It has again, been a long time…
My Spanish is getting better I think, It’s still a struggle as I lack a tooon of vocabulary. Sylvia has been helping and practicing with me a lot. Of the things I can say, it usually comes out more smoothly, without having to think as much as before. It’s funny that there are times when they teach me a new word in Spanish, and I can’t remember the English word for it. Like the other day, Sylvia was teaching me all of the parts of the body in depth. She showed me a blister or callous on her foot, and called it a callo. For almost two days I could not for the life of my think of what it was in English, Sylvia even asked me, and when I told her I couldn’t remember, she just laughed at me and said that that was good. Also sometimes after a long stretch of just trying to speak and understand Spanish, my English grammar isn’t very good, or I say expressions weird. If I talk English too much (to Reb or Lauren), sometimes I get bored, I guess because it is too easy – not so much a challenge. Learning a language is an interesting process. The other day Edwin commented that I have gotten better at Spanish, and that I don’t have a gringo accent! Such a good compliment.
Lauren decided that she wanted to live at the Ayala house for a week, I told her that she had to speak spanish the whole time if she did, she agreed. She’s really good at spanish, so its easy to hold a conversation with her – cause she can do most of the talking. We were talking to each other one day in a store when we were with Agostino. When he heard us he was so surprised, he was like: “do you know how weird this is? Imagine if somebody walks by and sees two gringos speaking spanish to each other!” Later that day we were trying to say something to each other again. Agostino was listening to us and just started cracking up. He was like, “it takes you guys like 15 minutes to say something to each other!” It is funny, but it helps so much to practice with her.
Last week, we hosted a group of Chilenos at the house for dinner, as Edwin had been teaching them all week about the flower and agriculture businesses in Ecuador. They had the San Pablo indigenous dancers of the 4 month on going fiesta of Inter-Rymie come and dance for the Chilenos. They stayed and danced for about 2 or 3 hours. They woman danced around the men while singing a mixture of Quichua and Spanish songs while the men marched around in a little circle playing instruments and singing. They had people join them here and there. At one point, I was instructed to serve the dancers this drink that is mixed with cinnamon and sugarcane alcohol while they were still singing, dancing and playing their instruments. While I was in the middle of them all handing them the drinks they started singing (in Spanish) “what beautiful eyes she has”, I don’t know if it was about me, but I like to think so! Me and my friend Lauren danced for a long time with them, sometimes with the little girls on our shoulders. It was a lot of fun! At the end, the Chilenos wanted a bunch of pictures of the indigenous dancers with me and Lauren – the gringos. It was funny – I guess we’re considered exotic too here? It reminded me of when my dad went to China and everyone wanted their picture taken with him.
In these last couple weeks, I have found out so much about my host family – mostly by asking questions for the paper I have to write. But their life is very interesting – defiantly telenovela worthy! So much drama and secrets.
There are two German that is staying at the foundation. One of them, Patrick, sounds like Arnold Schwartzaneggar when he speaks English and is more gringo than me, Reb or Lauren. He has seen all of the south park (which is based in Colorado) episodes and always talks about them. He told us about this one episode where they launch a whale to the moon. I told him very seriously: “That really happened.” He just looked at me like really?! I kept being consistant and soon reb and lauren backed me up saying that it did. He seriously believed us. Finally we all burst out laughing, it was so funny that he believed us, and thought that Americans would do that (though there are defiantly some crazies out there that might try something like this).
One of the family’s dogs had puppies about a week ago – 11 of them! But 6 of them have already died, so the 5 that are left will probably be the only ones that stay alive. They also received about 300 baby chicks, because they ran out of chickens a while ago. They will raise them, and later sell them alive, or dead or eat them.
About two weeks ago was the first time that I really felt like I was able to show my personality and finally got people to laugh at me. There is this pan that they get from Tolcan that is really good, there are two different kinds, sweet and salty. The family tells the difference by smelling it. So one day, I tried to tell the difference by smelling them. They smelled the same to me, so then I tasted them, but they tasted the same to me…I probably had two sweet breads the whole time. Later that night Mika told the rest of the family this, and they all laughed at me. Tuki (Sylvia’s daughter) told me that she had the same problem when she was younger – but she tried all 20 pieces of pan, trying to find the sweet kind. Turned out there was only salty.
Me and Tuki were talking about accents the other day, and I asked her how I talked. She said I talked funny because I mixed up so many words. While trying to say “I’m tired” I’ve said “I’m married” I said “I like your horse” when I was trying to say “I like your hair” One time I told Tuki we had to get off of the bus at the pen when I couldn’t remember the word for stop light – except that time I figured I had said the wrong word and just went with it saying, “ya! We need to search for the pen, and when we see it, we’ll get off the bus!”
Last weekend, me, Reb, and our friends Lauren and Anna went to Intag to check it out. Our original plan was to stay there for a month with a family, but while there we decided that 2 weeks is good enough, and that we wanted more time with our families that we have now since we are only starting to get to know them good, because our Spanish is slowly getting better. Intag is however really pretty, sub-tropical, and warmer than the sierra. They’re known for the coffee that they grow there. On our way back to Otavalo, Anna, who is German and doesn’t know a ton of English, said her two favorite words, “o damn” then fainted, we missed 2 buses, hitch-hiked a little bit - getting rides in the back of people’s trucks, were stranded for a couple hours in a really small town, and finally caught the last bus out of there to take us back, but had to stand in the isle for 2 hours over the bumpy, cliffy roads, which made everyone but me sick. It was quite the trip!
Only in Ecuador:
· are there stop-lights that are green and red at the same time…What the heck does this mean?! à I guess it doesn’t really matter what it means, since red lights and stop signs don’t mean much of anything…
· do people drink and drive to stay awake.
· Have I wanted to listen to music so bad, especially when I am writing my papers. I didn’t put any music on my computer when I left and only have 3 sample songs that came with my computer that I have listened to over and over, because I’m desperate for music.
Like I said before, Spanish is still the biggest struggle for me. But also I am sick of being taken advantage of because I am a gringo and can’t say much to defend myself. I have constantly been charged more on buses or in stores. I’m sick of it and decided that I’m not going to let it happen anymore!