Saturday, June 25, 2011

On top of the world of Santa Elena/teaching


Today was the day I was scheduled to teach, I spent much of the morning refining my lesson plan, although I was not sure if I was teaching one 1.5 class or two classes that took 1.5 hours. After finishing I spent some time videotaping the street leading up to the church.

We had climbed to the top of the church last night at about 8:30 pm. The Catholic church in Santa Elena is not only the tallest building town, it sets on hill which is the highest point in town. The stairway to the top is a scary, tight, spiral staircase. The stairs are supposedly secure by being anchored to a central post (which is absent in various sections) and the wall…where the step is set into the cement of the wall about 6 inches. The stairs are made of 6 inch deep timbers cut into wedges. The second to top step is missing, so it is a big scary step tot get on the roof. The view from the top is spectacular, increased only if you climb up another 10 feet to the top of the arched dome that runs the length of the church. It was a clear night, with stars becoming visible. The wind is much stronger up there. We laid down and looked at the stars, then instead of climbing down off the dome on the steps (which are almost right next to the edge of the building) we scooted down on our butts off the dome. A few minutes after we left the church, they locked it up. We are lucky we weren’t all locked up on the roof.

In the town square they had opened fruit stands, sold French fries, and had a dozen ancient…but well maintained…Foosball tables. It was 5 pesos for 5 balls. The proprietor gave us 5 balls for free. Justin, LeAnne’s son, took on Nate and me and cleaned our clocks. Then we went to the local bakery which has a huge wood fired oven. It looked a hundred years old but was apparently built 30 years ago.

After lunch today I took a taxi to the school and when let in proceeded to hide my butterflies. I had thought that the word for camouflage in Spanish was camoflauge, as I had looked it up on the translator on Google. That apparently is not the word…it is mimista. The first lesson was a little disjointed as I got started late because I had to set up my equipment, and then some of my software wasn’t running right. I just barely got to my part on the butterflies. The second class went much better. We talked about physical adaptations and behavioral adaptations. I had translated a lot of the lesson into Spanish…next time I will simple imbed it on my Powerpoint. This would help with the children’s understanding as well as my pronunciation of new words. The other problem was the first class was 45 minutes, and the second was 1.5 hours. So I had to add lesson plan to the second class. I had a couple minutes left at the end of class so I showed some soccer video (3 minutes) which they really appreciated. He seemed to appreciate my attempt to do my class with little help, even though I mangled many words. I am a talker, and the lack of a decent Spanish vocabulary frustrated me.

Later was our last dinner at the Chac Mool, with is one of the Mayan words for Jaguar. All week we had lunch and dinner there, with a different dish each time. Some of the teachers here helped prepare the meals that we ate, especially the tortillas. This was our last day teaching, and Orlando Magana Vega stopped by the Flycatcher to say thank you. He lives in Tikul, and is kind of a tech guru. He even has a radio show where call in to ask tech questions. He will be our liaison between Durham schools and the Santa Elena Middle school. He is not sure when the school will have internet. We will set up either a Facebook page for us to exchange thoughts, pictures and videos….or simply exchange videos through Youtube. One of the more difficult things for me to get used too is the veritable lack of internet. The connection is so slow that watching a Youtube video live is difficult as it plays very jaggedly.

It has been decided that we will have breakfast at 8:30 in the morning, with the van leaving at 9:30. Eventually we will end up in Merida, after a long detour to catch some more sites.

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