. My site will be in the small district of Tabacundo. Tabacundo is located northeast of Quito. It's about and hour and a half by bus from the terminal in Quito. I arrived at night, and my host family was already awaiting me. The family that I was supposed to live with comprised of Rosa Morillo and her grandchildren Diego, 18, and Jean-Pierre, 10. Their mother, and many other family members were currently living in Milan, Italy. Many families in the North of Ecuador have members working in Italy or Spain, who send money back to their families in Ecuador. In the South of Ecuador, most families have members in the United States. Ecuador receives a sizable chunk of its gross national income from those who work abroad and send money home. I could go on and on about how I feel for the children who live so far away from their parents, but I would take up this whole website. When I arrived, there was about 14 people in the house, all family members. It felt a bit odd being in front of all of these people, but then I realized, I am gonna be put in these situations for the next 27 months, I better get used to it. They fed me, which was also odd, since nobody else was eating and they just stared at me. But, after awhile, things calmed down. Then, I was informed that I had arrived just in time for the beginning of the "Fiestas de San Pedro (the area's patron saint) and Inti Raymi (the ancient Inca festival of good harvest, kind of like a Thanksgiving of sorts). Given my personality, and the kindness and warmness of this family, I knew that I would fit right in. We attended an exhibition of local dance groups (every neighborhood has its own group that dances and sings traditional songs). My "brother" Damian was part of the infamous "Duros de Tabacundo". These guys were impressive.
From the beginning, I knew that I would fit very well with this family. A lot of my friends got to see my house/ neighborhood, that was often referred to as the "bad" part of town, and thought that living there was kinda crazy. I agreed with them, the neighborhood and my family was a little extraordinary. But, so am I. Fires in the street at night, kids running around screaming at all hours of the day, mothers and grandmothers yelling for their young ones, thieves prowling around at night and subsequently chasing them with my neighbors, lying down next to a scorpion on my pillow, that stuff doesn't really bother me. I kinda like it. It lets you enjoy life. It's raw, how it should be. So, we got along perfectly.
After staying in Quito for a couple of days, we then heading north to the town of Cayambe. In Cayambe, we talked more about all of our obligations over the next 11 weeks. He also had a nice information session on all of the sicknesses and infections that we can/will get during our term of service. This was interesting, rather disgusting for me. I am glad that I found out about brain-worms and encefilitis, how I can get scabies and other weird skin diseases, and that I should basically stay away from all of the great fruits and vegetables of Ecuador, because most likely, I'll get sick. Actually, it wasn't that bad, I did learn a little. The funny thing is that I lived down here with a program from my university in 2002. We stayed in the same places as we are now, visited all parts of Ecuador, but we were never warned of all of this stuff. Now, I feel thankful that I got out alive the first time. Because I definitely did a lot of stupid stuff. Saturday, after the gross-out session, we finally made it to the sites where we will be staying for the next 11 weeks