“Muchas Gracias!” by Bethany Scott

The middle of the Earth - standing on the equator.

Hello everyone! This is my first post from Ecuador. In less than 24 hours, I will have officially been in Ecuador for one week. It has been amazing thus far! The plane ride to Quito was smooth and flawless. Tired but eager, all sixteen of us met at the Columbus airport on March 23rd and made our way to our first stop Houston Texas. After a two hour stop in Houston, we then boarded the plane for Quito Ecuador. After arriving in Quito, we spend two days touring the city. Then we made our way south Cuenca, stopping at Banos and Patate along the way.

Today was my first day of classes at CEDEI (Centers for Interamerican Studies). I can tell that the classes are going to be challenging; however I am going to stay optimistic about them because I know that I am going to learn a lot.

I met my host family Saturday evening, and so far I am in love with them. They are the Carvallo-Solis family. There are five members in the family, but only one son still lives at home. Their home is absolutely gorgeous. Inside the home there are two kitchens, three dining rooms, three living rooms, a spiral staircase, a garden, and a house for the maid in the backyard. I feel extremely blessed to have the opportunity to live in such an extravagant house.

Cuenca is a beautful city. The city is separated into two parts: the old section and the new section. El Rio Tomebamaba (The River Tomebamba) is what separates the two sections. Cuenca is lined with cobblestone streets, Spanish-inspired architecture, parks, and 17th century churches. There is a perfect combination of new swanky cafes mixed with traditional colonial architecture.

While everything has been great, I would be lying if I said that I was able to understand and speak Spanish perfectly. My first evening in Cuenca my host mom Marina took me out to their family owned reception hall called La Floreana. What I didn’t know before arriving was that it was their reception hall and she wanted to show me where their family worked. Being a little shaky on my Spanish skills, I thought that Marina was taking me to a welcome party that was being hosted in my honor. As soon as we arrived at La Floreana, my face lit up with excitement and I turned to Mariana and repeated over and over “Muchas Gracias” (Many Thanks). I walked into La Floreana and was immediately greeted by my host brother, Santiago. Not wasting any time I turned to Santiago and said, “You did not have to go through all this trouble just for me”. With a confused look on his face, Santiago replied “My mother brought you here because she wanted to show you where we all worked”. I immediately tried to look serious and nodded my head pretending that I knew that was the reason all along.

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