I wrote this on Saturday, May 15. Im so good about posting things on time, arent I? My life in Ecuador is almost over; I have less than twelve hours left in this country. Its very hard to believe. Ive been homesick off and on all semester and looking forward to going home, but the closer it comes, the less I want to leave. Is that normal? All of the other girls I know are dying to go home. Two of my close friends, and many other students I know, actually changed their tickets to leave a week early. Some had legitimate reasons, like sick grandmothers or brothers graduations, but others frankly told me that they were homesick and couldnt handle Quito any longer. Its not that Im not excited to go home. I cant wait to see my family. But Ive never left a place knowing that Ill probably never come back. When I leave Linfield for the summer, or even when I left for Ecuador, I dont say good-bye. I say Have a good summer or See you in the fall or See you in May. Ive never had to say GOOD-BYE to so many people before, and I hate it. I stayed at my friend Jessicas house until 3 am last Friday before saying goodbye to her and my friends Raquel and Rebecca. On Monday, I went to USFQ for the last time, said goodbye to all my professors, and ate my last delicious $0.60 chocolate croissant (oh, the things I will miss about Ecuador!) On Tuesday, I went to my last Bible study and said goodbye to all the Ecuadorian friends Ive made there. Yesterday, I went to lunch with all of my gringo friends who were still here and said goodbye to them. Then I went to a coffee shop with my Ecuadorian friends from Techo and said goodbye to them (they took me to taste my first shwarma afterward. Shwarma is like a chicken burrito, but they cook the chicken on a giant spit that rotates by a fire and roasts, kind of like rotisserie chicken, but bigger. It was delicious!) And today, I had to say goodbye to my host family. Leaving my family was harder than I expected. We havent really connected well most of the semester. They are nice to me and talk to me and everything, but Im kind of a quiet person, which makes it a little hard to get to know me sometimes, or so Ive heard. And Im even quieter in Spanish. Last weekend, my host parents gave me a very frank and rather difficult (to listen to!) talk about how unfriendly Ive been all semester and how they tried to treat me like a daughter but I ended up treating them more like landlords. I was a little hurt by their attitude, as Ive felt like theyve been blocking me out all semester, but this week, Ive tried really hard to be more friendly, to talk to them and do more with them. They dont really do a lot, so its hard to join in. Their main activity is TV watching, and I hate watching TV. But this week, I didnt have homework, so I spent some time in my sisters room watching soap operas with them. I think my effort showed, because theyve warmed up to me a little more. Today, I made a huge lunch (beef stroganoff, homemade bread, beans with Hollandaise sauce, and apple crisp for dessert!) and invited the entire family. We spent the afternoon playing a card game called Punto 40, a gambling game. I lost almost every game, and eventually had to drop out for lack of funds. I guess I wont be settling down in Vegas any time soon! But it was a very enjoyable afternoon and it made me think that maybe I really will miss my host family. My host dad, Marco, gave me their address and asked me to write to them. My host mom, Rosie, gave me a tiny jewelry box with a pair of green and silver earrings she had made for me. I gave them a book that I decorated and filled with translations of the recipes I had used during the semester and the photos I had taken of the family. It was a fun, but very bittersweet, last day. Eight hours from now, Ill be saying another goodbye, but this time to a whole country. Will I ever be back? I dont know. Part of me would like to come back. Come see my friends, come see more of Ecuador. There are so many parts I never had the time or money to visit. But part of me wants to explore the rest of the world, to brave new trails instead of retracing the ones Ive already followed. Will I be back to Ecuador? I dont know, but I know that Ecuador has changed me and will be a part of me forever.