Although it’s been over two months since I’ve arrived to my Ecuadorian home, I can still vividly remember my first week here. The first day or so, I was awe-struck by everything. Yet, as the week stretched on, my enchantment began to simmer. Communicating was impossible, and I felt as if I hadn’t made any connections with my new host family. My job working for a microfinance organization was notably less glamorous than I had hoped. Imbaya, my new home, was a very quaint, sleepy town made up of run-down tiendas and houses. At the end of the first week, I was unsure of how I felt because reality fell short of the expectations I didn’t even know I had.
At the start of October, during a week-long retreat to a beautiful verdant farm tucked in the Andes, I was luckily able to gain more perspective. I realized I approached life as if it was instant coffee, expecting things to happen swiftly and easily. While this mentality occasionally worked in the past, it had failed miserably that first week in Imbaya. That week opened my eyes up to a hard reality: almost nothing comes instantly. My old view was replaced by a new notion, that life is, really, like tea. Like tea needs time to steep, learning a new language, forging deep connections, and finding one’s niche in a workplace or a new community, takes time and effort. Invigorated and refreshed by this new mentality, I returned to Imbaya ready to let things sit, steep, and settle.
Now, two weeks into November, I can confidently say that I was right. After steeping for nearly a month and a half, things have slowly begun to fall into place. As I listen to bits of conversation at the dinner table, on the street, or in the waiting room, the Spanish is no longer an incomprehensible jumble. In fact, I can understand a lot of it now. As for speaking, thankfully, I no longer stutter out a string of gibberish. Now, I can actually spend two hours talking with my mom, laughing as I tell her how terrifying my first solo bus ride was or how confusing the phrase no mas” is.