New Hope

Nueva Esperanza means new hope in Spanish, it also the name of my new community in Napo. Yes, about two weeks ago I moved to a new community, started living with a new family and began working at a different apprenticeship. Why did I relocate my life for the third time in two months?

Well, two weeks ago as I was eating breakfast at Kamak Maki (my old ecotourism museum) I witnessed domestic violence. This was quite an eye opening experience that made me realize that domestic violence isn’t just something I read about in books or hear on the news. After I watched this happen (with other families members around) I somewhat hesitated to call my team leader Andy. I knew it was a problem but wanted to overlook it because I knew my current living situation would change in some way; which it did. Shortly after contacting Andy I left Kamak Maki. It was difficult to leave after having the mind set of living there for the next 6 months as well as leaving behind budding relationships. However I’m happier, healthier, and more content in my new living situation.

Life in Nueva Esperanza is completely different than life back at my old hoemstay. Although I’m still living in a town with only three tiendas (tiny convenient stores) I don’t feel eager to leave. It’s a community roughly 25 to 30min via a bus Northeast of Tena. Instead of a Kichwa community, it’s almost completely made up of mestizo Ecuadorians which I find in general to be more outgoing. I’m living with a middle-class family which has given me a completely different perspective of ‘small town life’.  Instead of washing my clothes in the river, eating only eggs, rice, yuka, potatoes, beef, and chicken with the occasional guava and fearing that the water won’t work I now wash my clothes in a washing machine, eat mass quantities of yogurt, fruits and veggies and flush the toilet and take shows without doubting the water will run out. In some ways I miss the ruggedness of my previous life. It was so much more laid back yet I always felt trapped.

My daily schedule is much more integrated into society than it previously was back at Kamak Maki, a drawback of this is that I’m not able to create my own schedule.  On Mondays I go to Arosamena Tola where I work with a division of the government. I go to two hour and half meetings and then pick cacao the rest of the day. Tuesdays I travel to Tena where I have Spanish class for 4 hours with one another Fellow. Wednesdays I follow my adviser around and do whatever he is doing that day which could be anything from planting hundreds of cacao plants, visiting other cacao farmers, or going to banks in Tena. Thursdays and Fridays I help assist teaching English at the school in my community. Most Fellows that have teaching positions are the only English teachers at their schools. Because my school already had a teacher (although her English is of a beginning level) I just help pronounce words.

I’m bonding well with my new family. My new host mom is quite the power diva. She is the principal of the school, teaches fourth grade, is running for Mayor (of 20 something communities) and is the score keeper at basketball games in my community. My host father drives a taxi (only during the day) and works in his woodworking shop where he saws wood to make houses. I have two older brothers that don’t live at home. The one is 29 and is becoming an engineer. The other is 22 and is married with a new baby. My younger sister is 15. She takes traditional dancing classes twice a week, has a “secret” boyfriend, and loves ice cream as much as I do.

Overall, I’m glad to have had the experience of both lives here in the Amazon. I’m happy & content now that I know that I will be here for the next 6 months. The challenges here are different but I’m willing to do whatever it takes to tackle them! Wish me luck!