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Photo by Benjamin Swift, Andes & Amazon Semester.

Leaving Lajastambo

After a month of struggling to communicate with my host family, sleeping on a bed with no pillow in a room with no windows, and eating soup for most of my meals, I realized this lifestyle had become routine and daily rituals had become soothing.  Somewhere during the month long homestay I had begun to enjoy figuring out what my host brother meant while talking over bread at dinner.    I had grown accustomed to the early mornings speant washing clothes, picking spinach, and watching the family cows.  I began to think of the half finished brick buildings as my home and the people who lived in them as my neighbors.  Living in Lajastambo was a completely new experience for me, coming from a wildly different way of life in the United States.  It was not always easy and fun, like sitting at the kitchen table for hours on end and playing solitaire by myself for countless nights after my host family went to bed.  There were times I got frustrated with the language gap and times my family laughed at me for not understanding but in the end, the homestay was about learning to laugh with them and growing because of it.   Yesterday we left Lajastambo for the last time and although you could feel the excitement the group had to go new places and try new things, there was also some resentment and tears for leaving the strangers who had become our families.