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!