18 June 2011


In 55 minutes, I will be getting in a taxi and saying goodbye to Geoconda and Jose Luis, who have been my family for the past 9 months.

In 5 hours and 30 minutes, I will be sitting on a plane, and saying goodbye to Ecuador.

I'm not sure how I feel. But sad. Excited. Heartbroken. Happy. Scared.

Almost goodbye, Ecuador.

16 June 2011


So many very special things happened today.

For the first time, I wore an anako, the indigenous dress here. I borrowed my neighbors, and felt like a princess as I was literally dressed in an intricately embroidered shirt, a long white underskirt and black overskirt that was folded around me and then cinched with a belt that was almost as tall as me. Then came the necklace, the scarf that goes over your shoulder, and the long strings of beads that get wound around your wrists. Throughout the morning, I was complimented by my many, many friends here. Tourists and indigenous people alike took pictures of me (not gonna lie, this was awkward) and it was interesting to see how strangers related to me differently...they didn't slow their Spanish down, or look at me like a tourist (although I was obviously still a gringita).

The reason for this dressing up was that, at this time of year, Otavalo celebrates Inti Raymi, an indigenous tradition. This time of year is when the corn, a staple of the diet, is planted, and the celebration especially honors the sun god Inti (Summer Solstice is the official celebration). The way they celebrate is by dancing San Juan (the circle dance), stomping the ground and being surrounded in this huge mob of people and music and colors.

The school dances San Juan in this huge public procession. There were two bands, one of relatives of one of the students, and one made of some of the high school students. Everyone came dressed in anakos, or gauchos (big hairy chaps with leather cowboy hats), or this mask that covers your whole head. Parents lined the sidewalks, taking photos and bringing water or juice to their kids as they got tired throughout the 6 block parade that goes from the Bahai institute to the town center, a park, and back.. At every intersection, I heard "vuelta! vuelta!"* and the parade swirled around the musicians and the kids, some bewildered, some totally into it, and some (Kendy) whining and going to sit in the truck, get swept into the circle dance.

Halfway through this parade, the camioneta from the radio started leading the parade. And Mauro was sitting in the back seat! I think my past week or so here alone has really made me feel the importance of a good friend. It was so nice to just fall into step with him and have it be completely natural. And Kendy's whining abruptly stopped (Mau is Kendy's big brother, best friend, and idol).

Then I came home and packed, talking with Mau and entertaining Kendy. I watched a movie (Mulan) and made a fort with Kendy and Dagmar, and got to pretend I was their big sister/mother/mischievous baby(my favorite). And then I went to go eat at the institute with my neighbors. Except that was just a cover for the surprise goodbye party that was waiting for me.

My party was perfect. From the moment that I walk in to see Pepe's "caught in the act" face lit up by the computer screen (the only light there) and hear a giggle, to dancing with Carlos as he does his techno-robot-Shakira style dancing. It was wonderful. I was given beautiful gifts: a picture and note from one of my 2o students, a shirt with a picture of Kendy and Dagmar (do you know what I'm wearing on the plane? Oh yeah) and the community gave me a hat and gloves to "keep me warm in Alaska," which fit me perfectly!

I also got a gigantic wooly Inti Raymi mask from the community. I think the people here know me pretty well!

Even better than the gifts, though, were the words that each person said to me. I almost cried, although as I did not want to. The caring that people have here...the love that they can show to someone who has been here such a short time: these people are my family. From Kendy, who asks me to come play zombies with him while I'm dancing with someone else, to Freddy, whose eyebrows say more than his words. I was just surrounded by this engulfing care that the community shows.

Today was a good day.

*turn! turn!

14 June 2011

A Pie update

Today, Kendy and I (and Kevin and Jerry, and Dagmar, and Patricio) made a pie. I hope its not too runny, but it just came out of the oven and I am very excited about it. I didn't measure for the crust and I think it came out just about perfect!

An artistic side...

In my last two weeks here, I've taken over Maryam's art class. She has two hours with segundo every week (not gonna lie, that can be a nightmare) and two classes with tercero (first and second grade). I thought it would be more or less terrible, because singlehandedly teaching a class where the idea is using new supplies (therefore making the kids CRAZY) is generally not how I would like to finish my day of teaching. But its actually turned out to be really enjoyable. I like art. Not only the teaching part, but the doing part. I've never considered myself a wholly artistic person. But its fun using my creativity, figuring out what we can do with limited supplies (tercero has, literally, no paper.) and finding things the kids will enjoy. In segundo we're using clay. We made snakes last class and are now going to make Octopi. Here's my example:

Also, on my free hours in the afternoon, Kendy comes up to the office and hangs out with me. We made sea animals yesterday. It was at this point that he told me "let's play a game where you're my big sister and I'm your little brother, and I just brought home a fish in my hands." I almost cried and had to go to the bathroom for a second...How can I leave him in 5 days?

Anyways, Kendy is way into sharks, and so I make fish and sharks and fish-like animals and then he will play for an hour with his shark eating all the other animals. Sometimes I play too.

Tercero is making sock puppets. I washed some of my (and Emily's) old socks out as best I could and today they will be cutting out foamix and paper for eyes, mouths, and clothes. Here's my example:

I haven't thought of a name yet, but I think I can use my limited ventriloquist skills to present this art project!

12 June 2011

Brett Dennen

And, since I'm on a Brett Dennen kick, I thought I'd share my favorite song, and possibly favorite music video:

It's enough to make you go crazy, and I'd be crazy not to care.

When you feel it

Here's a song that is relevant: its about change, and independence, and life choices. Plus, you'll notice the guitar says "Peace"...

Momma got to worryin' 'cause her boy left home in a hurry again
Her photographs are fading, she keeps a box in the closet full of negatives
Well, I left a note on the floor in my room
I've always been stubborn and late to bloom
I had to lay down my load, my burdens are my own
It's a coming of age when you feel it you know
When you feel it you know , yes
When you feel it you know
and I know, I know
I was longing on a short summer night when I had the urge to leave
I went out to find my muse with a eighth in my pocket and a craving for some cajun blues, what you said?
I was following my follies when I saw her aboard the river queen
I was courting my Creole lady all the way to New Orleans
But I was swooned by a luminous tune so I climbed the roof and gave that woman my croon
I had to tell her all I know, my business is my own
It's a coming of age when you feel it you know
When you feel it you know
When you feel it you know
And I know, I know
Well, mamma got to worryin' she said "Now boy, I stay up late wondering where you been!
Oh, soon your gonna have to give in no you can't live forever the way that you been."
Oh, mamma I'm not tryin' to do no wrong I had to learn this is the way I get along
It's a life that I chose, my reasons are my own
It's a coming of age when you feel it you know
When you feel it you know
When you feel it you know
  I know, I know
When you feel it you know

Long time no see.


I feel like I owe my online audience an apology. There you've been, waiting on the edge of your seat to hear about my doings, and here I've been doing things, and not writing about it. (or is that a bit narcissitic?)

Honestly, though, I don't feel like I'm ready to talk, or write. The end of my time here is drawing to a close. This time next week, I'll be sitting in the Houston airport, probably too exhausted to even cry, and too excited to get home to see my family and friends to think. Maybe during those 5 hours I'll be sitting in the internetless airport I'll be able to organize my thoughts. But for right now I'm caught up in a rush: to see people and spend time with them before I go. To enjoy all the foods (okay, mostly just that corn with cheese) as much as I can without getting sick. To get parasite medication and make sure I have all my visa papers. To pack so when my friends come this week to say goodbye I don't have to worry about it. To actually clean the kitchen (maybe.)

So I'm sorry I haven't written in another month. I've been contemplating life a lot, and written in a journal (!! I know) and so I'll make a few posts about what its like to have an adopted family and then have to leave them.  But for right now, I'm just going to enjoy the time I have left.

Which means that I need to go and act in a abridged version of Little Red Riding Hood with my neighbors.