The first day in Imbabura I left my fanclub of friends in Quito and took a short bus trip to my new family.
I got to Cotacachi and my host family was having a big party for the fourth anniversary of their uncle’s passing(who looked like ecuadorian Frank Sinatra). At this party, there were lots of family who all live really close, and even more food! at this particular meal, I didn’t eat until I was full, nor to the point of exhaustion. It got to the point that on the walk home I started hating myself for eating so damn much.
On day two I woke up and began helping prepare Cuy Asado. This Ecuameal is better known in the states as: Guinea Pig. My family here owns several animals like cuy, pigs, roosters, chickens, dogs and a cat that shows up “out of the cut” (as it were) whenever we eat meals.
I helped bake them out back in a big ass cement oven and then was out helping host mom and dad deliver them to respective people around town as a type of fundraiser for a political party they are involved with. I ended the day chewing and drinking sugarcane juice at a place my dad goes to get the discarded stocks to feed the pigs.
Day three was a monday, the day I was supposed to start my internship at Kokopelmana: an artisanal vegan restaurant, healing center, organic market & seed sanctuary run by a woman who does yoga and thai chi classes, and her Swedish bread chef husband. I initially was scared of this job but had come to accept that I would be helping hippies grow weed. Except I wasn’t starting work monday, because my boss had shut down her operation after being attacked by a dog on the property. I thought about watching friday to hear the line “You ain’t got no job, and you ain’t got shit to do!” but instead decided to go out and do a community scavenger hunt to stay active. The following story is taken from a text I sent my friend:
The goal was to find several places around my hood and take pictures and addresses etc. walking around I found places like a pharmacy, hospital, school, church, community center, market etc. I had to find a school and take a picture with an employee. I found a school right as all the kids are walking out I’m standing outside in my green sunglasses looking like a pedophile trying to figure out some way to get in and get a picture. All of a sudden my feet shuffle through the herd of small children into the courtyard of this elementary school. I go into what looks like the main building and am met by this scowling man in a suit who asks what I’m doing there. I feel timid and unsure, I trip on my words, I want to go home and drink tea while watching an obscure anime but instead begin to inquire about a job… in which I could maybe teach kids English or if I could help out with an established program? The man who turned out to be the principal kinda blew me off and deferred me to the vice principal with whom I conversed with for a while. My proposal was apparently really good because I said that I was looking at helping at other institutions and he was like: Nooo!!!! Work here! We’ll give you flexibility and you can teach all the kids! So We walked around and looked into the classes and shook hands with teachers. We finished our meeting in which I realized how underdressed and poorly planned out it was by taking a selfie for my scavenger hunt.
I ended the day in a weird trap house situation getting sugar cane again with my host parents but as we were loading the cane, some guys who were working on a telephone wire blew up a transformer and the whole block went dark. We tried to leave but then our car battery died. We tried jumping it by rolling it down the hill and popping the clutch but we didn’t have enough speed. We waited in the dark for a friend to come give us a jump. People passing by joking about how we’ll have to sleep in the car, all the while I’m chilling on the side of the road shaving off the sugary parts of the sugar cane and laughing my ass off cause even in another hemisphere my luck is still shitty.
Day 4 I went back to the school with my parents and talked to the principal who used to be their children’s principal. After I went and helped out at another internship. A daycare center for babies which was more exhausting than I though. The hardest part was trying to understand the kids because they weren’t speaking Spanish or Quichua, It was more of some indistinguishable caveman speak. “vyoqwb eriubv berqunv wuio” “si… ya come carajo” I got a call in the middle of watching snow white from my team leader Lisa, about a potential photoshoot for imbabura tourism. Me being the photo whore I am was all about it. I went to Otovalo 20 minutes away and sat around from 1-6 for two separate video shots that took maybe 10 minutes in total. I had a lot of fun though. They were surprised how well I spoke Spanish and were pretty cool. While doing a shot in the poncho plaza, they found a random gringa from England and invited her to be part of the add. She was here to learn Spanish and was clearly just surprised at how rapidly things had begun happening on her third day in Ecuador. The other model for the shoot appeared to be someone that they literally had found in the market and were like come support the province’s tourism! It was love at first sight when I met her. She was young, short dark skinned, indigenous, curvy and just drop dead gorgeous. will not be seeing her again though. Apparently next to the english girl I didn’t look too gringo anymore and everyone there seemed to consider me as hispanic… Everyone here can tell that I’m not totally white but grey eyes apparently throw people off.
Day 5 again: Yom kippur started and I ate literally everything I could get my hands on lastnight but I don’t sleep afterwards because sleep is for the weak. Actually I was having a weird feverish reaction last night and was cramping everywhere. listen to col nidre on youtube and other prayers didn’t help so I spent the night trying to decide if I had malaria or if I was turning into a werewolf. I woke up and told my host mom and she proceeded to rub my down with a chicken egg and drinking alcohol. It seemed fitting for yom kippur how we’re supposed to rid ourselves of sins and here I was being rubbed by an egg in hopes to remove the evil in me. I’m still weak and in pain and the lack of food isn’t helping but that’s what today is about right? Discomfort and feeling bad in order to remember to do good in the coming year. Shout out to the tribe if you’re hungry as shit right now and sorry for being an awful person.