really slow Spanish, then in really slow English. Here, all the students of the same course have the same schedule. The teachers move from room to room, except when we have art, in which case we go to the workshop. The second class is "composición plástico," which I really don't know how to translate into English. I mean, literally, it's "plastic composition," but that doesn't really explain it. I don't remember what happened in that class. After composición plástico is artistic drawing for five classes, 200 miunutes. (NOTE: Seriously, there's like, 30 different types of drawing here.) But the teacher didn't arrive, and so we talked outside of the room, on the stairs or on the first floor. Out room is on the second floor. The school isn't very strict. No one came to tell us that we had to be more quiet, or to go back to our room. Nothing.

At 9:55, there is a break for twenty-five minutes. During the break, there is a small shop that sells small foods, drinks, and cookies. I bought some "galletas de amor" which are little square wafers. There wasn't a line, only a very large group of students, all shouting for one thing or another. Ricardo bought the cookies for me, because I didn't know how to do it by myself.

After the break, someone found the teacher and we went to a workshop. The teacher is Señor Lopez, a man with glasses. He said some things, and then told us to draw something, the subject didn't matter. I began to draw a face, but it was terrible, so I changed to my hands. I drew the best of my life. It surprised me a lot.

I can understand a lot of what the teachers and the other kids say. It's going to be a very good year.

291 more days.

FTJ: 2-9-08

Today, I didn't have school because the professors were meeting. Nothing of interest happened today, except I put photos on my blog. I love having the blog. Some people are reading it and writing comments. Many years ago, I had a blog, but no one read it, and I accidentally erased it. I think now, I have something that's worth reading, life here in Ecuador. (NOTE: It also helps that I have more friends now.) There are photos also, and Tom says that he's going to make a podcast of my entries with a text-to-speech program on the computer. Also, today I went to a seamsman to make my uniform. There was a lot of vocabulary, like "Flojo" and "medir."

Nothing much happened today.

292 more days.

Yeah, short post. Big whoop. Thanks for the comments, M. Much appreciated. I always try to thank the people who comment on my blog, because I'm hoping they'll comment again.


It Can Be Photo Teims Now Please?

So, I promised photos, and here they are. No journal entry, because it's a bunch of pictures and comments. And people have been complaining about the length of my posts. Losers. :-)

First up is a picture of the family.

It's, from left to right, Anita, Rosalina, and Carolina.

This is a picture of my room.

One bed is where I sleep, and the other is where I put all my stuff. Yeah, it's messy. I don't care.

This is a picture of the house.

It's pretty big, with a nice garden space. All the houses here are fenced in. All of them.

This is a picture of the Socialism thing I was talking about earlier.

I couldn't find the exact one, but this is the hammer/sickle and PCMLE. So, there you go. There are a lot of these up.

This is a picture of a poster that a lot of people have up.

It says, "For my country, I'm voting Yes!" or something like that. It's for the "Vota Sí" "Vota No" thing I was talking about earlier. There's a picture of Rafael Correa on there too.
All right, it's getting dark, so I gotta go. Hey Stephan, thanks for the post. Haven't heard from you in a while.
Love you guys.


FTJ: 1-9-08

Today was the first day of school. I don't have my uniform yet, but I dressed in a blue shirt with khaki pants. The uniform is khaki shirt and pants, with a blue jean jacket, and you have to wear it every day, except on gym day. Anita and I went to the school, El Colegio Tecnologico Superior "Daniel Reyes", or Daniel Reyes for short, at eight in the morning. It's a small school, but it has some fantastic murals, with figures of people and mountains.

When I arrived, all the students were standing in lines in the courtyard. There are less than two hundred students, a change from the three thousand in my school in the US. I am the tallest here, which is a little strange. I have always been big, but there was always someone taller than me. Here? No. I am the tallest. That poor Chris, who's taller than I am, probably feels even weirder. He's 6'6".

Anita and I talked with the Rectora, a person who I think is equal to the American principal. There was no problem with my application except that I needed a letter from AFS. The Rectora was a little arrogant. She told Anita that it made her mad that AFS hadn't given anything to the school to show their gratitude for receiving so many foreign students. I thought she was talking about a thank you letter, or something like that, but no. The Rectora told us that the other foreign exchange programs had given them something useful like a printer. How small, arrogant, and rude! To believe, no, to ask for a gift for a service that makes the world better. When anita explained to me what the Rectora had said, I was very mad. But, whatever. I didn't say anything.

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, and because this is important, I'm writing in English. (NOTE: Prior to this, it was in Spanish, remember.) November is coming, and besides the election, that means NaNoWriMo. (NOTE: NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, which I have competed in successfully for the past three years. For this competition, contestants are charged with writing a 50,000 words novel in the month of November. It's tough. But I'm amazing. Lawl.) And, given that I've been reading a lot of Lovecraft lately, I've decided on not exactly a horror story, but definitely Lovecraft-inspired. Now, ever since I've been in Ecuador, I've been in awe of the mountains they have here, iant things, with heads in the clouds, peppered with green trees, carved into chasms a thousand feet tall, bathed in sunlight and clouded in darkness at the same time. I was staring at one of the mountains, a particularly large one, and a passage jumped into my mind unbidden, describing the above with perfect clarity, and I knew, without a doubt, what I was going to write.


It will be entitled The Mountain, which admittedly sounds kind of trite, but I wanted something solid, heavy, and few things are as solid or heavy as a mountain. The main narrator will be an up-and-coming fiction writer who has just sold his or her first work, a moderately successful novel. This writer is approached by a young man who is being plagued by strange dreams, visions, really, and is beginning to hear voices in his head, speaking a language he has never heard. This is all connected, of course, to the mountain. I intend to start with a long Lovecraftian introduction of the writer emploring the reader to believe the following text, despite the recently established genre of the writer. There were be a segment entailing how the writer met the afflicted man, in a shop buying a pen, perhaps, when he seduces her, I'm pretty sure it'll be a her, into writing his story. He uses strange gold trinkets, another Lovecraftian device. His story culminates with an incredibly strange and frightening discovery at the top of the mountain. I'm not quite sure what the discovery is yet, I've in fact been putting off deciding so that it is all the more spontaneous. There is then some confusion when the narration of the young man ends and the writing somehow ends up on top of the mountain and finds out that contained in this mountain is a very tall tower that reaches down to the mountains roots.

That's about as far as I've gotten, but I like the way it's developing. I need to do some work to make it my story, and not an exact Lovecraft rip-off, but I'll figure something out. I always do.

293 more days.

Hey, I'm sorry about not having pictures up. They'll be up tomorrow. If you didn't, I also uploaded the entry for 31-8-08, so read the next one. Thanks for the comment, M. I love all you guys.

Oh, hey! I'm going to start taking guitar lessons next week! I'm just hoping to learn "Bret You Got It Going On" for when any of my monosyllabically-named friends are feeling down. Chris, I'm talking to you. :-P

FTJ: 31-8-08

Today, we went to Catholic Mass. I dresssed up in a suit, but it was way more than I needed. I don't think anyone else was dressed as well as I was, except the Father.

The mass was very short, only an hour and a half. I had only gone to one Hispanic Catholic mass before, and it was more than three hours! I wcould understand half of what was said, and I didn't know the words when everyone talked. However, it was very interesting. The Sisters sang at the beginning, and afterwards the Father, two other holy men, and and some regular people talked. They talked about the different roads we take in life, but there was only one that Jesus wants you to take: The road of Community Service. I have to ask my host mother about tyhis, because I want to do some volunteer work. It's a good way to learn Spanish, and it's important to me.

The church was very beautiful, and very simple. The walls were light blue in color, and had several windows. The windows only had a blue cross in the middle, and nothing else. The only decoration was statues of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and some other people I didn't recognize. There were four Sisters, the Father, dressed in green and white, another holy man also in green and white, and a Brother in brown.

The church is having a trip to Jerusalem soon, and a man talked for a bit to give the dates. But it costs two thousands dollars to pay for the trip. How are the people supposed to pay for that?

In the afternoon, Anita and I were driving to Atuntaqui when someone hit us from behind. I knew that it was going to happen with the way people drive here. It was only a matter of time. No one was hurt, but I scared Anita a lot. She seemed really mad, but I think she was just surprised. The car that hit us was a truck with three people in the front. Anita and the driver of the truck argued for a few minutes. He said that Anita reversed into his car, and he didn't want to give Anita his information. While they were arguing, a couple of kids climbed out of the back of the truck to see what was going on. (NOTE: They do that a lot here, have a large truck with several people riding in the back. It seems dangerous.) She has to go the insurance agency tomorrow to take pictures of the damage. The back door is broken. There's a giant dent in it.

294 more days.

So, I said I was going to try to post some pictures. I forgot. I am very, very, very sorry. I swear and promise that tomorrow there will be pictures. To make up for it, I'll post two entries today. I'm sorry... ::tear::


FTJ: 30-8-08

I woke up at eight, of course, and ate breakfast with Anita. I love the breakfast here. I have a cup of cocoa and a glass of juice from a new and interesting fruit every day. In addition, there's rice, fried with an egg until it sticks together like a rice pankake, or an egg sunny-side up over rice, and bread. It's very delicious.

After breakfast, Anita and I went to the bus station and met up with the other foreign exchange kids. We took a bus to Otavalo in order to go to the gigantic market there. The buses here are very comfortable. They're like the buses of private companies, like tour buses, that cost a lot in the US.

The Otavalo market is very big, much larger than the one in Ibarra, and they sell the "artesanías" there. (NOTE: Artesanías translates to "arts and crafts," or so my Spanish teacher told me. But that doesn't really explain them. They're the traditional works of art of the Indigenous population there, but they are made to be sold. They're handmade, but mass produced. It's weird.) The first thing I saw was the tableclothes, many people selling them. I had to learn very quickly how to say "No!" to the sellers, because there's always someone trying to earn your money in the Otavalo market. I saw many things that I wanted but nothing I needed. There were turtles made of wood and crystal, and very detailed chess boards of the Indians versus the Conquistadors, and many fabrics. I didn't buy any fabric, but I'll return to buy some things for my mom. (NOTE: You hear that, Mom? I love you! Yeah, I know you guys gave me the money, but still.)

It was very fun talking with the other exchange students. The guy from Germany, Johanes, is very funny. There first thing he said to me and the other guy was, "So, fellas, how's it going with the ladies?" Plus he sounds like Arnold Schwartzenegger. Johanes likes Ecuador a lot, because the girls pay him a lot of attention because he's a foreigner. The other guy from Germany, Hannes, had long hair, but cut it because long hair isn't allowed in schools. I hope I don't have to cut my hair too.

Now, in Otavalo there's a festical and they sell a meal called Chicha y Yamor, and we ate it for lunch. It was very tasty, but I was the only person who like the Chicha, the drink made out of seven types of corn, no the five I had thought before.

Finally, I bought an alpaca sweater, with the picture of an alpaca on the front, for twelve dollars. The price was eighteen, but Anita helped me out. I don't buy much in shops, except in the first video store, where I bought two seasons of the X-Files and some movies for $23.50. I never have money, and when I do, I am always very cautious.

It seems to me like the other AFS kids are enjoying Ecuador. I am. I want to stay with Anita, and go to school, and climb mountains. I am DREAMING NEW DREAMS.

295 more days.

Seriously, this mountain thing is big. One of my teachers asked today what we would do if today were our last day on Earth, and I immediately thought, "CLIMB A MOUNTAIN." I mean, I really want to.

So, more tomorrow. With some pictures. There are two little posts below this one, if you missed them, so check those out too. I love you guys.

FTJ: 29-8-08

Today, Anita and I went to the funeral of Magdelena. I didn't know that we were going to a funeral, and so of course, I wore brown. Carla, Magdelena's daughter, was there, and so were a bunch of people I didn't know. There were lots and lots of flowers around the corpse, in many brilliant colors, yellow, red, white, pink, etc. Many people were sitting, but four were standing around the coffin. (NOTE: I used corpse instead of coffin, because I don't know the Spanish for coffin. But I meant coffin, and "standing around the corpse" sounds really, really weird.) Anita told me that we couldn't go to the ceremony later, because we had to go to the Pizzeria. I saw a funeral procession a couple of days ago, many people walking in a very large group, all dressed in black.

I want to write more, but I can't remember. The day I'm writing this is 8/31/08.

296 more days.

So, the way I write in my journal is that I'm a few days behind. In that, it's 4-9-08, but I'm writing for 2-9-08. I just can't get up the gumption to write in my journal right before I go to bed. Sorry again for the short post, but I really forgot what else we did that day. The next post is a solid 5 pages, Promise.

FTJ: 28-8-08

Today, I woke up to a call on my telephone. I was very happy, because it was my first call, but I heard Anita's voice saying "Get up! Get up!" I went to the first floor and Rosalita told me that one of the AFS volunteers had died in a car accident. I have a problem with remembering names, and so I didn't know Mrs. Magdelena. Anita was very sad and surprised. She said things like "Life is short" all day.

We saw Barack Obama's speech today. We stayed in the Pizzeria until ten to see it.

Not much happened today.

297 days left.

Sorry, Tom, that this post is so short. And to M, who wanted me to post more pictures on my blog. I will tomorrow, I swear. Well, I promise. Well, I promise I'll try.


FTJ: 27-8-08

(NOTE: Here's where things get iffy.) What's going on in my head is driving me crazy. When I think, I hear the English and the Spanish at the same time. Every days it's even harder to understand my thoughts. I don't know anymore if I'm thinking in Spanish and translating to English, or thinking in English and translating to Spanish. I want to think in Spanish, because to think is to know, but there is a small voice in my head saying, "No! No! Stop it!" when a Spanish word croses my mind. But against the wishes of the voice, it's happening. My memories aren't sacred. I think of a time with my dad when I was nine, and he speaks and the words are in Spanish. The voice rebels, but it can't stop it.

There is a war in my mind between Spanish and English, and I don't know which is going to win. I hope, I wish that I could use both, but I don't know. I don't know.

Today was very normal, or what I think to be normal after four days in Ibarra. It seems to me that I always get up at eight. I woke up this morning and thought, "It's ten, nine at the earliest." But no, eight.

In the afternoon, I always go with Anita to the Pizzeria in Atuntaqui (NOTE: It really is Atuntaqui, I finally figured it out.), and I spend in hour in the internet shop, reading articles from CNN and Electoral-Vote.com. The election interests both me and the people here in Ecuador a lot. Anita told me that she has a daughter in the US as an immigrant, and if Obama doesn't win, she will have to return to Ecuador. Something to do with getting visas and whatnot. There is CNN in Spanish here, and I watched a little of Joe Biden's speech. He talked very well. He will be a good vice president for Obama. (NOTE: I just learned that Joe Biden is anti-peer-to-peer sharing. He just lost my vote. Not that I have a vote. And I still support Obama. Just not Joe "Obey the Law" Biden. Punk.) I also read Hillary Clinton and John Kerry's speeches. Hillary Clinton's was perfect. She said "Obama and I are the same. Are you all that are going to vote for McCain stupid or something?" (NOTE: I'm paraphrasing.)

I'm going to watch CNN more. It makes me happy that they have CNN here.

298 more days.


FTJ: 26-8-08

First, before I start, PICTURES. Yes, I have added pictures to many of the blog posts, so scroll down until you can find them. They're really cool. I'll be taking more in the future, but these are all the ones I have up to date, so you only have to look back at different posts today. You know I love you guys, because uploading these pictures is going to take forever.

Anyways, on with the post.

Today was very interesting. In the morning, Anita and I went to the central market of Ibarra. It seemed to me a lot like the Farmer's markets in the US, but only food and a lot more meat. (Hindsight: They sell farmer's market-type stuff, just in a section I didn't go to.) First, Anita and I entered a very big room that only had meat sellers. In one section, they were all selling chickens, and then I realized that the chickens still had their heads! It was very strange for me. (NOTE: Have you ever seen a chicken head without any feathers? It is disgusting.)

In another part of the market, we bought fruits and vegetables. Many of the people that were selling the fruits were Indigenous. I don't know why. It's possible that the Indigenous people live in the country where the only work is as a farmer, or perhaps the Indigenous people have always been farmers. I don't know.

Many children were working with their parents in the market. One girl asked us if we wanted to buy strawberries. Anita of course bought some. I think that the children are still on summer vacation. (NOTE: And circle gets the square.)

I am tall in a short country. I was always hitting my head on the market roof, and the roof is made of metal. It hurt a lot. Many people are surprised when they hear that I am only seventeen, because I'm so tall.

What is happening in my mind is very interesting. I have begun to think in Spanish, but in a very broken way. If the grammar and vocabulary is very easy, I think and Spanish, and then, in the next second, I say "What am I doing?" and I stop. And then Ithink "Why did I stop?" but the moment is lost and I think in English. However, it encourages me that I am beging to talk in Spanish in my head. (NOTE: It's how I think schizophrenia, or Multiple Identity Disorder, feels.)

I asked Anita what "Vote Yes" and "Vote No" mean. She explained it to me. The president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, is trying to create a new Constitution for Ecuador. There are some good laws, Anita told me, like those for immigrants that gives them monetary credit. But the Constitution would also give a lot of powers to the president, and so Anita will vote "No." It is very interesting to see the political process in another country. In the US, no one would think of suggesting to talk about changing the Constitution. To us, the Constitution is sacred, from the Founding Fathers that could do nothing incorrect. The political process interests me, in the US and in Ecuador.

In the morning, I had told Anita that I wanted to go shopping. So she, instead of taking me to the Pizzeria, brought me to the house of a volunteer for AFS. The volunteer's daughter, Carla, went with me to go shopping. We went to buy many things. A chip for my cell phone, and so I have my own phone now, my first cell phone. I also bought tape to fix my journal, which has page falling out, and many DVDs. My brother told me that they sell DVDs for $1, and I didn't believe it. But I now have the first and third season of The X-Files, the first few episodes of Deathnote, Hellboy 2, The Mummy 3, for only fifteen dollars. It's incredible. I'm not going to have any money by the time this is over.

299 more days.

Again, thanks to the people who are commenting on the blog. I love you guys. And don't forget to check out the pictures!


FTJ: 25-8-08

Today, I got up at eight and decided to shower. I hadn't showered since Frinday in Miami, and so I felt dirty. (NOTE: I told you this was going to seem juvenille.) I entered the bathroom and realized that there are diferent letters on the taps in a Hispanic country. It isn't "C" for "Cold" and "H" for "Hot," but rather "C" for "Caliente" and "F" for "Frio." I turned the "C" to get hot water, but only received cold. I asked my host mom and she told me that you have to turn on a switch. It seems to me that there isn't a general water heater for the house, but rather they use electricity to heat the water before using it. I spent fifteen minutes under the water. I couldn't turn the tap on much, because the electricity can't heat more than a little bit at a time.

After showering, I brushed my teeth and shaved. I also combed and put oil in my hair. When I have oil in my hair, it isn't in front of my face. I felt very good. (NOTE: GAH this is embarassing. It totally sounds better in Spanish. I swear.)

Anita and I went downtown because she had to go to the bank. We went to four or five banks before she finished. The machine in the first bank didn't work, and so we went to another bank. I don't know why she needed to go to so many banks, but she found what she wanted.

After leaving the last bank, we went to the Esquina de Coco, a corner where there is a coconut tree, in order to meet a woman that was looking for work as a doctor. Anita went to help her. We, with the woman and her husband, drove to another town to turn in the application,l but the doctor wasn't in the building. The woman and the man left by bus to Quito. Anita and I went to Contachi to open the Pizzeria.

When we were in the Pizzeria, Anita's niece, Alisson, began talking to me. I think she's thirteen. She asked me about the type of music that I like, and the TV programs. It wasn't difficult to answer the questions, and after she and I went around Contachi and she showed me the shops.

It's very difficult to write my thoughts in Spanish, because there are a lot of words that I don't know. My vocabulary isn't large enough. But it's good for me, because if I can write, I can talk, and I can practice writing without talking.

300 more days.

Man, it is very embarassing translating to English, because it sounds so horribly contrived. I used "bank" like, thirty times. Whatever. To those of you who posted a comment on my last post, thanks, Ben, M, and Tom. I very much appreciate it, especially those of you on my blog in the wee hours of the morning. And there will be pictures soon, I SWEAR. I'll put them on my flash drive tonight, and then upload them tomorrow. I don't know how many I'll be able to upload, because internet here is very slow, but I'll try.

ÑñÇç¿¡ÁäÊ躪 are all the keys I can find on this keyboard that I can't on an English keyboard. Except the Euro key, which I don't know how to get to yet.