Woah! A lot has happened since we last wrote a blog. It’s about time for an update!
In early December Eric’s friend, Aaron, came to visit us from the states. It was a really nice time. Aaron speaks Spanish so we didn't have to translate for him. He was a big hit in Pinas! Everyone seemed to enjoy his company. We played some soccer, (they) hiked to the cross, saw some hummingbirds, and spent some time with Eric’s English Club. Overall a great time.
Just before Christmas, Eric and I had to come to Quito. We spent Christmas day in our sweat pants watching movies and eating food. A friend, Todd, who lives close, came to Quito and we all spent Christmas together. It was of course difficult to again be away from family and friends but through Skype calls we all were able to connect with our family for a little bit.
On New Year’s Eve we went to visit our host family from training in Tumbaco (near Quito). With them we walked around town to see the different ano viejo dolls that families make to burn at the New Year. This is to symbolize burning all the bad of the previous year in order to have good luck in the New Year. Ecuador has lots of New Year traditions, but as our host family mentioned they seem to be losing the tradition. There weren't as many dolls as previous years. After we walked around for a bit we stopped by a friend of their family’s house. We didn't expect to be eating there but true to Ecuadorian culture they fed us, A LOT. Some of the men were asked if they wanted a second plate (which was as big as the first) and they politely complied. I couldn't believe how much food we had. Luckily I had Eric to help me eat some of my plate. The plate had a big piece of chicken, rice, potatoes, salad, and some other things I’m sure I’m forgetting. After dinner they had pristinos con miel, which is fried dough with honey, a New Year’s traditional food. I thought they were going to have to roll me out of there. My host dad and some of his friends played some songs that everyone sang along to until the New Year when everyone went to the street to burn the dolls. At this time they also set off fireworks (so did everyone else). We went home shortly after and while driving through the streets you could see the burning dolls on the side of the road at least at every block.
After New Years we had our Close of Service (COS) conference for our group. Peace Corps gets the group together to start to talk about how to say goodbye and how to prepare yourself for when you get back in the states. I’m still in shock that this is going to happen. It was nice to spend some time with our group. They have been such a support system for us these past two years and I will be sad to say goodbye! One night we had a talent show that displayed some talents I had no idea about…
All in all we’re returning the US with a lot more than we came with.