The excitement is wearing off

Elizabeth Ollila - Ecuador


November 10, 2017

The excitement is wearing off, and Ecuador has become my new normal. I am no longer new at work, I have begun to get annoyed at my family here (just like you do with your family:)), I know our routine, bus rides to class are less scary (although I doubt I will ever be fully comfortable on them), my lack of Spanish knowledge is no longer cute, I could get you wherever you want to go in my town, some mornings I dread work, and some locals even recognize me (though I'm not that hard to spot…).

The excitement is wearing of, and I'm left very lonely because I don't really have Ecuadorian friends to go complain or let-go with, and my other friends are in communities far from mine. The excitement is wearing off, and suddenly I'm realizing that this is my life for another 5 months, and, while sometimes I embrace that, other times it can be overwhelming. I did not realize how fear made time fly. Every adventure was new and scary and exciting, and many of those experiences are just normal now, and with that time slows. Newness wearing off exposes my personal struggles both in Ecuador and inside myself–and those are the ones that are the most uncomfortable to face, but "I'm still just settling in" isn't really an excuse anymore.

However, excitement is wearing off, and below it is also comfort–especially in my family. I don't have to fake not being homesick, I know who has class or therapy when, I know how my little brother fakes being tired whenever he doesn't want to eat, I know how my 2 year old sister dances when she needs to go to the bathroom, I know enough Spanish to be a part of conversations and jokes, I know that my little brother loves to pretend he is our dad and I know how to greet him as such, I know how to dance when someone invites me, I know how to ride the bus without my map (knock on wood), I know that when my mom is cooking in the kitchen with music on a Saturday morning that we are in for a yummy lunch, I know when my brother is trying to trick me into giving him answers for his English homework, I know to never leave my room without shoes on, I know when my little brother needs a hand walking up stairs, and I know how to tell everyone goodnight with a kiss before I go to sleep. I know how to properly eat guinea pig, I know how my parents met, I know that when my sister asks for Martin it is her baby doll, I know how to make empanadas, and I know how to kindly and effectively debate politics with my dad. I know how to be a part of my Ecuadorian family–a task that has taken a lot of trial and error but is one of my biggest prides. I feel close enough to go to my mom when I'm struggling. She tells me and others that I am her hija mayor (oldest daughter) without a follow up explanation when their faces express disbelief because, to her, no explanation is needed, I just am her oldest daughter. My siblings greet me with the best "e-LI-zabeth" whenever I come home. The newness might be wearing off, and that might bring a stark reality, but also it brings relief. That polite smile I had stitched on my face can come off in places other than my bedroom. I have a support system that is here for me in Girón, Ecuador because they know me and love me, and it is no longer just because they signed up for a program.  
Below are some pics of my super cute Ecuador support system!
Con amor,
Elizabeth 


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Me and Sofia at a Girón lookout picnic (and Pedro in the corner)Inline image 3
Some of the cute kids I work withInline image 8 

Some of my students painting the shield on the Ecuadorian flag during Día del Escudo (Day of the Shield)Inline image 4 My family at my grandmother's birthday party (I know it is blurry, but I was excited to be considered family enough to join the pic:))Inline image 5

The Halloween baskets I made for my family and my teachers because I needed to celebrate in some way!Inline image 6

My cute siblings at our picnicInline image 9

My dad taking a photo of my mom, Sofia, and Pedro with my town in the background

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My oldest little brother and I on a hike to the 4 crosses on Day of the DeadInline image 12
And my unbeatable friends:)

Elizabeth Ollila