September 20, 2009
I cannot believe how quickly it passed. The days here are very long but the weeks go by so quickly. We are still in the stage where we are trying to figure out how we fit in this new place we will be calling home for the next two years. So far it has been a series of ups and downs. Some days everything seems so natural and comfortable. While other days, I feel completely off the mark – like an outsider constantly looking in. Some days I love the casual pace at which everything is done. While other days, I get frustrated with the lack of urgency and rapidness that is so common in the States. Some days I love waking up to the sound of the roaring river and the views of the palm trees and mountains. While other days, I miss waking up to the sounds of car horns and traffic and the view of the brownstones from our old apartment in Astoria.
During the intergration process into a new culture, there are some things that you change about yourself voluntarily, some things you are forced to change, and other things you refuse to change. I guess everyone draws their own line when it comes to integration into a new culture – what norms they are willing to accept and what norms they are not. I think I am still trying to figure this out. Sure I am willing to laugh at the fact that there are days with no running water, but I most definitely will still be bathing everyday – even if it means just jumping in the river. I could happily deal with weeks where the electricity can be unreliable, but I have found myself freaking out when I couldn’t find my moisturizer.
All sorts of random opportunities for sharing of ideas, habits, and norms arise. For example, today I decided to give myself a manicure (weekly manicures are definitely something I don’t plan on giving up while in the Peace Corps) and had started the process of removing my old nail polish while sitting outside. (We have fun little critters that have taken charge of our room and sometimes I feel our lives (Rob’s post covers most of this), so we spend a lot of time just sitting outside of our house during our free time.) Within minutes my host sister and mom were intrigued with what I was doing and asked if I could give them one too. I happily agreed. One by one women from our community pulled up a chair and began chatting away. The conversation was light and happy. We talked about all sorts of random things. We talked about silly things like the importance of putting on a base coat and top coat when getting a manicure, and there was, of course, a bit of gossip shared about other neighbors. We talked about life in Ecuador and life in the States and the differences between them. We talked about ways to improve my Spanish and ways for me to teach them English. It was a fun and lazy Sunday afternoon. I got to speak about my life back home and at the same time was able to connect to the women in my community.
Ok, well before I start rambling on any further, it is getting late which means that the rats will be coming in full force soon. Rob has a crazy theory that the sound of typing on the laptop attracts the rats because it makes them think that their rat buddies are in here tapping away on the floor… I personally think it’s crazy and that the rats will come regardless of whether we are typing on the computer or not… but who knows…
Will write again soon… and I promise on our next post we will get some pictures up!