My Ecua-Family

I thought I’d designate this blog post to my host family because a short –
or long – week ago, I arrived in Guapán, Azogues, Ecuador, where I will be
spending the next seven and a half months. Guapán is a small town on the
outskirts of Azogues, a relatively modest city in the province of Cañar.
I’m living with a family of six, myself included, with three sisters –
Layla who is eight months old, Amy who is three years old, and Briana who
is eleven. My host mom, Ruth, and host dad, Moises, welcomed me with open
arms into their mountain home, where I have become their fourth daughter.
Please bear with me as I write this blog, because my brain is constantly
scrambled between English and Spanish:)

My host mom is one of the most patient people I have ever met. I guess she
has to be, living with three small children – Layla, Amy, and myself, since
I currently have the literacy and understanding of a toddler. Briana acts
as the second mom in the family; she cooks most of the dinners and fiercely
looks after her sisters. She and I get along quite well, and she’s not
afraid to correct my grammar when I mispeak or simply don’t know how to
form a sentence. Soon, we will walk to school together, where I’ll be
co-teaching English to elementary age kids. Amy is an absolute fireball.
She has endless reserves of energy and could run around all day screaming
for helado – ice cream. She loves to bend my UNO cards and is learning how
to survive without diapers, which is quite the journey. And Layla, sweet
Layla. From the first time I met her, she was tranquila – calm and
easygoing. She loves to stick anything and everything in her mouth, from
hair ties, to bracelets, to my butterfly necklace. When she starts crying,
all I have to do is stick her in front of a mirror and she instantly quiets
down, mesmerized by her reflection.

Aside from my immediate family, it seems that almost every single member of
my extended family lives in Guapán or Azogues. Ruth proudly introduces me
to all my cousins as “mi hija por siete meses” – my daughter for seven
months. Earlier this week, Ruth, Amy, Briana and I went to my abuela’s
house (right up the mountain) to dig up potatoes from her farm. My abuela
and I worked together as I listened to her weathered Spanish and frequent
outbursts of “¡que linda!” and “¡preciosa!” when we unearthed a large
potato. It was some of the most fun I’ve had in weeks, which is saying a
lot considering the vast amount of time I’ve spent with my GCY cohort. The
discovery of each papa was rewarded with a toothy grin from my abuela,
followed by a long winded, one sided dialogue. I hardly understood
anything, but I could tell by her body language how much she enjoyed our
time on the mountainside.

Not only have I found a family in my homestay, but I’ve found one with my
GCY Fellows as well. A few days ago we had our first Spanish class in
Cuenca, where I finally got to see some of the southern Ecuador Fellows for
the first time since arriving in our homestay. I honestly did not realize
how much I needed a break from full immersion until we saw each other,
swapped homestay stories, and spoke English! The past week has been an
adjustment, but I’m growing to love my Ecua-family and all the bumps along
the road (both literally and figuratively).




Amy, in the UNC outfit I brought her

Layla, chewing on my hair tie

Mi abuela and the *papas – *potatoes

The view from my walk to my abuela’s house

Last but not least, my glorious cheese empanada