So as you all know by now, I have been living with an Ecuadorian host family in the Macarena for the last two weeks. While this was supposed to be the full Spanish cultural experience, I feel like I got something extra. I learned about Spanish culture by day, and then went home and learned about Ecuadorian culture by night.
My host parents, Marcelo and Amparo couldn’t have been nicer, and I feel very lucky to have met them. Now that I am ‘on my own’ so to speak, (in reality I am just in a hotel in Mairena looking for an apartment), I definitely miss them. I just need to keep reminding myself that I am only about a half an hour away at any given time, and visiting is a definite possibility. Perhaps I will invite them over for an ‘American meal’. One that is different the piles of hamburgers and pizza Marcelo claimed all Americans eat.
By the end of my two weeks in their home, I truly began to feel like family. I think it started when I fell ill with ‘La Grippe’, or the flu, and they took care of me until I started to feel better. I can’t tell you how many Ecuadorian home remedies I’ve tried, but I can tell you that the hot lemonade with cinnamon worked wonders on my fiery throat.
There were several times the extended family came over for meals. Grown children, grandchildren, nephews, brothers. The small piso was often filled to capacity. Yet the atmosphere was always jovial, and they were all eager to share their culture with Chelsi( my American roommate) and I.
I look back on a moment a few days ago that felt like true friendship. At first our relationship was formal, and awkward, but towards the end of the experience we were all poking fun at each other like old friends. We were all around the table, eating lunch, when Marcelo said something. I looked at him, as I often do, nodding, and pretending I understood everything he said. Chelsi then turned to me and said ¿Qué dijo?, what did he say? I blurted out, without thinking ‘no sé’, which means I don’t know. The entire table started cracking up, because I had been busted….for two weeks I had been nodding and ‘understanding’ everything, but now the jig was up.
So now it is on to bigger and better things. Well, bigger and more stressful things. This week begins the epic apartment hunt. I will keep you updated with my progress. I start school next week, and there begins another adventure.