I have been living with my family for nearly two months now. I still can’t get over it, two months and this still feels like a dream. The biggest success in my life here has to be my family. I have gotten so close to many members in the family and love to just sit around talking with my cousins or my sisters.

During my first week in Otavalo with my family, I got to experience a few amazing things. The first was my nine year-old sister’s birthday party. In that instant, three days into living with my family, I realized that turning the music up and dancing is a natural thing, at least for my family. Seeing a bunch of little cousins dancing in the sala (the living room) and inviting me to come dance with them, even before they knew me, felt so amazing. The second thing that I went through with my family was Sunday lunch. Almost every Sunday my family goes to my grandparent’s house and we have a family lunch. My mom has a lot of siblings, so most of the time it’s only my aunt and uncles who live in the house who eat with us. This is a great time when a bunch of us can get together and catch up on life.

In my first few weeks, my mom’s family had a huge reunion with somewhere between 40 and 50 people. During that time, I really got to know the family better and meet other people in the family. It was strange at first because I felt so included and I didn’t know how to respond, but I easily figured out where I fit in. I spent the afternoon talking with cousins, aunts, and uncles and the whole time we were laughing and joking. I still feel like I have some growth to achieve with my language skills, but my family is working with me and is always patient.
 After my first few weeks with my family, I noticed that the little girls are often very shy and that sometimes they would hide when I was around. Eventually they started to get used to me and now they don’t hide anymore.

A huge breakthrough occurred on the weekend of Dia de los Difuntos (Day of the Deceased). A large group of my aunts and uncles got together at my grandparents’ house to make bread. We made bread for six hours that day and had fun trying to figure out how to make an improvised oven. Towards the end of the night, I was hanging out with my sister in one of the rooms, just laying on the bed relaxing when some of the little girls came in and started horsing around on the bed. They were sitting on top of each other making mountains and pretending to be horses. This then turned into me being a horse with all four girls on my back. No matter how many times I rolled over, I always seemed to find more girls on top of my back. I pretended to act like I hated it, but I was laughing along with the girls and we were all having a great time.