Today marks the first official day of my two week vacation from school. After a week straight of exams, I was ready for a break. Although yesterday I didn’t go to classes, I couldn’t really count it as vacation since I had to go take one final exam. It was an SAT-like test, and mandated by the government. So although I have absolutely positively no use for this test, I had no choice but to wake up early on my Saturday to complete it. And let me tell you, it was quite the new experience. Since all seniors of Guayaquil were taking the exam, there were different locations each person was assigned too. Most of the locations were public schools and universities. I ended up at a public school called Juan Montalvo.
So at 8 am I lined up outside of the school, my papers and passport in hand. There were far more people than I expected, and I was quite nervous. It’s not that I don’t trust the people here, but, as a foreign female I always have to be cautious. When I passed the security check point, I stuffed my passport deep into my purse and followed the crowd. We walked down into a big courtyard where we had to wait. Close behind me was a guy who, of course, was more than happy to help a confused gringa. Latin men have their reputation for a reason. They’re very confident, and very very smooth. So a word from the wise: Always always proceed with caution. Moisés, that was his name, was actually very helpful. He was curious about why I was taking such an exam, when I wasn’t even completely fluent. We chatted while we had to wait to begin the exam. He was also unapologetically flirtatious, telling me I had the most beautiful eyes he’d ever seen. Latin men, or so I’ve come to discover, have an obsession with light eyes since a majority of the people here have brown eyes. In fact if I had a dollar for every guy here who commented on my eyes, my piggy bank would be very full. I’ve decided to enjoy it while I can, since men in the states aren’t as forthcoming with the compliments.
Until yesterday, I’d never seen a public school here in Ecuador. It was a shock to say the least. And I didn’t think much could shock me after spending this much time here. Walking into the classroom I couldn’t help but think of how comfortable my life has been. It looked, and felt, a lot like a jail cell inside (not that I’ve ever done jail time). Everything was concrete, and there were no windows. The desks were old and metal. Many of them looked as if they’d been thrown out a window. The wall facing the hallway looked eerily like the front of a jail cell. It was all metal bars, with a heavy metal door that slammed with such authority that it made me jump. And that was it. Other than the student desks, and one for the teacher, the classroom was empty. I’m so used to classrooms filled with computers, equipment, and trinkets that I forgot how rare that is.
Luckily I survived the ordeal, and took a well deserved nap afterwards. So now my vacation has officially begun! And to make things even better, my mother will be here in less than a week!!! The past three months have seemed like an eternity without her and I’ve missed her dearly. I don’t know what I would have done if I wasn’t able to call her everyday. My time in Ecuador is going to make living at college seem like a piece of cake.
P.S. Here are some photos from a special ceremony we had at school. It’s a graduation requirement where every student must swear to the Ecuadorian flag. But, being a foreigner, I wasn’t allowed to swear so instead I had to say “I do not swear. but I respect you”. I was an escolta, or escort, for the flag bearers. This was based on grades and is a big honor here in Ecuador. There was even a brunch for the nine of us afterwards.