Well, after three weeks in Cotacachi, I still felt like I didn’t experience everything this small town has to offer. The last day felt so long, yet it felt impossible to hold any new memories of my last day mind because I was stuck on the fact that I was leaving so soon. After working with my family for three weeks, familiarizing myself with the community, and visiting everything that made Cotacachi distinct - the mountains, the warm weather, kind and open-minded people, and the indigenous insight to life - I felt like I belonged with the community. One of the things I regret not doing is learning Kichua, the indigenous language that people in Cotacachi speak. I’ve been told that it is an extremely hard language to learn, but as a Russian learner, I know any language is edible for the mind. One of the things I don’t regret doing is practicing my Spanish and trying a lot more street food. When someone visits Latin America, it is important to try to love the street food, even though so many people will advise you not to. The street food in Cotacachi and Otavalo is special because, according to my host mom, they specialize in fried food! And, to be honest, I loved eating the fried food there. It tasted fresher and the cool, fresh evening breeze felt good on my re-energized body after a good meal.
I loved and enjoyed my family a lot! My mother and I would sit down in front of the house and just talk. We would talk about how funny her grandson, Michael, is because of his natural humor and adorable physique. I loved him and treated him as my own nephew, and I will never forget how much he adored to play UNO. I think it was the first time he enjoyed something from U.S. American culture. We would also talk about my day and how much she loved to be in her farm and with her cows. She loved the Latin country life because she loved being in charge, is what I believe she wanted to say; even though the father is the one who brings home money, she was in charge of everything in the house. She also taught me a lot about indigenous culture. I learned that indigenous communities want to be like everyone else; they want to retain their culture and customs that make them indigenous, but they also want to be progressive and have women at the community meetings, attend university, and have their own land. I feel like my trip here helped widen my mind on what it means to want a successful and happy life. It can mean living in the city and working a high paying job, or it can mean owning some land and keeping a couple of cows in your backyard.