Sunday, October 23, 2011

Children at Play, or Kids These Days

The other thing that´s been on my mind in Los Naranjos (the village we stayed in) is the total shift in cultural knowledge-in this case, how traveling flips normal societal roles on their heads. When we are safely in our home culture, it is assumed that adults are more savvy than are children than are babies. But what about when we go somewhere new?
We are a group of high school graduates, all headed for college in the years to come. In Los Naranjos, however, we can´t figure out basic tasks like using the bathroom (you get a bucket of well water from outside and throw it in the toilet to flush) or walking home (take a right on the dirt road surrounded by plantain trees). Thrown into another culture, even the most well-educated students are as lost as toddlers (literally-my directions above are a bit tougher when you realize that all the roads are dirt roads surrounded by plantain trees).

By contrast, the actual toddlers here know exactly what is going on in any given situation. Kiara, the four year-old from my house, is a pretty normal kid, except that instead of going to daycare she runs around the plantain trees all day harassing my family´s chickens.
The truly astounding girls, though, are the three sisters who live in the center of town. Milena, Diana, and Anai are eight, six, and three years old respectively. But they wield machetes like pros. They took Sarah on a trip into the forest for cacao, using a machete to hack down the fruits from the top of a tree, then cracking them open and sharing them with all the students! They easily do laundry, paint hair with the traditional Tsachila achote dye, and shoo away hungry dogs. At the same time though, they are utterly normal kids. They love stealing our backpacks and playing with the puppies that were born during our first week in Los Naranjos. It´s amazing to see little children who are so fluent in a culture that I can never fully understand.

I will miss Kiara and those three girls a lot now that we´ve returned to Quito, but just spending time with them in Los Naranjos was as much of an education as speaking with the adults of the community.

Oh, I also want to say sorry for not including any pictures in these last few posts. I do have them on my camera, it´s just a hassle to transfer them from there to the computer to the blog. I promise to illustrate more later. Adios!


  1. Just wanted to be the first to comment! What an interesting perspective. We miss you and LOVE reading about what you're doing and learning and thinking.

  2. Hi Alison. Great blog. We really miss you. I love the photos. Love, Aunt Ellen

  3. Hi Alison,
    We are having a rare October snowstorm here, maybe 12 inches by the end, so this is giving me a chance to catch up on things like reading your blog. Maybe our camping experiences of the old days prepared you a little for planting trees and dealing with thorns and mosquitoes?
    It's still near the beginning but you've done so much! I wonder if you'll decide you prefer living in the city or country after this experience.
    Having you at TBB, Lindsay looking at colleges, and Zoë looking at high schools makes me realize that you are all moving forward in life, and it's exciting to watch, even from a distance.
    Love, Aunt Pat