A 15 hour travel day from the US to Ecuador was the start of a many new smells, sights, and sounds who both have fueled and drained my energy. In this blog post, I´ll describe my town, introduce you to my family and share one of my highlights so far.
My town, Gualaceo, is the south of Ecuador in the province Azuay. Ecuador is made up of 4 different regions: the Sierra (mountains), the costa (coast), the Oriente (Amazon) and the Galapagos. My province Azuay is in the Sierra. The main characteristics of the Sierra are the volcanoes and mountains that are both covered by ample vegetation. My town is situated near the Santa Barbara River on 2,5 km altitude. The center plaza of the town and the high number of sport/play parks gives the town a friendly atmosphere. Gualaceo is also known for its artisans. Walking through this town you will find a lot of little shops from traditional textiles and pottery to shoes and furniture. Besides these handicraft shops I´m still amazed at the number of little stores in Gualaceo, it seems that almost every second family owns one.
The main plaza of my town.
My host family consists out of Fanny (Mom), Freddy (Dad), Fanny (sister/aunt), Ronny (little brother) and Shadow (dog). They are a wonderful family who have made me feel at home right from the start. For work they have two phone shops in Gualaceo and as a family business are currently constructing a hotel in Cuenca (the capital of my province Azuay). These two jobs demand a lot from my parents and are therefore busy most of the day. After breakfast at 700, they bring my little brother Ronny to school in Cuenca and spent the morning supervising the construction at the hotel. At 1400 they pick up Ronny from school and spent the rest of the afternoon helping in their shops. The evenings are often spent buying food, playing or watching football (soccer) or helping Ronny with homework. Fanny, even though she is the sister of my father Freddy, was introduced to me as my sister. Fanny works during the day in the shop of my parents and studies in the evenings for her university. Ronny spends his mornings and early afternoons at school and practices every afternoon football. My uncle Fabian, who regularly is over at the house, works as security at a bank and spends much of his free time playing volleyball. Then all I have left to introduce is my dog Shadow, who spends most of his time ´guarding´ the house.
In general, I can describe my family as a warm, hardworking and energetic. In the three weeks I've been here they´ve taken me to a swimming pool warmed by a volcano, plenty of local volleyball and football matches and on wonderful hikes. Almost every weekend they take me somewhere fun. The first weekend I met the brother of my mom (Fanny) and his son. With them, we went to the base of a mountain and started a hike. It was a beautiful walk with a blue sky and bright sun. It was unfortunate that after an hour it started to rain, a heavy rainforest-rain. When we finally arrived (soaking wet) at the top we were hoping to get into the little cabin which we were longing for ever since it started raining. But, it was closed. Nevertheless, we had some shelter which was enough to eat our lunch before descending.