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Santa Elena: Tasty Food and Happy People


By: Sam Gray

Since being dropped off in a new environment, I have seen nothing except happy people that have done everything to make me comfortable. Before being dropped off, I was nervous to speak to my family with broken Spanish, but talking to my host family and kids in the community has greatly helped.

In our class, we’re blessed with kids that love to draw and have energy to play every type of game we can throw at them. A clear favorite for the kids would be “Viene El Capitán”. The kids also enjoy educational activities that incorporate drawing like answering prompts about brushing their teeth.

The kids often show up early and practice English or play Foosball or another game we have in the house, sometimes they are so immersed they don’t leave until the hour after class ends. A few of the kids bring snacks that I’ve never seen before, like a type of chips or a bag of grapes that tasted tasty.

In my community, they make lots of tasty dishes using chicken and fish. I went to a family get together with my host family (I think it was for the cousin of my host family) and there, they butchered a pig and roasted parts on a stove. People grabbed pieces off a plate for what had finished next to the stove to eat, and I followed suit trying a very fatty piece of meat then a crispy bit. My host mother placed most of the food on the plate onto a smaller plate and handed it to me, and it was delicious with the rice and orange soda to wash it down.

In my community, I have made friends by playing soccer with locals and throwing a frisbee with kids. It has been an incredible experience that I will surely remember and think back to later in life. I hope to keep the friends I have made in my host family even when I return to the United States.


A Community with Active Spirit!

By: Talia, Audrey and Maddox


Our community in north east Santa Elena, Ecuador highlights the importance of strong relationships between family members, friends and neighbors. There is always a lot of action from the music to the street vendors to all of the animals, including goats, cows, chickens, ducks, dogs, and more. Also, the nature is absolutely stunning, from the river to the mountains that surround the area, this town has beautiful nature and culture.

Additionally, the common food here consists of a lot of rice, chicken, fish, and crops from the farms and the mountains like guanabana, maracuya, potatoes, choclo (corn) and the list continues. Also, soccer forms a large part of the cultural identity. People of all ages are united by the sport. To continue, birthday parties and other festivities create a great whirlwind of emotion between family and loved ones. During these festivities, there are plates of food served, and the desserts contain cake, jello and little sweets.

Usually, the community wakes up relatively early in the morning, close to 7 a.m., and the day starts with a breakfast of eggs, fried flour tortillas, and sometimes soup or something similar. The majority of Ecuadorians have each meal of the day with a drink. Here in this community, some common drinks include avocado juice, pineapple juice, naranjilla juice, orange juice, lemonade, and coffee.

After breakfast, we usually spend time with our host families playing cards or playing soccer with kids. Later in the day, around 12:30 p.m. or 1 p.m. in the afternoon, we sit at the table to eat lunch. A typical lunch includes more juice, a bowl of soup to start and a plate of food to finish. Some common soups here are onion soup, beef soup, chicken soup, cheese soup, and fish soup. The plate of food typically contains rice (red or white), a type of meat or fish and sometimes potatoes, cauliflower or broccoli on the side. During the week from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the afternoon, we host extracurricular activities for kids in the community where we do fun activities with them.

These extracurriculars have a variety of games. We always start with stretches and everyday involves an aspect of teamwork. We also try to have at least one creative activity and one active activity each day. Therefore, everyone can have a good time. After extracurricular activities are finished, we walk back to our houses. The community is very walkable, and we always see people we know in the street. The friendly community makes it exciting to explore. Dinner is usually eaten around 7 p.m. in the evening. The plates at dinner have rice, meat or fish again and sometimes something different like a gordo, which has a base of ground corn with cheese inside. For dinner, coffee or juice is also served. Finally the day ends with spending time with our host families, talking at the table and going to bed around 10 p.m. or 11 p.m.


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