My Host Family

Skyler Narotsky - Ecuador


May 6, 2016

Hey there my awesome blog subscribers. I thought I'd use this blog to tell you all about my host family, the lovely people I lived with throughout my seven months in Cañar. My host family consists of six people, not including myself. There's Hatun Mama (grandma), Mama Carmela (mom), Tía María (aunt), Geovanny (brother), Lourdes (sister), and Suyana (sister). They are Cañaris, the indigenous nationality I talked about in my last blog. We lived together the farm of my apprenticeship's organization, Mushuk Yuyay, an indigenous owned coop/farming company in Cañar.

Mama Carmela: As I spent most days working on the farm and Mama Carmela was in charge of it, she and I spent a lot of time together. Though she can speak Spanish pretty well, her main language, and all that she speaks at home, is Kichwa. She is the quintessential Cañari woman: strong, independent, hardworking, and most of all, sassy. Her strong yet caring attitude was refreshing and a continuous source of  inspiration and comedy.  Without her, I wouldn't speak Kichwa nearly as well as I do now nor would I have gotten to become so ingrained in the community.
Hatun Mama Carmela: Kichwa for "grandmother," "Hatun Mama" was what I called my host grandmother, Mama Carmela's mom (also named Carmela). She is, in a sense, just an older version of Mama Carmela. Born into semi-slavery circa 1932, she was freed as a young woman and went on to have eight kids. These days as a woman in her mid-eighties, she enjoys sitting outside admiring the beautiful landscapes and fresh air, yelling at the cats, ranting about something or other to whoever will listen, and cooking for the family.
Tía María: Mama Carmela's younger sister, she also spent a lot of time with us working on the farm. Her lightheartedness and positivity never failed to brighten up everyone's day. That being said, her positive attitude in no way got in the way of the sass and sarcasm that come with being Cañari. Although she speaks Spanish quite well, she made a point to only speak to me in Kichwa, even in the beginning before I knew it. Hearing her and Mama Carmela rant to each other day after day is part of what made living in Cañar so entertaining.
Geovanny: The interesting thing about the relationship between the two of us was that it built very steadily over time. Though we were always cool with each other, we weren't super close right away. As we spent time together and got to know each other, we became just like brothers. We are both guys of the same age and neither of us had ever had a brother before so we were both excited to have each other. What strikes me most about him is how curious and insightful he is. When I first arrived in Cañar, he was so understanding of the fact that I was learning a completely different way of life. He is an awesome guy to be friends with. We are brothers for life.
Lourdes: A nonchalant sixteen year old, she spends most of her free time making jokes and experimenting in the kitchen. She's funny, both when she's trying to be and when she's not. What I love most about her is her ability and willingness to just hang out. She chats, jokes, giggles, and helps everyone else to do the same. She's sweet, entertaining, and her voice when she gets whiny is just hilarious.
Suyana: As she is seven years old, Suyana is a little ball of energy. Although her antics can be hard to put up with sometimes, having her around definitely livens things up. She is a cute little girl and loves playing it up. When I first arrived, she was super sweet, showed me around, and bragged to all her friends about how she had a new brother. She knows how to make everyone laugh and how to drive everyone crazy. It is just about impossible not to love her.
As you can see, my host family members are a bunch of characters each with their own strong personality and story. They have treated me like family this entire time and I know we will be close my entire life. Just as I am eternally grateful to have been placed in the region of Cañar, I am just as grateful to have been placed with this amazing family. I'm being serious when I say that they have made me one of them. It is a privilege to have lived and worked alongside such caring and genuine people.
First Photo, from left: Mama Carmela, Lourdes, Suyana, Skyler, Hatun Mama Carmela, Geovanny, Tía María

Skyler Narotsky