Robert de Calonne

Intern Robert as a fish in the water

Two months in Ecuador, and now it’s time for my life changing story. No kidding, for the people who know me, I’m still the same clumsy, little over-enthusiastic Robert from two months ago. But so far, Ecuador brought me a lot of beautiful things and my mission for today will be: to sum up two months in a short and catchy story… my speciality!

By: Robert de Calonne

Arrival in Ecuador

It all started with saying goodbye to my parents, family and friends for 7 months. Mom, dad, if you are reading this, I still miss you guys and my friends and family as well, but I won’t make it too sentimental, so I will go straight to the part when I first set foot on another continent: 06:17am, 19th of September 2018. I actually jumped off the stairs of the huge airplane to make it a little bit more spectacular, but sadly, there was nobody to see it, so it wasn’t that spectacular after all.

I must admit, the first thing I thought when I touched South-American ground: it’s the same as Holland’s, but then I looked up with my half jetlag/ half sleepy face, I had a view, which I’d never seen before. Wherever I looked there were mountains, which were way bigger than the little hills in my neighbourhood at home. The sun was already shining, people were smiling (at least I was) and palm trees showed up everywhere. Suddenly, the jetlag and the tiredness were gone – I was ready for my new adventure!

Feeling home

A gentleman with the most South-American name a person could ever have, José Luis, picked me up from the airport to drive me to the office of Local Dreamers. In the taxi I tried to talk Spanish with José, but I tripped over my tongue more than over any skewed tile I usually would in Holland. During the same ride I saw the beautiful city of Quito and couldn’t believe my eyes. I think José told me at least 20 cool facts about the city, but the only thing I understood was, that there were apparently a lot of cars in the city.

After a warm and Dutch welcome at my new workplace, I started my internship at Local Dreamers, but I’ll tell you more about that later. First, I want to say, from all the Ecuadorian host moms, I got the best one!!! I don’t know how she did it, maybe it was the pasta Bolognese on day one, maybe it was her infinite kindness or maybe it was my lovely Dutch host brother Joep, but after just one week I already felt like home. And feeling home, when you’re going to a new country, is in my opinion one of the most important things for having a good time.

Ecuador has it all

And now, after all these weeks, I’m still super impressed by this lovely country. Most of the other countries I’ve visited are famous for only one big thing, but Ecuador literally has it all: mountains, the Amazon, beaches and more. I could continue with a list of things for a while. With my awesome compañeros and compañeras from Local Dreamers, we often make trips to explore the country, and so far, it has been great.

From climbing the Rucu Pichincha in our ponchos, we bought at the market in Otavalo, to drinking mojitos on a surf board in Montañita. With ma boys Joep and Lars, we even high-fived a whale while he was jumping out of the Pacific Ocean. I am really looking forward to seeing other beautiful parts of Ecuador and to creating an okay-relationship with insects, which are bigger than my hand and fishes, which want to eat me in the Amazon…

The projects

For finishing off my catchy story, I saved the most important thing for the end: the projects. I’m here for more than two months now, but the projects are still as fun as in the beginning. I think I start to enjoy the projects even more. Every day when I arrive in the south of Quito, the enthusiasm of the children makes me feel like a happy child again and I am probably also behaving like one. One moment I’ll never forget was, what happened in my first week, when 25 hyperactive kids were running around me while I tried to make them listen to me with a few stuttering words I learnt in my first Spanish lesson: ‘Chicos? Escucha! Por favor? AYUDA!!!’ I’m pretty sure they all looked at me and just thought: ‘what is this gringo trying to do?’. And so did I.

But now, after two months, I really got to know the kids and every time I stand on the soccer field on a rainy Tuesday afternoon while all the kids are jumping and sliding around me with their big smiles, I can only think about one thing: I’m grateful to be here!

© Local Dreamers, intern Robert as a fish in the water

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