On September 1, I was so pumped to pack and hop on airplanes to Quito the next morning but we were told that our flights from San Francisco to Houston were canceled due to the flood in Texas. It was only the Ecuadorian cohort whose flight was canceled though.
“Well, that means I don’t really have to pack for the flight yet, good for me!”
We got to move out of Stanford, that’s for sure. We were organized to stay at YMCA in Berkeley. Did I know what’s YMCA? No…
Did I manage to figure out what it is during my 4 days there? Not really… but I can sing that song though, I even used to dance with it on the motion sensor kind of game!
I recalled that it was so hot, even worse than the summer in Thailand!( I haven’t spent summer time there for two years but I remember how hot it was) Can you imagine?! We didn’t have air-con in our rooms so it was so difficult to sleep at night. What I did was putting a wet towel in the fridge and wrapping myself with it to get cooled down. I’m not sure if I should be sharing that but that’s kinda the only thing I remember.
Finally, we made our way to Quito on September 6, We landed around midnight that day. We got to spend about a week and a half in Quito getting oriented to Ecuador and the program. We were assigned to stay with temporary host families in Quito for a week while we had Spanish classes from Monday to Friday. I was so lucky that I got to stay with this loving and easygoing family. There were two of them, a mother and a daughter. The daughter speaks English fluently and she is doing pre-IB so we got along within the first 5 minutes we met. The mother doesn’t speak English but she could understand when I speak it. I had a really good time with them. Quito is a really interesting city for me. It’s not as big as Bangkok, the traffic is not as bad but I could see the similarities of Quito and Bangkok. Actually, it reminded me of Kuala Lumpur for some reason.
I found out that I was going to be living in San Bartolome, a small community in a province called Azuay, and got to know people in my regional group on September 12. I was trying to look San Bartolome up on the internet and the only solid information I got was that it’s well-known for making guitars. My last night with the whole Ecuador cohort in Quito was full of tears. It started when the first few chords of “Rivers and roads” came up. I sang it with a group of friends on the last day of my first year at Pearson College and it’s been a song that holds a lot of good memories ever since. Then, there was a little boy around 7-8 years old, he was trying to sell gums and cigarette in the restaurant we had dinner. It was around 10 pm and people were saying no to him when he approached them, his face looked really sad. It was quite common to see that happens where I came from but I never been able to not to get upset from it. I ended up buying 3 packs of gums that I never need and they are over-priced. It helped me to feel better that he looked a bit happier but I still can’t figure out what would be the best thing to do in that situation. Was I supporting child labouring by buying those gums? I had a fun night with people in my cohort after all.
The day we found out our regional group
On the left, you can see Diana, our supreme leader aka team leader
I’ll be spending a lot of time with them during these 7 months so they’ve become my family here in Ecuador too.
About 30 of us had to take an 8-hour bus ride on September 17 to make our way down to the south of Ecuador. That was the first time I realized how beautiful Ecuador is. There were a lot of mountains and beautiful sceneries along the ride. My regional group, which consists of 10 people and 3 of us went to UWC! We spent 2 days together in Paute, a city that is 2.5 hours away by bus from San Bartolome. It was the first opportunity for me to really get to know my fellow fellows. I got sent off to San Bartolome on September 20. I was so impressed by the setting of my community. It is 2.7km in altitude and the bus ride there is not so friendly to those who have motion sickness. It happened to be my 5-year-old host niece, Rafaela’s birthday the day I arrived. There are 6 people in my family. Beatriz, my 50-year-old mom, Janeth, my 30-year-old sister, Francisco, my 38-year-old brother in law, Nicolas, my 7-year-old nephew, Rafaela, and Sonia, my 17-year-old adopted sister. We also have 3 dogs, some/ a lot of cats, chickens, cows, sheep, and two barns of guinea pigs. I never took any Spanish class before those 5 days in Quito but I managed to communicate with them to some extent (Thanks to Google translate app!) I made a lot of mistakes in Spanish obviously but I’m so thankful that they are so patient and understanding. This is my second week with them and I’ve learned that they like to drive around a lot. Fortunately, I never have issues with motion sickness but I got to say the road here is so cruel.
I had my first cuy(guinea pig)on the third day of my stay. We drove to Cuenca to roast to cuyes at Francisco’s cousin’s house. It was interesting to see how cuyes bond people together here. I met new people that are friends with the family, we had conversations about Thailand. I figured that no one here knows about my country, which I think is a good opportunity that I get to talk about it with them.
I got together with my regional group after a week with my host family. We spent 3 days sharing our experiences in our new homes. I went to the first day my apprenticeship on Friday and there were many interesting things I want to talk about. I think I will write about it in a separate post.
I’ve been taking quite a few videos and I finally put them together into this,
I’m so grateful to be having this experience. Things have been going so well. I’m getting better with Spanish but there is still lots of room for improvement. I casually miss the good old days at Pearson and wonderful people in my life but I think that’s not a bad thing. I really wish you guys could be here with me. Ecuador is unexpectedly beautiful and the people are really nice. Thank you all for being my support. I can’t wait to share this experience with you in person:)
And that’s how my September looks like!!
See you next post,