Let me tell you some of the things that I love about this place.
I love how there is a beauty shop next door to my house and you can get a manicure there for 3 dollars. I love how the woman who owns it, Iralda, wears crazy lipstick and whenever Kara and I pop in just to say hi on our way home from school she calls us “Mi Vida!” “Mi Amor!” or “Mi Muuundo!”
I love how everyone puts an “-ita” or “-ito” on everything. For example, instead of saying, “Hey Andrea, do you want to to my house for a cup of coffee and bread?” They say, “Hola Andreita, quieres ir a mi casita para un cafecito y un pancito?” (Hey little Andrea, want to go to my little house for a little cup of coffee and a little piece of bread?)
I love how in each class I’m in there are about 2 other girls with my name. That’s a first.
I love how our maids, probably 6 feet tall between the two of ‘em, walk us out the door every morning and kiss us goodbye.
I love the fresh peaches and strawberries that the Indigenous women sell on my street, each with about 2 babies on their back.
I love the fact that musical groups entertain you with traditional Ecuadorian music from time to time on the bus ride to school.
I love how there are tons of fire-breathers here and they always make me think of my friend Ryan Gerber. And then I hope they don´t practically burn their faces off like he did one time.
I love that the weather is almost always the same – sunny and warm with zero humidity.
I love that people aren’t afraid to sing here even though most of them could give William Hung a run for his money.
I love that we call our professors by their first names. And in my weaving class, my professor Mariola always walks around the room saying in Spanish, “Who is suffering?” And we are always like, “Over here, over here!!” Because it isn’t at easy as it looks.
I love this one beggar man who is probably about 70 years old and is always by the entrance to my school. When I give him some of my breakfast or some change once in a while he always has a huge smile and sometimes hugs me, and says God bless you, hijita.
I love the fact that the views here always seem just as breathtaking to me and never ever get old.
I love that there are fruits here that I never even knew existed before and I pride myself on taking full advantage of it. (you haven´t LIVED until you´ve tried maracuya and guanabana)
I love reading the letters that my dad and Aaron both wrote to me before I came on the homesick days. It always helps.
I love the blessing of having a season in my life when I don’t have to work.
I love knowing that I will be friends with a lot of the girls here for the rest of my life.
I love that everyone dances, whether they think they can or not, and I will definitely go through salsa withdrawal when I get back.
I love getting pizza at the pizza place beside Patatuz because it is a hole-in-the-wall and we sit at the counter and talk to the owner about politics, our families, and how our day was while he makes the food. And he knows some of us by name and asks about the others when they aren’t there.
I love that people here dress up for no reason. It´s sweet.
I love that even at 7:30 in the morning reggaeton is blasting from loudspeakers in front of all the stores on our street.
I love that Ecuadorians have so much pride in their little country, and the first questions you get from a new acquaintance are always, without fail: how do you like ecuador? it´s beautiful, isn´t it? where all have you been in my country?
I love that this culture is always celebrating something.