One of my host mom’s favorite phrases to say to me is “poco a poco”. Slowly, mija.
The first day we met, she told me the story of her family, how her children miss their father but every day it gets better. Poco a poco.
Each morning, she reassures me that I will get over this gripe, this sickness, poco a poco. Little by little. It may take a thousand cups of té y miel or countless spoonfuls of bee pollen, but I will feel better.
Everything here moves a bit more slowly. I’ve heard half-joking complaints from alumni about “Ecua-time”. If a fiesta starts at 6:00, you better show up at 7:00 or you’ll be the first one there. Buses arrive late, dinners last forever. It’s just how time works here.
But I’ve started to realize how slowly everything moves here—except the cars, that is. Let’s just say you don’t wanna cross the street in Cuenca during rush hour.
It’s been three days since I moved in with my host family, and yet it feels like it’s been a month. I feel like I should already be settled. I feel like I should be fluent, be comfortable. But I’m not.
I can’t navigate through the twisty turny streets of Sayausí. I only know how to get to the bus stop and back.
I can only comprehend around 20% of the Spanish I hear.
I’m still afraid to ride the bus by myself.
I struggle to unlock the three gates and doors it takes to get inside my house. Every time, I fumble with the unlabeled keys and try to keep the dogs from sneaking inside.
I haven’t run since Global Launch, even though I promised myself I would.
When people ask how Ecuador is, I don’t really know what to say. I tell them it’s good, but hard. What I can’t quite explain is how it’s getting better and harder and easier all at the same time. Life here is starting to feel more normal, poco a poco.
With every conversation I have, I understand a little bit more.
With every cup of tea to soothe my cough, it gets a little bit sweeter.
With every bus ride to the city, I get a little bit better at keeping my balance.
With every sunrise, I appreciate the mountains in my backyard a little more.
With every day I spend away from my Fellows, it gets a little bit easier to miss them.
With every hour I spend in Cuenca, the streets start to look a little more familiar.
I’m adjusting to life here, little by little. Every day is better and harder and easier. But I’ll get there, poco a poco.