Wow! That is all I can say! What a whirlwind last few days. I just got used
to orientation and now I am for real going to classes and living with my host
family! It has been quite a change but I am really having a great time so far.
On Tuesday we started off the day with a talk about living with host families. It was great preparation – they gave us a heads-up on how to acclimate ourselves, and on etiquette things that are specific to Ecuador. We then ate lunch at this restaurant called Blanco Azul, (blue and white) which is an all-you-can-eat buffet. They have the weirdest mixture of food – from really bizarre seafood (we’re talking squid, eel, and really sketchy crab legs) to Chinese food, to exotic fruits, including fried plantains, to chicken fingers and fries. It was pretty odd. I kind of lost my appetite when Nadia found a huge bug fried into her fried something – might have been a friend banana. Neither of us even knew what it was that she had but she certainly didn’t end up figuring it out. A popular dish here is called ceviche, which is like a salsa with raw seafood in it. Sometimes it’s cooked. I tried it and it was not my thing. I’m trying to be brave with food, but even for me, the least picky eater alive, I am stretching myself. I’ll get to try cuy (guinea pig!) this weekend when we travel to Otavalo. It’s a delicacy here – yum.
In the afternoon we had a talk from this lady who’s in the Peace Corps. She talked about health issues – and she showed us pictures of Peace Corps volunteers with the worms they had passed from living in Ecuador. Not exactly what you want to see but it was good to be able to ask questions about health care here.
In the evenings, our host families came to pick us up. Me and Kara were relieved to already know who our families were! And they are every bit as wonderful as I expected. My parents’ names are Rodrigo and Beatriz Sosa, and we have two maids, Rosa and Aurora. The maids are seriously like 3 feet tall – they make me feel like a giant! They’re soooo cute you don’t even know! They always kiss me and call me chicita. Upstairs is the apartment of Jeanette and Juan Carlos. They are the cutest – so in love! I have the cutest picture of them that I’ll put on facebook. Jeanette always says, with great enthusiasm, “QUE LIIIIINDO!” which means basically like “how awesome!!!” or how beautiful or something like that. It’s so precious.
The whole family is so much fun to be around. Juan Carlos and Jeanette have a maid that’s 17 named Andalucia and me and Kara just love her. I think we’ll become good friends. Last night when we arrived we all had soda and wafer cookies in my living room, and it was so fun to have Kara there too. Our Spanish has improved so much already in just 24 hours! Our host family treats us as if we’re fluent so we have to keep up! They are so helpful though, telling us words when we can’t remember how to say them. I saw the upstairs apartment too, which …. Okay weirdest thing happened just now brief interruption from this entry. I’m sitting in my room and on the stereo in the living room I can distinctly hear the song from the old movie the parent trap – the whistling song the girls sing at that camp! Ahahahahah sooooo random. Earlier it was playing Pink Panther. Okay back to the apartment upstairs. Jeanette does grooming out of their home so that’s great. Today when I went up to Kara’s room to tell her something I saw this wet shaking cocker spaniel on the grooming table and we both died laughing. We had dinner and Rosa is SUCH a good cook! I loved the food. Rodrigo is glad I’m around because he’s the only one that likes soup so he never gets it unless the gringa (that’s me – it means white girl) eats it too – and I liked it a lot, so he’s in luck. Rodrigo is a hoot. His hair is out of control and he’s always carrying around this little comb trying to fix it. He also loves to sit on their bed and watch telenovelas (soap operas). Both of my parents and both maids are always saying to me “sigue no mas”. Literally translated, this means continue no more. But here it means the exact opposite – so that was a little confusing at first! They kept going “sigue no mas” and pointing down the hallway, so I was just standing there like, okay? , haha and then I realized it meant to walk through. SO funny the little idiosyncracies you can find in a foreign language. They love that I know Kaelie. They said to me when they showed me the dining room table, “This was Kaelie’s seat… and now it’s Andrea’s seat.” Awww! I have a big german shepherd named Laruz. He’s starting to warm up to me. He always looks in my window while I’m changing and I have to remind myself he’s just a dog, hahaha. My room is so cute – lots of crucifixes and icons, but I kind of like it!
Last night Jeanette, Juan Carlos and Beatriz took me and Kara to the old historic district of Quito to see the city at night. It was amazing. We had so much fun. We all got ice cream and sat in the plaza. We laughed and got to know each other. It was awesome. This morning I had to get up at 6 to catch the bus at 6:45 for school. It’s early but the maids helped me get up. Showering is interesting. When I want to shower, I have to tell them an hour and a half early so they can turn on the hot water. That makes showering in the morning nearly impossible. It’s odd because with maids and all I am being treated like royalty, but then I can’t shower whenever and I can’t flush toilet paper – that kind of thing. It’s very strange. But I feel very at home and welcomed.
I had my first day of my intense Spanish class this morning. First Nieves talked for an hour about the diversity of Ecuador, which was fascinating, and then we got split up into 4 groups depending on our Spanish level. I got into the advanced group which is great, with a lot of my friends. Our teacher Evelyn is AMAZING. Best Spanish teacher EVER. Well she doesn’t speak English but it’s okay, I like it better that way. We had class for 3 hours but it flew by. We talked about family life in Ecuador, and introduced ourselves and all. I have a lot of homework in the way of writing essays in Spanish, but this will help me to be a better writer and I’m glad for it. We got into a really intense discussion about men that are chauvinists and someone commented that they think the Bible is chauvinistic. That sure opened a can of worms. I didn’t realize that a lot of the students that are a part of BCA aren’t even nominal Christians. There are Bhuddists, atheists, and who knows what else among our group. I think it’s great to have differing viewpoints, but it is intimidating to defend my faith when they automatically associate Christians with prudes or being close-minded. I don’t blame them – there are a lot of bad example Christians out there – but it is frustrating to feel judged before I even comment, just because of the school I go to. I am trying my best not to be judgmental from my end, and hopefully that will be a mutual thing. There are a few girls in our group that are ultra-conservative (not all Messiah students) and that sure makes things tense.
I met up with Christa and Kara at the mall, where we also met Eduardo! He was at Messiah all year last year and we were friends, so it was great to see him again. He helped me buy a cell phone. It’s the lamest little phone but I didn’t need anything fancy since I can only use it for 6 months. It feels a lot safer now to have a phone. Eduardo helped us a lot with Spanish – and I bought the most hilarious notebooks of this teen idol guy in Ecuador. You have to see them – maybe I can take a picture. They’re hysterical. Well I have to go – Kara and I are gonna head to the internet café so I can finally check email!