I've been loving it here ever since I got off the plane on Monday night. I feel like family because Luis, the family friend I am staying with, has welcomed me into his family and treats me like one of his grandchildren. Family is so important here in Ecuador. Everywhere we go in the city or the countryside, Luis has family. I still don't know how everyone is related but I really don't think it matters. I am family now too and when I leave Guayaquil for Quito everyone here wants me to come back and visit. I am also already getting better at speaking and understanding Spanish! It's still hard and frustrating at times to try to express myself, but I am embracing the challenge.
The weather here is so hot and humid, but I love it. Everything is so green and when we drove to another city the other day, I was just mesmorized by the plants and birds and mountains that we passed along the way. We passed so many banana plantations and even saw planes fertilizing the plants. I talked with one of Luis' family members about the banana platations and how they affect the local environment. It made me think a lot about eating bananas at home. I actually saw a platation that said it was owned by someone in Pennsylvania and that they ship their bananas there. We also saw gold mines on the mountainside and I heard about how it contaminates the rivers. All the rivers here are so dirty and there is so much litter floating in them. It is interesting because as we drove there were signs that said things like "the earth doesn't have much time. take care of it" and " dont' litter," but right next to one of these signs I saw someone throw three plastic bottles out their car window. Can signs change people's mindsets about the environment? I guess not... So what can? Also, it is interesting that none of the tap water here is drinkable. Everyone buys bottled water.
The culture here is definitely different than in America, and maybe this is part of the reason why there is a different mindset about sanitation and envrinmental protection. I'm learning to just go with the flow and enjoy every moment. Time here is so laid back and even some of Luis' family members have commented on how fast I walk and they have to keep telling me to slow down. So, I'm slowing down my pace of life. Most of the time I don't even know what time it is. And it doesn't matter.
So, as I keep learning to be flexible and blend with the culture, I will keep building relationships with people, with my family here.