In Ecuador, adios is what you say as a more permanent goodbye. Instead,
most of us just say chao, a sort of see you later. But yesterday, I said
adios to the family I’ve been staying with for the past month. Truly one of
the hardest things I’ve ever done. It brings tears to my eyes to think
about the look on Ruth and Briana’s faces when I walked out the front door
for the last time. Eimy and Layla had no clue what was going on – they had
just woken up when I was giving my final hugs. I’m going to write this blog
as honest and raw as possible, because, well, that’s exactly how I’m
feeling right now.

To give a bit of background, I was having some conflict with my host dad
that made it quite obvious I needed to leave the house for a more safe and
comfortable environment. I had known for a few days that moving was the
best option, yet I definitely had reservations. The tough part was, my old
host mom and sisters were amazing. I had no problem being the full time
nanny (except when Eimy wiped goo all over me), and my relationship with
Ruth and the girls was so strong.

Yesterday morning I went over to my host house for the last time to say
bye, and for the first time since I arrived, my host mom and I switched
roles; I cradled her head against my chest while she cried into my arms. We
comforted each other through our last minutes as host mom and host
daughter. Her kind words will always be ingrained in my mind:

“You will forever have a special place in my heart and in this family. I
wish you the best in life and am so sorry you couldn’t stay.”

It’s tough for me to think that I won’t be there for Layla’s first
birthday, first steps, or first words. I won’t hold her in my lap in the
car or participate in the crawling olympics, where she’s been learning how
to scoot across the floor. I won’t walk to work with Briana, teach her
English class during first period, or do bailoterapia with her in the
evenings for great laughs and a bit of exercise. I won’t hold Eimy on my
knee at dinner while she sprays rice and knocks over every cup and spoon in
sight. She won’t remember who I am, the times I tucked her into bed, or
that one time I told her to stop licking my suitcase. Briana might have
vague memories of the gringa who lived in her house for a month, but soon
I’ll be a distant memory in her mind. And Ruth, sweet Ruth. She’ll
definitely remember the great memories we shared and the many times we gave
each other that look during one of Eimy’s tantrums. My time as her host
daughter was unfortunately cut short, and I’ll miss her dearly.

The decision to leave my old host family was quite difficult – a large part
of me felt like leaving would do more harm than good for the mom and girls.
I wrote over a page of questions in my journal, detailing the conflicting
thoughts racing through my head. Sure, I could have stuck it out in Guapán
for the next six months, but my gut told me it was time to move on and
reestablish a healthy relationship with my new host family and community –
whoever and wherever that may be. And although the past week has been an
emotional rollercoaster, I feel so well taken care of by GCY staff and my
friends and family who are an incredible support system. I like to joke I’m
“homeless in Ecuador”, but in reality I’ve never felt more surrounded by
family; I’m currently living with another Fellow, and great friend, Maddi.
She and her host family came to the safe house where I stayed in Guapán to
pick me up, and ever since, I’ve felt like just another daughter in their

I have no clue what my future in Ecuador holds, but I’m looking forward to
my next chapter and all the new adventures that come along with it.



Ruth with Layla, after Layla got her ears pierced on the day she turned
nine months old

Layla and I, while she ate Ruth’s strawberry chapstick

Amy and I, after I picked her up from inicial escuelita (day care)

Some of my students hugging me from Universidad Educativa Guapán Escuela
(elementary school)