The Ecuadorian Adventure

The way I see it, there are three types of stories: plot-driven, character-driven, and setting-driven. Plot driven is where things happen to the characters, and the characters react to them, like in Stranger than Fiction, where a bulldozer goes into Will Farrell's house, and the guy says, "Now that's plot." Then there's character-driven, where the characters are totally nuts and go around and make things happen. Pretty much anything by Carl Hiassen is character-driven. Think about it. And then there's setting-driven, where things happen because of the place where the characters are. I can't think of any examples of this. But what I'm trying to get across here, is that my life is a sum of all three types, a fantastic story I'm thinking of calling

The Ecuadorian Adventure*
(*I wouldn't really name my autobiography this, but it's good enough for a blog post.)

I'll start with Thursday. On Thursday, I went to Camille's house, Camille being the other American here. But I didn't go to visit Camille, but rather Camille's host sister, Andrea. Notice I made sure to get her name. I'm tired of going several weeks trying to catch the person's name offhand because I forgot it the first time, and didn't have the guts to ask again. Andrea's a really nice girl, a little bit older than me, and she wants me to "teach" her "English." No, she really does, I just like saying that to mess with my mom. On an unrelated note, MOM. PLEASE DON'T SHOW THIS TO SUSANNE OR VANESSA. I BEG YOU.

But seriously, what we do is we sit at the table, and I have Andrea read to me out of Danny, the Champion of the World, by Roald Dahl. She says that she understands reading and writing well, but that she can't do pronunciation. So I just write down words she's having problems with and try to puzzle out the archaic rules of the English language and explain them. It's difficult, since writing out pronunciation, like "toad" is pronounced "toh-d", doesn't work that way in Spanish, since the letters make different sounds. But I'm getting the hang of it. Now, Camille, of course, speaks English, and so I was wondering why Andrea wanted me to help her, instead of Camille, which would be easier. Now, I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, by which I mean I'm not going to ask why a cute Ecuadorian girl wants my help, but it turns out that Camille's just not a very good person to be around, that she doesn't do anything with the family, doens't help or whatnot, and so Andrea asked me if I would. That's not good, because if Camille gets sent home (which is very possible, if the family decides they can't put up with her anymore), I'll be the only American left in Ibarra. No one to go to KFC with, no one to understand why "What's that over there?" is so funny. It'd be a shame. I'd be alone.

Andrea's doing much better with reading, though. She still sounds Ecuadorian, which probably won't change, but at least she'll probably get the visa. She wants to go to America as an au pair, which is a person who lives with a family and watches the kids while the parents are out, and does general servant things. But to do that, she needs a visa, and the visa offices only do appointments in English, and other people Andrea knows who wanted to do this got denied the visa because they didn't speak English. So, she wants my help.

Sometime around five o'clock that day, the power went out. Now, this isn't very uncommon in Ibarra (see previous posts), but it happened in the entire city. Usually it just happens to one sector, like Yacucalle, or something, but it was the whole city. So, I leave around six to start on homework, and I get home and I'm like, Wait, how am I going to do FLVS if the power's out? Dammit! So, I lit up some candles to see if I could do my regular work.

I had this three-candle set-up going, where I put two candles on a plate, and put a third candle in a candle holder. I put the plate next to the candle holder to let the wax drip onto the plate. It was good, but then I went back to hang out at Camille's house because no one was home on my end, and I couldn't do work by the meager light.

As it turns out, all the power in Ecuador went out. 18/22 provinces went without power that night, for some strange reason. Think the Northeast Blackout a couple of years ago, except for the whole country. It was like that. We're getting power from Columbia until we're back up and running. Most of the people I asked about it blame Correa directly, like he was walking through a power plant and accidentally turned off the "Supply Power to Ecuador" switch. I don't really get it. But I went home at around nine, and since the power was still off, went to bed. I got up at five o'clock the next morning, Friday, to do homework, which most people didn't do because the power went out. My 2-D composition teacher likes me.

I think I've figured it out. The female teachers like me because I do my work well and on time, and the male teachers like Sara because she's a blonde Norwegian girl.

So, on Friday afternoon, I got a headache from not having enough sleep, and headed out to the orphanage. Now, last week, I made a promise that I would draw this one girl a picture. That was my first mistake. So, I brought in my sketchbook and a picture of the Little Mermaid to draw for her, and BAM. All the girls wanted pictures. I realized about half-way there that this would be the case, so I had somewhat prepared myself for it mentally, but still, having a bunch of ten-year-old girls clinging onto you begging for pictures isn't something you can exactly prepare for. So now I've got a picture of some Disney princess I'm supposed to draw, and then a Divine Child, and then, who knows?

Every week, I go back to the same classroom. Not really out of choice, but rather because that was the first class I went to, and no one really said anything about going to other classes, so it's always the same one. But yesterday (Friday), one of the older girls came and asked why I never go to their class. So now I'm promised to go to the older kids' class next Friday. The girls there have this really big thing about pinky swearing, and they get really upset when I'm "breaking" a promise. I had to sing three songs to get out of there, and that was only with me fighting them to get out. There's another American guy, 25 or so, who goes there to help out, but the girls don't like him. They keep telling me that, and trying to pit us against each other. There's also a German girl, 20, who lives at the orphanage and helps out. The girls are trying to hook me up with her for some reason, trying to get me to say that I love her. It's kind of weird, like having a ten-year-old fan club that's always trying to distract me.

In a stroke of extreme brilliance, I said that it wasn't fair for me to be the only one making drawings, and got them all to rush off and start making drawings. Or give me drawings that they'd already made.

This is the drawing that Amelia made me. She's the girl I drew the picture of the Little Mermaid for. She pasted the picture of Bugs Bunny in my sketchbook and then drew around it. She reminds me a lot of Pam N., for some reason. I do this a lot, in that I'll see people and consciously connect them to someone I know. Random people, too, like people I barely know, or haven't seen in ages. She was one of the two girls who fought with me to keep me from leaving ("But I'll be back Wednesday!" "I don't care!"). They really, really like me. I guess I'm just that awesome.

When I got back home, I went to bed. I woke up at 9:30, realized the internet was closed, and went back to bed. I had an epic struggle with my body trying to get more sleep, in which I woke up at four, five, six, and seven, and then lay in bed until 8 trying to fall back to sleep again. I have a physical inability to sleep past eight o'clock, no matter how late I go to bed. Much as I kick and fight and scream, I'm a morning person. Argh!

I did some watercolor work for 2-D Comp (Nothing special, mom, just colors). My Comp. teacher is really impressed with me, that I actually do my work. I think they've had problems with past foreign exchange students. She complimented me on my watercolor set, too, so, thanks for that one, mom. I actually like watercolors, which just gives more fuel for the hating my painting teacher fire. He totally spoiled them for me.

At ten, I went back to Andrea's house to help her, but we ended up going out. We went to one of her friend's house to get Andrea's dog to mate with another dog. I told them (Andrea and a couple of her friends were there. Camille was still asleep.) that in America, we don't have to deal with this, because we spay and neuter our dogs. They were all upset and said, "That's so awful!" I'm like, we don't have stray dogs running around the streets eating garbage. That's why. After that fun time was over, we went to the cemetery. They were exhuming a body to bury the son with his parents. I was going to ask where the son's body was, but then they pointed to a garbage bag, and I was like, Oh, Okay. So the caretakers pulled the coffin out, and the bottom fell out, spilling thirty-year-old bones, clothing, and rusted metal all over the place. Gag. Barf. So, being the only young male there who wasn't terrified of dead people, I got the fun task of helping clean up the junk, after all the bones were removed, and tossing it into the giant pit of death in the middle of the cemetery, with the other rusted coffins that they weren't using at the moment.

It was really interesting, though. We were there because one of Andrea's friends is in an anatomy class in college, and the professor assigned them to get a nose bone. Yes. Yes, that actually happened. I think I'm going to write a short story about the experience, since it was very surreal.

When we got back to the house, Andrea had the grandmother blow cigarette smoke on us, to make us better. Or something. The grandmother was weird. She told me that she'd been to the United States several times, but hated it. I wasn't really sure what to say, but she went on to say, "Yeah, because there's all these really fat black people. Like, really fat. And dirty. Black people. I don't think they even wash their feet. I hate America." So that kicked off a good thirty seconds of extremely awkward silence. I almost made the awkward turtle sign, but no one would have understood it. Then the grandmother went away, and I went back to "helping" Andrea with the vowel sounds. One thing I've learned from all this is that English is a very, very stupid language.

Thank you to Pam, for commenting. Glad you liked the story. There's no second part, but there is another story set in the same town, with similar craziness: "The Strange Case of Randal Skall". Thank you, Kristina, as well. It's okay if you don't get the Lovecraft joke. Not many people would. Thank you, Victoria, for commenting. Just send 'em over when you get 'em done. And I beat up Jesse all the time anyway. Especially since he's smaller than me.

That's all for now. ¡Ciao!

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