“The 3rd day of Spanish class we learned about medicinal plants that you can grow in the mountains. We prepared questions about a certain sickness and we went to the market in Paute to find answers. Maria, the friend of Ling Chei, grows medicinal herbs on her farm and sells them at the market. We asked her about yellow fever, depression, asthma, common colds, and altitude sickness. She knew all about what to use to cure these illnesses and how to prepare them. Nacho(Hans) and I were asking about altitude sickness, sorroche in Spanish. She gave us a couple of herbs to make tea out of that would help. She gave us violet(Violeta), lamb’s ear(oreja de burro), pata companga, and horitja. She was very specific in the way you should prepare the tea. For example if you are drinking it in the night you should put cocoa butter in the tea. If you are drinking it in the morning you should put aspirin in the warm water with the herbs. The medicinal remedies functioned for other sicknesses too like fever and the common cold. The herbs might be the same but the way that you prepare the tea varies.”
*Fotos and videos coming soon courtesy of Marc!*
“I have had soup for every meal. There’s the same base: water, chicken broth, carrots, and peas. every once in a while there’s a surprise hunk of chicken or an eighth of a potato. my home stay mother, Zara, is worried i am not eating enough and has made me a minimum of two plates of food every meal. i tell her i only need one, but she thinks i’m saying it out of kindness. i’ve only finished one meal so far. when she saw the empty plate, she took it back into the kitchen and made a second helping. finishing a meal here feels like bailing a boat with a hole in the haul. i love it though. i don’t have a worry about hurrying through dinner. i can sit, run songs in my head, and solve puzzles with my home stay brother and cousins—the word for puzzles in Spanish is rompecabezas, literally head-breaker. my family has also taken into instructing me with the local idioms, most of which come from quinchua, the dead language of the Incas. most of the time i smile and nod me head, or quickly take another mouthful of soup, when they speak with idioms, but i catch every other idiom or so. my family cringes whenever i put my three drops of hot sauce in my soup, even though they have two open bottles, one on the table and one in the kitchen. the kids, especially the one who’s learning english, reminds the family to speak slowly for me. whenever a passionate topic arises, usually concerning food or cuyes (guinea pigs), they forget and speak muy rápido.”
Felipe Uly Gavin
“We are two days into teaching English a los niños de Bulán. Nosotros empezamos las clases a la 9 en la mañana y enseñamos por una hora. Nosotros somos en grupos de dos y enseñamos diferente grados.. Enseñamos los grados primero a cinco. Los niños son muy simpáticos y buenos estudiantes.”
I swear I’m not trying to tell them not to eat the chicken…
No, that’s not a real llama.
If you look closely in the window you can see Agosto y su abuelita laughing…
Mateo, the best dressed dog in the village!
Today we explored the markets in Paute and Chordeleg, two nearby villages. We had fun trying new fruits, smelling the 3,ooo species of orchids in one room, and trying other fun market items. We learned that this valley produces many flowers (mostly roses for the USA).
Most of the home stay families are farmers that sell to the neighboring towns and many people come from other villages to buy local fruits and veggies on the weekend. According to Elena she says this valley reminds her of The Shire (the Latin version!). Everything is super green and the towns are self-reliant and abundant in local everything. You can grow everything and all families raise many types of animals here and they do — so inspiring!
We also have lots of pets in our families… Our host dog, Mateo, dresses himself because it’s cold here. He has various outfits that he will bring to you when he wants to be covered and warm. We have a chatty parrot that likes to screech HOLA on repeat if you don’t respond to him.
Edwin is our local driver who is also the school bus driver here. On the weekends there are non-stop volleyball games (Ecuadorian style) happening in the town center (only for men) while the woman are busy cooking.
Zacarias Elijah has been doodling and writing a bunch while Felipe Uly Gavin is solving many math problems at the same time. Agosto literally has a soccer court right at his front door and Nacho Hans is fully of witty Spanish jokes. Silvia & Ezme are playing cards with their host family and Eva Kendra made a local friend who is studying English at the University. Felipe Felix burnt his ears but randomly spouts out comprehensive sentence in in Spanish, surprising us all. Bellaflora Annika has been absorbing so much Spanish with a healthy sense of humor. Estrella Gwen dances. Everywhere and even while walking. Elena bought a sweet poncho and I maybe sat next to Mana (a famous band) while eating lunch in Quito. I also ate chicken.
When it rains it pours and you can feel your skin burning instantly when it pierces through the clouds. We are indeed on the Ecuator!
Tomorrow we are teaching for the first time. (Insert nervous emoji face) We are eager to meet the kiddos. It’s so fun to be in a village where no one has ever hosted exchange students before, or come in contact with many foreigners. Everyone is so curious about us, welcoming, and eager to know us. Everyone has reported how lovely their families are even though they are overwhelmed with all the new information and even though in only Spanish is exhausting and at times awkward. But, it makes for fun stories when we all come together. 🙂
The connection is spotty right now so we cannot upload photos at the moment of the adventures today but we will try again tomorrow. Chau for now!
Ama & Elena
There was such a long line at the airport that we were worried we would miss our flight! We arrived at the gate with just 10 minutes before it was going to close but somehow were the first ones in line to get on the plane.. When we arrived in Cuenca, Ron and Fu Yu were there to take us to Bulán via bus. They gave us a tour of Cuenca on the way, and we stopped at a viewpoint from which we could see the majority of the city.
When we arrived in Bulán, the families were waiting for us in the town’s center. We were welcomed with lots of hugs and smiles and the energy was high even though we arrived hungry and tired.
We watched some soccer games with the whole village, and tomorrow we are off to see the big market in Paute and eat lunch in Chordeleg, another village here.