Hello JUVIS’ fans,

After eight intense months of planning and anticipation we finally made it! We are in San Pablo, Ecuador! During the last three days we have been arriving one by one from all over the US: New York, Los Angeles, Raleigh… and every hour has been filled with amazing experiences.

Flying into Quito was like getting to another world. 9350 feet above sea level, the city welcomed us amid snowed volcanoes and steep green hills. After some hours walking the old streets of Quito we had a memorable two-hour journey to San Pablo. Juanito, our taxi driver, who raced the narrow mountain roads like a cross driver, blasted his favorite romantic hits for us so we ended up crooning James Blunt and Celine Dion among others in the back of an Ecuadorian taxi.

After a welcomed night of sleep we woke up in what is going to be our home for the next six weeks. A former monastery, the orphanage is now a humongous colorful building that Padre Alfonso has transformed in a beautiful home not only for the 19 children currently living here but also for two cows, two horses (that we will ride on weekends!), three dogs (that just love chewing on AJ’s arms), a bunch of pigs and hundreds of cuyes (a few less given the ones that will be served for tomorrow’s dinner).

Life in the house starts at 5.30 am for the children as they get ready for school, and after that the buzz is non-stop. We get to sleep in a bit more until the little ones wake up and demand breakfast. Indeed, feeding Juan Carlos, Ariana, Edwin (one year, two years and four years old) takes up a big chunk of our day. Time flies by as we run back and forth chasing Pepe (the tsunami) to make sure he does not hide in the oven, hanging up clothes (that have to be washed after every meal), washing endless piles of dishes, and cooking huge pots of delicious rice, frijoles, pasta, fish, etc. in Doña Isabel and Doña Ines’ kitchen.

In the afternoons when the older children get back from school Kelly and AJ impress them with their soccer (futbol!!) skills, Abbey teaches the girls how to ride their bikes, Kristin plays with Sebas (who she is already planning to kidnap at the end of the trip) and Faima dances some salsa with Julian and David.

Although all of the children seem to live as happily and normally as any other child, little by little we are finding out the heartbreaking stories that brought each of them here under Padre Alfonso’s care. We have already declared that Padre Alfonso is a G (re-chevere). He is always full of energy no matter if he is making dinner for all twenty-plus people, saying mass in his long monk robe or joking with us in Spanglish. When he is around the room is filled with dozens of children shouting “Papa;” and he certainly has become the caring and committed father that all these children needed.

After a day of running, cleaning, playing, laughing, jumping, singing, eating…we are more than ready for bed (even if it’s just 8.30 pm), but there is always time for a game of UNO (we probably beat the record of the longest game ever last night).

Well y’all this is it for now, we will keep you updated on more of our adventures in the next days. Thanks for reading!