“So What Do You, Like, Do Everyday?

Makaleh Smith - Ecuador


October 17, 2015

I start my day at about 5:45 a.m. with a flick of my light switch from either my brother or dad.

The house rings with enough noise to force you to get out of your already sweltering hot bed. I walk zombie like across the hall to the bathroom I share with my sister. And if you think my entire family doesn’t take notice of my inability to be a morning person at 5:45 in the morning, you’re dead wrong. I have sat many a dinner with my family listening to them, mostly my brother, make jokes about my chronic tiredness. It’s all in good humour, and if i’m not too tired from the day, I take it with a smile and maybe just one sassy side eye towards my brother.

After i’ve gotten ready for the day and said a sleepy “chao” to my Mom, brother, dad, and little sister (my parents leave around 6:30 every morning to catch the bus to town, and I still actually don’t know why my brother leaves that early), I sit down to a wonderfully quiet breakfast with my sixteen year old sister. We eat a simple breakfast of bread, juice, a hard-boiled egg, and coffee or hot chocolate for my sister, tea for me. On most days we walk together. The air is quiet in the morning, and the sun is fortunately not at its strongest; giving us enough time to get to our respected destinations without the sticky skin we will most definitely have throughout the rest of the day. At about 10 a.m. the sun and clouds begin to work together as a grand humidifier, one that you cant unplug, one that makes the air heavy with something that has an incredible presence for being so invisible. Imagine your imaginary friend when you were younger, except he is constantly hugging you, that is, until the rain washes him away in one sweet, sweet, sweep of cool water.

We exit through the gate that surrounds our lone house and start the decent down a hill covered by ants already hard at work. I seem to be the only one who still stares in awe every time we pass by them.

After about two blocks, it is my time to be dropped off. We give each other a kiss on the cheek, a nos vemos, and she is on her way. The first thing I do when I get to work-a home for about 25 elderly people-is go around and greet everyone. I am constantly surprised that I can barely exchange a word with most of the abuelitos, yet every morning they hold out their small, wrinkled hands to me as I walk by, a welcoming gesture, as we exchange “Buenos Dias”. There is a specific group of men, a tad younger than the rest, that greet me with a few exclamations of excitement and arms held out wide for a hug. My duties for the day range from washing dishes and helping around the kitchen to helping out with therapy in the morning. The latter often results in tears, as I watch them seated in a circle hitting a ball around with sticks, an action that quite a few can actually execute. The best part about the morning is my friend Pamela. She really enjoys learning english and is quite committed to practicing every day. Our conversations consist of her speaking english to me and me speaking back to her in spanish. It works for both of us, and I enjoy the time I spend with her.

At the end of my workday, 4 p.m., I walk those two blocks, always noticing the contradictions between the impeccable green mountains spotted with crisp white clouds that paint the skyline and the buildings with chipped paint and walls topped with shards of glass. When I get home I arrive to my brother watching something on the television, usually the Simpsons, and my tiny little kitten with the fattest belly you ever saw normally somewhere near by. The rest of the day plays out in different ways. Sometimes its just resting and reading until dinner, sometimes its a trip to the tienda for eggs. Although I have a bit of a routine, I relish in the moments where I have no idea whats going on or where we are going. Since my spanish is improving, I usually do understand, but a surprise seems to always find its way into my day anyways.

The cold hard truth is that although I am slowly figuring out my life here, I still spend hours missing my friends and family, and many afternoons trying to not be bothered by gringa jokes and cat calls. But every day sheds a little bit of light towards the future, and often it only takes a text from my best friend, a call from a family member, or just a moment alone to myself to prepare me for the six months that lie ahead. No matter how difficult, I truly look forward to what life brings once I embrace the future, my future, here in Ecuador.

 

Makaleh Smith