I just finished an amazing trip to an hacienda in San Jose de las Minas. It isn't something I am going to write about, I don't think, because it is better expressed in photos. Check them on facebook.
Tonight, I am home unexpectedly completely by myself. My host family up and left for another province a day early without even a note, but they left a tiny bit of info for the neighbor. It was approximately an hour into having the house to myself when I realized I don't know how to do anything here.
Being in a new country is really humbling because you are like a child, relearning everything. I realized quickly that I don't know how to make myself dinner here or if that is even okay, that I don't really know how to leave my house and I can't anyways because I would be alone and girls alone in taxis is never allowed and alone after dark is even worse.
This made me feel trapped and stupid. I know my street and how to get back to my house, but I don't even have my address memorized.
However, it also gives me the opportunity to reflect on the things I do know how to do here, and to celebrate a little. When everything is hard and new, learning something small becomes a big victory, which is awesome.
For example, the first day or so that I was here, I would get stuck in the bathroom. The door sticks and you have to turn the handle a specific way to make it not do that. I could only do this sometimes. Usually, I would be audibly jiggling the door handle, stuck inside, but sure that if I just tried one more time I could get out. My host mom's room, however, is right across the hall, and she would always hear me and come rescue me. This was awkward, of course, because I don't like to bother people and because I go to the bathroom a lot. So I asked her to teach me how to get in and out of the door. She showed me the very specific way to turn the handle, and now I do it almost every time. It is a little victory every single one.
So in celebration of this, here are the things I know how to do in Ecuador (the correct way, as defined by locals):
1) Find my way home
2) Wash the dishes
3) Take a hot shower
4) Get in and out of the bathroom
5) Go shopping for fruit
6) Eat all of the food on my plate (most of the time)
7) Ask lots of questions.
I'm sure there are more things, but hey, I have only been here since Monday.
I'm exhausted. I've been speaking, reading, reflecting, having so so so much fun, getting my mind blown by gorgeous views and contrasting ways of life and the information that the academic staff gives us (you would be amazed how a tiny question can turn into an incredibly interesting, informative lecture), so although I have much to do, like reading and planning for my time here, I think I'm going to take advantage of my wifi luxury and watch U.S. TV and call it a night early. There is much more learning to be done tomorrow- I think we are going to church. You know, if my family ever comes back from Ibarra.