Bienvenidas/os a mi first blog post! :)
Thanks to this blogging requirement, I am actually finding time to sit down, reflect, & write about it this busy, beautiful week.
It’s been a week since my arrival to beautiful Ecuador and I am convinced that I picked the perfect country and program to study abroad in.
My goodbyes to my family, friends, and hometown was more of an excited “see you later” as I was ready for a new adventure after a month of working odd-jobs and not really knowing what to do with myself at home. I am super family-oriented & this is my first time leaving them for such a long time (my hometown is just a couple hours away from SCU). But I have yet to feel homesick.
This first “orientation week” started with a warm Quichua inauguration ceremony ritual led by our indigenous Ecuadorian professor. This ritual encouraged us to respect, love, and protect the “Pacha Mama”, or Mother Earth, and all of its inhabitants––a deeply rooted concept in Ecuadorian culture that I absolutely love.
Enrique talked about how stress is a sickness caused by obsessively thinking of the future when we have not even lived in the present. He encouraged us to take a 5 minute barefoot walk on the Earth during stressful times. At the end, we each got to pick a fruit from the offering in the center. I got to eat the sweetest (and only) dragon fruit I have ever tasted!
The cultural diversity of Quito is so amazing to me especially as an Ethnic Studies major. There is no singular “Ecuadorian” look as there is an incredible mix of Afro-Latinos, Indigenous people, mestizos and European Latinos reflecting the country’s history with colonization, slavery, and such. Additionally, many people from Venezuela, Haiti, Colombia and others have had to migrate to Ecuador (many times undocumented) because of difficult economic, political, and/or social situations in their home countries. These migrants have to settle for lower-wage jobs, even if they had the proper experience for another career. I find this super interesting to compare these experiences to those of the Mexican and Central American migration in my home state of California.
As for my friendly host fam, my kind host mama, Cecilia is in her 50’s, retired and takes care of her sweet mom, Vicky who is the most hilarious and cutest 88 year old I ever did meet. Rodrigo, my host dad, and Cecilia always take care of Vicky since she has dementia and goes to a senior center during the weekdays for morning and afternoons.
I live in the spacious bottom apartment (that belongs to their daughter who lives in Switzerland) with a whole kitchen, dining room, living room, bathroom & bedroom to myself.
Talk about an upgrade compared to the little corner of my brothers’ room that I had carved out for myself back in Napa. SO refreshing to have my own space. I go up to my host fam’s apartment for delicious home-cooked meals (made up of a delicious variety of corn, potatoes, and veggies) and to spend time together.
This weekend, my program and I got to enjoy ourselves as we took a trip up to northern Ecuador where we got to relax and take in the beautiful biodiversity. The incredible mountainous green landscape is filled beautiful hummingbirds, butterflies, and tall bamboo trees. I still cannot get over the views and fresh air.
Coming back, it is finally hitting me that this is my home for the rest of the year. I am excited and thankful for this new experience and to be constantly surrounded by such loving people, bright colors, and such great bio and ethnic diversity. I have so much motivation to work on myself & really get educated & immersed on the Ecuadorian lifestyle.
Funny moment: I quickly realized that Mexican and Ecuadorian Spanish differ a lot! I tried a delicious “dulce de leche” dessert that is similar to Mexican “chongos Zamoranos”. In my desperate attempt to sound “cultured” with the locals, I asked if by the way there were any chongos to be found in Ecuador & I got some weird looks by people as they slowly walked away from me. So when I got back home & asked my host ma & pa, they looked at me so shocked & burst out laughing as they explained that “chongos” here is a bad word used to describe prostitute houses. I felt so embarrassed for trying so hard to make myself “fit in” and failing disastrously but it is kinda funny and well ya live & ya learn.
P.S. Another Mexican struggle has been the lack of spicy hot salsa. I literally pour the salsa on my food and I still regret not bringing a bottle of hot sauce with me. Speaking of food, I will probably do a whole post on that because it deserves it.
New Vocab: (Ecuadorian vs. Mexican Spanish)
Small Accomplishments: surviving my first night out, taking my first taxi, drinking tap water & not getting sick, & going on my first run/workout to the park by myself!