by Chastidy Vasconez
When I first met my host mom, I was surprised to learn that her husband has been living in the United States for over 15 years. He left about a year after their daughter was born to work in the U.S. so he could earn an income to support them on. One day, while we were sharing a cup of coffee, she recounted a dream she had shortly after her husband left. In her dream she stepped off a small wooden boat, her hand entwined with her husband’s. They arrived on a shore where the surrounding water was crystal clear with an abundance of fish swimming between their legs. She looked up and straight ahead was a bustling city with shiny towering buildings. I was hearing the story from the other end.
My own parents had immigrated to the United States in their 20s. I’ve only really known about my parent’s lives after moving to the United States. My parents don’t share much about their childhoods growing up, and before this gap year I never put too much thought about the families they left behind. A few weeks ago I had the chance to visit some of my father’s actual family members, who live about an eight hour bus ride away from Cuenca. Meeting some of my family members was strange – it was our first time meeting and they knew all about me from years of long distance phone calls with my aunt in the United States. My tía in Ecuador was incredibly welcoming as she was eager to make me feel at home. She served delicious plates of fritada de chancho with mote and yuca frita, while sharing stories of growing up with my father. It was around Día de los Difuntos in Ecuador, and we visited my great grandmother’s tomb, beautifully adorned with lit candles and colorful flowers. These were moments I never imagined I’d be apart of. Being surrounded by the culture and language in my father’s motherland has been such a special opportunity and I’ve appreciated being able to delve into my roots.