Hi again! As promised, I’m back with some
pictures and videos to share the first half of my experience.
This is a video of my first host dad, Luis
Alberto, and his bandolina. He was by far the most important person in my life
during the first couple of months in homestay. I used to eat all my meals with
him, while the rest of the family would eat alone in their rooms. When he fell
ill and was in and out of the hospital, I felt incredibly alone and those days
were amongst the most difficult of my experience.
Luis Alberto was also the best door-maker
in town. I spent several days helping out in his workshop where he would give
me all sorts of advice and philosophy. This video is of him trying to break
through one of his doors when an Aunt locked herself out. After about an hour
of work with power tools, we finally got in; still quite the testament to his
handiwork I’d say.
On the left is a picture of my previous
host nieces: the one on the right was turning 15 that day and the left is older
than me…try to work out that family. The picture on the right is of my previous
host mom and me.
After my brief stay with my original
assigned apprenticeship (see blog 2 and pictured on the right), I got the
chance to try out different groups and organizations as I looked for a
replacement. One of those groups was the Ecuador Child Fund; pictured here is a
sports camp for kids whose parents are not around. Like many of the
organizations I tried to work for, I was unable to secure a consistent schedule
with this sports camp, but it was nonetheless a great one-time experience.
apprenticeship with the Fabrica Imbabura Museum was short-lived, I did stick
around long enough to be invited to their ‘2016 Imbabura Sports tournament’
team. During October and November, I was able to keep up relationships with my
past co-workers with weekly games of soccer, basketball, and Ecua-volley.
In early October,
we were lucky enough to be around for ‘Radio Illuman’s’ (A popular
Kichwa/Spanish Radio/Newspaper) birthday. I heard about it from a fellow fellow
who lives just down the street from the radio station. We all went to the
birthday party which featured music (yes, ‘Wiskisito’), dancing and lots of
food. Here’s a video of one of the many great performances: this type of dance
is called danza and showcases what I
like to call the ‘Kichwa dab’.
Without an apprenticeship, I found myself
with quite a bit of free time on my hands. One of the ways I used that time was
to explore the amazing environment we were all placed in.
Pictured here are fellow fellows, Kari and
Jaimie, and myself at Taxobamba waterful (the water was cold af).
Here are fellow
fellows, Benoit, Dom, Noa, Hanna, and myself at Laguna Cuicocha.
Noa is back again
here, as her apprenticeship took her and I on a bike tour through several
indigenous communities, where we were able to see a local jeweler, quinoa
farmer, and more.
Back to my old host family, here’s one of
our dogs who had puppies! I came home one day to my host sister holding one of
the puppies to my face. This came as a huge surprise to me; no one had ever
mentioned the dog was pregnant.
On the second of November I went to the
cemetery with my family to celebrate Dia
de los Disfuntos, which I guess could be called Ecuador’s day of the dead.
Essentially we had a potluck with everyone in town and ate next to, around and
even on the graves of my family’s deceased ancestors, which was slightly
uncomfortable. Peep this arsty photo from that day:
are from the one and only wedding I have been to(and will get to go to). As a
fellow fellow once said, ‘weddings are a great indication that you are immersed
in a culture. A regular old tourist won’t get invited to a wedding’. The picture on the left is with my old sister
(yes, the one from the last blog) who used to steal my phone and fill it with
selfies for her facebook page. Unfortunately not pictured, this wedding was the
first time I tried cuy or guinea pig,
which is eaten occasionally here (wasn’t bad). The cuy was actually given to my host parents as a payment for being
the band for the after party (yes, ‘Wiskisito’).
Pictured here is
the primary reason I was switched from my first host family. It also is the
picture that nearly sent my real mom to the hospital (just kidding!) (actually
Before anything happened with my host
family, however, all cohorts (there are 4) in Ecuador met up on the beach for a
week of seminars, cohort building and gratitude (Thanksgiving!).
Here are some pictures that give you an
idea of what the 15 hour bus ride was like. On the left: thinking about snacks.
On the right: getting snacks with the bus driver.
And here’s a pic of nearly the whole cohort
fam after they buried me
Following our week away on the beach, it was
time to celebrate my old host brother’s birthday. This turned out to be one of
my last days at my old host family and it turned out be a great way to end my
These pictures cover almost the entirety of
my first 3 months in homestay with my first host family; undoubtedly the most
challenging and frustrating of my experience. As you can see by these pictures,
challenging and frustrating definitely did not mean boring or uninteresting.
Rather the challenge was isolation because of the frustratingly lack of
relationships I had developed within my host family; this is something pictures
don’t necessarily show.
I hoped you enjoyed these pictures and were
able to gather an appreciation for the first half of my experience here. Stay
tuned for my next installment detailing the second half up until now; the part
of my experience positively defined by the relationships in my family.