It’s been, what, 8 days since arriving in Ecuador? It feels like it’s been much longer, but in a good way. We’ve been traveling to so many amazing places and having so many once in a lifetime experiences that it’s hard to believe that this really is my life right now!
We traveled around Ecuador after our initial arrival to places like Quito, Peguche, Otavalo, Baños, and Ingapirca. Then we finally arrived in Cuena, Ecuador to meet our host families for the first time. When the announcement was made on our bus that we would be arriving to the CEDEI School of Español in just 10 minutes the atmosphere immediately changed and anxiousness filled the air. I was incredibly nervous and kept repeating over and over in my head the simple phrase, “Hola! Mucho gusto, señora. Me llamo Angela.” This was pretty much the extent of all the Spanish that I knew!
Standing in the hallway of the now familiar and comfortable CEDEI, all of my nerves were going haywire and I made no sense in English, let alone Spanish. However, the minute I met my host mother (who insisted on having me call her Mamá) I was put at ease. The aftershock of my near nervous breakdown was wearing off as I sat there politely (and rather clueless) while listening to Mamá and my roommate Jill speak Spanish to one other.
Now I have settled in rather quickly and have been slowly getting to know mi madre y mi tres hermanos (“my mother and my three brothers”…Spanish class is starting to help the more I practice). I say getting to know them slowly because this language barrier is frustrating. At dinner with mi familia I can sort of get an idea of what everyone is saying because of contextual clues, gestures, lessons from Spanish class and Jill translating, but me contributing to the conversation virtually doesn’t happen unless I get Jill to say something for me once in a while.
This has been rather discouraging for me because I like being able to do things on my own. I can handle having a friend with me to translate going to shops and restaurants throughout Cuenca, but not being able to talk with my host family is one thing that I really wish I could change. I am trying really hard in Spanish class everyday to improve my vocabulary, but it’s a slow going process for me. I hope that as my Spanish improves I will be able to share more with my family in the near future!