Update: I found the crickets (los grillos). Honestly, you’d have to be blind not to find them. No exaggeration, it seems to rain crickets here. And they are huge. At least in my opinion. Last night I was trying to let my friend, Sierra, out of the house. There were so many crickets when we opened the door that we immediately shut it and stood inside the house in fear. My host mother, Patricia came downstairs yielding a broom. I watched as my five-foot-tall, Ecuadorean mother swatted every cricket that tried to get in, wishing I had a little of her fearlessness. Sierra and I ran and screamed every time a cricket would come jumping out of nowhere and the rest of the night I found myself anticipating a cricket at every turn.
Thankfully, the crickets only come out at night so I can walk freely during the day. Good thing, because most days I walk to and from school. Right now, I take three classes: Spanish, Cross-Cultural Perspectives, and a course on Ecuadorean history. My cross-cultural perspectives class is the most fascinating to me because, as an American, I am part of the minority in the class. I study at an Ecuadorean university (UEES) that also offers classes in English. These classes are open to Ecuadorean students as well as the international students. I have taken many classes about culture before, but never with so many people from another culture. There are two Americans in the class (including me), two French people, and about twenty or so Ecuadorean students. And the teacher is from Belgium. During the first week, we spent most of our time analyzing collectivist and individualistic cultures. Although I have done this in a classroom environment, I’ve never been able to do it in a collectivist culture. Not only do I get to analyze it with Ecuadoreans, but I get to be living it outside the classroom as well.
I am extremely lucky to be experiencing this culture with such a loving host mother, Patricia. Although no one in my house speaks English, a laugh and a smile are universal. Not to mention, the amount of Spanish I am also learning. She teaches me words all the time and repeats everything until I understand it. She is extremely patient but has some fire in her as well. Just five minutes ago, I was talking with my host cousin and his friends. They are all 19. A cricket landed on one of their backs and all four of us ran around the room screaming until Patricia came to the rescue and squished it in her hand. I do believe it was a match made in heaven to be placed with such a strong, independent Ecuadorean woman.