Thursday, March 11, 2010

Learning to become a Tour Guide

About a month ago Cynthia, the woman whom I work with most closely, told me about a course that was going to be offered here in San Salvador. It is called Informador Touristico, she really had no idea what it was about, the name explains a little, but the government was brining this course in through an organization called SINAFOCAL. If you take the course, 2 days a week, for 3 months you'll receive a certificate from the minestario de trabajo, and everyone LOVES their certificates. So Cynthia worked very hard to get people to go to the class. The first meeting there were 4 people, and to continue on with the course there has to be at least 25. So she went door to door and got 30 people to sign up on the registration sheet. Well the second meeting there was about 20. They did their course for a week, then Cynthia asked me to join the course, to boost numbers.

The first class that I went to we did group work, reading and then explaining to the group what we read. The reading was about tourism, what kind of tourism there is, why people go to the places they do, and how you can be a good tour guide. How you need to present yourself, be fully qualified for the places you are showing, know all the facts, know how to read a group if they are interested or no in what you are saying, so on and so forth. Pretty fun, and interesting. The group was asking me questions about my experience as a tourist and were really into the class.

The second class we did more ice breakers and team work stuff. The teacher of the course said that the most important thing was for us to become a team and work together before we can be good Guias de Touristica. So the teacher, and a few from the group decided to form a formal commission, to become recognized by the municipalidad to be able to ask for assistance easier. Because we are doing this class at the train station. There is a library and museum there, but no one really goes there. I am teaching English there to give the place a little more life. But..there is no bathroom, running water, a few chairs, no chalk board, or fan. So if a tourist were to come visit the station and need to use the bath room they would have to find a bush. Which is fine, but I don't think everyone would like that option. So as a commission we were talking about how we can mejorar the station.

The third class we did the voting and elected our presidente and so on. Cynthia was elected Presidenta, which is good because she has a lot of passion for the train station, being the director of the centro cultural. Then we made a list of activities that we can to do to start raising funds to mejorar the estacion. Volley ball tournaments, lotteries, bingo, different activities where selling food is involved, movie night, and parties ( the first will be held the night before Easter). The teacher throughout all of this is putting in her input and being very insistent about the group making decisions and making them now. So for the next class on Sunday we had planned a day to clean up the estacion, there are lots of spider webs, and cow poop and cook chorizo and sell it. It was planned very last minute and some thought that it should be just for the group and a team building thing, but the teacher insisted that we sell tickets for 5 mil, that includes 3 pieces of chorizo, mandioca and bean salad.

So the fourth class, Sunday, we met up and started cleaning the station. And in the meantime we started cooking. I had sold two tickets the night before to my girls Lola, and Dora. Lola showed up at around 11 and we had just started cooking the chorizo and shortly after Dora showed up, they saw how good the chorizo looked so they each bought another portion. They both brought dishes to take their food to go. So on they went and we stayed to eat the rest. Each of us had put in 5 mil as well. Well 1 kilo of chorizo has 15 pieces of chorizo, and if every person gets 3 pieces then a kilo would cost 15 mil, well a kilo costs 17 mill. So we had 5 kilos and were loosing 10 mil on the deal. In the end, with all the costs and what not we made 10 mil, thanks to me selling the tickets. Oh and I was the only one who sold tickets. After eating and gossiping we had our class.

Class consisted of an ice breaker that the teacher got from Peace Corps, many materials were giving to each group and we had to make a wedding dress. In my group I said, Hey lets do something different, and i had 3 of the 5 on my boat. We started with the black trash bag and came up with a theme that they were clowns getting married and the club. One of the women said, no way, absolutely not, there is no such thing as a wedding dress that isn't white. So she went and sat down, while sitting the teacher showed her the pics of the other group in another city and their final dresses, and immediately the woman says we have to copy this. So of course the rest of the team was down to copy. And franticly we started with another design. In the end when they were judging every teams they brought up our situation how we had an idea and changed it, and how they liked our original idea, it was different and out of the box. The woman started to defend herself saying that a wedding dress has to be white blah blah blah. The teacher called her out and said that it was her problem and that her head was in a box and needs to take it out!!! I thought I was going to die. Exactly what I wanted to say but was not going to the teacher said. About 10 minutes later the woman said she didn't feel weel and left, not sure she'll come back to class.

Me cleaning the roof the the station

The wedding dresses, ours is the dress on the far left. The dress in the middle won.

Playing volley after class at the station.

So we have planned, I made the flyers yesterday, is a Torneo de Volly for sunday in the afternoon. But we don't have a meeting before hand, and havn't planned what we are going to sell or a prize. A little unorganized. I feel that the teacher and a few from the group wanted to form this commission but the rest of the group signed up for the course to learn about tourism and what not, and its turned into a youth group doing activities stuff. Although one of our assignments it to investigate every date, and name about the train statioon. The idea is to get all the info together in one place and make a book thingy to sell at the train station for when visitors come.

Speaking of visitors my parents are going to be the guinea pigs!!! The group is excited to have tourists come and are planning activites for the whole community to be involved. I could tell what we are going to do but that would spoil everything for them!!

Oh and another thing about this class..I said to the group that a tourist wouldn't come if there wasn't any business, the case here in san salvador. So I made a proposal to, after this course, offer the business course that I have from Peace Corps. I pitched the idea to the teacher from SINAFOCAL, a non-profit, that teachers hundreds of courses from knitting, to repairing cell phones. They loved the idea and offered to send me one of their instructors to help teach the course. So probably starting after my parents come I teach a course called Building your dreams. If all goes well, and as planned.

Other things....

The road from villarrica to iturbe is going to be paved, that means no more cobble stone roads, and the trip will be a lot smoother and faster for me to get to Villarrica and Asuncion. Well whenever a big project is about to start someone has to say the first word...Well word on the street is that Lugo, the president, is coming to town on the 17 th of march. I won't believe it till I see it, he is supposed to be in lots of places and typically doesn't show up.

I've become very into cooking lately. I have made hummus, cakes, twice baked potatoes, salsa ( found tortilla chips!!!!!!!!), gizos, pancakes, a delicious curry, Mac and cheese etc. Totally from scratch. I am researching making bagels because there is cream cheese and the grocery store here.

The kitties are doing well, last night Ndikuaii ate a little tree frog, the leg was hanging out of her mouth. They are a great company!!

Ndikuaii climb up the pole becuase dogs were chasing her, well she couldn't get down becuase the dogs were at the bottom barking. David climbed up the pole to get her down!!

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