by Areli Hernandez
on December 28, 2017 on 12/28/17
My last couple of weeks here in Ecuador have been filled with cute, sad, exciting moments.
Here are a few of them.
I got to spend the night in San Clemente, in the self-sustainable, organic, indigenous Kichwa community with my friend Kimy. It was interesting, because her host mother was saying how she gets really sad around Christmas time and how she does not like it because the children from the indigenous community go to the city and start to see all the Christmas stuff and decor and get excited to receive presents, but don’t end up receiving much. This is so interesting to me as an American because Christmas is so engrained in us (or at least the commercialized version of it). This really got me thinking, though.
I got my nails done! And then I got to see how to do a bikini wax (what an interesting internship, right?). The Misión offers low-cost beauty classes for economic empowerment. The women are all so nice and I made friends with the teacher who always greets me with Pan de Bono that she gets at her fav Colombian bakery and always wants to share with me.
Mexican Quesadillas & Migration
So I was in charge of the group of women this Thursday & my coordinator said it would be a good idea to talk about migration in my community, Mexican-american culture, etc. I decided to go out & try to make a simple Mexican dish/snack but boy oh boy when I went to the store to grab my chile guajillos & try to make enchiladas or something, I found nothing! The first supermarket that I went to didn’t even have tortillas! They had lil round empanada baking things but boy was that sad. Then the first Christmas song of the year came on (in English) & I just laughed to myself cause what was a Mexican even thinking when she tried to find any chiles in an Ecuadorian market.
I got to walk in the sunset & I realized how much I needed that. Walks really allow me to think about things while my zumba classes allow me to forget about things.
I ended up making guacamole & quesadillas to share & they all really loved it. I shared about how my mother’s father was part of the Bracero program that got my family to the USA, about my own father’s journey as an undocumented minor working in the fields, about my position in the USA as a daughter of Mexican immigrants, about Trump, about life, about the train La Bestia, etc.
I even got to teach el zapateado (Mexican dancing that we do at parties) to the women. They absolutely LOVE dancing and all wanted to learn more.
Weekend Trip to Baños
Pailón del Diablo
Bike tour in Baños to see the waterfalls and biking down the highway in the heavy rain & not really being able to open our eyes & getting a flat tire but still making made it!
Noche de Velitas
La Misión & other NGOs from Ibarra organized an event for all of Ibarra for Noche de Velitas, or Night of Little Candles, one of the most observed traditional holidays in Colombia celebrated on December 7. On this night, people place candles and paper lanterns on windowsills, balconies, porches, sidewalks, streets, parks and squares; in short, everywhere they can be seen, in honor of the Virgin Mary and her Immaculate Conception.
This annual event is put on especially for the Colombian population in Ibarra to continue celebrating as they are away from home as this marks the unofficial start of the Christmas season.
We had Mass and a lil pilgrimage in the town square as each NGO shared information about their help & services to the population. Afterwards, we put on music and danced to salsa while we drank cinnamon tea & freshly baked bread from the panadería (in which we have some amazing colombiana bakers) of la Misión.
Fav quote of the Semana
“Mija, te voy a extrañar cuando te vayas pero te voy a recordar cada vez de que mire a los frijolitos”
“Mija, I am gonna miss you when you leave, but I will remember you each time I see beans”- my host mama
getting complimented at zumba by an elderly woman
One of the women from the women empowerment groups surprised me with a gift that she made. It is a mirror neatly placed on a decorative glittering piece made of recycled plastic spoons.
She proceeded to tell me about how this Saturday marks her one year in Ecuador since fleeing from Colombia and about her rape when she was 9 years old.
I damn near cried.
Also, my co-workers took me out to karaoke after the Noche de Velitas for a good ol’ ecuadorian goodbye
My host mom keeps giving me stuff for me to take back home: granola sweetened with natural panela, maíz suave to make maíz tostado for my family, a shawl for my mom, bracelets & jewelry for my cousins, etc.
Last day at La Misión
I had brought guac & quesadillas because I was gonna do the Mexican workshop with another women’s empowerment group but to my surprise la Misión had a goodbye surprise party for me with chocolate cake & snacks & a beautiful poster with little messages for me!
They all said some few words for me & I kept telling myself not to cry. The colombiana sisters offered their nephews for me to marry JAJA but I said I am good for the moment.
So, I usually don’t drink soda (unless I am in Latin America) but I have been loving the combination of bread sandwiches with Coke! I usually eat pretty healthily, but I have been treating myself & enjoying food with friends here real good. I just love the salty & sweet combination of these foods. Try it!