We left San Patricio for good after a meal heavy on yogurt. Some kind of fruity yogurt smoothie, and fruit totally covered in purple yogurt. I'm not used to eating yogurt so... that's a bit tricky.
Kelley, a PC medical officer, gave us a crash course on using the giant medical kit we all received. I'm actually really impressed with the kit and I totally appreciate having it. And whenever we run out or come close to doing so, they send us supplies totally free of charge. I like this.
Next the staff performed a series of culturally overexaggerated skits that included a few trainees to demonstrate some situations we might encounter, but I think it was more efficient at loosening us up and getting us to relax a little about our pending encounters with our new families. The skits were hilarious though - definitely thought the one of the 'kids' digging through Paige's bag (sorry Paige!) was the funniest.
They fed us again: a chicken or cheese (yo) sandwich with ridiculously amazing tomate de arbol juice. My favorite drink so far. Now suddenly I realize why a month before Ecuador, I started CRAVING orange juice. It was preparation because I was never really a fruit person before.
We were led to a new room where Andrew gave us a sort of pep talk about meeting our families, and handed out a map so we knew where we were. And then we picked up cards with our names, and were released to the foyer to find our families! It took a lot of looking and confusion for my host mom and me to be united, but it happened...dragged my luggage to the street, and into a taxi we went. My home is way, way far from the training center. I wonder who else is nearby? PC said we were put into clusters. Farther and farther the taxi drove, until we reached a locked gate, entered that, and came across another locked gate. Home!
Home is three houses, all the same family. Paula, my host mom, introduced me to her mother Greta, a lovely woman who speaks clear Spanish and flashes smiles at me all the time. Paula's young son Mateo was home, as was Matias who immediately shared with me his favorite music videos on YouTube, and asked to see mine. And there's Mario. M-M-M.
My personal space is enormous. Way bigger and nicer than I ever had a right to expect. I live in one of the three houses on the second floor. There's a large living/study room, a kitchenette (without cooking abilities), a bathroom and shower, my room, an extra room - all to myself. Totally private.
My host family is not obligated to make me lunch and I have to pay them for this in addition to what the Peace Corps gives us to pay them for breakfast and dinner, but even still they invited me to lunch. Another great soup with potatoes, carrots, onions and pasta (I'm loving the soup thing), a salad (tomatoes, broccoli, and a little lettuce with olive oil), rice, and a type of lentil cake (torta de lenteja?). I took a bite of the lentil cake and freaked a little - the texture reminded me exactly of meat. I asked again what was in it: Paula assured me it was just lentils and eggs. Oh, eggs? I'm not used to those either. More adjustment.
Peace Corps also told us not to have the cheese or milk until our stomachs settle in a week or so, but Matias offered me some to put in my soup. And it was that familiar white semi-soft salty cheese like queso de campo in El Salvador, so I accepted it. Eight hours later, I still feel fantastic.
Carlos (?), Paula's husband, arrived after work (he teaches English), and tried to get me connected to the wireless internet. We tried for what seemed like hours, and many people filtered in to help - that's another strange thing to me here, all the people around all the time! Finally they were successful and I was able to get on and Skype my parents.
Paula called me back for dinner, which was a quiet meal between herself, Carlos, and me of the same salad, rice, and a grilled cheese sandwich of the white queso. They finished way before me, so they drilled me with questions and, maybe it was nerves or tiredness, but my Spanish went down the drain. I think I disappointed my host dad, because I can speak Spanish when I'm 100% focused, but if I loose concentration, away it goes. Paula asked me tough questions like why I'm a vegetarian, and how the economic situation is in the U.S. Yikes. I excused myself at 8:30 due to exhaustion, but here I am at 11 still trying to get settled. I hope I can sleep in. Tomorrow, from what I understand, they're taking me to Quito to a market where people sell local crafts like textiles and hats. Hmmm...we'll see! I wish I could take pictures but from everything I've heard, I don't feel comfortable doing that just yet.