9. The availability of Manicho
If you didn’t know, Manicho is a usually $0.50 chocolate and peanut bar and is available on practically every street corner. Ecuador has never failed to satisfy my chocolate cravings, and for that, I am forever grateful. If you need more explanation about the magic of Manicho, refer to my previous blog post about the junk food of Ecuador.
The five of us have gotten accustomed to the nicknames that the community uses to refer to us (either to our faces or when talking about us). Instead of Nayna, Hunter, Ayzsa, Jimmy and Vincent, we are La Morenita (the brown one), La Blanquita (the white one), La Negrita (the black one), El Flaquito (the skinny one) and El Serio (the serious one), respectively. After a few months, we found ourselves referring to each other by those names when talking to community members as well:
“Jimmy is teaching class today.”
“Jimmy? Who’s Jimmy?”
“Ahhh, right, right.”
11. The unimaginable variety of students’ track suit combinations
Almost all students from grade school to high school wear school uniforms. These students also have mandatory gym days in their schedules and on those days, they all wear matching track pants and jackets with their school colors. On these exercise days, the streets and buses look like giant adds for Sports Authority.
12. Exaggerations when speaking Spanish
Everything in Spanish is a diminutive. Sopa (soup) is sopita, casa (house) is casita, dollar is dollarito, centavos (cents) are centavitos, agua (water) is aguita, hija (daughter) is hijita…the list is endless. Everything is cute and little, even if logically it makes no sense (for example, ahora, the word for “now” is hardly ever spoken. Ahorita is said instead). Conversely, when exaggerations in the opposite direction are desired, “issimo” can be added to basically any word: lindissimo, grandissimo, bastantissimo (really beautiful, really big, way more than enough, respectively).
13. Everything about juice
It’s almost a crime to not take advantage of all the fruits/fruit juice of Ecuador, because they’re fresh, affordable and nonexistent in the states! I almost always order fruit juice when I’m out to eat, because fresh fruit juices in the US are so expensive. Perhaps my favorite part about ordering a fruit juice is getting it para llevar (to go) because most of the time you are given your juice in a plastic bag tied at the top with a straw stuck inside. I always feel super cool struttin’ down the street with my plastic bag of pineapple juice.
14. Food glorious food
Depending on the way you see it, $0.15 bread, $2.50 lunch plates and 5 for $1 apples can be a gift or a curse. I, of course, see it as the former. It’s certainly going to be a rude awakening when I return to the states and eat out for the first time. On the wave of affordability, the most beautiful bouquets of flowers can also be bought here for just $1! This could be why all the couples here seem so happy… it’s so affordable for guys to apologize when they mess up!
15. Beautiful views, beautiful relationships
I’ve said this repeatedly, but as the nature fanatic that I am, Ecaudor never once disappointed me in providing magnificent sunsets, sunrises, night skies, rainbows, mountains, volcanoes, lakes and forests for me to see and climb and hike and swim. There is something so special and unbeatable about this natural beauty that no pictures can do it justice.
Undoubtedly the most difficult part of leaving a place you’ve called home for half a year is saying good-bye to the family and friends you’ve made. I never imagined I’d be so warmly welcomed into our community and would form such strong bonds while here. If nothing else, it’s all the more reason to come back and visit in the future. I will never forget my time here and look forward to making new memories when I return. Until next time, Ecuador!