Sunday, June 1, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Well, I am once again in the USA! I never understood those stories of people kissing the ground when they returned home until I walked back onto American soil. While I still have never actually kissed the ground, I understand a little bit better the feeling behind the action. There are some things that I am so thankful to have again! Of course that is not to say that our last couple days in Ecuador were without their quota of adventure. We were able to experience the stereotypical money issues that tend to happen in South America. Our liaison disappeared with a family emergency the day before we were supposed to leave. Later that night we were informed that our drivers had not been paid and would not take us to the airport until they received their money- of course we had been told by our liaison that it was already taken care of. To this day I don't know if the drivers were just attempting to take advantage of us and get paid twice or if our liaison had run off with all of the money. Luckily we only had to make one phone call to the Junta organization and all of a sudden everything was taken care of. I must admit I felt a bit like I was working for the mob. I have to appreciate how easy everything was with our Junta connections. In the end all we had to do was pay $40 to get out of the country. Three of us also had the pleasure of an all expenses paid trip around the less desirable portions of the airport. We were called from the gate and escorted across the tarmac (in the rain no less) to where the security guards were happily pulling everything out of our carefully packed bags. As we were standing there, they proceeded to give a slightly awkward preview of all of our luggage by spreading it out along the tarmac for all of the other guards and some passengers. We were also searched by the drug dogs; all the while being assured that this was strictly routine. It was quite the experience. So, as a wrap up I have included my own David Letterman style top 10 lists. I hope they make everyone laugh as much as I enjoy the memories. If you want more specifics on the stories-you will have to ask!

Top 10 things I'll miss from Ecuador

  1. Being told I’m beautiful multiple times walking down the street
  2. Cheap prices!
  3. bargaining for everything
  4. chifles/ Mango suckers
  5. pineapple / any fresh fruit every day
  6. having a maid/ chauffeur
  7. being able to work with the community
  8. all drugs being OTC
  9. kissing is an acceptable greeting
  10. salsa dancing/Latin music

Top 10 things I won’t miss from Ecuador

  1. Giant rats/bugs
  2. Little kids begging
  3. GI issues
  4. no air conditioning
  5. clinicals every day!
  6. drinking Coke
  7. only bottled water
  8. CPR classes!!!
  9. no fresh veggies
  10. have to go places in groups of 3
Top 10 funny moments from Ecuador

1. Paige accidentally hitting on our waiter
2. Negrito?... Dos Negritos???
3. hearing "We didn't start the fire" (Billy Joel) on Ecuadorian radio
4. seeing our teachers Latin dancing
5. "A ver todos..." with the Gias
6. 12 people in the back of the Ambulance
7. David "teaching" Spanish to the gringas
8. Giving each other shots when we were sick
9. "You have beautiful eyes- because that's all that is visible"
10. The worm

All in all this was one of the most fantastic experiences of my life and I am so grateful for the chance that I had to participate. I learned so much from the people there! The intent was for us to serve them, but I was served so much more by the people there than I could ever give back. I think I will always love the Ecuadorian people and I know that I am a better person because of this experience. I hope that one day everyone has the opportunity to have an experience that means as much to them as this has meant to me. Thank you so much to all of you who have been keeping me going with your emails and I can't wait to get back in touch with all of you!