Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mi Barrio (My Neighborhood)

I just came back from a walk in the neighborhood where my host family lives. I wanted to go exploring partly to get out of the house because my host family seems to stay inside playing video games or doing homework or watching TV, and partly because I want to see where I live and get a sense of what it's like here.

I live in a small section of Quito called Kennedy and there's two or three main streets, a few parks and markets and a ton of peluquerias (beauty salons). My host mom, Ximena, works all day as a secretary at a law firm and my host dad, Xavier, is a retired dentist. My oldest host sister, Carolina (25 years old) is studying to be a dentist and just got engaged to her boyfriend on Valentine's Day, the day after I arrived at their house! Nathaly, 20 years old, is a student at a university here studying civil engineering and my host brother, Xavier Antonio (14 years old) is a sophomore in high school and loves to play video games and go on facebook. They're all really nice but they also have their own lives and friends so they usually do things on their own. This means I am left at home a lot to fend for myself. I live next to Claire, one of the other girls in the program so we hang out sometimes.

Today, after I went to church (which was an experience in itself... my ride, a cousin of my host siblings, came about an hour and a half late and we ended up going to a different church than I thought. It was in Spanish and I actually understood all of it!), my host family was busy and so was Claire so I decided to go out on my own. It's very safe here. There's a policeman on about every corner. So I started walking toward the main street and just walked and looked into stores and observed the people. There were crowds of people at the ice cream shop for obvious reasons. I went into a little tienda (store) to buy chocolate and talked with the two old ladies who were sitting gossiping.

I then walked by the fruit market, full of little blue covered stands where people sell all their produce. There is so much delicious fruit here! I eat fresh papaya almost every morning! And fresh fruit juice! Also, I walked by a lot of restaurants, most of which are only open for breakfast and lunch (the two biggest meals of the day here) and saw people eating a typical lunch of soup, rice, beans, plantains and meat. That's pretty much what I have every day for lunch and it is delicious. Then dinner consists of coffee or tea and bread and cheese.

As I walked I came across a park full of kids playing with their parents and siblings and couples napping on the grass together. I sat and ate my chocolates and just watched the people and enjoyed the scenery too. From the park you can see the mountains and the city of Quito sweeping down the slopes. It was a sunny, warm day today and luckily I didn't get caught in any rain, which is very likely to happen here. I sat for a bit and just watched the people play and laugh and enjoy each other. I didn't feel like a gringa for once and I felt like part of the community here. As I continue to live in this neighborhood I hope to build friendships and become part of the community.

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