Really, going to Ecuador was all about the people. The people I encountered in Ecuador were probably some of the warmest people I have ever met. Everywhere I went, I was greeted with smilesand a cheerful, "¡Buenos Días!" or "¡Buenas tardes!" It is customary to also greet people with a hug, putting your cheeks together and smacking sound with your lips.
The children were absolutely beautiful. Sometimes they would come up to us jabbering away in Spanish...and I wouldn't be able to understand a single word of it. I would usually just smile and give them a hug. That almost always satisfied them.
This is a picture of Judi, Melani and Daniel with their mother. The two little girls seemed to latch right on to me during the two weeks I was there. I figured out that these children are in the Compassion Program (although not sponsored by anyone that I know personally) which made me feel good.One of the neatest things that I got to be a part of was taking kids to a shoe store in Pifo to buy them new shoes. We took them to the shoe store over the course of several days in groups of about 20. We ended up buying over 150 pairs of shoes for needy children from two different schools in Pifo. We also gave each child a new pair of socks.
Aren't these little the boys the cutest?
One of the things I had hoped to be able to do was to improve my Spanish. I am pleased with how I did. I am far from fluent, but feel really confident that I could become fluent if I was given the chance to spend a significant amount of time in a Spanish-speaking country. Most of the time we had people who were fluent in both English and Spanish with us...but not all the time. Toward the end of our stay in Ecuador, it was decided that two more children needed shoes. these particular children were not with us because they live in a small town higher in the Andes Mountains. I was chosen to go along because I knew more Spanish than the other adult going. I am pleased to say that I had no problem communicating with the store clerk about what we needed. I am sure I did not do this perfectly, but I am really happy that I was able to be successful!!!
"Necesitamos zapatos para una niña. Talla 31, por favor."