Hey, blog. It’s been a while. Since January? When I first signed up for the Peace Corps, 27 months sounded like a dauntingly long period of time. But now it’s May all over again, the same month I left for Ecuador, nearly a year ago. As some of you know, I ran into some irreconcilable issues in my previous site. Living in the Oriente, I met some amazing people who impacted my time in Ecuador for the better: my good friend and adopted little sister, Jenni, my host family that embraced me like their own daughter, the little girls who greeted on my walk home from work and tirelessly searched the streets when my kitten went missing, and more…
But even though I’ve left my old site, I will still be living here in Ecuador for another year! With the ease of bus transportation in country, I’ll be able to go back and visit my friends for their fiestas in May and other occasions.
I moved to my new site, Cuenca, on Wednesday, and will report to my first day of work tomorrow! I will be working with the local nonprofit Fundación Hogar de Esperanza. The new foundation – they received their official nonprofit designation in Ecuador and the US last spring – is dedicated to improving the quality of life for those living with illness in Ecuador, with an emphasis on HIV/AIDS. I went in to meet the staff for the first time on Wednesday, and left with the assurance that I’ll hit the ground running: the job will push me, engage me, and move along at a fast pace. But I’m feeling up to the challenge.
On a personal note, my fellow Peace Corps volunteers and returned PCV’s who have stayed in the area have been incredibly welcoming. A Cuencana PCV who recently finished her service sold me all her belongings, so I already have all my furnishings, and I moved into an empty apartment in the regional volunteer leader’s building. Him, along with the volunteers in Azogues, have showed me all the important Cuenca locations: the best stand to get my veggies at the market, the Muay Thai studio where I can develop some boxing moves, the $2 cocktail happy hour bar, and the only spot in Ecuador to get delicious, authentic hashbrowns paired with a hot apple-passionfruit crumble. Unfortunately, that RPCV-owned cafe will be closing at the end of the month, so I’m going to need to get my pie fix filled this May.
In short, I am thrilled to be continuing my Peace Corps service here in Cuenca! This UNSESCO World Heritage site is filled with beautiful, historical architecture – I now live in one of the classic colonial homes, overlooking the bright white courtyard from my bedroom – and interesting events to attend or restaurants to sample. As I begin to integrate into the community, expect more stories from my work and life as a señorita Cuencana.
But! Stay tuned for a few throwback blog posts, because in the months since my last post I have attended carnaval in the Amazonian capitol city, Tena, spent time at home with my family in Washington, visited the cherry blossoms in Portland with my sorority sisters, shadowed the Harvard graduate student life with my best friend, played in the snow in Leavenworth, and reminisced on my college years in Berkeley and San Francisco.