The things you’ll need for the places you’ll go

Olivia Dutra - Ecuador


December 4, 2017

You’ll need to be able to go with the flow, this will be especially helpful when within the first few days of arriving at your host families house, they bring you on a trip that starts with nine people fitting into a car for five on a car ride that somehow takes four hours even though your dad, who mind you is a police, will pass every car you come by on the road. You’ll realize it was worth it when you arrive into a beautiful rainforest.

 

Now your translator will come in especially handy on this trip when you watch a chicken be killed for the first time and your host mom wants to know how you’re feeling, or when its 12am and you’re wondering when you’re going to sleep, but mostly where you’re going to sleep.Your host mom will tell you you’re all going to sleep in this random persons bed for two hours and then leave for home at 3am.. bueno nap time it is.

 

You will need to be brave when the first day of your teaching apprenticeship the teacher you’re supposed to be working with tells you she has to leave for the day, hands you the book and asks you to help her by giving her classes for the day. Good luck trying to teach english to 8 year olds alone when you know little to no Spanish. You’ll make it through and for the rest of your time these kids will adore you and smother you with hugs and affection sometimes so much that you’ll be knocked over. You’ll see your students everywhere and they’ll always say hi excitedly and tell their parents who you are. 

 

You will need to learn to be proud of yourself and not be so hard on yourself when you realize how much your Spanish has improved. After all when you first arrived in your family you could hardly say anything and now three months in you can already speak more Spanish than you every thought you would and all you can do is keep improving. 

 

You’ll get used to the honking while you’re walking, sometimes its someone you know, a family member, a friend, a student, or a neighbor. Other times it just strange men who fell the need to honk at you, take it in stride and think of them as honks of encouragement, you’re doing great. 

 

You’ll need keep your tears inside or use something to cover them up when a family member or friend dies, which will happen and possibly quite frequently because you’ll most likely have a huge family. Comfort those who need it, but understand its life and these things happen, look at all the people around you that cared for this person and realize they lived a life where they were very loved. Also know the funeral is a three day ordeal and you’ll be fed a lot. 

 

Extra money. Always have a bit of extra money for the time you get on the wrong bus and end up far into the mountains where you were originally supposed to live with your host family before it was changed. Give this money to the man who collects the bus fare after you ask him if the bus is going to your town and the only thing he says is “no hija” collects your money and keeps walking. At least it was a beautiful place to be lost.

 

You’ll need to be able to stay fit when you decide to join the women’s soccer team in your town and everyone looks at you like who’s this gringa? Continue to play even when the butterflies fill your stomach because you haven’t played since you were 10. Laugh at yourself and with your team when you’re defending your goal and the ball is headed straight towards you and all you can do is wait for it and head that ball out of there with a strange downward head movement. They didn’t get a goal so thats what counts and when you’re washing the jersey you randomly selected you’ll realize you pick number two which is your favorite number.

 

You will need some comfortable shoes for the fiestas because you’ll be dancing till the sunrise if your lucky. Your host dad will intimidate the hell out of the boys who try to dance with you and they’ll look confused when you tell them that’s your dad. 

 

You’ll need rhythm for the night you and your friends are in Otavalo, the closest little town/city to your house, which is forty minutes by bus, and you walk by a restaurant where there are people singing, playing the flute, the drums, guitar you name it. Here you’ll meet people from all over, someone from Columbia, from Chile, a girl from Austria another from Italy, a man from Morocco and a flute player from the coast. You’ll tell them your plans to go to the waterfall in Peguche and they’ll tell you they’ll join. After you dance for a while you’ll head to the falls and have a bonfire here you’ll dance around the bonfire trying terribly to form some sort of talent as a man plays guitar another the flute, someone sings, the Italian girl makes strange noises, all sounding as though its been practiced multiple times even though you know it never has.

 

This night will be amazing for you, besides the amazing moments with these new friends, your first time at the waterfall and a fluffy white dog, you’ll see your first firefly something you’ve wanted to see for so long.

 

You’ll cry with joy, let it free its amazing lol.

 

You’ll need to hold yourself together when your host mom tells you how the corn growing in the back is growing with you and that by the time its fully grown with ripened corn it will be time for you to leave. The corn is growing faster than you ever could have imagined.

 

Theres so much more you’ll learn and experience, like how your littlest sister is the cutest thing you’ve ever seen but also really enjoys the activity of crying, or when your 11 year old sister starts a fire in the backyard to cook french fries with her friends, and when you come outside she looks at you panicked and expects you to tell her to stop, but little does she know how nostalgic this makes you feel, or that you did the same things with your friends and neighbors when you were a kid. Or the time you have to do a project for global and you chicken and do it with your mom because its uncomfortable to ask a stranger, You realize even more how wise she is for a woman of 33 years. She tells you more personal things than you ever thought you would hear from her and you you find out her opinion on topics such as birth control and sex education and realize they don’t differ so much from yours even though she’s a catholic and you have no religion. You’ll learn that your dad likes rap and lots of other music and even though you don’t talk much you’ll always be able to bond over putting some music on and singing or mumbling along to the words when you have no idea what they’re saying.

 

To those reading this thanks for your support and love have a great day 🙂

 

Olivia Dutra