I think my days might be a little off but whatever.

The shit hath becometh real folks. If you recall in my last entry I wrote that the reality of leaving had not quite sunk into my little head yet. Well as of Friday, I am no longer at that stage in the timeline of pre-departure anxiety. It did sink in, I’ll admit not entirely but enough to freak me out. I read through the e-mails and word documents the Peace Corps had finally sent out regarding flight arrangements, staging details (a time for my fellow Ecuador-bound comrades to meet up in the U.S. the day before landing in Quito), welcoming ceremonies, and finally just a tiny few paragraphs about moving in with our Ecuadorian host families. That’s when I started panicking and then laughing about panicking. Needless to say, I called SATO and got my flight booked for Jan. 18 from Kansas City to staging in Dallas. Wait what? Dallas? Just when I thought I had emotionally and mentally left the Lone Star State for a long while, and now I’m headed back? However, it does seem sort of fitting that I’m departing for this adventure from there.

Now that the flights are booked and I can see the airport codes and departure times, the whole thing has become much more realistic. It is incredibly terrifying and terrifyingly (<is that a word?) exciting. I’ve broken it down into a list of “can’t wait for” and “I’m about to do WHAT???” for your reading pleasure.

Can’t Wait For:

Cuy – This well-known (sort of) delicacy is unique to the Andes Mountains. Your little guinea pig friend you brought to show-and-tell in 3rd grade? Think about him skewered and roasted to perfection over a spit fire and voilà! I am continually thankful I wasn’t raised as a picky eater. I hope to channel Anthony Zimmern in my quest to find delicious cuy.

Semana Santa – Ecuador, being a traditionally Catholic country and all, celebrates Holy Week in style. From what I’ve read, its similar to the traditions throughout Spain during this time of year. My week of Semana Santa madness in Sevilla will be hard to live up to but I can’t wait to see how the tradition has evolved in Latin America. Basically I can’t wait to see the similarities and differences among Spain and Latin America when it comes to all things culture.

Language Nerdiness – Newflash: I’m a complete language nerd. I find case endings and verb conjugations enthralling. Regional accents and phonetics? Can’t get enough of it! Hopefully I’ll be able to put that Linguistics degree to good use and my Spanish will do nothing but improve. Also Quichua, maybe I’ll be able to pick up somma that!

Quito – I feel like I’ve been completely slacking in travel research. My free time to travel won’t come for months until after I get there so I figure what’s the rush? Instead of reading about everything in Lonely Planet, I’d rather talk to people who have actually been there to get the scoop on the hip spots. However, I have done a fair amount of research on Quito, the capital, and it looks absolutely stunning.

Otavalo – Ok, one more touristy thing. The market in Otavalo is Ecuador’s most famous. I’m a sucker for a good market and this one sounds unbelievable. Think market stalls, street food, and plenty of hand-woven Indian textiles. Oh and Panama Hats, which actually originated in Ecuador!

Public Transportation – Public Transportation has left me with some of my favorite travel stories. There’s always something odd to see and a new experience to be had no matter if you take the same train everyday to work or its your first time in a city. I might be singing a different tune after a few 10+ bus rides with chicken and crying babies.

I’m About To Do WHAT???

Uncontrollable Emotions – I hate crying, especially in public, but sometimes you just need a good cry. I usually wait until I’m in some secure location like the shower or other locked room but I have been known to cry…uncontrollably, in an entirely public and/or random place. I burst into tears after my Spanish señora gave me the tour of her piso in Sevilla. I felt incredibly happy and lucky to know that I would be living with such a sweet lady in a very nice apartment for 4 months. Thinking back, I had about a million emotions going on, I was in a foreign country by myself, no friends, could barely get by in Spanish, scared and nervous with no idea what to expect. Happiness and excitement were somewhere in there too. My other outburst of emotion? It was over a silly game show competition at English camp in Korea. The kids felt incredible amounts of pressure and Mc.Doria, the smartest boy in my class, got 2nd out of 144 kids. I was ecstatic for him but I knew he was incredibly disappointed. The other boys in my class went up to him in front of the whole auditorium and lifted him up Rocky-style congratulating him on 2nd place. It. melted. my. heart. I quickly became a puddle of mascara in front of 144 Korean middle schoolers. Rad. 

Uncontrollable Intestinal Issues – Its gonna happen, I know it. I’m going to be sitting in a meeting, on a public bus, at dinner with my host family, in front of my classroom and BAM, I will be all Maya Rudolph in a designer wedding dress sitting in the street à la Bridemaids. Get ready for embarrassing anecdotes y’all.

Awkward Host Family Moments – These are also bound to happen…a lot. My 14-year-old Spanish host brother once brought me my underwear that had been drying on the clothesline in the kitchen. “um, gracias,’ I muttered as I quickly took them. Also Spanish family related, my host sister had a boyfriend who was never introduced to me. He was at the house ALL the time and we just awkwardly avoided each other. Similarly, my señora had an ‘amigo’ who was never introduced to me. He was old and very Spanish and they would come back from the bars after a little too much vino and she would hug me and kiss my head. We did not have that kind of relationship. Awkward.

People Forgetting About Me – Two years is…LONG to say the least. I have great friends and people here who I know will be excited to see me when it’s all over in 2014 (holy shit, it scares me to type that) but I can’t help but be THAT girl that’s worried about people forgetting about her. That’s where you folks come in. Send me some lovely letters to read when I think people have forgotten I exist. The address is posted on the left. 🙂

Being a Hot Mess – I’m talking luggage/stuff-wise here. I have 100 lbs as opposed to the previously thought 80 lbs I can take with me. 20 extra pounds is great but um hi, I’m not a body-builder. I’m pretty sure I can barely lift 50. No matter how well I pack and plan to go somewhere, I’m ALWAYS a hot mess. I look like the Clampetts in the Beverly Hillbillies with shit coming out of my ears. I will be a hot mess and it stresses me OUT!

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