50 Lessons I learned in Ecuador ~ Volunteer Perspective

Abby volunteered with Starfish for 5 weeks from May-June 2015.  During her time, she kept a list of lessons she learned in Ecuador.  Enjoy!

Abby with host family – Andrés, Milena, Mariana, Michelle & David!

Lessons I’ve learned in Ecuador:
1) High school Spanish teaches you nothing.
2) Having a chicken run into the house is normal.
3) You yell “A Ver” rather than knocking on someone’s door
4) You must have change for the bus.
5) If you visit someone’s house, they will almost always give you food and you must always eat it with a smile. 
6) The stray dogs tend to leave people alone.
7) The soap TV shows have terrible acting but they are entertaining.
8) Just when you think you’ve figured out the bus system, you realize you haven’t.
9) If you have blue eyes and hair that is not black you stick out like a sore thumb.
10) Beware of mud: you will lose a shoe.
11) Having a toothless indigenous woman tickle you is hilarious to her but not to you until afterwards.
12) If you don’t keep the kids busy they will play pelota (soccer), and even if they are busy they will still want to play pelota
13) The tricimotos are a blast, but also a potential death trap depending on the driver.
14) Pizza here is not the same as in the U.S. unless you go to Pizza Hut and order the “American.”
15) Wearing white clothes is not an option for volunteers, and yet all the children manage to keep their white school uniforms clean.
16) Cold showers are actually wonderful with the heat here.
17) Having a mosquito net at night is your saving grace from the mosquitos.
18) The mosquitos are relentless even with mosquito repellent.
19) Roosters crow all night, not just when they are supposed to at sunrise.
20) The families here who have nothing are the first to help anyone in need.
21) All directions are given with landmarks not street names.
22) Seco de Pollo is served at least once a week.
23) Panama hats are actually made and originated in Ecuador.
24) Twilight is still just as bad in Spanish as it is in English.
25) All the kids can draw amazingly well.
26) The garbage trucks play music that sounds like ice cream trucks except they don’t serve delicious frozen goods – they reek and have everyone’s trash in them. 
27) The game Monopoly is expensive here.
28) Hammocks are incredibly comfortable.
29) If you fall through the floor it’s okay and they can fix it. 
30) When the garbage truck comes every single person runs to get their garbage and take it to the truck before it leaves them stranded with their trash.
31) Sometimes the water will not work randomly but the people still manage.
32) The stray dogs and cats do not eat the stray chickens even though it could be an easy meal.
33) Having one mosquito in your mosquito net when your trying to sleep is the worst situation ever.
34) Even if a really bad car wreck happens the traffic doesn’t stop and people will honk if you do stop.
35) People will tell you their life story for 45 minutes on the bus then ask for money.
36) Banks will take a minimum of an hour in line before you make it to the teller.
37) Rice is served with everything, even spaghetti.
38) When anything hits the aluminum roof it is ear piercingly loud, especially if it’s a chicken or a cat. 
39) Even if you think you have planned things perfectly, Ecuador will still manage to throw a wrench into those plans.
40) Even if it’s the first day of whale season on the coast you can still see two whales breach.
41) When the captain of your boat says you need to turn back, don’t allow the two deckhands to continue to poke at the engine with a knife for an hour before finally turning around.
42) When you finally have a hot shower at a hostel, it’s like the heavens have decided to descend upon you and engulf you.
43) Even if you speak the same language, you still may not understand each other.
44) Music will be played at all hours, even at five am.
45) The TV shows here are sometimes one that got cancelled years ago in the U.S. Such as “Drake and Josh.”
46) If you don’t love either Barcelona or Emelec, then you don’t have a life. 
47) Almost every kid here is good enough at soccer to play on a high school varsity team even if they are only 12.
48) Ecuador time means 5-10 minutes later than the actual time planned.
49) The families here are more welcoming than the families in the U.S.
50) Ecuador always wins at everything. Whether that be making simple plans to purchase a cake or plans in taking an all day tour whale watching, Ecuador will always win.

What was your favorite lesson? What would you like to learn more about?

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