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El Clima June 2015 – Taming Public Transport

El Clima June 2015 – Taming Public Transport

by PCV Alex Albanese…

You won’t find a slow bus driver on the coast. Whoever assumes buses are too large, have too much weight, and are too bulky to go fast has it all wrong. They haven’t felt the force of first gear and grappling onto any stationary object. They haven’t shot into a pack of passengers like a bowling ball after being caught off guard. They haven’t seen a bus pass taxis. They haven’t seen buses race.

Although I liken these vehicular drivers to Ricky Bobby, Jeff Gordan, or your crazy 17-year-old cousin who just got his license, there is a rhyme and reason for the accelerated lifestyle. One reason lies in the music culture. Almost every bus has the “accel- erated” thump of techno, salsa, reggeaton, and bachata. The rhythm fuels the need for speed hence the fast pace.

Surprisingly enough, the locals remain calm throughout this adventure. Me on the other hand, I am on edge, expecting the un- expected, and jiving to the music. So, if you are ready to make the leap physically and metaphorically to coastal public transportation, here is a comprehensive 8 step guide to success.

  1. Wave
    Each bus runs at about a 15 minute interval. Once you have identi- fied the desired bus, you must flag it down within one block, which is enough notice for the driver. The wave: stick hand out with palm down, wag hand furiously.
  1. Run and jump or hold your ground

Running to catch a bus grants you not only the good graces of the driver but also the accreditation of being a local. Many people of the Peninsula of Santa Elena walk slowly in the heat of the sun, yet, when they see the bus, they turn their Latino jets on. They waggle towards the bus, grab the outer bar, and swing in.

The second choice is waiting for the bus to stop because you are not ready for the local run down. In order to wait for buses, you must know the bus stop marked by a blue sign “parada.” If there is no bus stop sign, you must wait after a street light.

3. Board the busBus2

Once you are successfully in the door, beware! First gear will  punish those who don’t prepare. People have fumbled branches of bananas. Passengers have been knocked to the ground banging into bus bars, armrests, or even elbowing seated passengers.

You must spread your legs decently while boarding the bus steps, and make sure one arm is always on a bar. If you lose your footing and know you’re about to lift off, turn your back, cross arms, and ping pong off of the closest person standing in the crowd.

  1. Prepare payment

Exact change of 25 cents is always recommended. If you are ahead of the game, use the Tarjeta de Re- carga with the new scanner ma- chines across Santa Elena.

  1. Buy a Helmet?

Precaución de la cabeza!” Quite often, the height of the aisle hand- rail only serves for the average Ecuadorian height. Don’t be distracted by the driving, music, or crowds, because TVs, bars, and overhead storage provide possible hazards for the cranium.

  1. Proceed to desired open seat or area

The first two seats are always reserved for the elderly, pregnant women, the handicapped, and kids.

AlexProceed to desired seat and feel free to brush others to arrive at destination with polite remarks such as “con permiso,” and “perdón.” When passengers bulk up in the front, there is a higher chance of obtaining a seat if you move towards the back.

If no seat is found, lean against a seat and spread your legs for lower center of gravity.

  1. “Pare! Esquina! Gracias! Se queda!”

This is the fun part. Once you have reached your landmark, approach the driver one block before your stop and say, “Gracias, dé- jame aquí.” But, in the case you can’t make it to the front in time, warn the driver at an audible level to stop. “Se queda!” “Pare!” “La esquina!

  1. Disembark

It’s a 50/50 chance of jumping or walking off the bus. Be ready to jump and aim for a flat surface. Upon landing, you have successfully ridden coastal transport.

Each ride presents new discoveries of coastal Ecuador. After three months, I progressively find faster lines, new restaurants, or more stabilizing postures while riding. At first, I always allotted myself taxi fare as a Plan B, but I learned the lines as time passed. Local transport opened up the small comunidades between cit- ies, and that brings me closer to living like a common costeña. I struggled to integrate in some ways, but yelling “STOP” in a full bus gives me a rush of adrenaline and the confidence to live among

June 2015 El Clima – From the Editors

June 2015 El Clima – From the Editors

We were fortunate to get the latest El Clima from PCV Chris Owen. Here are some select stories.

It is with our June issue hitting the streets—and as the overzeal-ous, water-gun-packing, Big- League-gum-smacking gang of story-chasers that we are—that El Clima rolls out a new chapter of our collective narrative here in Ecuador.

In this quarter’s edition, El Clima brings you tales of Peace Corps adventure from across the country. We hope to light a match: a single flame, which, upon meet- ing other tendrils of wandering smoke, spreads and infuses a greater spirit for adventure. May you reflect on your greatest ad- venture as you peruse all that is action-packed; from traversing the monstrous slopes of Cotopaxi with ice in your veins, to curling up for the night on Quilotoa’s treacherous rim. May these authors’ testimonies prove to readers of all shapes and sizes that, indeed, adventure is out there. All we must do is seek it.

And so our literary version of the Ron Burgundy legend carries on here at El Clima. As of this is-sue, we happily initiate two new team members in the forms of Content Editor, Tori “Trees are people, too” Sims; and Photo Editor, Alex “Living for the present” Albanese.

Lastly, congratulations to Omnibus 113 for successfully swearing-in to service, and a big welcome to Omnibus 114, as they join us on the adventure of all adventures, more commonly referred to as Peace Corps Ecuador!

Sharing your Peace Corps story,

The El Clima E-Team


Update from Peace Corps Ecuador

Update from Peace Corps Ecuador

Here is a belated August update from Peace Corps Ecuador.

Peace Corps Global Gender Workshop

The GGW was held in Washington, DC, March 16-24, 2015. Youth and Families Development Program Manager Cristina Rojas attended the workshop and represented PC/Ecuador in this worldwide initiative. The Global Gender Workshop came on the heels of First Lady Michelle Obama’s announcement of the Let Girls Learn initiative, a powerful collaboration with the Peace Corps to expand access to education for girls around the world. These two events provided Peace Corps with an excellent opportunity to reinvigorate our programming and training in gender. Currently, PC/Ecuador is in the process of redefining our gender strategy at post.

As Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet has said often in recent months “Peace Corps Volunteers were integrating gender long before it was mandated in the Peace Corps Act in 1978. And, they have continued to do so not because it is required, but because it makes sense. Our Volunteers see gender roles up front and personal and it is our task to give them the tools to make sure that everyone in the community—women, men, girls, and boys—are included in our work”. Read More »

A TEFL Volunteer Talks about His Experience

A TEFL Volunteer Talks about His Experience

This is a story from PCV Shaun Neshium

As a TEFL volunteer (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), our primary work is the teachers in our schools. Thus, our lives are intertwined with theirs up to the point when they start thinking about what has to be done outside of school.

Whereas all TEFL vol-unteers live in the same community that their school is in, many teachers often have a forty-five- minute commute or longer every day; this applies to half of my teachers. Throw in additional, non-mandatory English courses, in which many teachers choose to participate, and the realistic expectations of working for the full day quickly diminish.

That being said, there are many English teachers who want to diligently work, learn, and become better teachers. In my particular school of 850 students, I have five English teachers, of whom four are motivated to use me as a resource to improve their teaching abilities through modeling, trainings, and one-on-one practice.

Read More »

News from March 2015 El Clima on the TEFL Program

News from March 2015 El Clima on the TEFL Program

Q&A with MD Chacón

Q: When did you begin your service as the TEFL Program Manager (PM)?

A: I was hired to start the TEFL program in September 2010, when we started the process of founding the TEFL program.

Q: What do you love about being the TEFL PM?

A: What I love is to see how in 1 or 2 years my TEFLeros turn into great teachers, and how excellent they are as trainers at the end of their service.

Q: Anything interesting about the TEFL program that you’d like to share?

A: I think the TEFL program has many years of success here in Ecuador. Four years ago no one knew about us in Ecuador, now a days, when they think of English classes or English training they think of PC TEFL PCVs, even the government. We have positioned the TEFL program in only 4 years in a good place in the mind of people and that is the impact we wanted. We also are going to start next year with a TEFL certification for PCVs, and that is also great news for our TEFLeros!

Read More »

Basic Facts on PCE TEFL Program from March 2015 El Clima

Basic Facts on PCE TEFL Program from March 2015 El Clima

The first group of PCVs came in June 2011.

The main objective is to support English teachers of public schools in their teaching skills. By improving teachers, we expect students will improve also.

There have been a total of 73 TEFL PCVs, with 30 more in OMN 113 who will be ready to serve in April 2015.

Usually, TEFL PCVs work at public schools 5 days a week. Some also work at local universities, with youth groups, and at TOTs with teachers in different topics.

Stories from El Clima #2 – Take a Break, Find Your Place

Stories from El Clima #2 – Take a Break, Find Your Place

This is a piece from the latest issue of El Clima by PCV Rachel Childs

Something funny happened when I woke up in the idyllic river province of Tigre, Argentina this past month.

The song “Home” by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros played from my friend’s music player while I washed the previous night’s dishes from the traditional grilled meat dinner, or parilla.

Though the song is about love, I could not help but think of my own definition of home.

The song “Home” by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros played from my friend’s music player while I washed the previous night’s dishes from the traditional grilled meat dinner, or parilla.

Though the song is about love, I could not help but think of my own definition of home. Read More »

Stories from El Clima Winter 2014 – Pumpkin Curry Soup Recipe

Stories from El Clima Winter 2014 – Pumpkin Curry Soup Recipe

This is a recipe from PCV Nicolina Trifunovski

Soup is a lot like a family. Each ingredient enhances the others; each batch has its own characteristics; and it needs time to simmer to reach full potential. – Marge Kennedy

This sweet and delectable soup will warm your soul, especially during those chilly autumn days. Vegetarian and gluten-free, just about anyone can enjoy this taste of home.

Pumpkin Curry

Read More »

Updates from Peace Corps Ecuador

Updates from Peace Corps Ecuador

This is a guest post from Peace Corps Ecuador Director Alexis Vaughn (photo credit to PCV Sandrena Frischer).

Dear Friends,

The past few months have been ones of great change and excitement at Peace Corps Ecuador. In January, we inaugurated our new Training Center in the lovely garden town of Nayón with a lively Community Open House. US Ambassador to Ecuador, Adam Namm, and President of the Gobierno Parroquial de Nayón, Dra. Lourdes Quijia, joined Peace Corps staff and volunteers in giving a warm welcome to our new neighbors and volunteer host families. For many Nayoneses, our arrival in the community marks their first knowledge of Peace Corps and we are off to a good start indeed.

This week also marks the arrival of our newest training group, who will work in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). This is a group of many firsts, the first trainees in the new Training Center, the first trainees to live in the community of Nayón, and the first all-TEFL group (and twice the size of former TEFL groups). Read More »

Two Videos on Ecuador – One to Make You Laugh and One to Make You Cry

Two Videos on Ecuador – One to Make You Laugh and One to Make You Cry

Here is a post from my other blog which includes some information for non-Ecuador experts.

From 1997 to 1999, I served in the Peace Corps in the Andean country of Ecuador. Ecuador is rich with contrasts. With the Galapagos, the Andes, and parts of the Amazon, the country possesses stunning natural beauty. The people have an incredible generosity of spirit, yet the country is riven by racial and regional differences. Until recently, high oil prices papered over some of these differences, but the president, Rafael Correa, is a left wing populist in the tradition of Hugo Chavez. He has taken to castigating his domestic on-line critics through television naming and shaming efforts that are unbecoming for a head of state. John Oliver has a wildly funny take-down of Correa’s pompous self-importance, which prompted a vigorous response from Correa (some calling it an “international incident”) and another round of humor from Oliver. The original video is hilarious and worth a watch (I’m not sure if embedding worked on this video so here is the link here though I think clicking on the screenshot below will work). Read More »