[the people]

We are leaving Ecuador in one week. Six more days in this place that has become my homeThese last few days I have been reflecting back on the past three months of my life that have been spent here - the many cups of hot chocolate that I have wrapped my chilly hands around, the miles and miles of road we have traveled on, and the clouds here that seem to be the most brilliant white you have ever laid eyes upon. 

But I think what I will remember the most about Ecuador is its people. This little corner of the earth is so full of such beautiful, loving, and down-right hilarious people. I don't know how I'm ever going to say goodbye to them next Wednesday, except to say hasta luego - I will see you later. I wanted you all to meet just a few of them: Sixto, Manuel, Alejandro, Huberto, Syd, and Alex & Eve...in no particular order :)

This is Sixto Duran-Ballen. I did a post on him a while back, but in case you didn't read it, he was the president of Ecuador from 1992-1996 and also happens to be the father of our director here at Casa Victoria. This guy is just such a cool cat - so humble, an INSANE stamp collector (literally has hundreds of thousands), and a well-loved public figure here in Ecuador. Such a baller old man who I was so lucky to meet. 

This is Manuel (all the way on the left). We met him when we went to the indigenous wedding a few weeks ago in Riobamba...he was somehow related to the bride's family I think. I probably didn't exchange more than ten sentences with him the whole weekend, but his sweet spirit made such an impression on me. His smile was the kind that lights up the room along with everyone around him, and I tell you, this guy was always reading his Bible. Every time I looked at him, he had it cracked open on his lap, soaking up the words and embracing truth in a way that I've never witnessed before. He also taught us a bunch of words in Quichua, the indigenous language here in Ecuador. Manuel...a man truly full of genuine love.

This is Alejandro, our designated taxi driver here in Quito. Alejandro is just hilarious. Some days on the way to church he will play his music really loud and then pump the brakes, a real sweet way to wake up. Most days he has his wife Olga in the car with him...we don't actually know why, but we think he may be having affair. Who knows. He practices his English with us and teaches us little phrases in Spanish like "chanfle!" which basically means "dangit" in English.

I've mentioned this guy before, but he is this insane piano player and teacher named Huberto Santa Cruz who lives here in Old Town Quito. One night we ducked into his teeny studio and listened to him and his students play for about half an hour, and something about it just got to me. I love live piano music, and his was no exception. He was wearing about eighty different layers of clothing and played some sweet indigenous songs for us...seriously tugged on my heartstrings.

You guys probably know Syd. She's not Ecuadorian, but this journey would absolutely not have been the same without her. Sometimes we joke that its like we're married - we're together literally 24/7...as I write this she is snoozing away in the bed right next to me. And gosh, this girl is just amazing. She has this contagious joy for life, a serious knack for organization, and owns more fun headbands than anyone I know. She is mi mejor amiga, my partner in crime, my travel buddy, and my sister. I've got some serious love in my heart for this one.

Alex and Evelyn...I don't even know where to start. They are our house parents here at Casa Victoria, and they are truly two of the most wonderful people I have ever known in my life. They are Columbian (and proud of it!), have been married for a little over a year, and are attending seminary here in Quito while filling the role of the spiritual leaders of the house. I swear Eve's laugh can be heard from miles away...I wish I could stick it in a bottle and keep it with me for rainy days. Alex has a serious passion for dessert, and is an incredible Bible teacher. This guy seriously knows the Word of God, and his life reflects it. Nights spent in the kitchen cooking Columbian dishes with Alex and Eve might be my favorite thing in the world...flour ends up all over our faces, my stomach hurts from laughing, and my heart feels like it might overflow with love for mi mami y papi here in Ecuador.