19 things I already miss about Ecuador

I started writing this during my last week in my host community and it was going to be called
“things I am going to miss about Ecuador”. But I realized, sometimes you don’t know what you’re going to miss until it’s gone. So I stopped and waited till I got settled in my home in the US to reflect and realize what I really miss about my host community and the amazing country I was living in for 7 months of my life. I compiled this list of just 19 things I miss, but there’s definitely a lot more.

– the tienda by my host moms restaurant with the workers that all knew my name and would genuinely ask how I’m doing and help me find the only spicy things they carry
– The panadería next to my host moms restaurant that had the bread I ate everyday and that let me and my host sister borrow their oven so we could make 2 chocolate cakes (the first one exploded and probably had too much sugar)
– My two host nieces; Daniella and Camila who I got the pleasure of knowing since my first day and got to see everyday thereafter, I got to help them with homework, cook with them, play soccer, and sooo much more
– The beautiful scenery I saw everyday and probably took for granted, the gorgeous Andes mountains and the green lush nature in my rural town. The trees and native plants I saw everywhere I went.
– Going to the market with my host mom bright and early every Saturday morning to get fresh fruit, vegetables and meat for the restaurant
– My amazing students at Daniel Hermida in Santa Ana who would always give me a “hello” “hi Dena” or a“good morning” when I saw them and were always so sweet and fun to teach everyday
– Stray dogs. Literally everywhere I went. They were all so cute and most of them were so sweet.
– Food, fruits and the extremely cheap prices. If I wanted to get lunch in Cuenca, I could pay $2.50 and get a juice, soup, and a plate with rice, some meat, and some form of potatoes.
– Spanish classes in Cuenca with Gabby. Every Tuesday, she helped and taught me so much and my Spanish would not be at the level it’s at without her.
– Ramon and Manchitos; the cutest dogs ever that I lived with. So much energy and love surrounded those dogs whenever I saw them.
– Ecuadorian bus system that can take me from my house in Bella Union to Cuenca an hour away and I only pay 50 cents and usually get to listen to some sweet Ecuadorian music on the way
– Bargaining. My favorite alpaca sweater originally said to be $25 I got down to $12. And my stainless steel handmade earrings originally at $20 I got for $10.
– Animals. Living in an extremely rural town I regularly saw sheep, cows, chicken, geese, cuy, horse, dogs, pigs, and so much more. In my suburban Washington town this was not at all something I got to see everyday.
– The kindness, generosity and trust of Ecuadorians and people in my town. I remember my host cousin Maria Jose wanted to bake a chocolate cake with me but we didn’t have the ingredients, an oven, or money for the ingredients. We went to the tienda down the street got what we were missing and the worker was very nice and Maria Jose said her mom would pay for the ingredients later that day.Then the panadería let us use their oven to bake the cake
– Sunsets, sunrises and living in the clouds. I lived on the side of a mountain had the most gorgeous views everyday in front of my host moms restaurant.
– Cars stuffing 10 person families in a 4 person car or truck and people not complaining about being uncomfortable for hour long rides with three people sitting on their laps.
– the students that lived in my town that would come to my host moms restaurant and say hola to me every time they saw me which was a few times a week usually
– The uneven ground I thought I dreaded but miss now that they’re gone. The streets that weren’t paved in my town and the non existent sidewalks.
– My host mom. Maclovia. Who still texts me to make sure I’m doing okay and behaving with my family back home. She loved and cared for me so much and still does thousands of miles away. She taught me so much about being a strong independent woman and the meaning of family. I am forever grateful and blessed with the host family I received and my host community but especially for my host mom and all she did for me.