Stringing my Life Together: Purishpa takini, takishpa purini.


Los Angelespi Ña Tikramurkani…
2010/08/13, 09:52
Filed under: Ecuador, Fieldwork, food, Kichwa, Los Angeles, Moving, Otavalo, Research, Thoughts, Travel

My apologies friends and family for not updating this (practically at all) while in Ecuador. Not having a laptop, the long hours of classes, and making it home in time for the meals and before the buses stopped running really made it difficult to sit down and write a quality entry. The night of my last post I went to a party in the community…ate too much, drank a bit, and learned how well the indígenas can party and dance. Unfortunately, the next morning I woke up with an allergic reaction to bug bites, most likely from the pitikunka that were at the part of the village where the party was (pitikunka look like a cross between an ant and a flea).The next day I watched Spain’s glorious win in the World Cup finals, and won 3 litres of soda from a bet made with Segundo, Patricio’s brother, who was rooting for Holland.

Despite my failure to update while abroad, I do, however, plan to post pictures soon, and with those, short snippets to go along and catch you all up!

In the end, the program was a success and the host family was more than I could have ever hoped for. I left Ecuador being able to spend the majority of the last few days speaking Kichwa with Patricio (my teacher…though it would be about simple topics, such as about my family, buying fruit, etc. Technical conversations get to be pretty tough, especially since so much of the vocabulary has to be interpreted on your own to express ideas or things that historically weren’t a part of the culture). My reading and writing, and to some extent my listening, improved a great deal due to Patricio and I spending hours analyzing grammar, morphemes, and occasionally…well, frequently… wanting to rip our hair out.

Leaving was definitely the hardest part. The last day was spent at the Equatorial line with the family, balancing eggs on nails and other crazy experiments. Four of us were able to balance the egg!!

Certified Music Teacher and Egg Balancer!

When I got back, we had some hearty kinwa (quinua) soup followed by the cinnamon bundt cake I made the night before. Later, the sisters tried to teach me how to put the anaku on, though I was a absolutely terrible at it! (My homework while in the states is to figure out putting the anaku on, and also keep practicing the flute pieces and sanjuanes/sanjuanitos they taught me). We then spent the evening drinking to toast the trip, our friendship, and my despedida (licor de azaray, I think, though I can’t remember the name of the fruit very well).  This was followed by a long night of playing Screw Your Neighbor (see this website, though my family has a few house rules we play by, such as the King as a blocker, and playing on your honor…my grandma Polly will be so proud!), listening to the songs I recorded with Lauro (brother-in-law of Patricio) and some of Lauro’s sister’s family. When most of the family had to go home or go to sleep, there were hugs made that left tears left on each others’ shoulders. At 2:15am, I left Otavalo by taxi with Patricio’s parents and Segundo. We had some coffee at the airport before saying goodbye. It was the first time I cried at an airport.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of what I came back with, but basically I couldn’t help myself and purchased a few instruments and did most of my Christmas shopping in Ecuador. The trip back had an added charango in my backpack and a giant box with the gifts, most of my clothes, and a drum 🙂 Incredibly nerve-wrecking, but thankfully American Airlines did not let me down.

I’m realizing that my travels and studies are making life really complicated, but in a good way, since I now have family (or friends close enough to call family) all over the place. Though, no matter where I go, I am missing someone and someplace; the jokes, the hugs, the soccer, the smells, the food, the music. What really gets to me is realizing how hard it is for other people to travel and be able to visit me here in the states, whether in Los Angeles or in New York. Ever read the non-immigrant tourist visa requirements? Damn. I wish it were easier to have my friends and family make it here to visit from Mexico or Ecuador for example, and to be able to share my life with them as they have so generously shared theirs with me.

Back in Los Angeles, the apartment hunt is on. It appears I found the almost perfect apartment (perfect except for being INCREDIBLY small!!!) It is going to be totally worth it though. Time is being spent reminiscing about Ecuador, unpacking, mariachi rehearsals, and catching up with the handful of friends who are still in town for the summer. I will hopefully squeeze in a trip to NY, and then head back for year three of graduate study…officially a PhD student now 🙂

Ashta kashkaman!

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