Bogota · Canton Norte · Colombia · South America · Teaching English · Travel

Day one at Canton Norte… maybe…

I got us at 4:30am this morning to get out of the apartment on time ready to go.  So I got my lesson plans sorted and packed up – I was ready to teach 12 soldiers for five hours! I really hope that I get to teach today. My bag of supplies was very heavy. I left the house at 6:10am for the ride up Avenida Septima. It was a 7 minute walk to the bus stop. I had not expected the buses to be so packed so early in the morning. It is clear that people here get up and going early in the morning. They had told us at orientation the most schools would start at 6 am or so – I thought that was weird – but clearly everyone starts work super early!

m80 bus

A few buses didn’t even stop they were so full of people – they just went right on by with people packed in like sardines! A bus stopped and there were three of us walking to get in – the two went ahead of me and barely squeezed in – there was no more room for me – I would have to be much more aggressive if I hoped to get to work on time! It didn’t help that I had two bulky bags and was much more timid. Another bus stopped and I was determined to make it on this bus. I got on the bus and made it mostly through the turnstile. I was unable to go any further as there were just too many people. The three people behind me didn’t have to pay the bus fare which I am sure was a bonus. $2.000 adds up when you spend it twice a day. I was wedged in and this was oddly secure! I didn’t have to worry about hanging on for dear life and was able to secure my bags as well.  I was standing there, sweating and clutching my bags for the 25 minute ride up Septima.

I made it to the front entrance of Canton Norte and waited for someone to come collect me and take me to my classroom. I am not allowed unaccompanied onto the base. It took about 5 minutes for someone to arrive and take me to the language building office. Angela was there making copies and it turns out that plans have again changed.


Now they may do one of three things – 1.) Me work with some students to help improve their English in my own classroom using whatever material I want to helping to get them into university English classes. 2.) Continue to split the current class into two groups 3 times a week. 3.) Work in the afternoon to reinforce the morning’s lessons.

It seems that 5 students failed the first week’s test. It is close to impossible for these men to complete and understand one of these books a week. For those that have not ever really studied before and are unable to learn lessons well in Spanish, their native language, imagine how difficult learning another language at this pace must be!

I think that Angela wants to make certain that the higher-ups don’t blame her and her teaching for the students not all succeeding. It seems to make her reticent to work with or help me in any way to understand how things work here. I am very much kept out of the loop and I don’t have a clue how things work or who people are. I have tried to talk to Angela several times to schedule things and work together and she has not responded. It is very frustrating.

They have said that I should know by tomorrow afternoon what the plan is. But for now – I am to watch and listen to Angela teach.

I am tired and annoyed– I know that I need to be ‘tranquila’ as everyone is this country says – but it is really hard. Inefficiency is at an all time high here and I really hate wasting my time and feeling useless –


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