Here goes nothing

Lauren Rendler - Ecuador


March 6, 2014

For three months now, I have been staring at a nearly blank page in my journal that I reserved for my very first in country blog post. The only words keeping it from being a flawless blank page read: “9/22/13 blog posts… need to write blog post ASAP” and some random doodles. Every time I looked at the page, a sense of apprehension and anxiety took over and I started doodling instead. I was afraid that I would not be able to put into words the people I have come to love and the experiences I have had thus far in a way that would do them any justice. But, here goes nothing.

VOCAB:

adentro: Spanish definition: inside. Most people use when referring to my community because it is 3km from the main road and you can pass right through it thinking its only farm land.

Camioneta: a big truck with a wood trunk that is used by farmers to transport their products and people that need a ride. They pass about by my house every hour or so (if I’m lucky). When i need to take one into town I wait till I hear one coming and I run as fast as I can to the road that leads into town.

Patas amarillos: direct translation: yellow paws

On the 15 minute camioneta* ride, to the small farming community, Grupo Mieles, I feel like a little kid again. On the trip adentro*, we pass by patas amarilllo*s as my sister likes to call them referring to the farmers with their signature yellow boots kicking up earth as they stroll to their farms. Machetes loosely fastened to their belts swaying side to side as they walk.  I can usually yell buenas tardes to all of them since there are only 100 people in all of Grupo Mieles.

When the camioneta starts to pick up as much speed as it can on the rock-strewn road, wind rushes to my face and my hair begins tickling my neck. I feel insignificant as I watch the vast hilly farm lands pass by. After the 15 minutes, I jump off the back with my hair all tangles in knots and walk to the pink cement house that I have called home for the past three months. The house stands surrounded by free roaming chickens and colorful cloths hanging on a line to dry slowly but surely in the warm moist air.

Once my house is in view, I shout yoo-hoo, which signals my host dad, Raul, to walk out of the house and laugh at the spectacle before him of a gringa with a big smile on her face and hair all disarray. Then he chuckles “ajajja Loro” (my nickname meaning parakeet), puts his arm around me and pats my shoulder welcoming me home.

The fam consists of my 95 year-old Grandpa, Papa Lucha, my host mom, Senora Luz, my Dad, Raul (Papi Pollo) and my sisters Delfa( Dolfin) and Paola. Oh and I can’t forget my wittle kitty, Minino, that I found at the river. I am going to refer to everyone in my host family from now on without “host” because it sounds weird to me now to address them that way.  I consider my “host” family my family so that’s what I am going to call them.

My Grandpa is 95 years-old and can’t hear a darn thing. He wobbles around the house with his wood cane rambling on about how the president is coming to our house.  I have all of his little sayings that he repeats on a daily basis memorized. So one day, I grabbed his cane and my long skirt and waddled around the house with a hunched back mumbling his sayings like “fruta de amor, bonita”. My mom who was standing in the door way erupts into laughter. Soon, she is laughing so hard that she starts crying and plumps herself on a wood stump for support.   For a good week after my mom made me put on a show for anyone that came to the house.

My mom’s name is Mama Luz, a name that well suits her and her contagious smile that has made me feel at home since the day I arrived. While everyone gives me the standard kiss on the cheek she gives me a heartwarming hug. Her open love she has for me reminds me that of my own mom. She shows me that you don’t have to be related to be family that there is something more to it than just blood. And thanks to her I now know how to cook; which she tells everyone that comes to the house, bragging about all the food I now know how to make, like I am one of her own children.

I call my Dad Papi Pollo and he calls me Loro. He tells everyone that I am his real daughter. When people I have never met come over to the house the first thing he does is introduce me. Then, he goes on forever telling them all that the gringa has been up too. He tells them everything from what I have been cooking to my latest embarrassing story.  With a big smile on his face he ends it off with saying “estamos enseñados a ella”. Which literally means we are taught to her, but it really means we are accustomed to being here.

My Sister Delfa is the one that I go to talk to when I am having a bad day or when I just want to talk. She always listens to me with patience.   When, I was sick she rushed me down to Puerto Quito (the main town) and knocked on every doctor’s office in town saying that we had an emergency and needed a doctor right now until we found a doctor. Which was not true, because I was perfectly fine and was in no dire situation.

My sister, Paola, is best described as my best friend. She is teaching me how to dance bachata merengue and salsa so now when we go dancing I don’t look like a complete idiot. We sleep in the same bed and keep the family up late at night with our uncontrollable laughing and gossip. We have laughed so hard to the point of peeing our pants. I also look up to her a lot. She is in charge of my community bank which is a really big responsibility especially for a 20 year old that is going to college. She is the person the community members go to when they want to plan an event to raise money for something or have a community meeting. Her involvement in the community is something I greatly admire.

To say the least, I love every single one of them very much for making me feel like part of the family. And I can never thank them enough for the love and kindness that they have given to me.

Lauren Rendler