Dancing in the Dark

The month of September can be metaphorically compared to a roller coaster. Following a 10 hour trip from the capitol city, Quito, to Cuenca (the busy bee hub of the southern region of Azuay) my host family picked me up and took me an hour away to Gualaceo, which is where I’ll be living for until April. My host family is comprised of Danilo (father), Alicia (mother), Nereida (sister) and Erik (brother). My first week here in Gualaceo was a trainwreck. My family did everything they could to make me feel welcome, but I was physically and emotionally tired after the 3 weeks in Quito and communication was a major problem. After my first day working at the Municipial Gualaceo, I sat down and cried. I was unsure if I’d made the right decision coming here and my first day of work was long and draining. So I had a heart-to-heart with my host dad using his laptop and typing in a jibberish of Spanish and English. The rest of the week went marginally better, despite a really bad migraine and my continuing struggles with communication.

I visited Yanguilla with my cohort for our regional seminar. It was much warmer than Gualaceo and home of the most beautiful picture I have taken so far. Being in Yanguilla gave me time to talk to the other fellows who were also living with host families and in different situations than they were comfortable with at home. Turns out communicating with their families is a problem everyone was having. We talked. We complained. We brainstormed.


I came back to Gualaceo, determined to work on everything I was having difficulty with, including my relationship with my host family and my struggles to communicate with my coworkers. Turns out, a positive attitude really does matter.

I finally feel comfortable and at peace. I have a plan. I have things to do.

This has led to some interesting discoveries including (but not limited to) a new love for Bruce Springsteen and the way he captures life in the U.S., a very deep appreciation for the variety of cultures and food in NYC. The food here is great, but there’s not much variety. I also go to the gym 5 days a week after my apprenticeship. My life has finally settled down and now I’m starting to plan for independent travel, when I can travel on my own (duh!) to see parts of Ecuador that I won’t get a chance to see otherwise, like the artisanal market in the northern city of Otavalo.