Old and new experiences
I am already in Ecuador for a whole month. There is a lot to write home about...
Tuesday, the 27th August 2019, we left extremely early in the morning, to go to the Airport of Düsseldorf, from which I left to Quito with a small delay in Amsterdam. I had barely slept, due to all the excitement, which had been building up. My adventure should finally start.
Arrived in Quito and I and 15 other volunteers could receive a first impression of Ecuador, which would be our new home for the next 10 months. In the On-Arrival-Camp we were given useful insider knowledge on Ecuadors culture and instructions to insure our safety. Kathrin, a volunteer from the previous year, who was spending her last days in Ecuador, could help out with knowledge from her experiences.
After the On-Arrival-Camp, I left, together with 7 other volunteers, to go to Ambato, where we should meet our hostfamily. Naturally, the excitement was up. Are we going to get along? How is their house? Are they as excited as we are? All these questions were piling up.
My hostfamily picked me and my Co-volunteer Johanna up in Ambato. The family, with which we are staying, consists of 5 people: Margarita (37); Oswaldo (39) with their three children Paúl (17); Andres (15) and Alejandra (13) and is living in Quero, ca. 40 minutes outside of Ambato. We live quite rural on a sort of farm, with potato cultivation and different animals, such as pigs, chickens, geese and four dogs - a whole new world for me. Johanna and I are sharing a spacious and very cozy room. What took some time for me to get used to is the climate: In the nights it gets very cold and because there isn't any heating, except for a fireplace, I sleep underneath 6 blankets.
The hostfamily is a true Jackpot. I was immeadiatly super happyand felt very quickly "at home". The family is making a true effort to integrate us into their family life, to show us the ecuadorian culture and to have a good time together. I am really impressed by the strong solidarity in the family. Of course, do I know this from my family as well, but the family here spends an extreme amount of time together. ost of the time it seems to have the motto "everyone together or noone". This made the time of getting used to the new surrounding remarkably incolplicated and we got to know eachother quickly.
We are the first volunteers in our project "Fundación Una luz en tu vida", an establishment for disabled people, which is located in Quero as well. We quickly realized, that we are not only the volunteers of our project, but those of the town of Quero: Additionally to our work in the project, do we go once a week to Rumipamba, a community of Quero, to work with senior citizens. We teach English to children of the town as well. I like the fact, that my work is very varied and that I get to meet many different people.
Our mainproject "Una luz en tu vida" is run by Maura, our project manager, who is the only person working there besides us, and a psycologist, who works there twice a week. I am stunned, how she managed to lift all the workload by herself. In the mornings, people with disabilities receive their treatments, children receive classes as well. In the afternoon, Maura works as a physio therapist in order to finance the charitable work of the foudation. We are tasked to help out in the classes, as well as the therapies.
The house of our hostfamily always seems to be a kind of meeting place. Whether it's the friends of my hostparents, the friends of my hostsiblings or relatives, there is always someone visiting. A day without a visit at our house is like a day without meat in Ecuador - nearly impossible to imagine.
Whether it's a gamenight or a spontaneous session of Salsa in our living room - we laugh a lot and often. Evethough we were warned, that some Ecuadorians might not understand irony, I feel like this does not apply to our family. Our humours seem to match quite well. Already in my first week here, we were sitting together and laughed until our abdominals hurt. By now we have already collected many inside jokes, such as the new words we accidently create or several pet names, which partly don't make a lot of sense but seem to be typical for Ecuador (e.g.: mi jardin - my garden).
I enjoy a lot, when the family teaches me words in Quechua (indigenous language). My family rejoices when I use those words. Furthermore, shows the family interest in my german habits and customs. We already baked successfully a german cake once (in absence of a proper form in a pot but it worked fine) and prepared a meal for the family. The latter didn't seem to convince due to a lack of meat.
I spend a lot of my freetime with the family, playing cards (mostly Cuarenta, an ecuadorian cardgame), horseback riding or playing football or volleyball. Unfortunately, I had a bit of bad luck when I was playing football, or more precisely when I wanted to play football. Friday the 13th (I am not superstitous, but maybe I shoud be), I left to play a match of football with my hostbrothers and their friends and when I jumped off a wall and my foot snapped when I hit the ground. To cut a long story short: I broke my fibia, dislocated my tibia and cracked it twice and tore all my ligaments.
The downside of living in the countryside: I had to wait for nearly an hour until the ambulance arrived and the ambulance needed at least 40 minutes to arrive at the hospital. In the hospital I had to wait for two and a half hours for the XRay and after that another hour for the traumatologist to arrive. You quickly realize: Public hospitals are highly understaffed und underfunded, hence the long waiting hours even in cases of emergency. When it was clear, that I needed surgery (for whhich in the public hospital I would have had to wait for 7 days), Belen from FIIDES managed to transfer me to a private clinic (hospitals for people with insurance). Once we arrived there, everything happend super quickly, I was operated the day after. Generally do I feel well cared for and the insurance have been a great support as well. The greatest support though hae been my family, Belen and Johanna, who sorted everything out. I could not hae done it without them!
I have some more time with crutches ahead of me unfortunately. It does restrict my mobility a lot. My family helps out a lot luckily. My hostfather drives me to work every morning. I regret a lot, that I am not able to join the other volunteers on their trips exploring Ecuador, but my family is taking good care of me, so that I don't get bored.
It has been a great fortune, that my family is so hospitable, because on some weekends I got to spend time with our volunteers visiting me in Quero.
Until I am able to walk in ca. 5 weeks , I will use my time to heal, become the master of Cuarenta, show something of my culture to my family and to improve my spanish skills. The latter is working better than anticipated though. The communication works quite well.
On the one hand, I cannot believe how fast the first weeks went by. On the other hand do I feel, as though I have known the people here for much longer. I am looking forward to the time that is ahead of me and the memories I am about to collect.