Rooted

Lucas Weber - Ecuador


January 26, 2015

My dad beat me with some plants, and I couldn’t be happier.
That’s not a good way to start off a story, let me try again.
There is a moment when you feel like you are becoming apart of a family, and that moment couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Living with an indigenous family in Ecuador felt like it was going to be really difficult for sixmonths. With everyone speaking Kichwa, and how timid everyone was towards me, it was daunting to say the least. I was expecting to be treated like a puppy, have things explained slowly, and be told to go everywhere they go. That was not the case, I was left alone and every time I actually did something with my family it was because I put myself out there. So I quickly realized that I was going to have to put myself out there, every. single. day. Not easy for an introvert. I am perfectly fine with staying in my room, reading, or playing guitar. But that is not why I came to Ecuador. I came to Ecuador to struggle and learn, so I started conversations at dinner, asked if I could work on the farm more, and started to give guitar lessons to my older brother. And it worked, I quickly found out that my family is funny, goofy, and loving. I was just never close enough to them to see them actually be themselves.
But, obviously, only being here a couple of months, I still felt a little distant. Whether it be, speaking Kichwa at dinner, being completely ignored by my sister-in-law, or just not invited somewhere and left alone at home. There is a lot more I need to work on to be a better Fellow, and a better part of this family, but I feel like I am going to be accepted sooner than I realize.
Let me explain why I feel this way, and why I started writing this to begin with.
Despite the fact I made a pact with a friend in Quito, to not get sick during our home stay, I got sick, several times actually. Nothing too serious, mainly stomach bugs, which have either taken me a couple of days to get better, or a couple of weeks.
Moving on.
One night I was having pretty bad stomach problems and my host mom and dad have a little exchange. My dad goes outside and says he will be back in a second, while my mom goes into the kitchen to make me some agua aromÌÁtica. The last time I was sick, probably a month ago, they told me to go to bed and I got a super sweet herbal tea, it was all very business, but then my dad yells for me to come outside, and I see that he has been picking a bunch of herbs that we have growing outside in the yard; he picks enough until he has a nice bushel of aromatic flowers and leafs in his hand and tells me to stick my arms out.
I need to take a second to explain how unbelievably happy I am at this moment. I know exactly what he is going to do, because during immersion week, something very similar happened to someone in my cohort. She was sick and her host dad hit her with some roots; it’s a tradition in a lot of families around where I live and after hearing that it happened to her, I wanted it to happen to me, badly. It sounded like such an unique experience and an awesome story.
So hearing my dad tell me to stick my arms out, being sick was worth it. He hit me with the bushel and he brushed me with it. The scent that was filling the air around me from this magnificent arrangement of herbs was beautiful and actually, the whole experience was quite lovely.
I wasn’t cured from the herbs, or the tea, but the fact is my family felt comfortable with me, enough to give me their special treatment. And I love that.

Lucas Weber