Posts Tagged With: Cultrure Shock

Iskay Siki, or “Two Rear Ends”

        I’ve been doing some research lately on the local culture and their language, Quechua, and came across this website with a goldmine of poems and phrases common to that tongue. Apparently people speaking Quechua can have all different kinds of siki (rear ends) as there is a something siki to describe just about every type of person. Iskay Siki literally means “two rear ends”,  ‘but it is used to refer to a “person who wants to sit down in two homes”, For example, a husband spends as much time at his parents home as with his wife, so he is undecided about which home he should be in.’— (http://www.andes.org/phrases.html)

I think it’s possible that I am an Iskay Siki.

(Oh how the fingers twitch with all the self-deprecating jokes possible right now.)

I think it is possible that I am an Iskay Siki because our first 2 weeks or so of settling in have been… remarkably unsettling. Largely because while I want my butt here, I also want my butt in its cozy spot back home with friends I can communicate with and food I don’t worry about getting sick from, and quiet. Oh, how I miss Quiet.

I’m not trying to worry anyone, I really believe that these are growing pains of what will be a beautifully fruitful experience. But as many times as I’ve started, and deleted, and re-started this post, I’m still finding it a staggering challenge to sum up just why it has been so much more difficult than imagined.

Do I give you the part that is nearly comical in its absurdity as was the case with my most recent breakdown? It sounded something like this:

(sobbing. with hiccups.)

“I-I-I jjjussst don’t thhhink I ccan doo this.

I wwaantt the real ch chuurch bells on the other side of tttown,

nnnott the stupid electric-blared-megaphone-awful onnnes!

And I wwant the ssinging garbage trucks like in Otavalo. Not these that just bbblare Spanish

ttalk radio at us until we’re deaf!

Or, do I share the heart-hurting bits like Luke clinging so hard to my neck that it took two teachers pulling his legs to get his tear-streaked-mama-screaming self into his new classroom. As a school bonus, there was also this conversation with Vaughn:

Me: “Hey babe! How was school today?!”

Vaughn: “Um. fine.”

Me: “Can you tell me about it?”

Vaughn: “A boy grabbed me and started pulling my hair and hitting me. I kept saying No! No! No! ’cause I don’t speak Spanish and he would just hit and hit saying “Si!” My teacher stopped him and he got in big trouble.”

NEXT DAY

Vaughn: “I was pushed and kicked again today mom.”

Me: “Did Katie help you again?”

Vaughn: “She didn’t see it this time.”

Makes me think that selling all our belongings, moving our family away from the people who love us for the purpose of exposing our children to the beauty and richness of other cultures in the world is going swimmingly, no?

I could also share just the oddnesses (c’mon, it’s totally a word), the annoyances, the differences that still weigh in at Uncomfortable on the scale, as opposed to New and Exciting.

Things like the car alarms that never stop going off. The fact that while I’d resigned myself to no wine here, I was expecting good coffee, I mean they grow some of the best not an hour away! But for some reason everyone drinks powdered instant coffee and all our attempts to use some of the actual beans from nearby have resulted in a liquid tar substance that I fear really is putting hair on my chest. The spider and mosquito bites we were waking up with because of all the quaint “indoor/outdoor” space we liked so much at first glance. The fact that our apartment being the first one renovated in this former hostel means that the whole rest of the building will be under major construction while we’re here. The packs of stray dogs defecating on the sidewalks. The automobiles of all shapes and sizes that attach a giant speaker to their roof and drive around blaring public service announcements at decibels that make our roof rattle. The fact that it gets cold here and almost every home (including ours) has a fireplace, and we can see smoke coming out of them, and yet every attempt we’ve made for weeks to buy actual firewood has resulted in the blankest of stares and the shaking of heads at such a query.

So, it makes a bit of sense that part of me is ready to be sitting somewhere more comfortable and familiar. Somewhere that is not here.

And yet.

I had a dream last night that Bo and I were visiting back home and when we were supposed to load up to come back here he said we weren’t going to. We were never coming back. And I cried. And I begged. And I used every argument in the book as to why we needed to get back to the life we were living in Ecuador. We were so close to… something. Something worth pushing towards and being close to. I woke up before knowing if we stayed or went, but carried with me into the morning that ache in my chest of sadness at the thought that we had left all of this. It’s that ache that is finally helping me write this post.

As any Iskay Siki will tell you, you cannot stand forever and you cannot sit in two places at once. You have to choose.

And so I did.

I’d say we all did.

I made an appointment with the principal at Vaughn’s school, who speaks English, to talk to Vaughn’s teacher with me. I told her how I used to teach students who didn’t speak English and I know what a challenge another language in the classroom can be and how much I appreciate her taking Vaughn in this late in the school year. It meant a lot to her and now she and I are much more of a team in both the lessons she’s working on in class and the time he spends out on the playground.

Bo has talked and loved Luke right on through his school anxieties. Two days in a row now and not a tear shed. Luke even flashed Bo a thumb’s up this morning when it was time to go to class.

My handsome, brave, and powerful husband also addressed the bug issue. In style.

And a real perk of our apartment is the family we rent from could not be kinder or more willing to help. AND we have a bird’s eye view of the neighborhood and local life in all it’s brilliant colors and characters.

We are also soothing our senses with fresh roses, regularly. They are grown near here and Bo found a place in town that sells 2 dozen long-stemmed roses for $2.50. And by “long-stemmed”, I mean as tall as Luke. So he grabbed 48 flowers in all.

I’m actually considering heading back there to get more. But that would require leaving this view of Imbabura Volcano I have and getting out of my chosen seat which, for today anyway, I’m just not going to do.

Categories: From Jamie | Tags: , , , , , , | 19 Comments

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