This week's guest blog comes from Nicole, who reflects on a recent visit to a community member's home for dinner:
All of us here in Ecuador are quickly learning that nothing is ever going to be quite
as it seems, exactly as you plan, or as any preconceived ideas predict. Sometimes
this unpredictability turns out to be something awesome, and sometimes not
so awesome (stay tuned for an example of the former), but it’s teaching all of us
patience. And to just go with the flow.
This past Sunday we were all asked to dinner by Jenni, a lady whose family attends
classes at our Centro. Everyone was really up for going, but given the fact that it
was our day “off” and we also wanted and needed some down time, we hoped and
planned on going for 2 hours, no más. We left our house a little after 4 to meet them
in Amaguaña and take a camioñeta (new favorite form of transportation) to their
house where we met the family, dogs, ducks, and guinea pigs that may or may not
have been the ones they ate for dinner later.
The visit then really kicked off with what turned out to be a two and a half hour
walk around Amaguaña – one of the prettiest suburbs of Quito I’ve seen so far.
We spent the evening meeting even more extended family as we traipsed through
their farms and gardens, drank fresh spring water, took lots of pictures, and spoke
lots of Spanish. By the end of our impromptu tour, we were all convinced that
the Manna house should relocate to Amaguaña (still working on the logistics of
this!). My favorite part of the evening was meeting Jenni’s grandmother and 100-
year old grandfather – both very Quechua. They were so welcoming to a large
group of Gringos taking over their kitchen and spoke to us in Quechua, which I had
never heard before save for a few words and phrases that have been passed down
into modern Ecuadorian Spanish. Being able to walk around the town with local
residents and hear stories about the history of Amaguaña, who the people are, and
how things have changed, among other stories, definitely made this tour the best of
any I’ve been on so far.
We returned to the house and finally sat down to dinner at 7. In no time, our “2 hour
visit” turned into a 5-hour experience, but, despite any amount of yawns, one that
none of us would have traded for a little r&r.
Guinea pig... its what's for dinner
This great! Really taking the time to get into the community and showing an interest in people's lives and families is the best way to build relationships that will allow you to really work together to build the community as the community members want it to be built. Keep it up!
By the way, in Ecuador they speak Quichua (or Kichwa); Quechua is spoken in Peru. Actually, that isn't even really true as Kichwa is dying out in Ecuador and you are very lucky to have had the opportunity to spend time with some native speakers.
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