Ecuador. Wow. I'm here. It feels so surreal.
It has been about a week since I arrived, and things have been, well, interesting, as you might imagine! The first two nights were spent with my fellow volunteers in the training compound in Tumbaco, a stones throw east of Quito. There are 37 of us total, the majority of which are of the female persuasion. Obviously I can't complain about that. There are a lot of exceptional, driven people here, so the company has been great. Of course, I wouldn't expect anything less in the Peace Corps. :)
I met my first host family on Saturday. I'll be staying with them at their family compound for the next 11 weeks. Within the next few weeks I will find out where I will be stationed for the remainder of my time here. From what I know, the majority of the sites for NRC volunteers are located in the Oriente (the jungle) and the coast. I'm hoping for the coast. I'm currently in the Sierra (the mountains), which I must admit, is quite pleasant in spite of all the rain (the next few months are considered the rainy season). If I had to live here for two years I certainly wouldn't complain.
My host family is amazingly accommodating. They have hosted Peace Corps volunteers before, so they are obviously used to our initial lack of communication skills and gringo eccentricities. Indeed, they have been extremely supportive and understanding thus far. They don't speak any English, so I've been forced to get by on my subpar Spanish...though I must admit, I am doing much better than I thought I would. I don't understand everything, and there is little doubt that they don't understand me entirely either, but we're communicating and getting along well.
As I said, they reside within a compound of sorts, which is gated, and consists of several dwellings inhabited by various members of the extended family. There is another volunteer staying with one of the aunts, which is nice. I won't even try to describe this place...I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. There are fruits and medicinal herbs growing all around...many of which are in the book that I brought along (Herbs of Southern Ecuador)...at the moment I'm enjoying some kind of tea which my host mother has prepared for me to combat my stomach ailments (yep, it didn't take long for that to happen). These living arrangements have completely exceeded my expectations...it's awesome. :)
This dog, affectionately known as Oso (bear), hangs out on the roof all day and barks at everything.
Ailments aside...the food has been AMAZING. The first thing I ate with my host family was cuy (roasted guinea pig) at a local restaurant...how much more “bienvenidos a Ecuador” can you get? It was quite tasty...I'd definitely eat it again. My host mother loves to feed me, and thankfully, she is an awesome cook. Everything is fresh and healthy. I love it.
My host family!
Peace Corps has been bombarding us with information and forms to sign at training thus far...though we've just started into our language and NRC lessons. It definitely feels like I'm back at school.
Oh, and here's an interesting fact...there are stray dogs EVERYWHERE. Barking, lounging, having three-ways...ce la vie I suppose!
Uh, yeah, that's all I've got for now...