There have been tons of fun and rewarding experiences out in the rainforest. But one of the great things we do to build community relations is teach English as a foreign language (TEFL) in a few small communities all within a couple hours walk. We teach in Puerto Rico on Tuesday and Thursday, the closest community which also has a shop selling a few types of sweets, chips, and sodas. We teach in Puerto Salazar on Saturdays, playing a bunch of games with the kids which normally includes a few random kicks and slaps from the kids as they make the others laugh. Then, there is our newest community- Rio Bueno. Since that school had never had English before, we decided as a staff that one member should go to it for the first several weeks to keep some consistency.
Rio Bueno is the furthest of the three communities and the only one that we go to on the north side of the reserve. At 7am the TEFL group waits on the road that goes through the reserve which is just a rock, one lane road. We catch the daily morning bus that goes to Tena for 25cents each. The bus passes anytime from 6.50-7.45am. We get off the bus 10minutes later as it turns to go to Agua Santa, a community on the west side of the reserve. We could stay on the bus, because it turns around and drives back on the same road but it saves time as we walk the next 15 minutes to the school. The school is located along a narrow path in the forest. The small building contains one classroom, one teacher and 11 students about 8 years old. There is a small field behind the school with two make shift football goals. The students at this school are particularly well behaved and keen to learn English making it a rewarding experience. A majority of the hour lesson is taught in Spanish with a lot of repetition and simple games to entertain the kids. I just finished the 3rd class and they have learned Hello. My name is...This is... How are you? I am happy, sad, tired, good and numbers 1-10. You find innocent amusement while teaching at the mispronunciation of the students when the students say sex instead of six, for example. But my favourite has been practicing introductions. Mason’s name has a pronunciation similar to my-son. So, I have now successfully introduced Mason as my son to the class numerous times, but of course they don’t see the joke in it.