September

Aya Cortez - Ecuador


January 8, 2020

September 30, 2019
It’s Already Been a Month!
I heard my host mom, Monica, tell her sister that it was already the 24th of September and I could barely make my brain process that it’s nearly been a month since I’ve been in Ecuador. I’ve gotten comfortable with my host family and have even introduced them to some Japanese food. They have also introduced me to some classic Ecuadorian dishes such as Cuy (guinea pig). I’ll talk more about that later…
My host family consists of my host mom, Monica, my host sister, Vivian (14), my host brother, Eric (15), and my other host brother, Carlos, (22; Carlos is married and lives in the city of Cuenca with his wife Priscilla). The town that we live in is called Santa Ana and it is considered a suburb of Cuenca (similar to how Menlo Park and Palo Alto are sometimes considered suburbs of San Francisco). In addition to these family members, Monica has seven other siblings, so the extended family is enormous. You can probably imagine how crazy it gets whenever there is a family gathering of some sort. 
I’ve also been amazed to see how much my family enjoys music and dancing. At a birthday party I attended recently, everyone looked a little tired and some were beyond tired and about to fall asleep. However, right when the music was turned on, everyone immediately got up and started laughing and dancing. If you had walked in while they were dancing, you would have never known that they were about to fall asleep a few seconds before the music turned on. 
The internship that I have been doing here has also been going really well. I do something different everyday, which makes life very interesting. My week looks something like this: on Mondays, I help out my host-aunt, Susana. Recently, I helped her to de-kernel dried corn and to give water to the cows. I have learned from helping her that I am extremely scared of cows and how they could potentially trample me over. I hope to become less scared of them by the end of these next six months (probably not going to happen, but i’m still hoping). On Tuesdays, I help out at the NGO Susana manages. The other ladies that I help out on the other days of the week also work at that NGO. The NGO’s mission is to help the women of Santa Ana to become self-sustaining by selling the various produce and plants they grow on a small farm close to town. My first day there, I helped to plant potatoes and put fertilizer on the plants. That was also the day that I tried Cuy for the first time. I highly recommend to ask for the head removed if you are trying it for the first time since eating Cuy with the head and all is a bit intimidating. On Wednesdays, I help out a woman from the NGO named Magdalena to hand out notifications from a local cooperative that gives out loans. Wednesdays usually involve a lot of driving and wild goose chases because there are no set addresses in the neighborhoods outside of the main part of Cuenca and it is therefore very hard to track people down to give them their notification. However, Magdalena is a very funny person, so it’s fun to be with her while driving around the different neighborhoods in the area. Thursdays are when I have Spanish classes in the main part of Cuenca. Classes are in the afternoon, so I usually go early to eat lunch or have a little dessert at a café. Fridays are probably the most interesting because it’s very different from everything else I am doing. On Fridays, I help out another lady from the NGO named Anita by cleaning up the loose threads on the pieces of clothes that she makes. All of her clothes have designs that pay homage to the ancient Incas. Each design is unique and drawn by hand on a piece of paper before being sewn onto the article of clothing that she made. Anita’s artisanal skills are renowned and she has even been invited to the international artisan festival in Cuenca that will take place in November.
I hope all is well in all of your lives and I am sending lots of love from Ecuador,
Aya Cortez
Pictures! (In order)
Even after a month, I am still amazed by the scenery. Here is an image of the area behind the main building of the Pumapungo Museum in Cuenca. 
Here I am in the capital of Quito in front of Basílica del Voto Nacional
Here is the flower market of Cuenca
Here is the Catedral de la Immaculada Concepción
This is called an espumilla and I had thought it was ice cream. It was a shock to eat a bit and find out that it’s actually merengue 
Here is another picture of Basílica del Voto Nacional
I have the weekends free and this past weekend I went fishing with my host family


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Aya Cortez