La Lizzie

There are almost no words. Almost.

Pancillo, my village, sits above Otavalo. It´s possible to desend into the city on a 25 cent bus ride.  The village is green, almost greener than anything I´ve ever seen. The mountainsides unfold in front of you like a stain glass window, the fields of corn and potatos glued together to blanket the view. It´s astounding. Pictures will be coming soon.

Culture shock is hitting me hard.  Harder than anything I´ve ever experienced. Panecillo is poor and I have a feeling my host family is no stranger to hunger. The dogs slink around, their ribs potruding, treated as nuisances rather than pets. I have no sense of direction here yet. But thankfully I have Heidi, the intern, who is teaching me everything before she departs in April. She explains the subtle ¨Otavalismos¨ or the distinct phrases the people of this area use. My favorite thing I´ve noticed is how they talk about people with  ¨la or el¨. ¨La Heidi¨. ¨La Lizzie.¨ ¨Me voy a presentarle La Lizzie.¨ They- like in Rosario- speak Castellano, a specific form of spanish where ¨vos¨replaces ¨tu¨and the double L sounds like a ¨jah¨.The school I will be teaching at is bilingual, Kichwa/Spanish. My host mom, Aurora, speaks Kichwa first, Spanish second. When she speaks to me, in her quiet shy way, her Spanish is inflected with the Kichwa accent that has lived in these mountains for thousands of years.

I am very foreign here, and I feel it. I am so tall and so light. My hair, my skin, my eyes. But I don´t get stared at nearly as much as I expected. Most people are happy to talk to me and help me in whatever way I need in that moment. But, as expected, I have a foot on almost everyone. I am taller than some of the elderly members of the community… when I´m sitting down.

I have a few stories, ones I think you´ll like. One about my two masses in one day, another about Kichwa gossip, another about my host sister and her love for Ke$ha. But now I am in Otavalo and  I need to get back on a bus to Panecillo. Today Heidi, Don Vicente and I are going to a village I can´t pronounce to have a meeting with the villagers about the foundation.

More tomorrow.

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