Tuesday, June 22, 2010

More Thoughts About Leaving

School Celebration

I was thinking about who I would miss when I leave here, who I have become close to, who I will stay in contact with. In truth, we have been here too short a time to become fast friends with anyone. We have good relationships with Eric's colleague Santiago and his family, with the dueƱos of Sacha Lodge/Casa de Suizo, and Isabel and her family. I see the Canadian women most regularly (one gravitates toward those one has something in common with, although I have not lived in Canada for over twenty years), and have a closer relationship with Maria, whom I see regularly for lunch and sometimes on the weekend when our children play together.

I am disappointed that we have not made more Ecuadorian friends. They are friendly and helpful and appear open to friendships, but there is also a certain reserve that keeps them at a distance. My impression is that family always comes first and when they walk past the high walls that surround their homes, they leave the outside world behind and do not venture out. Perhaps we needed more time to become part of that inside world. Certainly we have been busy with visitors for months now, so we have been less available than we were our first months here. Time would have made a difference.

Initially I believed that the only way I could really become part of this new world was to learn the language. I was too frustrated those first weeks when I could not maintain a conversation. Speaking Spanish was an essential to understanding this culture, how Ecuadorians think and feel. I am still learning, and I have far more to learn.

My closest Ecuadorian companion has been my Spanish teacher Amparo, who I have spoken with for many many hours. She has certainly opened my eyes to her life and to some of the ways of thinking that I run into everyday. I imagine that with more time, we would become closer and be true friends.

I have been feeling lately that I really do not know anything, or not enough at all about Ecuadorians. I have had a taste of this country and the people and their culture and their character, and what I know so far has encouraged me to try to dig deeper and know more. But I have run out of time.

I was invited to Maya's going away party at her school. Her classmates each wrote out small cards with something to say about Maya and their experience with her. She was surprised by all the fuss and held back from the fray. I have learned this year that she is timid and reserved and 'warms up slowly'. She has struggled with friendships at her school. Initially it was the language barrier that kept her away, but I also wonder if it was knowing that she would be here for a year only that prevented her from investing too much in her friendships. Her teacher had printed up cards with her email and she handed them out to her classmates. I am curious as to which ones she will stay in contact with and who she will want to see when we return in January.

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