Understanding in Ecuador

Eric, a WorldTeach Ecuador volunteer, recounts his comfort with the Spanish language and compares his skill to the weather in his new home.

My confidence in Spanish is like the weather here. I wake up and it’s cool and cloudy. I walk outside and I’m transported to late October. I can imagine the leaves at home, as they fall from the sky, the brilliant color the price paid for the loss of life. Like the dancing of male Monarch butterflies that travel down to Mexico solely to die. The sky is gray this morning, and the cobblestone streets are quiet as I leave the house. A few buses and taxis pass by, but for the most part the city is still sleeping. I could still be sleeping. It’s too early in the morning to feel that life is actually being realized, lived, following me as I walk to my bus stop. I must be on autopilot. Or like a house of mazes and mirrors. I’m walking somewhere, I arrive at my destination, but I don’t plan my steps. I turn when the streets open, and the road seems to pull me in the right direction rather than my own conscious thinking. I imagine it must be similar for the butterflies, whom in a few hours later will be, well…nature has a way of being cruel and beautiful simultaneously. 

As the butterflies fall to the ground, their energy spent like autumnal leaves, I finish teaching my morning class. I walk outside to a new day. Sunny and warm instead of crisp and ponderous. I chat, I interact, I make a mess of my Spanish. Talking with Lorena in the sunshine, my confidence in my Spanish increases, because, she an easy speaker. She speaks slow enough for me, uses the right words and constructions that are not too difficult to follow. She smiles and her burgundy hair still catches my eyes, as the light, coming through the leaves of the tree under which we are in repose, shines on her. 

Remember though, I am talking about my Spanish skills. Sunny and fluid or still and isolating. Nearly 7 weeks have passed since I have been in Cuenca. With Lorena, I almost feel that I can speak and understand as a young child can understand the words of a caring mother. But with others I feel like I have learned nothing at all. Like my ears and brain are disconnected. As it is, I’m still uncomfortable going out and making friends for I feel that I will just bother the other person with asking them to repeat everything they say. Yet, I am thankful for the friends I do have here.

Interested in teaching others in Ecuador? Check out our Ecuador teaching opportunities here!

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