The experiences that I have had with my family and community over the past two weeks are indescribable. I finally understand how much a community is wrapped up into one huge family here in Ecuador. Everyone relies on each other and cares for one another especially my family. They have welcomed me as one of their own.
I first noticed this after being inaugurated into my host dad’s side of the family. The welcome crew rolled right in and immediately accepted me into their hearts and lives. At first, I was in shock because it was like they just saw me and made the extra effort to act like I had always lived with them through out their entire lives. They walked through the door, jumped right in singing Karaoke and dancing the night away. It was hours later before anyone realized the time. Which was three thirty in the morning! We were living life like it was our last night together, even though everyone lives a maximum of thirty to forty five minutes away from one another. This was so much fun. I never thought I would have another moment like this.
Sure enough, last weekend came around and my second inauguration came. This time I was going to Puyo, another province right next to Napo. I was there to meet my host mom’s family. When my family and arrived an entire fleet was waiting for us. At least fourteen people com out of nowhere helping us out and showing us around. The next morning I woke up to an extra twenty people in the house. There were host aunts and uncles everywhere. My host cousins were bouncing off the walls in every direction. After saying hi to everyone, I realized that almost all the people had disappeared. Walking outside, I saw a pig that someone brought over. The entire family was working on it. There was blood pouring through their hands and huge hunks of meat everywhere. They just smiled and said, “We could use your help.” After helping cook for forty-five people, I accept an evening invitation to go for a drive. Three cars later, packed with every family member possible, we went to the center of the city. Taking tons of photo and telling jokes all the while, this was probably the most random occurrence of events I have encountered in Ecuador. It will also surely be one of the most remembered.
The next morning we said goodbye and it is off to Archidona to see another gringo, Calvin. Again, the importance of family is reinstated as his entire family of brothers and sisters rush out to see my host family and I. It was as if I had known everyone for years. The hospitality and kindness his dad showed us was unforgettable. All of these experiences are a reminder to me to provide the same level of openness to those who I care about in my everyday life.