On January 7, 2014 I got a new host brother. A little more than eight pounds, Martín Cardenás is cute, calm, and the joy of my host family. After a long day at work or tiring day at school, my host dad and host siblings always arrive shouting his name “Martín, Martín!” or as my host dad calls him “¡Mi rey!” or “My king!”. Neighbors and friends continuously stop by to see the baby, give gifts, and talk to my host mom. Even the mayor stopped by! It’s been an amazing time for my host family and certainly the happiest since I’ve been here.
When I arrived in Pedro Vicente Maldonado in late September my host mom was a little over four months pregnant. As time went by and I adjusted to living with my host family I became accustomed to seeing my host mom pregnant and never really thought about the fact that she would eventually give birth. When the day finally came and she left for the hospital I thought my host siblings were playing a joke on me when I asked where their parents were. It’s strange, but I never fully wrapped my head around the situation. Suddenly I was in charge of two kids with my host parents two and a half hours away at the hospital.
My responsibility in the family had increased tenfold. With my host sister bawling out of fear for her mom and my host brother confused as to what to do, I made dinner and tried to calm everyone down. “This is normal,” I told my host sister. “There is nothing to worry about. Your mom will be home soon.” After about an hour of consoling her, we decided that they would stay at their aunt’s house until my host parents returned. Once their cousins came and picked them up, I walked up to our house just outside the town. It was pouring rain as it normally does during the winter months and I finally began to think to myself how things were going to change with my host family.
Since that crazy night in early January, things have calmed down a bit. My host parents returned a few days later from the hospital with a healthy baby boy; my host brother and host sister have adjusted to having a new member of the family; and I have learned what it takes to take care of a baby. My real sister was born when I was too young to remember so this experience is completely new to me. I haven’t quite gotten to the stage of changing a diaper, but I’ve seen it done many times and I fear the day is coming when my host parents ask me to help them. All in all, Martín has meant a lot to me and influenced my time here in Ecuador. Whether it’s my host dad asking me to speak English to him or my host mom asking me to hold him while she prepares his bath, we’ve all laughed and enjoyed his presence. “Dar a luz” is the verb to give birth in Ecuador, but its literal translation is “to give light”. And that’s what Martín has done; he’s given us light.