Fellows' Blog Archives

Cultural Exploration: All Posts


Baby Steps
by | November 24, 2014

“Dios le pague,” I say as I’m handed a steaming plate of rice and pig skin. This roughly translates to “God pays you,” and is a less cold-hearted version of “gracias.” Had I known this sooner, I would never have said “gracias” so often. Whoops. But I’m learning. I started here as an infant, barely able to speak or take the bus on my own, but each day I have learned something new.
I have learned to speak a bit of Kichwa*. Some of my favorite phrases and words:
Ñunca shuti mi can… = My name is…
huiksa = stomach. This…

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Ecuadorean teens and dance group.

We Live in the Flicker
by | November 24, 2014

Today, my host mom woke up at five in the morning to get on the first bus into town in order to buy food. She wasn’t buying food for my family, but rather, for a group of twelve tourists that was coming for a tour.
Santa Rita doesn’t get many tourists, but about a year ago, some people at the Ecuadorean chocolate company Pacari… decided it’d be a nice idea to bring chocolate fanatics to see where, how, and by whom cacao beans are cultivated. So Pacari built some cabins, taught some women (my host mother included) how to cook

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Photo Blog 1
by | November 24, 2014

These are pictures of my first couple months in Ecuador featuring Fellows, families, and Ecuadorian nature.
The banner is from a road trip I took with my family and their families to Puyo in the Pastaza province.
2. The view of Mt. Chimborazo from the rooftop of my house.

3. One of my workplaces: the school, La Escuela Milenio.
4. A trip to Lake Atillo with Fellows Alcy, Bailey, and Alcy’s co-worker/our guide, Angel.
5. A trip to Baños with Fellow Alea and her family.
6. Christmas tree in our house in Guano.
7. My sister and I at a…

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Kurt Vonnegut is a Genius
by | November 24, 2014

In a collection of his infamous graduation speeches (found after the previous Fellow Eli left it in my house), there are a few things that stand out about Vonnegut’s brief, insightful, words. He chooses a different theme and moral for each speech, but they always have the same recurring stories to illustrate that theme. One of the most thought-inducing ones is that American marriages are failing because a wife, husband, and two kids aren’t enough. There use to be giant villages of distant relatives and neighbors that all shared a space, without cars and technology to separate them. Everybody needs…

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Senegalese Respect
by | November 24, 2014

I never should have made that French toast. I had missed cooking and American food so badly that I’d spontaneously decided to buy dehydrated milk, eggs, bread, and oil and managed to prepare a half-decent “dinner,” that sweet, thick, crispy dish I used to make every Sunday morning after a late night. Matar, my 26-year-old brother, liked it. But I didn’t realize how much at the time.
He mentioned the “pain au lait” (bread with milk) quite a few times over the next few weeks and, despite my dwindling reserve of cash, I tried to make it again. But I…

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My host brother, the metaphor

My Host Brother, the Metaphor
by | November 21, 2014

My youngest host brother is six years old. His name is Edy.
On September 20th, when I arrived in Napo, Edy came with my host parents to pick me up from Tena, the capital of Napo, and bring me to Santa Rita. While my host parents introduced themselves smiling, Edy clung to my host dad’s pants and refused to make eye contact.
During my first few days in Santa Rita, I diligently used every strategy babysitting in the United States had taught me to try to win Edy over: copying him and seeing if it makes him laugh, asking him…

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Ting, the pet of Sinchi Warm

An Average 24 Hours
by | November 21, 2014

Wake up at 5:30AM.
5:30AM-6:15AM: Generally spent washing clothes in Rio Napo.
6:15AM-7:00AM: Breakfast. Usually a combination of rice, eggs, bread, plantain, and of course, guayusa.*
7:05AM-3:30PM: Off to work at Sinchi Warm…. There is no such thing as an average day at Sinchi Warmi. Potential activities include:

Organizing our artisanship displays.
Jungle Walks! Learning about indigenous practices with native plants.
Occasionally translating for non-Spanish speaking tourists.
Cleaning the cabanas.
Feeding TING-TING! Sinchi’s pet huatusa.

3:30PM-4:30PM: I can mostly likely be found swimming in Rio Napo.
4:30PM-5:30PM: Lounging with family.
6:00PM: Dinner. Most likely a combination of soup, rice, yuca, chicken, or fish.

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