The Women

Charlotte Kaufman - Ecuador


November 1, 2013

My time in Quito flew by, and before I knew it, it was my last day going to EIL where I had been attending Spanish classes for the past three weeks. For this last full morning in Quito, my host mother wanted me to join her usual routine. It consisted of her waking up at 6’oclock and riding her bicycle to a free dance class in Parque La Carolina. So, I hopped on the bus and met her at the park. We danced for 15 minutes and then my mom told me we were going to meet her other girl friends. We joined six of them and found a nice spot to sit down. I wasn’t aware that we were going to have a picnic, but each of the women began to pull food out of their bags. Soon we had quite the spread of baguette, cheese, guacamole, cake, fruit, coffee, and more.

We sat in a circle, my host mother by my side, and chatted the time away. One of the main conversations was about children and the importance of enforcing their independence. They kept saying, with intermittent cackles of laughter, “I have my life to live too”, “and what happens when they grow up?”. It takes a lot for a woman to talk about her child like that. It reminded me of my own mother who, for as long as I can remember, tried to create an environment where I could become more independent. After all, that is why I am taking this gap year, right?

This sense self-empowerment was coupled with an overwhelming sense of ‘joie de vivre’, as they passed around amaretto to pour in their coffee (for the usual morning boost). I was in utter bliss, because I felt infused in the warmth of their sisterhood. Though I am sad to leave my new family in Quito, I am now more excited than ever to go to Napo because I am headed to work with the ‘Sinchi Warmis’ which means ‘Strong Women’ in Kichwa. And, as I expand my network of strong women around the world, things can only get better, because I know we women have got each other’s backs.

Charlotte Kaufman