8 Rules for Gringos

As my friends picked me up from the airport, a journey that lasted 16 hours of travel and 37 hours of no sleep, I stepped unto foreign ground with a sense of peace and ready for what lies ahead. Little did I know that it would be another 6 hour drive until we reached home. I was convinced that my friends were driving me to the bottom of South America. How could it take so long to get somewhere that was only approximately 4 hours away?! That was when the first rule of living abroad was revealed to me, to then discovering the other following rules for gringos. Let me enlighten you. 😉

Rule #1- Double it. Whatever the original time things “should” take, or whatever is “supposed” to happen, just assume it will take twice as long. I am no longer in the fast pace, timely United States of America. Ecuadorian time baby.

Rule #2- You MUST seal and package your food super duper tight. If the humidity doesn’t get to it first, the ants will. For example, I had a bag of beef jerky left from my travels on my shelf in my room and 3 days later I decided to indulge. I put my hand in the bag and started eating a piece of jerky, to then noticing my hand covered in ants and crawling out of my mouth. Lesson learned.

Rule #3-  Just because you don’t see the snake, doesn’t mean it isn’t there… (I have Ophidiaphobia: the fear of snakes. Look it up)

Rule #4- Though the bugs that bite are small, they come with a vengeance and leave bruises. Its like venom from hell!

Rule #5- Always have barf bags ready on hand in vehicles. Some of the indigenous are not used to being in a vehicle, and it doesn’t take long before they get motion sick and up-chuck. Lets just say I am super thankful for my lack of smell…

Rule #6- Just assume all plants and insects are poisonous. Don’t touch anything.

Rule #7- Just eat it, no matter what it is (ants, monkeys, iguana, or alligator). Otherwise its a judgement of their culture. However, always leave a little bit of food on your plate, or else people will assume you want more. (A tip from my 13 year old friend)

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And rule #8- FACE IT. You’re a foreigner. And its exhausting.

Though it is an adventure to see new sights and experience all the things a foreign land has to offer, it is mentally and emotionally draining.
Being a foreigner means surrender your rights, surrender what doesn’t make sense to you, and surrender having no control of how your day will go.
Immersing yourself in a foreign country means everyone else dictating your time because you are forming into their reality, not the other way around.
Being a foreigner means people speaking to you in their native tongue and you have no idea what they are saying, but so badly want to converse with them.
It means surrendering to the fact that you will be stared at. Sticking out as a 5’10 western white women with my American friends…its like Gringos on parade!
Its constant random noises, parties till 5:00 in the morning, and no sleep.
Being a foreigner means witnessing hard realities of what people go through, and how they live, and you question how on earth is our reality so different.
Rule 8 means surrendering to constant unfamiliarity, being uncomfortable which results in mental and emotional exhaustion. It is to be expected and it is perfectly fine. It’s liberating and transforming.

La Gringa

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