The one thing I am learning more than anything else here in Ecuador is to expect the unexpected. Sometimes the outcome is fun, at other times it's weird, and sometimes it makes me angry and frustrated. It is always good for a laugh, though . . . maybe not at the time, but later. The only way I can think to explain just how random things can be here is to give some examples, of which I have many. Here are just a few.
Going with the Flow with the Fam
It is with my family that the most random things take place.
One Sunday in early June, my family tells me to come with them. I tried to ask what we were doing and where we were going, but they didn't tell me much, so I just hopped in the car. We end up at their field, which I didn't even really know they had, and picked corn and beans for a few hours. There were other people picking with us as well. We picked maybe 5 big sacks of veggies. Later on a there was a hen running around, and my youngest sister proceeded to pick it up, cuddling with it and say things like "Oh, daddy, can we please have this cute little hen? I really want one!" in Spanish. The way you'd expect a 6-year old to plead for a kitten or puppy. Do I ever wish I had my camera with me that day! Had I known chicken cuddling would be involved . . .
A few weeks ago, again on a Sunday, my parents didn't seem to be around in the morning. I thought that was kind of strange, because usually everyone is ready to go play basketball. I ate, and got ready anyway, and sure enough, my uncle shows up to take me to basketball. There were only 5 of us, but my uncle said the rest would join us later. They didn't. We played a few games, 2 on 2 when my sister hurt her foot, and it was pretty fun even though only half of the people who normally play were there. My uncle is a camioneta (truck) driver, which is basically a taxi but in the form of a white pickup truck (these are the only vehicles besides buses that will take my friends to their homes in the mountains). Anyway, he needed to get a new tire or something, so we stopped at two or three different shops trying to find what he needed. After that we ended up at the grocery store, where apparently he decided to pick up some customers that he knew. A women climbed up front with my uncle and I, and we drove to their house a fair way away, of course sort of up a mountain. When we got there, we were all told to climb out. Then my uncle took me into a barn to show me something. Apparently he rents the barn from these people to raise and sell pigs. After that we went back home for our traditional big family lunch at my family's place. Of course, by that time it was nearly 2 in the afternoon . . . and that adventure had started at 10.
Most Sundays, my family plays basketball, as I have already mentioned a few times. Even when my sisters had a ballet recital at noon, they decided to play beforehand. This past Saturday night, I asked my family if my friend Krista could join in on our weekly game, and they said sure. I went to Spanish Catholic mass with her, and then we walked back to my place. When we arrived, no one was home. I called my brother, who told me my parents were on their way to come get us. When they arrived, they said we were not going to play basketball because we had no ball. (I later figured out that maybe my uncle who has the ball was hunting and that's why we didn't have it . . . that is just a guess, though, but they did make shooting motions, and I decided that my first guess that someone shot the ball maybe wasn't accurate). Instead we were going to watch a fiesta in Olmedo, and that I should get my camera. So I did, and my host dad got out a large cushion from a storage room I didn't know we had. They asked me where my host sisters were, and I did not know since I had just gotten home. They put the cushion in the back of the truck, and told us to hop in, so we did. We stopped at someone's house, and my parents talked to him for about 15 minutes. I don't know who he was or what they were talking about, and he didn't seem to have anything to do with finding my sisters, which is something I thought we were trying to do. We stopped somewhere else, and that is where we found my sisters, and then they hopped in back with us. The street that I live on is Olmedo, and originally I figured we were just going further up the street to watch. But as we drove further and further away, it dawned on me that we were probably headed to the village of Olmedo. One thing you need to know about Cayambe and it's surrounding areas, and probably Ecuador as a whole, is that they LOVE parades. They have them all the time, and not always for a particular celebration. We went to see one such parade in Olmedo. It was extra strange because it was not down a straight road, and did not always go in the same direction. There are many people playing instruments and/or singing and/or dancing in traditional clothes. I also saw a bunch of people on stilts, dancing and some blowing fire. At points, the parade was standing still and we walked past. My host mother bought us empinadas (dough stuffed with cheese, deep fried and sprinkled with sugar), and though I was skeptical at first, mine was delicious. Later on we went to someone's house, who fed us choco (really big kernels of corn that look kind of like popcorn but they are wet, not dry), pig skin, pork, and salad (I of course got through not even half of my plate before handing it over to my parents). Then we went to a different house, where we sat for awhile, and then it broke out into an impromptu dance in the livingroom. There I also met a girl from Michigan who is volunteering with the Peace Corps. There was also a very drunk man there who nearly fell asleep in my sister Amy's lap (which was hilarious albeit inappropriate). By this time it was 2pm, and Krista thought she should call her parents and tell them what was going on. For some reason, my host dad's cell phone would not call her host dad's cell phone, so we had to walk in search of a cabina. We made the call and headed back, and found that my parents were in the truck and ready to leave. So we headed back to Cayambe, and my youngest sister fell asleep on my lap in the back of the truck, and the next oldest sister fell asleep on her grandmother's shoulder in the front. I do have pictures of this crazy day (though, unfortunately, I don't think of the fire-blowing).
There are more examples, but these are some of the better ones. I will add some random occurrences at school next time I blog.
Thanks for reading!