by Jessi Atha
If you’ve ever talked to me for more than five minutes, you probably know that I am so in love with my host family. Milagros was one of the first people I met upon my arrival to Rotinet. I had moved in just days before Carnaval and my host cousin at the time took me to the coronation of the queen. I was so overwhelmed by the people, the music and the maizena, but one woman stood out to me (probably because she had a microphone half the time). Milagros was running around like a crazy person; talking to everyone, grabbing beers, slamming arepas and emceeing the whole event. However, she still made time to introduce herself to me and welcome me to the community. My cousin, her and I ended up staying out until the caseta closed down, and we then solidified our friendship.
Months went by and I didn’t see much of Milagros (or her adorable daughter who was at the coronation with her) and we lost touch. However, during the patron saint festivals in town, we reconnected. Due to a power outage, we ended up spending several hours together on her dark porch chatting and eating mamones. I decided that night (with the help of some other PCV’s that were visiting) that she is the coolest and she had to be my new host mom. The next week, I moved all of my stuff down the hill and was welcomed by Milagros and her two daughters, Elsa and Isabella, with open arms. That was nine months ago and they have been the best nine months of my service. This group of crazy women has become my tribe and I could not imagine not knowing them.
Because these wonderful ladies have had such an amazing impact on my life, I wanted to share a little bit about them with my Peace Corps Family.
What is your favorite food?
Elsa (18 years old): Arroz con pollo
Milagros (approx. 40 years old): Pollo Asado
Isa (3 years old): Hotdogs, fish and eggs
If you had a billion pesos, what would you do?
Elsa: I would pay to go to a really good university and I would buy my family a house in Barranquilla. Then I would help the rest of my family.
Milagros: I hope you’re a prophet! If I won the lottery, I would buy a motorcycle, a house in Barranquilla and I’d help my family. If I had money left over after that, I’d give some to the poorest families in Rotinet.
Isa: A new toy horse! Mine is broken L
What is your favorite part about being Colombian?
Elsa: We are loving and fun. I also love Colombian food.
Milagros: The freedom that being on the coast gives us, all of the great parties, and the laid back life style.
Isa: The beach!
What do you like best about living with a gringa?
Elsa: I like that she is young and we really understand each other. I like learning about the culture and she is an excellent person.
Milagros: Everything! It has been so spectacular. We have learned so much from each other. I love using English and surprising people. You have taught us to be more polite and we have really learned how to cohabitate together. I love talking to people about how much I love having the gringa here and I love hearing people talk about how loving and polite you are, because they’re right!
Isa: I feel excited! We watch cartoons and I like you here in the house. You’re going to stay with us forever.
(Disclaimer: I am now in tears! I told you they’re the best!)
There you have it folks, my three angels. I hope every Peace Corps volunteer is lucky enough to find such loving people to share their service with. I am so happy to have gained another mom and two sisters. It doesn’t matter where life takes me after service, they will always be my family.