“R.I.P Queso” or “Wherever you are, come home”


This blog post is way overdue. It’s about time I told y’all a lil about my host family and apprenticeship.


I’m a new member of the Andrango family. The family consists of Yauri, my 21 year old brother who is currently studying in the capital of Quito; Yarina, my 18 year old sister who travels to college in Ibarra every day; Malki, my 16 year old brother; and Sammy, my 11 year old sister. There is my father, Rumi, and my amazing, hardworking mother, Paty.


A twenty minute walk away from my home is my school, Manuel Cañizares. From Monday to Thursday, 7:15 am to 12:40 pm, I coteach English to 8th to 10th graders with my supervisor, Monica. The most fun classes are the ones where I play a game with my students; their faces light up, “ooooh”s fill the room, and more hands than ever shoot up to participate. They may not retain the words I teach, let’s be real, but it’s when I feel the most useful in the classroom. Days like these, I help make their English education fun.


When I head home each day, I am always greeted by the many pets we have.


There’s Gorda and Gordo (a.k.a Gordito a.k.a Loofy), Gorda’s son. It was hard for me to tell the difference between them at first, but I’ve figured out that Gordito has more fur around his nose, has a lot more energy, and is the only pet allowed in the house. There’s Baboso (a.k.a Babu), our tall and slim black dog who tags behind my mother wherever she goes, and is often outside or adventuring around the neighborhood. We also have a lil hamster named Hamster. Cute, right?


Next are our cats. My sisters LOVE cats. We have Garfield, our orange and white cat; Wakcha, our black and white cat; Jerry, our other black and white cat, with a bare, pink, and sometimes bloody, nose; Tuta, our black cat. Tuta never fails to annoy me; I often wonder who she was in a past life. She is always ‘crying’ and attempting to enter the house and my room.She is my host father’s favorite pet, though, so she gets a little love daily. We also have… had…. a recent addition to the family: an adorable gray kitten named Queso.


One day Yarina walked cautiously into the house with her white sweater bundled up awkwardly under her arm. She called Sammy over and they started whispering to each other. When I asked what was up, she came over and opened up her sweater. A lil head popped out.


See, my sisters’ behavior makes sense. My host mother hates cats. She’ll put up with them, but if they get near her, a look of slight disgust, most likely followed by a “Quieto! Sal!”, is never missing from her face.


I’m not much of a cat person (or animal person) either, but I couldn’t resist lil Queso. We would cuddle together in the hammock, or I’d let him nap in my lap as I worked. He was fun to play with and helped me bond with my sisters. Our relationship, however, ended abruptly nearly two weeks after we met. Queso was napping in my lap, as usual, when he stood up on all four paws. I looked into his sleepy eyes and then heard a fart. I looked under him to see a pile of brown on my favorite fuzzy gray blanket from home (shout out to Leah Ross), with more and more coming out of him. I can still smell the shit as I write this. In disgust, I grabbed him by his middle and literally tossed him out.


The last time I saw Queso was when I was walking back from school. He was strolling through the front door. I gave him the side eye and walked right into my room.


A few hours later, that same day, my sisters knocked on my door and asked me if I had seen Queso. Seeing their worried faces, I stumbled over my short narrative; they said thank you, and scrambled off to continue their search for him. No, I didn’t join them.


It’s been over a month now since we lost Queso. I will admit that at times I feel a little guilty that I walked past him that day. If I had forgiven him earlier, I probably would have picked him up and cuddled him on my walk to my room. Then maybe, he wouldn’t be gone now. I have no space for regrets, though. There’s a very slim chance he hasn’t been eaten by our dogs; I can’t change or make up for that.  


There are still more living lives to appreciate in my home. Like the 18 piglets adjusting to the world in our shed by the house and the two mother pigs who birthed them. The two pregnant cows my mom herds every day. The two rabbits we care for. The one cuy who lost two comrades to our stomachs about two months ago. The chickens that aren’t ours but might as well be because they wander into the compound so often. The flies and mosquitoes in my bathroom. And the spiders (and once, the scorpion!) that come into my room.


So, that’s my life. I’m not sure how to end this blog post. I’m just tryna get it out there, since I’ve been sitting on it for so long.


Hope you enjoyed the read. Enjoy the photos.


Hasta luego <3

Queso, our lost kitten.
The scorpion in my room during early October. It had me shook, but the tarantula or tarantula looking thing under my backpack a week later really gave me a fright.




The cuy we cooked at home for dinner. It wasn’t bad, wasn’t great. It’s tough to eat because there’s more skin than meat.



P.S. Loofy is growing on me. He’s such a fun spirit.


Loofy a.k.a. Gordito a.k.a Gordo