Getting to Know Giron and Mi Familia

The first thing I saw when I walked into my new home:

Have you ever had a teacher explain the same thing in three different ways
but you still didn’t understand, and so you just end up smiling and
nodding? That pretty much sums up my first week here with my host family.

Regardless of the constant dolor de la cabeza I have from the language
barrier, I am so happy with the González Mogrovejo family I will be
spending the next seven months with! My host parents are Edwin and Ruth and
I have three host siblings: Mateo (14), Pedro (4), and Sofia (3). The
family is so affectionate, caring, and patient (reallllly patient). They
have no problem explaining the same thing in three (or more) different ways
so that I understand. Every morning I am greeted with a kiss on the cheek,
a cup of coffee and fresh bread, as well as a multitude of preguntas: “¿Cómo
estás?”, “¿Dormiste bien?”, “¿Necesitas algo?” etc.

The town I live in is called Girón. It’s in the Azuay province located in
the south of Ecuador. The climate is a little warmer than the surrounding
towns because it’s lower in altitude (but still gets pretty chilly at
night). There are two seasons here: summer (June→ December) and winter
(January→ May).

My home is the perfect combination of rural and urban. It is on a quiet
street surrounded by beautiful views of the mountains, but still just a
short walk to the center of town. One mountain in particular near my house
is called Masta – and my host dad promised we could hike it one weekend.

Here is what I wake up to every morning:

View from my window


La calle next to my house


La montaña Masta

This week I have had a lot of firsts. I went to a mercado in the city
center with my family, tried new foods like Churrasco and Guatita, saw some
cows casually strolling down my street (see video below), and ate with only
a spoon. Yes, in Ecuador you will not see a fork or knife unless you are at
a restaurant. At home, you use your hands to eat meat and for the rest
(salad, rice, etc.) you use a spoon.

In Ecuador people use a mix of Spanish and Kichwa words (an indigenous
language). So in addition to learning Spanish, I have picked up on a few
Kichwa words as well. For example, on the first night with my host family,
my host brother Mateo put his number in my phone and wrote “Mateo ñaño
González”. He pointed to the word *“ñaño”* and said “hermano en kichwa”.

This week has also been about getting used to things. Getting used to being
uncomfortable (I’m not quite there yet). Getting used to not understanding
every word in a conversation. Getting used to always wearing shoes in the
house. And my favorite: being called Barbarita (this one I don’t mind
getting used to).

So even though this week hasn’t been easy, it has been a lot of fun. It has
involved a lot of trips in my host dad’s pick up truck to run errands,
going with my host mom to bring Pedro to school, learning how to make café,
walking around town with Mateo, and much more. There has been a lot of “No
entiendo” and “¿Puedes repetir eso?”, but that’s okay because I know that
I have a wonderful host family to support me throughout this year. After
only a couple days they treat me like one of their own children and I am so
excited to get to know them better in the coming months.

And now for some more photos from the past couple weeks:

Photos from Quito. My group spent four days in Quito where we went on a
tour and did a scavenger hunt around the city.

Instituto Especial de Girón – starting on the 20th of September I’ll be
working at this school for children with special needs.

The basketball court near my house. This is where a lot of competition
between me and Mateo takes place.

Sofia and some vacas next to our house.

The wall my host siblings painted for me. My family redid the basement and
set up this room for me so I could stay with them.

Making café. My host mom took me to her mom’s house to show me the process
of making coffee from scratch. This is me grinding the coffee berries…I
now understand why my host mom has such big biceps.

Mateo “playing dead” in front of the hospital. On Thursday he showed me
around town so in the future I (hopefully) won’t get lost.

On the same walk around town. We got a little distracted. . .

Río Tomebamba in Cuenca. On Friday I went with my host dad to Cuenca to
drop off Mateo at school. Afterwards, my host dad and I walked through the
park along this river.

So, that pretty much sums up my first week with my host family. In only
seven days I have already improved my Spanish, tried new foods, and seen
many new places. I can’t wait to see what more I encounter in the next
seven months.

For all you reading this – thank you for taking an interest in my life
🙂 Abrazos a todos