I have settled into my host family’s house in Tumbaco and I am loving it so far! The house is about a 10 minute walk from the center of town, there are 2 avocado trees right outside my window, and we have wifi. What more could I possibly ask for? My family is so sweet and welcoming and patient with my broken spanglish…they told me they’ve had 8 Peace Corps Volunteers stay with them in the past, so I’m glad they knew what they were getting themselves into beforehand. I have a host mom and dad, as well as a sister (15) and brother (19). The dad is a taxi driver and the mom is a hairdresser and also works at a preschool, and both the kids go to school in Quito, which is about 40 minutes away. We live in a complex with 4 other houses, three of which belong to my host dad’s brothers and one of which belongs to his father. I think there are about 24 people who live in the complex, and I’ve only met a handful of them so far. Some other family members live right around the corner as well, and two of them are hosting other Peace Corps Volunteers, so it’s nice to have some familiar faces nearby!
My family also has two adorable dogs, Mattias y Bruno. I’m not sure whether these two pictures are of the same dog or the two different dogs, they look exactly the same! I spent a good 20 minutes chasing them around trying to get them to stay still enough to snap a picture. They are crazy.
These are some views of the surrounding town and the mountains I took from the roof of my family’s house. I cannot get enough of the mountains here, they are epic and beautiful and every time I go outside I can’t help but sing “Climb Every Mountain” from the Sound of Music to myself.
This morning my host mom taught me how to wash my laundry by hand! I was very proud of myself and needed to ensure there was photographic evidence. We used this concrete bathtub looking thing outside to soak the clothes in soapy water, rinse them, then use a spinny thing to ring out some of the water. Then we hung them up on the roof to dry. It was actually kind of fun, but I’m sure I won’t be saying that 3 months from now.
After doing laundry we went to the market to buy tons of fruits and veggies for the week, which I’m very excited to eat. Then we went to visit my host mom’s parents a few neighborhoods over. I took this photo from their neighborhood. Again…THE MOUNTAINS. We spent most of the day with my “host grandparents” and they were very sweet. They told me over and over how beautiful I am and also wanted to know how I got so tall. I told them it was the milk. They showed me their impressive collection of pets, which included 3 dogs, many, many birds, and a cage of guinea pigs. I was afraid to ask whether the guinea pigs were mascotas o comida (pets or food…guinea pig is a popular meat here). It was great hanging out with the family all day, but after about 7 hours I was completely drained from trying to communicate in Spanish.
It’s 10pm and I need to get some rest before my 6am alarm goes off and I take a bus back to the training center to restart classes for the week, but I’ll end with a fun embarrassing story: last night I decided to take a shower at my host family’s house for the first time. My host mom told me there is hot water and showed me how to turn the shower on. But when I went to turn the hot water on by myself, I couldn’t get it to heat up! I kept turning and turning the knob and it stayed ice cold. I stood there for a while weighing my options – my host family was already in bed and I didn’t want to bother them, but I also really didn’t want to take an ice cold shower. Before I could decide what to do, the electricity went off. In the entire house. I stood there dumbfounded in the pitch dark bathroom until my host mom came and found me. She explained that I turned the knob too much on the shower, making the water pressure so high that it blew a circuit in the electricity. I turned off the water, my host dad flipped the switch on the electricity, and all was well. When I turned the water on again, I only turned the knob a little bit and it got warm! I wish I hadn’t had to turn off my house’s electricity to learn how to shower, but it was a valuable lesson.
OH and one more thing: the title of this entry is “chulla vida,” which is a phrase I just learned and a mantra I plan to live by and repeat often and obnoxiously. It’s basically the Spanish version of YOLO – it means live it up and enjoy your life, because you only have one.