The First 10 Days!

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Here is a picture of “typical” fruits and vegetables at a corner tienda. Please take note of the HUGE carrots!

Hello again.  Or . . . hola otra vez.  Thanks for reading my last post about my “typical” day in Quito.  This past week and half has been interesting for me in many ways.  With that being said, in this post I decided to tell you about some experiences I have had in Ecuador so far, as well as the thoughts I had during and after those events.  Be warned, this is a long post.  Listo?  Espero!

Event: Sunday, September 2 was my travel day to Ecuador.  The Miami airport was where I met 8 other WorldTeach volunteers that were on the same flight to Ecuador.  We flew to El Salvador (via Honduras) and then to Ecuador.  We arrived around 11:30pm.  After going through customs and traveling to the hotel, I was in bed at 2:30am.  We met in the hotel lobby the next morning at 7:45am, packed and ready to go.

My Thoughts:  I was apprehensive to meet so many new people in such a short period of time.  I was nervous and didn’t know quite how I would come across, but knew I wanted to be authentic (thank you Brene Brown).  Shortly after meeting the other volunteers, I got a sense of their heart and knew that they were both kind and sweet.  After traveling for muchas horas, we got to know one another much better and I felt a bit more at ease.  Eventually, I got settled into the hostel, met my roommate for 5 hours (another new person), and went to sleep.  I was pretty cranky and was not very excited to wake-up, get packed, and be ready to go at 7:45am.  As I headed downstairs, I was very tired and not ready to start the day after my traveling the day before.  As I wearily met volunteers from other flights, I continued to experience that this was a group of compassionate people.

Event: During our lunch break during the weekdays, volunteers ate at different restaurants within walking distance of our orientation location.  Our meals ranged from vegetarian, Ecuadorian (go figure), Chinese, Mediterranean, and American.  I went with various groups of people each day.  Usually we went in groups of 5 or 6.

My Thoughts:  As the first days of orientation passed, I noticed I became more quiet around many volunteers.  While they were still just as kind, I started to realize that I was separating myself from the others because of our age differences.  It seemed like other volunteers were making connections with one another and I was not.  I felt like many of the other volunteers would think of me as “old” and wonder why I was here at this stage in my life.  Yes, I was being hard on myself.  In all honesty though, I think I created that perception because I haven’t felt the other volunteers acting any differently toward me.  Therefore, I am working hard to get to know others better and get over my hang-up with being older.  With that being said, it has been fascinating getting to know the other volunteers over lunch.  We have such a diverse history and I truly enjoy learning about others.

Event: On Friday, September 7, the volunteers went on a bus tour of Quito.  It was 3 hours and we sat on the top of the bus (with no roof) for most of the time.  We saw a gothic-style church and a statue of a woman.  It was hot.  It was long.  I grew tired and eventually took a short nap.

My Thoughts:  I sat next to a very nice male volunteer on the bus ride.  I didn’t feel like I was able to talk with many other volunteers, so that felt kind of lonely.  I tried, however, to focus on the tour and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.  After about two hours, I felt like I was baking in an oven and went downstairs to the enclosed portion of the bus with a few other volunteers.  All of a sudden I noticed it felt so nice to be alone.  I realized that up until then, I had been with either my host family or the other 32 volunteers most of the time I had been in Quito.  It was peaceful to be by myself . . . to reflect and think.  I looked out the windows, pondered where I am in my life (in Ecuador?), and eventually felt so relaxed I took a short nap.

Event: I Skyped with my parents, my brother, and a close friend on different evenings.

My Thoughts: I loved being able to connect with people from Los Estados Unidos.  It was freeing to speak in English.  This is so much easier than fumbling through Spanish each day.  I was able to catch-up on what has happened with family and friends and it felt nice to connect.  After speaking with each of these important people in my life, I was glad and had a feeling of encouragement about where I am and what I am doing in Ecuador.

Event: On Sunday, September 9, we had a host family barbecue at a beautiful Ecuadorian park.  We drove in this cool, blue car.  All 33 volunteers were there with their host families.  Here is a picture of my host family: Susana, Gonzalo, Rachel and I.  (Maria Isabel was not in attendance.)  We ate hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, and a tasty snack of popcorn and plantain chips (you should try that one!).

My Thoughts:  Initially, the barbecue was difficult for me because I didn’t feel like there were any specific volunteers that I could talk with that I had become better friends with thus far.  I noticed many groups of volunteers talking and laughing together, but I didn’t feel likeI knew them well enough to join their group.  I soon realized that I was so glad that Rachel was at the barbecue because we hung out, I got to know her better, and I began to introduce her to some of the volunteers.  As I introduced Rachel to others, I felt more comfortable with some of the other volunteers and started to notice who I connected with more.  That was a nice feeling.  I learn that sometimes I need to put myself in difficult situations in order to grow and build relationships.  That is not easy for me, but worth it for my heart.  As the time went on, the barbecue got a bit better.  Two other girls, Rachel and I went on a walk in a small part of the park.  It was beautiful.  We also saw some alpacas!  After the walk, I spent some time with my host parents, laughed with them, and then we went home.

Event: I washed my clothes in the washer and Rachel taught me how to hang my clothes on a clothesline to dry.

My Thoughts: “Will my clothes blow away?”  This was my first question to Rachel as we discussed hanging my clothes on a clothesline.  She laughed and told me that hers never have.  How incredible that I am 35 years old and have never been in a situation to hang my clothes out to dry.  What percentage of the world doesn’t have a choice and does this out of necessity?  While it was exciting to learn a new task, it was humbling for me to see and feel some of my privilege from growing up in the United States.  I am not saying that privilege is always bad, I suppose it has a time and place.  I am saying, however, that it is important for me to notice what I have in my life and try to become aware and sensitive that this is not the case for everyone in our world.

  • Based on my last stream of thoughts, what privileges do you notice that you have which are not prevalent in the rest of our world?
  • How does this make you feel?  What does it make you think?

I know I posted a lot of information. Thanks for hanging in there!  If there is anything more specific you’d like to hear about during my time in Ecuador, please let me know.  I am happy to share with you.  Gracias.

  • Is there anything you would like me to include in my blog sometime?
  • Is there anything you are wondering about Ecuador that you’d like me to find out for you?

Thank you for reading.  Hasta pronto!

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14 responses »

  1. Hi Rachael! I really enjoy reading your blog. I feel like I am learning too from all your thoughts and pictures. I think you are correct that not one volunteer has probably thought about your age, but it might be that you are feeling insecure. We are all so proud of you for what you are doing and I believe that this was part of God’s plan for you. I miss you and I can’t find my note cards, which must mean that I mailed them to you when I was suppose to. 🙂 I am thinking about you and the amazing journey you are on!

    • Thanks Nicci . . . yes, this is good and hard all at the same time. Overall, I like it. 🙂 Simply lots of learning going on. Keep in touch! Have a great rest of your week. 🙂

  2. Hello Rachael! I love getting a notification that you have blogged. I laughed out loud when you talked about hanging your clothes on a line to dry, and worrying they would blow away. When I was a stay at home mom I did that every laundry day. I loved the way they smelled. I didn’t do it out of necessity. I did it because my grandma did it and my mother-in-law did it. I have great memories of my girls playing in the sheets and them helping me when it would start to rain and we would have to run out and get them. Thank you so much for stirring up that memory. You are always doing such nice things, even from so far away. Once you are more into a routine let me know when we can skype. The kids are asking about that a lot!

    • Hola Pam! I am glad I could bring back the clothes-drying memories. Interesting how different our experiences can be even in the US, huh? As for Skype, unfortunately, it won’t be for a little while. I am gone from 8:00am – 6:00pm each day and cannot bring my computer with me. Unless . . . did you want to have the kids come to school one evening so we can Skype when I am at home? Maybe around 8:00pm? Ha, ha. 🙂 Once I get to Riobamba I hope to be available to Skype with you during the daytime. Thanks for asking and for your encouraging words. Talk to you soon!

  3. Hmmm. Very interesting. I like the format of your blog – list an event and then how it made you feel. It allows me to vicariously step through the whole process of being in Ecuador myself. And also learn a little bit more about you. Thanks for being so transparent.

    I was kind of curious what it would be like to be in a “foreign place” and not have the privacy that I am used to at home. I think it would be difficult for me to adjust. Plus, I had to chuckle when you referred to yourself as “old” – hahaha, it still makes me laugh. But I get your point. I guess they would have to “carbon date” me to figure out my age if I went on a trip like that? Or they might mistake me as one of the host parents. Si? 🙂

    I like that you mix in some Spanish with your blog. I think I understand most of it from the context of your blog.

    Can’t believe that you have been over there for 10 days already. Wow – time does fly! Things have change back here too – my daughter just moved back in with me. So now it is Brad, Ang and me all living under the same roof again. It is kind of nice, but I have sensed a loss of my privacy and down-time, too. My daughter likes to chat. So while she is back home, I’m making every effort to be available to her when she wants to chat. Same with my son – he likes to talk a lot about his new job and work situations.

    Alright my friend, thank you for sharing. I’ll blog with you again soon I’m sure. hugs, me 🙂

  4. Okay, so I lied. This is now my favorite post ever. Thank you so much for being “wholehearted”, living “courageously” and being “vulnerable”. It made my heart smile to think of you asleep on that bus. (It reminded me of Jesus napping on the boat). So glad you felt peace at being alone and felt relaxed enough to rest. I kept a journal during the year I lived in Australia and I am so glad I did. This blog is going to be a treasure to you…and I love reading it.

  5. Hi Rachael,
    It feels weird to be communicating online when we live in the same house, but I just wanted to say it was fascinating to read your blog! You are such a good writer and such a perceptive, insightful, and sincere person. I relate to a lot of what you say and at the same time it is interesting to read about the same events from a different perspective. I admire your honesty and openness, I’m learning a lot from your example and it’s been great getting to know you and having you around this week and a half! Looking forward to hearing more about your experience (and hopefully conversing more face to face as well). Cuidate!

    • Rachel . . . ha, ha! I didn’t know who this was from at first, but now I know! 🙂 Even though we have totally opposite schedules right now, I am so glad that we are living in the same house. You are absolutely one of the reasons I am enjoying my host family. See you later tonight! 🙂

  6. Rachael,

    I love your post and hearing how you are doing. I wish I could be with you there with you and eat at all the wonderful places and just hang out. You, my dear friend, have so much to give, don’t hang back I count myself lucky that I have gotten to know you and that you took the time to talk to me. I am so glad that you have this opportunity. I can’t wait to read the next post.

  7. Rachael your posts are so reflective – I really enjoy reading them! I know it is helping you to figure out your thoughts and feelings and I love the honesty with which you approach your life. You are a very good writer – keep it coming!
    We are in the throws of book fair at Robinson, and they just started putting up the drywall in the new library – YAHOO! The kids are getting excited.

  8. Hi Turken, I LOVE reading about your “thoughts” on each event that you wrote about. Really, I love hearing your heart. You are already making the most of this experience and you aren’t even in Riobamba yet! Thanks for taking the time to blog–I miss you, my friend!

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