Two Months without a Comfort Zone

Holly Shankin - Ecuador


November 15, 2018

I want to start this blog by saying that Ecuador is beautiful, and not just
it’s landscape. This country is full of vergüenza but everyone still loves
to dance, and the kids still scream Teacher even though they don’t know it
means profe. The sky is so full of clouds every night that I can’t see 10
feet away. Ecuador is full of hopeful and shining Venezuelans and even
though they came here with so little and face so much hardship they are
always smiling and friendly. My days are full of Buenos dias/tardes/noches
and full of sweet women who make sweet sweet food.

But I also want to say this country holds so much pain. The pain of
immigrants, the pain of women who constantly have to deal with the machismo
culture, and the pains of discrimination. But with this comes hope and
growth and so much freaking love.

I switched houses a few days ago. I did not want to, I did not want to
leave the loving family I stayed with for 2 months and the people who I
really cared about, but I had to. They were not capable of giving me the
support I needed in this country, or the language support. Every family,
and every person has their own struggles and ours didn’t mesh well. When I
left we cried in each other’s arms and told each other I love you. I wasn’t
the one explaining why I needed to leave because I don’t have the language
skills to do that and even if I did I don’t think I would be comfortable
explaining that, but I hope that they understand that I do not think that
they are a bad family in any way.

I came back an hour after my initial goodbye to say bye to my previous 14
year old sister and I hugged her 5 times, while the mom kept on telling me
to come back, which of course, I will. But it makes me so sad to not be
able to call that amazing 14 year old girl my sister anymore. To not
proudly look at her laughing and playing around and know that she is my
sister. It means a lot to have been given a space in the house of such
quiet and reserved people, to be told what they did tell me about their
lives and to know that even within their complicated situation they put a
lot of love into me in their own way.

Now I am staying with a temporary host family where it feels like I am on
vacation, which is a stark contrast to constant stress and anxiety. Being
so comfortable here is definitely strange and a forgotten concept to me,
but it makes me more ready to be uncomfortable and stretch myself in
different ways. But I can recognize that I miss my old host family, I miss
when Angie would walk past me and smile, or would play her music that I
like, or when she cooked and I would wash the dishes. I never became
comfortable living there, but I got accustom to the uncomfort I felt in
that house. I miss that uncomfort, and how every time I opened my mouth it
would take so much energy and courage. I miss it because that was my
family, no matter how impossible it was to live there, they were my family.

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Previous Mom and Angie

Holly Shankin