Ecuador 8/31/2018 - 9/15/2018

Friday, 8/31/2018 - Departure

We took the 8:15 p.m. Logan Express to the airport. The Avianca check-in counter had just opened. Even though we were business class, we had to wait for about half an hour in the business line for check-in. Avianca sells business class tickets for prices which aren't much higher than coach on other airlines. And it allows us to avoid the Miami airport, opting for Bogota instead. It works well for us comfort and schedule wise, so it is our new go-to flight route.

Business class comes with lounge access. We went to the Lufthansa lounge and enjoyed turkey sandwiches, pasta, rice pudding with ginger, cake, and M&M's. I had a peach sangria and Craig had Bailey's. We were quite satiated and relaxed by the time we boarded our flight.

We were comfortable in our business class seats. I managed to sleep well on the way to Bogota, but Craig didn't really sleep.

Saturday, 9/1/2018 - Arrival

We were served breakfast (I had a parfait and Craig had an omelette).

We landed in Bogota and boarded our flight to Quito. We were served a second breakfast (Bilbo Baggins would be proud) of a delicious ham and cheese quiche on the 90 minute flight.

We landed in Quito at 10 a.m., collected our luggage, and met the family. It immediately struck us how much the kids had grown. We had last been here in January, so we hadn't expected them to have changed all that much. But they were all significantly taller. Sisa was now almost as tall as Rosa.

The kids gave us each a bouquet of roses. Sisa and Yupanqui each gave us hand written letters telling us how much they love us. Each kid had a snack packet of sunflower seeds which had come with a plastic bracelet which says "I love you" or "I miss you" in Spanish. Yupanqui gave his to Craig and the girls gave theirs to me.

It is great to be back in Ecuador with our compadres! As Yupanqui so perfectly stated on the ride home from the airport, "Somos ocho. La familia es completa. (We are 8 people. The family is complete)." The kids' mom Aida recently returned home after two years working abroad in Chile. This is the first time in 2 years that all 8 of us have been together, and we are loving it!

The weather here is pretty warm and very dry. They haven't gotten much rain. It is windy and dusty.

It was a bit sad when we pulled up to the house, though. As a result of (dirt) road widening, the plants and bushes which provided some privacy from the street were torn down. This includes the evergreen archway which was the entrance to their driveway.

Adding to the desolate feel, it is not corn season yet, so the corn fields are empty and dry.

We found that they have completed some house projects since we were here in January. The upstairs bathroom is now functional, some windows have been installed upstairs, and the concrete patio has been extended to reduce muddiness in the wet season.

Cachupin the dog and Juanita the pig have been joined by an adorable male kitten whom the family had found in the road. He is really friendly and gets along well with Cachupin. We fell in love with him immediately. When we asked what his name is, they looked at us blankly. They just call him "Chipi", a generic word for cat. This has been the default name for all of the cats they have had over the years, and we felt that this adorable little guy deserved a proper name.

For lunch, we had homemade cauliflower soup with popcorn, fresh naranjilla juice, fried shrimp, rice, fried potatoes, and tomato and lemon salad. Shrimp is a delicacy that they rarely have here, and the family was excited to serve it. Craig was so disappointed that he is suddenly allergic to shellfish and couldn't eat any.

We gave the kids some clothes that we had brought for them. It was a good thing that I had bought things that I thought might be a little too big...because they fit perfectly. Rosa confirmed that all three of them had experienced growth spurts in the past few months.

Antonio's uncle Juan Pedro came by, and ate his lunch outside surrounded by his animal friends. It was so cute!

Sonam Tshering, the family is asking about you and the kids were telling us that it is now tomorrow in Bhutan!

We got settled into our casita, the "tiny house" with private bathroom that the family built for us 5 years ago. It is so cozy, with custom made bunk beds, a small seating area, and a wardrobe. We keep toiletries and other necessities here so that we don't always have to carry them back and forth.

While we were unpacking things, a group of tourists arrived to stay overnight in the guest house. They included an Ecuadorian man and his French wife who live in Quito, their adorable infant daughter, and friends who were visiting them from France. This is how we originally met the family back in 2010, when we participated in a homestay program to learn about their indigenous Kichwa culture.

Everyone was delighted with the baby's arrival, and Aida and the kids took the group for a walk in the picturesque late afternoon sunlight. Antonio, a professional musician, had a gig tonight. He said goodbye and told us that he wouldn't be home until the wee hours of the morning.

We all met in the dining room at dinner time. We passed the baby around (she was surprisingly content), and we chatted with the guests about our relationship with the family.

For dinner, Rosa and Aida prepared soup, steak, peas, and red cabbage. Shina was having trouble eating her steak, and the family was giggling. We didn't realize what was so funny until she flashed us a smile and we noticed that she was missing her two bottom middle teeth! These kids are growing up so fast!

Craig and I retired to our room shortly after dinner. We were tired after last night's red-eye flight, and we had to be up early tomorrow to meet our friends Javier and Jess for a tour of Ibarra.

Sisa and Shina greet us with roses at the airport

Sisa and Shina greet us with roses at the airport

Sisa, Rosa, Shina, Steph, Yupanqui, Aida, and Craig

Sisa, Rosa, Shina, Steph, Yupanqui, Aida, and Craig (photo courtesy of Antonio)

The ride to Morochos

The ride to Morochos

Steph, Sisa, and the kitten

Steph, Sisa, and the kitten

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