Updates and Anecdotes Part I

Aidan Holloway-Bidwell - Ecuador

September 26, 2012

Ok I let me get you up to date on the past few weeks of my life in Ecuador. Many of the unknowns I spoke about in my previous post are now knowns, and yet there’s still much I’m excited to figure out and experience. Here’s the low down.

Last Sunday I returned from a week-long stay in the community where I will be staying from October to April. The town, or “pueblo,” is called San Miguel De Los Bancos, or just Los Bancos. It is a town in the cloud forest, is comprised of roughly 5000 people, and roughly two hours West of Quito by bus.  I have host families in Quito and Los Bancos. Both of my Fathers are named Eduardo. I have two sisters in Quito, and two brothers and a sister in Los Bancos. My mother in Los Bancos is a fantastic cook, she makes yogurt and great pan de yucca (look it up). Both of my moms are some of the most caring and considerate women I’ve met, and extremely tolerant of my irksome vegetarianism, making amazing soups and salads and rice dishes. I have a little dog named Sami here in Quito, and two cats in Los Bancos, one of which won’t allow me to get within five feet of her. Here’s a link to a video I just made. I think the cat is in there, escaping from me and my camera.

I’m still getting used to my size compared to people here. While sliding into my chair for breakfast one morning I heard a snap and realized I had broken a leg off (of the chair.) Well, it was hanging on by a splinter, and luckily no one saw, so I pushed it back into place as if nothing had happened. I promptly forgot about it until that evening when all of a sudden the chair collapsed under my host sister doing homework. Felt kind of bad but it roused a bit of laughter and when I explained it was my fault they just laughed harder. I also have a permanent lump on my head from daily collisions with doorframes.

Besides being the largest guy around there are other things to get used to here. Gender roles are definitely more defined here and I’ve given up asking to help with dishes and have started just grabbing the sponge whether my host mom like it or not. Simple things add up too, like not being able to flush toilet paper, having limited access to good water, and living with cockroaches and moths half the size of my hand.

But it’s already starting to feel like home. I play cards, futbol, and even a little Halo (when the internet is working) with my host siblings. I’m getting familiar with the routine and streets. The food never ceases to please me, delicious soups of quinoa, potatoes, lentils; fresh empanadas and bread with mild cheese and sugar; and of course lots and lots of rice. The kids here are also one of the best parts for someone with as limited Spanish as myself. They are always curious to ask me about my life, the States, and are admirably patient as I haltingly answer. They also are the most open to me and love to talk about things here in Ecuador, often so fast that I can’t quite keep up so I just nod and say “Si, si, que chevere!”

The culture, the people, the environment never cease to stun me here and give me cause to appreciate all that I am able to do and experience this year. If there’s any info you are dying to hear about or any feedback you may have please contact me on facebook!

Aidan Holloway-Bidwell