Often, when we find ourselves traveling whether internationally or locally, we come across things that we aren’t used to. The most common thing that makes people nervous or may be seen as something unfamiliar would be culture. Culture varies between countries, ethnicities, states, and even neighbors, meaning that often we do not take the time to appreciate or integrate ourselves with cultures outside our own. Recently in my travel to Ecuador, as part of the Healthy Living Initiative, I found myself in a foreign land, surrounded by unfamiliar people, and practices that I wasn’t used to.
Within these travels, I went to a school in a small community called Guara within the Loja Province on the southern side of Ecuador, close to the Peruvian border. The school had only two teachers, and six kids at the time of my visit; three of which belonged to the same family. Arriving on site, we went about introductions and explaining the “Little Library” project. Within moments I was ensnared by these small Ecuadorians and their story filled “Maestros”. Before we began the actual activity we played a rousing game of “Pato, Pato, Ganso” (Duck, Duck, Goose), and freeze tag. Over the course of two days, the kids and my group became very close.
On our last day with the kids, we finished our “Little Library” by having them sign their names on the bottom edge. Once, that was finished we decided to end our time together with an intensive game of freeze tag that contained more laughter and cheering than a Fútbol game in Madrid. In the middle of me using my hat to trick the kids on which direction I was dodging, we heard the bus coming to pick us up. The look on the faces of the kids as they realized what was coming was gut wrenching, and preceded a very heart felt good-bye as we boarded our bus, bound for our next destination. One day, I hope to come back and see “los niños” and finish that game of “etiqueta de hielo”.