A New Volunteer in Cuenca

27 Jun

In about a half hour I’m going to meet a new volunteer from my program who will be in Cuenca for the summer. I don’t know anything about her, but have been told that she’ll be teaching at SECAP for two months. She’s actually staying with one of my former students, who I interviewed a few months ago to be a host family. Lauren, who got back to Cuenca a couple of days ago from a vacation in the United States, will meet up with the new volunteer and my former student. It’s kind of exciting to have a new face around, and hopefully we can drop some knowledge on her.

Last night was a despedida, or goodbye party for a teacher who’s been in Cuenca for almost as long as I have. James, from New Jersey, was teaching at a language school here and will be leaving next week. Back when I first got to this city, I was sitting in a hostel bar doing my first lesson plan when he asked me if I was teaching. He’d just arrived to try to find work, and as it turns out he was friends with another volunteer here, who encouraged him to come down. He wound up working at a bar for a few months until he found steady work, but it all worked out in the end.

The party was at a bar that isn’t opened yet, but will open in September. It’s right on the river and is owned by two Americans. One of the owners just moved here after living in Costa Rica for 6 years. It was mostly guys at the party, but after paying $2 for all you can drink, it got pretty rowdy. I made my way through rum, sugarcane alcohol, and a shot of pure mescal. There was a piece of wood in the bottle, and later on I wound up chewing on it for a minute as it was passed around. I don’t recommend this. Needless to say, we were all pretty “hechofunda,” a word only used in Cuenca to mean something along the lines of “shitfaced.”

So today I’ve been tired all day, but I’m ready to head out, if not to drink then to at least talk with the new volunteer. And it will be nice to see my former student again. But knowing this city, which is listed as the drunkest city in South America (based off of alcoholics per population), I’m sure I’ll wind up having a cocktail or two. What a life.

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