Agualongo, a small town in the hillside of the Andes Mountains, is home to approximately 40 families, including my host parents Rosa and Alberto, their children, and their grandchildren. Despite the language barrier, Rosa and Alberto welcomed us into their home with warm hearts and lots of food. I learned about their lives working at one of the largest haciendas in Ecuador and I played many games with their grandchildren. Despite being faced with hardship throughout their lives, Rosa and Alberto are extremely passionate about their children’s education both in school and in life. All the children and grandchildren have special jobs helping out on their family farm and cleaning up around the house. I deeply enjoyed connecting with my host family and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to learn about how their lifestyle differs from my own.
Alina, the five year old granddaughter of Rosa and Alberto, was initially shy, hiding behind her mother. After a few days, she started opening up to me, holding my hand and playing with me in the sand and mud. We connected through our mud balls and our walks around the family farm.
The twins, Chari and Roni, are loud. They constantly wanted to show us new parts of the farm and all the animals. They love playing with the “pollitos” and doing cartwheels on the dirt floor. Their energy was contagious as we played soccer and cards with them.
Rosa and Alberto are two of the warmest, most accepting people I’ve ever met. They immediately embraced our weird quirks – 7 cups of coffee at breakfast and going to bed at 9:30pm. We also welcomed their lifestyle differences by attempting to speak Spanish and consuming rice and beans at every meal. We helped out around their farm and had many conversations with them about their busy lives.
Rosa and Alberto both embody a strong work ethic. On their farm, Rosa wakes up at 5:30am to feed the chickens and cows. Then she walks around the corn fields, watering and tending to the corn and beans. She ends her day by making dinner for her entire family as well as her adult daughter who has five children – enough food for 12 people each night. Alberto hops onto his motorcycle every morning at 7:00am to head to the hacienda, where he works as a blacksmith. He constantly pushes his children to succeed in school so that they do not have to work on the hacienda as he does. Together, Rosa and Alberto strive to give their children every opportunity for success.