lives in a massive house divided into 3 apartments.
We are in downtown Tumbaco (province de Pinchincha), at 2300m of altitude. It’s quieter, safer than Quito, and most importantly less cold. Still, my body needs to adjust to the altitude (and maybe still the jet lag) The training center is at about 15 min by bus.
On the ground floor live José (70ish, I know because he explained that he lost his job and can’t find a new one, and it’s hard because the gvt gives nada), his wife Luz, who is mi mama, and does pretty much everything in the house (cooking, lava las ropes con la pietra – she’s going to teach me, so I guess I’ll be good to be married as I come back, in case you worried, mum and dad – ) Yep, Luz wants to teach me how to cook because she’s worried that I couldn’t eat once I get to site. So she taught me how to cook rice, which in a way is good cuz there ain’t no packaging that tells you the minutes nor rice cookers here.
Above us live Eileen (4) and Yoel (4), Lisette (14) , Esmeralda (who has a truck company?), Yuly, who’s studying law (3 years and 1/2 to go), married to Geovanni (he’s a policeman in a dangerous barrio de Guayaquil con muchos ladrones, and thus can only drive 5 hours back home once a week to see his family.) Yuly and Geovanni have an adorable 2 1/2, Santi (aka Santiago). Luz loves Geovanni because he’s the son she didn’t have (had two girls) Then there is Estefania, who studies to be an accountant, and Sandy (who is taking her license to become a legal taxi driver – she’s a taxi driver now but without a license, which doesn’t matter cuz she knows the police in the area) I’m probably missing a couple? Oh, and the dogs. Princessa is one. They’re small so it’s fine. I would have been terrified by a German shepherd or anything higher than 20 cm, of course. I have my own room, and the wifi (thanks Esmeralda!) and might learn to enjoy cold showers if I don’t get how it works (or maybe cold shower means non frozen water here, not sure. I guess it’ll wake me up nice and fresh)
Our first outing reminded me of China: the entire family in the fancy car, on our way to the supermercado Santa Maria, just like Chinese host families would take us PCVs to malls. I was surprised to see pretty much everything I can find back home, including Chocapic! Esmeralda walked me by the fruit alley, explaining all the fruit. A guy working there got interested and tagged along, getting carried away by all the fruit and vegetable names and having me try a bunch. Should have written down cuz I can’t remember.
What has been absolutely fantastic so far are the fresh juices made by Luz every “café” (aka desayuno – was confused when she kept talking about tomar café and there was no café whatsoever on the table , turns out that here people say tomar café for tomar el desayuno) and almuerzo. Fantastic. Papaya, lemon, i mas otras.
Another great surprise has been how easy it is to communicate en espanol, as compared to Chinese PST: I’ll always remember the long breakfasts and lunches with Mama when she’d speak in Sichuanese and I’d smile, say “ting budong”, she’d laugh and start talking again…. Nope, I could perfectly understand that I’m expected to have dinner at 7pm, that I must feel at home and I’m like Luz’s daughter, she’ll tell me if I’m poorly dressed and all…Next Saturday I’m invited to a mass for a distant relative who passed away 1 month ago.
Foodwise, otherwise, except for the yucca (which is pretty much like potato) it’s pretty much a mix of what I’ve been used to over the years in the various places I’ve lived in : potatoes, rice, porc, chicken, fish, creamy cheese… Nothing wildly new. Now let’s see if this is even richer than the French food I’ve been stocking the last few months….
Haven’t taken photos yet because I ain’t a discreet gringa con my blond hair and Nikon camera…. Kind of feeling the ground first. Oh, and I got to repress the urge to go for a second kiss on the other cheek. Ecuadorians go one kiss on the right cheek. That’s all. Need to get used to that. Et c’est tout pour aujourd’hui.
Muchos besos, M