It’s amazing how the days are starting to fly by now. The first couple of days of the trip left me feeling like I’d been in Ecuador for weeks, but now that I’m settled in with my host family the days are passing by quicker than I’d like them to. I just finished hanging my wet laundry outside under the beautiful Ecuadorian sky. I feel like I could stand on this balcony looking over Quichinche for hours. Joceline and I went out earlier with the rest of the group to get ice cream and the BEST French fries I have ever had. Even something as simple as walking around the neighborhood is so much fun. I’ve noticed that without the distractions I have back home, it’s easier to have a good time. For me, it’s easier to be present and enjoy each moment here.
Today as a group we went to a meteorological station about an hour away from where we live. We met Gallo, the caretaker of the instruments, and the person who gathers the data on the weather. What he was saying really resonated with me when he started to talk about climate change. One of the first things I noticed when I got to Ecuador was how beautiful it is. I remember feeling so excited to be in a place that was natural and pristine in contrast to the more industrial and commercial United States. When the man expressed anger that Ecuador was being harmed by a lack of protection for the natural environment I realized that he and I shared the same fears for our homes. Instead of seeing Ecuador as this place that is untouched by pollution and harmful climate effects, I understand that this place is suffering too. Today was really helpful for me because I stopped perceiving the U.S. and Ecuador as two totally contrasted places. Both places have some of the same issues and hearing the man speak about climate change in Ecuador helped me relate the two places.
Before today, we were painting two classrooms in the Panecillo school. First we sanded all the walls (my arm is still sore!) and then we painted. It was a lot of fun and it was nice to see the finished product that we had all collaborated on. During those days I was feeling a bit homesick as well as physically sick, but playing with the kids at the school made me feel immensely better. One morning before we started painting a few of us joined a game of soccer with the kids. Within five minutes of the game I forgot all about my bad mood and my burning sore throat. I was totally focused on the kids and how much ridiculous fun they were having. Connecting with the kids in Ecuador has made me less homesick because despite a few differences, kids are basically the same in every country. Wherever I go kids are always full of energy, excited to play games and better than me at sports. Getting to spend time with Ecuadorian kids is so valuable not only because it makes me less homesick but also because it ives me another perspective from which to learn about Ecuador. Childhood is a time we all remember and seeing what childhood is like in Ecuador helped me relate life in Ecuador to life in the States.
Whether it is noticing a fierce competitiveness in my little host niece that rivals my own, or seeing how tough the kids here are after getting knocked down and kicked during soccer, spending time with the kids shows me what it is really like to be Ecuadorian.
Even though we’ve only been here a little over a week I have learned and experienced so much. Each day is so full of new experiences that I always go to bed completely exhausted. Every day I feel more confident and more excited about what is coming next. Whether it’s the food, the natural beauty, or the kids, Ecuador is constantly giving me new ways to learn and experience life.