Bienvenidos a Ecuador!

Toluwani Roberts - Ecuador


September 15, 2017

Welcome to Ecuador!

To become acquainted with your new home, we are going to start by placing you in an isolated area for four days, starting Thursday, September 7th. It is a large compound –  a spiritual retreat center – called San Patricio. The area is surrounded by trees and mountains and there is a large empty church nearby with rose petals scattered on the pavement and white flowers hugging the archways. You will have speakers come in during the day to introduce you to Ecuadorian culture, Ecuadorian education, and Ecuadorian LGBTQ+ life. You will explore the nearby city of Quito in a tour bus and eat a hearty meal of chivo. Chivo is goat, and you will eat a hearty portion of rice and lettuce and aguacate (avocado) with it. You will spend your last day in San Patricio meditating in the empty church at night with your friends, eyes closed, exploring your past lives. You will stay up past midnight discussing your life, and your understanding of life, with Henry and Yesenia. After these four days, you will be placed with a host family in the city of Quito for a week. You will live in a nice apartment in La Floresta, a neighborhood with phenomenal street art and a surprisingly diverse array of restaurants. From Monday to Friday, you will take four hour Spanish classes (from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm) and end your day with Ecuador cohort activities. You will walk around el Parque de Carolina, el Quicentro, and el Mall el Jardín con sus amigos after cohort activities. You will go to the market on Wednesday with your Spanish class and buy delicious avocados, a super soft, warm sweater made of alpaca, and drink juice that is supposed to be an aphrodisiac (but it will simply make you sleepy). On Thursday, you will go to La Capilla del Hombre and consume art that makes your soul churn. You will view art by Oswaldo Guayasamín that opens your eyes to the oppression and struggle of indigenous peoples in the Americas and remind you of the pain that black peoples in the Americas faced. You will notice a theme of darkness surrounding the hands and faces that Guayasamín painted; a technique that captures the (attempted) destruction of their souls. Afterwards, when you look out upon the city from the balcony of the museum, Henry will tell you that there are people within the city we are observing who are struggling to reach for the light, and we barely know of it. On Tuesday of that same week, you will have learned where you will be placed for the next seven months. You will be living north of Quito with 19 other fellows; more specifically, below the northern city of Imbabura with nine other fellows. You will not see the other 30 Ecuador fellows until December, when you are allowed independent travel time, or even until April. These 30 fellows will be south of Quito, over 15 hours away from you. Some of your closest friends, Yesenia and Carolina, will be in the south. You will miss them a lot, and you will try to spend a lot of time with them before you leave for your permanent host family in Turuco on Sunday morning. You will continue to be surprised with your life and experiences in Ecuador. You will never know what to write next because only your hindsight is clear. You will embrace the ellipses in your story…

 

fullsizeoutput_3e.jpeg IMG_0068.JPG fullsizeoutput_3d.jpeg IMG_0108.JPG  fullsizeoutput_4f.jpeg fullsizeoutput_29.jpeg fullsizeoutput_31.jpeg fullsizeoutput_2a.jpeg  fullsizeoutput_53.jpeg fullsizeoutput_3a.jpeg fullsizeoutput_46.jpeg fullsizeoutput_52.jpegfullsizeoutput_41.jpeg fullsizeoutput_51.jpeg IMG_0238.JPG IMG_0264.JPG

Toluwani Roberts