What I’ll miss:
- My host family.
- Speaking Spanish everyday, all the time.
- Starting my days with hot tea, Riobambeñan bread (it’s like mini french bread rolls), and queso fresco.
- The huge variety of always fresh fruits and vegetables.
- The following dishes: hornato, fritada, mote con tostado, caldo de pollo (and all the soups that are served here), fresh seafood available in Ecuador’s coastal region, ají, tortillas de Penipe, and anything made with plantains.
- The singing trash trucks.
- The mountains.<a
- My students (especially the little ones in Guamote who are always so excited to see me).
- Only having to cross the street whenever I need to buy milk, bread, or cheese- and getting to chat with the friendly shop owners.
- Tuesday movie nights at Casa de la Cultura, enjoyed with volunteer friends.
- Volunteer friends.
- The mostly perfect weather.
- Meeting people from all over the world (though I suppose this will happen in Kuwait).
- Feeling comfortable walking as a means of transportation, and living in a city condensed enough for this to work.
- Ecuador’s social, group-oriented culture (as opposed to the US’ emphasis on the individual).
- Dancing to salsa, meringue, and reggaeton- who knew I liked to dance?
- The twenty + shades of green and blue that paint the Ecuadorian countryside.
Things I’ll be happy to leave in Ecuador:
- Inconsistently running water. Generally, water only flows out of Reyna’s sinks in the morning and late at night.
- Reyna’s bathroom. The sink doesn’t drain, so in it sits an orange bowl in which we wash our hands. Once we’re done washing our hands, we dump the water from that bucket into a bigger bucket sitting by the toilet. That water is used to flush the toilet (because, as is stated in the first bullet point, we often have no water, and as the saying goes, if it’s brown, it must go down). Then there’s the shower that has very low pressure and often is not hot (in this part of Ecuador, cold showers don’t feel so great). My favorite thing about this room, however, is getting to brush my teeth and, since the sink doesn’t drain, spit in the toilet- which we don’t flush every time because there’s not enough water- so, yeah, it’s disgusting.
- Never feeling 100% comfortable when at “home”- living with a host family is a far cry from living with your real family. Reyna and I have had our fair share of arguments and misunderstandings, and I’ve adjusted a lot to her idea of what a host daughter should be. I’m excited about being able to come home and get my independence back (she’s quite protective), not have to worry so much about pleasing someone.
- Ants! I’m in a never-ending fight with ants that raid our kitchen. The most recent battle took place inside of the refrigerator.
- Being so noticed all the time. There really aren’t very many foreigners here in Riobamba, so people stare, cars honk, men holler. It gets old.
- Having to boil water before drinking it.
- Being just a classroom assistant three days a week (at the high school). It’s hard not being in charge of the teaching, or seeing Reyna handle her classroom in a way I never would. I’m so excited to have my own class this fall.
- The driving! It’s frightening.
Reasons I’m excited to come home:
- I’ll get to see my boyfriend almost every day!!
- I’ll get to dine in some of my favorite places in Topeka (which I’ve missed so much): Blue Planet Cafe, Tuptim Thai, Blind Tiger, Burger Stand… not to mention actually cook for myself all the time and be able to choose what I want to eat, not just eat what I’m served.
- Seeing my family and friends. I’m especially excited about meeting the daughter of a dear friend, Elena. She’s due April 26th, the day after I get home!
- Going on runs in Topeka after having trained here in Ecuador (today, I went on a run that was about 6 miles). With all that extra oxygen, it’s going to feel effortless!
- Traveling to Colorado in May (via Greyhound- haha) to visit my brothers and meet another new baby, my adorable niece 🙂
- Actually having an income.
- It’s going to be Spring! I’m arriving in one of Kansas’ most becoming times of the year.
- Good beverages. Ecuador’s got it going on when it comes to juices (so much fresh fruit!), but wine is practically non-existent, the beer is all pilsner (I’m a stout/ ale fan), and the coffee is instant.
- Taking showers every day! Here, I try to take about as many as Reyna does, so as to not take advantage of her generosity in hosting me. But, I think she only showers about once a week, which I can’t do. I only take showers every three days.
- Thinking more seriously about my next adventure: teaching in Kuwait. I’m excited to start seriously planning details of classroom routines, management, and lessons. I also have a lot I still need to learn about Kuwait and its culture, plus I’d like to start learning Arabic (at least the alphabet).