My Relationship with a White Guy While Having Natural Hair

I’m posting this because I felt like it would be a topic of interest. Now I am in no way saying “white guys > Black guys” or ANYTHING like that. It’s just that this is literally what I experienced and it seems like an intriguing topic that I have seen discussed on the internet since the boom of the Natural Hair Movement.

*AND I KNOW that I should be posting Week 6 of my blog, but I’m procrastinating! Let me have this. 😦 Lol.

So as some of you may already know, I am currently in Ecuador on a fellowship through my school. So keep this in mind as the setting for my experience.

I’ve been here almost 2 months now and I have had a lot of feedback with regards to my natural hair, because I’ve kept it out in braid-outs and puffs the entire summer. As a blanket summary, I will say that (at least in Ecuador) I have drawn a lot of attraction from different types of men. I’ve had countless Ecuadorian men catcall may (pretty much every day), I’ve been called beautiful, I even hand some fucking white guy at a club literally grab a handful of my hair while calling it beautiful. (You better believe that I schooled him A$AP Rocky.) I’ve also had women fawn over my hair and even say that they wished that they could have it. Lol. But I’m going to focus my experience on one particular guy.

I met this guy about two weeks ago. He’s originally from Colorado, half-American, half-Ecuadorian, and has been living in Ecuador for the past almost 3 years. But for all intents and purposes, I’m just going to call him white (because he looks white, sounds white, and just learned Spanish while in Ecuador). We’ve hit it off pretty well. In fact, I would say that this is the closest that I have come to an ENJOYABLE relationship (I had one other “relationship” for selfish gain, I’ll admit. But I honestly never liked him.). I really like his personality, his ambitions, his values, and he’s pretty nice eye candy because he’s exactly my type. But anyway, my hair has come up on different occasions and I feel like sharing with you all his attitude towards my natural hair. I’ll outline different incidents:

  1. After our first date, we met with his friends and went back to his house. After a lot of joking around, talking, and getting to know one another, he asked me “you know you’re gorgeous, right?” Honestly, it was something that caught me completely off-guard. At my college, I am so jaded with regards to relationships that when I receive a similar compliment, I usually respond with an unbothered, “thanks.” Guys, I KNOW that I sound like a total bitch, but you have to understand that I’ve had so many bad experiences with men since starting college, that I just can’t take compliments to heart. So with this guy, I was surprised to feel a little embarrassed by his genuine compliment and smoldering gaze. Whereas I usually uncaringly accept compliments, all I could manage to do was look away and reject his compliment, TO WHICH HE MADE ME LOOK AT HIM AGAIN AS HE QUESTIONED WHY I DIDN’T THINK SO. Like guys, he was literally trying to force me to accept the fact that he thought I was beautiful. Like, whoa. Later that night, I was looking at myself in a mirror and he came up and said with the most indulgent smile “you are so cute with that off-centered ponytail” (I like to style my afro-puffs in an asymmetrical fashion a little off-center).
  2. On another occasion (okay. I can’t really sugar-coat this, so I’ll just be blunt), he asked me to stay over and I said that I couldn’t. When he asked why, I bashfully admitted that I needed a silk scarf or pillowcase. Hahahaha!! Like, I’m dead serious. He asked me why and after explaining it to him, he totally got it. Like, no questions. Do y’all understand how amazing that is to me? I mean, yeah he joked if my hair would fall off without silk, but it was all in good fun. He even suggested talking to one of his friend’s girlfriends who was at the house at the time (she was half-Black and half-Ecuadorian) to see if she would have a scarf since we both had textured hair.
  3. Another time, we were texting and I sent silly pictures of myself after a failed braid-out, saying I had no idea what to do with my hair. He texted me back in Spanish that all of the pictures were cute and that I should just let me hair be wild and free. ❤
  4. Another time, we had met up in a location in Quito called “Plaza Foch” which was where the majority of the bar, club, and restaurant scene was. The date was VERY impromptu, because he asked me to meet him an hour before. My mindset was you didn’t bother to ask me out ahead of time, so I won’t bother to look as cute as I should. So I threw on a sweater, tights, did my makeup, put on glasses, and didn’t even bother with my old braidout. Guys, I immediately regretted that decision when I got to Foch, because I had COMPLETELY forgotten that it was Thursday night and the club scene would be live. Therefore, I looked like a hot mess in comparison to most other people. I tried to explain my way out to my guy throughout the night, and constantly fretted with my hair, to which he would always give me the most sincere look and say that I was absolutely beautiful and that my hair was perfect.

So there you have it guys. This white guy loves my 4C natural hair. I mean obviously, I’m a lot more than my hair and he has (time and time again) told me how much he likes me for other things, but I have to tell you guys that hair is not a deterrent with regards to our relationship. This just goes to show that when you are true to yourself, you will always find someone who likes you for the way that you naturally are. Not every guy (black, white, brown, green, or orange) will like naturally hair, but they can buzz off. You’re beautiful and someone will always recognize it. 🙂

Adventures in Ecuador – Week 5

THIS POST IS SUPER LATE, I KNOW. I’ve just been feeling so lazy lately. I’m sorry y’all. I’ll try to get this past week’s post put up very soon.

Sunday:

It finally happened. L left. We woke up early to have breakfast and then I helped her carry her bags out and bid her farewell. The rest of the day was pretty bland. I didn’t do anything really, but freak myself out about how things would be at the organization now that L, P, and my German friend were gone. So I’ll spare you Sunday and move on to the rest of the week.

Monday:

Monday, I almost had a mental breakdown at the volunteer site. The day was oddly a LOT quieter and I felt like I had so much to do, even though in actuality, I didn’t. I think what made me almost reach my breaking point was the fact that I had to stay inside the room with the kids for an extra 30 minutes while everyone else ate lunch, before I could bring the kids down and join them.

Tuesday:

Since I didn’t breakdown Monday, I naturally thought Tuesday would be my day. And I was right. It happened at breakfast (THANK GOD I didn’t do it at the actual volunteer site). I was talking to one of my housemates and host mom and randomly mentioned how much harder things would be. That’s when the water works turned on. I was a mess. But my host mother, kind as always, was providing me with all kinds of comfort and spiritual advice, which made me feel a LOT better about my situation. So the day at the actual site wasn’t as bad as the day before. I became a lot more open and more independent, now that I didn’t have more fluent bilingual friends to lean on. 🙂

Wednesday:

I went to the horse therapy ranch with the kids today. Pretty average day there, except for the fact that a horse STEPPED ON MY TOE. But whatever. I survived and the staff was VERY apologetic, which I found funny. Lol. Now, I’m gonna say that Wednesday was a pretty pivotal day in terms of my love life. I know, I know. I promised myself that I would NOT make any more commentary on the love front, but this is actual news guys. I’ll explain:

So (thanks to Tinder), I met this really great guy (D) today. I, as a female, usually have rules against being the first person to message someone on Tinder. But I matched with this really cute guy that was totally my type (dark hair, seemed tall, subtle facial hair) who had a pretty nice quote in English on his bio. So I thought, “why the hell not?” and messaged him. He ended up messaging me back and pretty much smooth-talked his way into getting my number and meeting me that night for drinks. I had a yoga date with one of my housemates though, so I told him that I would message him when I got back. He then realized that I was in Quito, while he was an hour away around Cumbaya and told me he’d try to make it down to Quito after his dinner with some friends. When I got back, I got a message that said that he wasn’t going to be able to make it to Quito in time. I rolled my eyes and thought, “here we go again.” BUT I was pleasantly surprised that he was persistent in meeting me the following day for a date in Cumbaya. After giving me detailed instructions on getting there, we bid each other goodnight and I went to bed in an extremely good mood for the first time in a while. (To Be Continued)

Thursday:

Before I get into the date, I want to tell you guys about my day at the volunteer site. So today was a pretty normal day up to a certain point. So I carried on business as usual, and then went to dance therapy for the kids (which is every Thursday) in the cafeteria. So things were carrying on as normal. Really upbeat Latino music, children dancing like crazy, adults helping them. All was good in the hood. But then at one point, I noticed one of the older special kids (he was actually probably in his late 20’s to early 30’s) scoot up next to me where I was sitting. At first, I thought “okay?” but just kinda didn’t think much of it. Just a little background about this guy: Whenever I come to the volunteer site and he sees me, he usually holds his hand out for a five and I give him an awkward one, because I’m honestly not really sure how to communicate with the “older kids.”

So anyway, I’m sitting there, awkwardly dancing in my seat for a bit. Eventually, the guy hooks his arm around mine and I’m sitting there thinking, “okay…whatever. It’s all good,” and good-naturedly move my arms and shoulders to the beat. So I’m dancing…and dancing…feeling at ease. Of course, since I’m building this up, y’all can assume that something goes terribly wrong. And you would be correct to assume that, because when I decide to just glance over at the guy whose arm was constricted around mine, I see that HIS HAND IS GRABBING HIS CROTCH AND HE IS JACKING OFF. GUYS, I AM NOT FUCKING KIDDING. HE WAS RUBBING HIMSELF BECAUSE HE HAD AN ARM AROUND ME. I jumped up faster than a cricket on a skillet guys, and went on the opposite side of the room.

I am now hyperaware of his presence and his actions. Like, I understand that maybe he doesn’t know that what he’s doing is inappropriate, but I am not going to pretend that it didn’t bother me. ESPECIALLY since when I was sitting with one of the cute little girls, he scooted up next to her and placed a hand on the small of her back, with his hand still on his crotch. WTF. I literally grabbed her and put her on the other side of me (away from his reach) and told him to go away. Ugh.

Anyway, now onto the date.

D texted me to confirm that we would, in fact, be meeting up at 6 that day. I said that I was all for it (although I was naturally apprehensive that the date would fall flat, like with my previous Tinder meet-up). But anyway, D gave me instructions on how to meet up with him at Parque Cumbaya. I expressed my apprehensions about getting lost (because I’m directionally impaired) and he responded with nothing but positive encouragement and even said that he would wait for me however long it took. Whoa. So anyway, As time drew closer, I began starting to get ready. After thinking that I looked cute enough, I walked the ~15 minutes needed to get to the first bus stop. I have to say that it was extra nerve-racking, because I dolled myself up and kept getting unsolicited looks and cat-calls on my way. But I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t provide at least some relief, because I was thinking “yes! Maybe my date will think I look good too!”

So anyway, I took the bus to the first station and we went to a big bus station called “Rio Coca.” I quite easily found the bus that I needed to take to Cumbaya and took it. Now as we drew closer and closer to the city, I began to feel a bit apprehensive about finding the park and asked the ticket-tearer on the bus if she knew where it was. She had no idea, but said she’d stay on the lookout with me. Long story; short: I realized that I’d missed my stop after I asked the passenger next to me when we were near the top of a mountain in this village. Lol. I laugh about it now, but at the time, I was terrified, because I was already late for our meetup. So anyway, the ticket-tearer didn’t charge me again as we made our way back down the mountain. I got off at the first place that D mentioned in the text and preceded to walk (never failing to ask locals on the way) to the park. I had FINALLY made it (about 30 minutes late) and now, a different kind of panic rose in me as I looked around for D. Would he be there? If he was, would he be a nightmare like the last guy? When I finally found him, I have to say that I was instantly relieved. Taller than me. Good-looking. Interesting accent (even though now, I can tell y’all that I was making that up, because he’s originally from Colorado. Lol). He checked out. And when he talked, his voice wasn’t obnoxiously high-pitched (I’m such a bitch) like the other guy. I immediately decided to break the ice by joking about how I almost ended up in Colombia on the way there and he seemed to find it funny (which gives him an A+ in my book).

So we made our way to the first place…which turned out to be expensive and I was HUNGRY. D sensed this and offered to go to a different (Turkish) place that his friends would be meeting us at, and I immediately agreed.

So we went and there, I told him a little bit about myself and found out a lot more about him. He was half-Ecuadorian (on his mother’s side) and half-American (on his father’s side). He’d been living in Ecuador for the past almost three years, building a sustainable house with his friends and hundreds of volunteers from around the world on a large plot of land that his mother left him when she died. Like a scene from a movie, huh? There are so many more amazing things about him that I have learned, but let me just keep it relevant.

Anyway, his friends came and they were absolutely freaking hilarious. Two of them were twin guys from California that had been living with D for the past 8 months. Guys, I had never met more hilarious people in my life. I can’t even explain. And the third person was a native-Ecuadorian girl (half-Black) who was dating one of the twins. We talked and laughed a lot (I told them about my awkward experience at the volunteer site earlier that day) and eventually, we left to buy drinks and head back to D’s infamous house that they had completely built by hand. I know, I know. I was being really risky going to this house at night in a village in the middle of nowhere with a group of people that I had just met. But I trusted my gut and, more importantly, I yearned for new company. So we went by taxi.

Guys, I am not exaggerating when I say that this house was by far the coolest house I had ever stepped foot into. Everything was totally hipster (from the solar-powered shower, to the built-in-the-ground table) and he had cute little puppies and a dog and (feral) kittens. Like, talking about this house won’t do it any justice. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before and it was HUGE.

Okay. Enough about the house. I have rarely laughed so much in my life as that night. The guys formed an interestingly hilarious dynamic and made me realize just how much I missed being with Americans (as much as I hate to admit that). At a certain point, things got a little “cozy” between me and D and he actually asked me to stay over and hang with them. I honestly would have, but…….I was very unprepared, had to volunteer the next day, and said that I had to go home. Me and D made plans to see each other again the next day and he called up a special taxi friend of his (because it was ~1 am) and paid for him to take me home. So as you can imagine, I went home in an extremely good mood and absolutely could not wait to see D again the next day.

Friday:

Friday was a normal day at the volunteer site. I mean, the older kids had all gone to the horse ranch, but other than that, everything was status quo. So I’ll fast-forward to my second meet-up with D.

Okay, so this time, D had asked me to meet up with him in front of a huge supermarket in Tumbaco to go to a pool/house party…at night. Of course, I was a bit apprehensive meeting him that late with a backpack of valuables. Buuuut, I sucked it up. Besides, I was more confident now that I knew about Rio Coca. So anyway, I took the bus until the meeting place and stood about awkwardly because, y’know, I was wearing a dress and it was nighttime. After standing around for about three minutes with people staring at me (because I was obviously a foreigner), D came up to me (like a knight in shining armor) and rescued me via taxi. Lol. So anyway, we went to his place and met up with the twins. After hanging out for quite a while, we eventually went to the house party.

I have to say that there were a LOT of interesting characters of the hipster variety at this party. Like, I was wondering where these people had come from. They had all seemed eccentric enough to be Argentine, but apparently after talking to them, the vast majority of them were from Ecuador.

Now, I’m not going to give y’all long details about the night, but let me just say that it was really fun (with the exception of the fact that I stubbed both of my toes). 🙂

After some hours, we decided to call it a night and went back to D’s place.

Saturday:

I woke up the next morning to the guys playing music on one of the twins’ laptop. I’m just going to say that the vast majority of the day was me learning just how knowledgeable the guys were about old school rap and hip-hop. 🙂 I liked D and the twins SO MUCH. They were an absolutely hilarious bunch and I definitely felt D’s sadness at the fact that the twins would be returning to the States the next day.

Saturday, since we were all being homebodies, we decided to stay in and literally watch all of the first season of Adventure Time. I’m not even kidding. Hahaha. But it was great, because like I said, they were probably the most hilarious bunch of people that I’d ever met.

I stayed there again that night.

*P.S. Guys, I’ll be honest. Me and D have a pretty romantic relationship (yay), but don’t expect me to go into details at any point that I mention him. I have an image to uphold here! Lol.

Adventures in Ecuador – Week 4

Alright kiddos. This post is about a week late because I have had ZERO motivation to write each day. So as a disclaimer, I am warning y’all that the following post will be badly written, vague at times, jumpy, and filled with grammatical errors. For that, I apologize. I may revise at some point in the future, but I’ll definitely upload pictures later.

Week 4

Sunday:

Okay, so Sunday was a lot more chill than the day before. Me and two of my travel buddies went to breakfast and were joined later by our third companion. Afterward, they started making plans to go to the Casa de Arbol (which is basically a huge swing overlooking a cliff). But we had JUST missed the bus that we needed to go, so we decided to wait 2 hours until the next bus by walking around and shopping. N then decided that he wanted to try bungee jumping from a bridge that was high above a river. It looked absolutely terrifying, and that terror was heightened by the fact that it was cold (although not raining, thank God). So he did it and we took lots of pictures/recorded the jump. What a daredevil. Lol.

After that, we started trying to find information about other forms of transportation to the Casa de Arbol (from buses, to taxis, to hitchhiking), because our bus out of the city back to Quito was coming at 4:30 and we were anxious that we wouldn’t make it on time. After hitchhiking proved unsuccessful, they decided to go to this scenic area on top of the mountains. I’m guessing y’all can sense my apprehension when N’s friend took off his jacket and said “get ready to sweat.” Like, was he fucking kidding? I had JUST gotten clean after a rough the day before and now they wanted to exercise AGAIN?

While we started climbing up, I waged an internal war for a bit and then stopped climbing. They took notice and asked what was wrong. I told them that I wanted to go back into town and that they could go on without me. After unsuccessful attempts to persuade me to stay, I went back to town, walked, around, had lunch, and relaxed for 2 ½ hours. Now THAT was how I wanted to spend my day.

Eventually, they came back and met me at the hostal and we RUSHED like madmen to the bus station. There we said our goodbye’s to N’s friend (who was going on a different bus to Guayaquil. I will always admire backpackers) got on our bus, and rode home for ~5 hours.

Sadly, I missed dinner. But it was okay since I had snacks anyway. So I did my hair (which NEEDED to be done, considering all the trauma it had faced the day before from my unsolicited wash and go), did a shit-ton of laundry, and went to sleep.

Monday:

Monday was a great day at the volunteer site. Why? Because we got to BREATHE. Like, I was assigned one of my favorite kids (who can walk with some help) and was told to walk him around the grounds. So we went to the park on the volunteer site and played around. We were then joined by several of the other volunteers and their kids and it was kinda like one big party, with most of us just sitting and talking.

Lest I forget to mention, one of the people there was M and we chatted up a storm, which was odd for me.

But basically, we hung out with those cuties literally until lunchtime, and then we went to lunch.

There were two less kids, which, surprisingly, made things (from feeding the kids, to brushing their teeth, to changing their diapers) go 10,000x faster.

When we were done, L, P, and I (as in “me.” Lol. So many initials I know) went to the bus stop.

And also, the annoying girl, K, returned from the Amazon as well as a new volunteer! She works in psychology and is going to be working in a clinic, which I think is pretty cool. Plus, her Spanish is great!

And also, I moved into the Swiss girl’s old room (FINALLY) which is closer to the center of the house, warmer, has a nice bathroom close by, and has better Wi-Fi! WOO HOO!

Tuesday:

Tuesday was pretty similar to Monday, only I had a different kid (who very-well might be my fave, because he’s cute as a button and talks in the cutest little voice) and we all chilled in the park again at the same spot. I had good conversation with many of the people IN SPANISH, which is something that I’m very proud of, and we joked around about the music M was playing. Why? Because the lyrics were very explicit, but they had no idea because the songs were in English and none of them understood. Lol.

It’s pretty hard to read M. I THINK he was being casual today, but at the same time, I could sense that something was off and things were still not like how they used to be.

Dinner was like a little fiesta. Another psychology volunteer (a guy this time, who I will add is pretty cute in a grungy way) arrived at 3 am that morning and joined us for dinner. PLUS, the Swiss girl came by for a surprise visit and brought cake! It was totally cute and an absolutely delight to see her one more time before she left on Saturday. 🙂

Wednesday:

Wednesday was definitely different from the norm, because all of a sudden ~40 volunteers filled the site. No lie.

I was playing with one of my favorite kiddos outside when they all poured in. It was a very interesting and welcome change from the norm. However, I will say 3 things:

  1. They weren’t volunteers for the kids. They were volunteers for cleaning the place up. I’ll admit that that’s great, because my site doesn’t really do much for itself in terms of really sprucing the place up, because they’re so focused on the kiddos. BUT I can’t lie and say I wasn’t a bit disappointed that we weren’t having more help with taking care of the kids.
  2. Apparently, they were two groups of volunteers. One group was only staying until Friday and the other was staying for ~2 more weeks in Ecuador, but not necessarily our site. Boo.
  3. I only know of two people (of both groups) who could speak Spanish, which surprisingly bugged me a lot more than I thought it would. I guess it was because they were feeding into the American stereotype. I literally watched one of the women conversing with one of the site staff (who I knew for a fact spoke zero English), and asking her about what she should do. The woman who worked on the site literally just nodded to every question she asked, which led to the poor woman doing more volunteer work than she needed to. Seriously people reading this. Please attempt to learn at least the basics of a country’s language before conversing with its people.

Thursday:

Thursday was very, very interesting.

So the same extra volunteers came again. But in addition to that, a group of high schoolers also came to do a program for the kids. This group of high schoolers were definitely different from the ones who had come before because it was so easy to tell that they didn’t really feel comfortable being there…which was annoying. They tended to clump together in little groups and not really reach out to the kids. Additionally, their attitudes overall just seemed negative and like “why am I even here?”

So I made a point to interact with the children in front of them to show them that the kids weren’t dangerous or anything and that they didn’t have to be so scared to be around them. I have to admit that I am very glad that I didn’t act the same way that they did when I first came.

But anyway, the programs happened and while it happened, something horrible occurred. One of the kids apparently escaped. I’m not kidding you guys.

Apparently, a group of the American volunteers didn’t realize that he was one of the kids we were watching and opened the outer doors for him and he ran away. I was told that he had done the same thing about a year ago and was found 2 hours away in a different city! I will keep y’all posted.

Later that night, we hit the discotecas (me, L, and P) and it was actually a bit more fun than all the other times that I had gone. I was actually hit on quite a bit. Once by this guy (who came off as creepy, but now that I think about it, I’m mad that I didn’t go for it because he was mad-TALL, attractive, and Black) at the second club we were at, and then by some other (much creepier) people at the third club we went to. Oh, I also hit it off pretty well with this guy from Holland who was in med school. 🙂 After having a pretty good time at the club, some people that we had just met invited us to an after-party. But we were all a little wary about it (seeing as how it was 2am) and ultimately decided to go home, especially since I had to wake up in 4 hours. Sigh. So I bid farewell to my sweet guy from Holland and we all went home.

Friday:

Friday was probably the most depressing day since I’d arrived at the volunteer site. Everyone was pretty sober, tense, and quiet because of the kid that went missing. It was the quietest it had ever been at the facility and it made me feel so much weight. PLUS, three of our kids didn’t show up, which made things extra quiet. 😦 Oh, and lest I forget to mention the fact that it was P, L, and one of my German friend’s last day at the site. Everyone was really sad about that because they had all committed so much time, work, and effort to the organization. And with their departure, I was losing my three closest friends at the site…all at the same time. Sigh. My heart is admittedly heavy just thinking back on it.

But Friday at the site did ultimately end on a good note, because the kid WAS FOUND at the place where we have horse therapy (how he managed to get there, and with what money, still continues to absolutely confound me. A lot of these kids seriously have a gift) and we had a little Going-Away thingy for the three friends! 🙂

So after volunteering, we all rode the bus to the main station together and I said my final farewells to P and my German friend (which was so incredibly sad. I hate goodbyes and really feel like I need to travel more so that they aren’t as hard for me), before me and L rode our bus home. L would be leaving on Sunday.

Saturday:

I WENT TO A GAY PRIDE PARADE TODAY. And that is really the only highlight of Saturday, because other than that, I did NOTHING. *Hint hint* I reactivated my Netflix account this day.

But anyway, back to the parade. Y’all. I have to say that stumbling up this parade was quite a shock to me. I mean, Ecuador is a country that 80% Catholic and the Pope is visiting next week. AND HERE THEY ARE HAVING A HUGE GAY PRIDE PARADE complete with possibly thousands of attendees and supporters, as well as the police providing security.

At first, I thought that they were doing this because of the SCOTUS gay marriage ruling in the U.S. but NO. Apparently, Ecuador does this every year! And Ecuador is apparently very gay-friendly and has been for a while. They were one of the pioneers (third in the world) of no discrimination based on sexual orientation. Like, whoa.

I was smiling from ear to ear throughout the event. There was fabulous music (I’m talking Lady Gaga and Britney Spears), transvestites and cross-dressers, gay couples holding hands, little kids wearing rainbow shirts… Like, Ecuador, good for you. (I’ll upload pictures later.)

That same day the mother and daughter living in the host house went back to New Mexico, WHICH MADE ME SO SAD. 😦

Additionally, I believe this is the day that the third person with the psychology group in our host house arrived. I’m not sure because I’m typing this waaaaay after the fact. I’m sorry guys. I’ve been lazy/sad this week.

Adventures in Ecuador – Week 3

Sunday:

Sunday was nice because the new girl (K) and I decided to take a trolley to visit the famous historical center of Quito. It was great for sight-seeing, but it was also a great test of my language capabilities because I was forced to ask strangers for directions and other types of help. Additionally, we got to go on a tour through the President’s palace, which was SO SWANKY. I loved it and took lots of pictures. The tour was completely in Spanish and I felt like I understood a great deal, which made me happy. 🙂 There was a lot of cool street action and a parade put on by the local high schoolers—complete with a drumline and acrobats. Plus I discovered that K was pretty cool and it kinda made me sad that she’d only be in Ecuador for 1½ weeks before returning to Chicago. But whatever. That’s life.

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The president’s palace (below) was REALLY cool.

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Side Note* Menestros del Negro is such a shock to see. The fact that such a racist cartoon mascot for a restaurant is prevalent in Ecuador (and especially the capital’s center) is just sad.

Actually, I’m going to be the only original host person in the house by the time July comes. The Swiss girl left about 2 weeks ago to go on an adventure, the mother and daughter are going to be done with their Spanish school by the end of the month, K is here for 11 days, and L decided to travel to volunteer in Guayaquil for the rest of her stay in Ecuador by July. So yeah. This trip is teaching me a lot about not getting too attached.

It’s especially sad, because the person that I guess I could consider my best friend here (P, who went to Cumbaya with me, M, and D…sorry for all the confusing initials. Lol) is only in Quito until July, and then she’s travelling to other countries in Latin America. :/ Sigh. Oh well. I need to learn to appreciate the time that I do have with people and not dwell on the future.

Anyway, going back on track, we finally came back in peace and were starving, so we went to KFC (which isn’t great in the States OR here) because almost every store is closed on Sunday and passed out back at home. After dinner, L came back (she had gone to Otavalo—which has a famous massive indigenous crafts market—early that morning) and we exchanged brief “hi’s” before I passed out at, like, 8:30. I was EXHAUSTED guys. I told y’all I’m NOT an outdoorsy person.

Monday:

Monday, we went back to the volunteer site, but by an interesting coincidence, we ran into one of our fellow volunteers from Germany at the bus station. He rode with us, however, at a certain point I distanced myself from him and L because they were being obnoxious while speaking in Spanish. What do I mean? Well he was talking about his experience going to the Amazon and how they were helping an indigenous tribe there in pretty rudimentary, obnoxiously loud Spanish which I just felt like none of the other native Ecuadorians on the bus wanted to hear about at 8 in the morning. I mean, can y’all imagine trying to live a normal life in a place where you grew up, and then all of a sudden hearing some college-aged, blond, financially well-off foreigner speaking incorrectly in your language about all the good work he did in one weekend for the benefit of people like you? Ugh. I separated A$AP Rocky and put in my headphones, listening to the only two songs I had on repeat for the whole 40 minute trip.

Once at the site, we did the usual Monday meeting in the main room with all the kids. Two of my fave Little Ones sat and snuggled next to me and I was content with all the cuteness that was surrounding me. OH. Let me also mention that in addition to complements of my braid-out (you see, I usually have my hair in a puff), kids could NOT keep their hands off my hair. It was enough to make me cringe, but I let it pass since they were kids. I re-moisturized and re-braided later that night anyway.

But GUYS. Omg. Okay, so there’s this one kid (apparently with Autism), that I thought was sweet-as-can be (although, for some reason, he is very amorous and is always trying to touch and kiss any female within arm’s length at the facility), until he straight-up drop-kicked another kid (who I find rather annoying, but God bless her) in the face. Like, guys. I’m not exaggerating. Apparently, he has a lot of issues with her and he knocked her to the ground on her hands and knees. And while she was crying, he kicked her in the face TWICE, before we could get to them. Like, wow. It was a horrible way to start the morning. But she was fine soon afterward and we all actively tried to keep them apart.

L also mentioned to me that one of my two little favorites (the only kid I work with who can speak coherently and is CUUUUUUUTE as a button!) had actually asked for me by name on Friday during lunch, because I wasn’t there! Ugggghhhhh! Way to pull at my heart strings. I felt even guiltier for not having come on Friday for such a stupid reason as getting too drunk the night before. And it also had me thinking about how guilty I felt for only volunteering for 9 weeks. I had read about vacation volunteering and the negative effects that it had on the children that volunteers interact with before coming on this trip, but I didn’t really think about it until then. For me to get so attached to these kids and vice-versa…only to leave after 9 weeks is devastating. I mean, the reason why I made my trip as long as possible was to make more of an impact instead of just coming for funsies and leaving, but I didn’t really think about the negative effects of my semi-extended stay… :/ Sigh.

Oh, and off-topic, but yeah. My infatuation with M is pretty much over. And our interaction today was just so awkward (even though I tried to make it not awkward) that I thought “fuck it. I’m done.” I’m planning on going to a discoteca on Thursday with P and she asked if it would be okay if she asked the German volunteers and M to come too. I agreed with the German volunteers and hesitated a little with M, which P picked up on. But I assured her it’d be okay, although honestly, with the way the M is acting, I’d feel more comfortable with him not going. I’ll just keep my fingers crossed.

Tuesday:

Tuesday was a pretty normal day at the volunteer site. Unfortunately, I’m typing this on Wednesday, so I don’t really remember anything particularly important that happened. I guess the only noteworthy thing is the fact that P and I made plans to visit Baños during the weekend! 🙂 Woo woo! So I’m excited about that. But anyway…fast-forward to after volunteering. I went with the new girl and L to a fancy little French bakery that L had been gushing about. I will admit, the establishment was pretty swanky. But I was disappointed because they got my order wrong. They handed me hot milk with a black tea bag in it, claiming that it was the green tea latte that I had ordered. *rolls eyes* They were lucky that L treated me to the drink or I would’ve raised hell.

But anyway, I also learned that I kinda didn’t like New Girl (K) as much as I thought I would. She actually reminded me a lot of L…only more annoying. Literally, all she would do while we were there was whine about her trip, her volunteer work, and the host house. I mean COME ON. She honestly had the nerve to say that the school system sucked compared to the U.S. and she didn’t even want to volunteer anymore. COME ON DEAR. YOU’RE ONLY HERE FOR 11 DAYS. GET TF—ugh. Nvm. Next day.

Wednesday:

In the morning, my lovely host mom gave me an application to be a volunteer for the Pope’s visit in July. I forgot to mention this earlier. Over breakfast (on Monday or Tuesday?) I had mentioned to her that, being Catholic, I was totally interested in seeing the Pope. She flipped out in pure joy upon finding out that I was Catholic like her and asked if I’d be interested in being a volunteer the day of his arrival. Uhh, of COURSE I agreed. Lol.

After breakfast, we went to the horse ranch with the kiddos again. On the way there, P and I bonded so much and talked about boys. Lol. Basically, she got me into the idea of getting a Tinder. I mean, I had one back home for a few hours, but it was just too weird for me seeing people that I knew. So I deleted it A$AP Rocky. But while here in a foreign country, it seemed like a great way to get to know people. 🙂

Anyway, at the actual horse ranch, I had quite a lot of fun! I finally bonded with one of the German volunteers who had been there for almost a year (that I initially found cold and intimidating) a lot! And she invited me to go to some nice beach (I honestly forget what it’s called) along with the other (cute) German volunteer guy and their Ecuadorian friends on the first weekend of July! 🙂 So it looks like I won’t be as lonely as I initially thought I would be when everyone leaves. Whew.

Over dinner, we (the travelers abroad) had the house to ourselves because our host mom and dad were out late. So we talked a lot and laughed about so much. I decided to make the Tinder account and got SO MANY matches and messages that it became somewhat of a problem and I freaked out. Hahaha. I really think I overdid it. But GUYS, Tinder is SO ADDICTING. However, I will say that I personally do not find a lot of the guys in my area attractive. I’d like a picture, match, see more of their pictures, and in absolute horror unmatch myself. Like, that happened a lot. And I also have to say that although some guys seemed cute, I ultimately rejected them for appearing too short. That’s a major problem with Ecuadorian men for me: I’m taller than the majority of them even though I’m only 5’6”. But there is good news: I ended up with a date for tomorrow at 5pm in a coffee shop (although the guy originally asked to meet at 9am. Wtf?). He seemed cute enough. Very outdoorsy (which leads me to believe that he’s a backpacker). His English is so cutely flawed (he actually wanted to meet at “9am o’clock”). He has facial hair. AND HE SEEMS TALL WHICH IS A BIG PLUS. 🙂 So idk exactly where the place is that he said he wanted to meet, but I hope I find out while looking around. And the good news is I have dinner at 7pm with my host family and I’m going with P to the discoteca after, so I have the perfect getaway excuses in case things aren’t working out.

Oh, and I have to also say (change of topic. Sorry) that K REALLY gets on my nerves. Dinner was 80% her complaining about her experience here AND OUR SWEET HOST MOTHER. Like, if you want to bitch about your ineptitude at speaking with children that you are teaching English in a language that they can understand, and your financial issues with the volunteer organization, fine. Whatever. That’s one thing. (Although, I did nonchalantly advise her to stop complaining and just make the most of her time here). But to talk shit about our host mother who had been NOTHING but kind and helpful to all of us (making us breakfast and dinner, having our rooms cleaned, doing our laundry, AND PROVIDING US SHELTER)! Ugh! Just gtfo now. Like, how fucking rude. Would you guys believe that when she left her room, she had the audacity to say to me “Oh great. I see she didn’t make my bed.” LIKE ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? SHE’S OUR HOST MOTHER, NOT YOUR MAID. YOU ARE A SIXTH GRADE TEACHER. YOU’RE OLD ENOUGH TO MAKE YOUR OWN FUCKING BED. Guys, I made sure to be passive-aggressive in my responses to her bitching. Like, I can’t stand rude people and I’m like you’re only here for A WEEK. Get OVER yourself. (Sidenote: She has a Midwestern accent which I think adds to the annoyance factor).

Thursday:

*Okay. So early warning. I’m typing out what I remember about Thursday, Friday, and Saturday right now and it’s 8am on Sunday. So sorry if I miss a few details. I haven’t had time to keep up these past few days.*

From what I remember about Thursday, things were pretty rough at the volunteer site. This is because around lunch time, I really started to notice how understaffed (in terms of volunteers) the organization now is. Because so many of the other volunteers had already left back to the States, we now only have 7 volunteers handling 35+ kids/teens/adults. The little kids (which me and L are the only volunteers for) are not capable of feeding themselves, so we have to do it, in addition to brushing their teeth and changing their diapers. The whole experience was hard because 2 of the volunteers had to leave for Spanish school and 1 (M) mainly only takes care of one particular kid. Also, the staff was having a meeting at that time, so our leader was not available to help and L had to watch other kids so P could go to Spanish school. SO BASICALLY, THAT LEFT ME BY MYSELF TO CHANGE SEVEN DIAPERS AND CLOTHES. It was so rough and really made me scared for how things would be when L left after next week. There is no way that I will be able to handle everything by myself. And I must admit that I get a bit jealous watching the other volunteers when they handle the older kids, who are capable of doing a lot of things for themselves, and get to hang out outside and chat while I’m stuck in a dark room with 9 kids for about 4 hours. :/ Sigh. I need to find a solution by next week.

Anyway, after volunteering, I ran a couple of errands before going to meet up with my Tinder date. After my errands, I tried to find the place and had only a little bit of difficulty, but I found someone who helped me a lot, so that was good. 🙂

Okay so now on to the part y’all are probably waiting on: the date. I’ll sum it up: NO. NO NO NO! Just, NO. Let me tell you why.

First of all, I went to the place and felt very awkward and apprehensive. It was packed and I had no intention of looking pointedly at everyone’s face, so I ordered food and sat down. My phone was dying and the Wi-Fi was bad so I sent a quick little “Are you here?” and went back to eating slowly. I glanced around discreetly and noticed quite a few people who seemed to be waiting for someone. In my mind, I kept questioning whether or not each person was the right guy. I then noticed someone who seemed to glance at me quite often and I wondered if it was him. He was pretty cute and tall so I hoped it was, but I told myself that I would not go and ask. It’s at that moment (after about twenty minutes of sitting) that he came. Guys… I was in so much shock. When he said hello to me, I tried to keep my smile on my face as I sized him up. He was very thin, a LOT shorter than I thought he’d be, and had a higher-pitched voice to match. It was my nightmare. However, I tried to remain cordial as we sat and talked for a bit. It was hard for me to contribute much to the conversation because my heart just wasn’t in it (and he definitely noticed), but I tried.

We then moved to another venue (a German bar) and talked a bit more and then his friend called and then showed up (which I’ll admit was weird on both of their parts). So we talked and talked and I won’t go into much detail, because the conversations were weird at times and I just don’t think it’s worth it. But After 2 hours (I know. I’m a saint) I had to get going for dinner, so they walked me part of the way and then we departed. UGH. God. It dampened my night. But he was nice enough, so I let him have my Facebook information so that he wouldn’t think that I though ill of him.

Anyway, later on, I went with L to meet with P, one of the German volunteers (N), and his girlfriend. The night started off pretty nice (although I was a bit apprehensive seeing as we were back at Bungalow, which I HATE), but then ended pretty badly. I was approached by short guys (which is almost like a phobia for me), and I ended up getting really into it with two girls (but I’m so fucking proud of myself because I was obviously the intimidating one and their friends stood in between us because they were afraid that I’d whoop their asses. Like, fucking YES), and as usual there were TOO MANY FOREIGNERS. We stayed until about 2 am (lol. I guess this should count as my Friday post, huh?) and finally went home. BUT I couldn’t sleep because I had to moisturize and braid my hair for an hour (damn) and pack for Baños since I wouldn’t be coming back home after volunteering the next day (double-damn). So really, I slept at 4am and woke up at 6am. 😦

Friday:

Friday was a pretty good day at the volunteer site. Most of the older kids had to go to the horse ranch, so it was a little emptier and quieter at the facility. I got to chill outside with one of my kids and P and N came by to chill and solidify our plans for later that day. The trip to Baños would take 3-4 hours and N was bringing his German friend who had been staying in Colombia. After work, me and P rode to the station close to her house and waited for N and his friend to meet us there. When they finally did, we rode to the main station that would take us to Baños. The ride to that station was very uncomfortable, cramped, hot, sweaty, and long but we finally made it there. The station reminded me a lot of an airport and the bus was a lot more cushy, complete with a movie playing on a large TV. I spent the majority of the ride listening to music and sleeping. But the times that I was awake, the views outside were marvelous.

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We finally made it to Baños around 8pm and IT WAS RAINING. In fact, I’ll go ahead and tell y’all that it was raining the pretty much the whole weekend. But anyway, we found a pretty good hostal and called it a night.

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Saturday:

Saturday was definitely an experience.

I am NOT an outdoorsy person by any means, but I was forced to be one that day. Basically, we rented mountain bikes and rode them (roundtrip) about 60 miles through mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and caves IN THE RAIN.

So this is how it happened. We woke up early on Saturday and went to breakfast (at this amazingly delicious, cute, and cheap café/restaurant). It was still raining and looked like it’d be raining all day, but we still decided to go biking on this long-ass trail. So we rented the bikes and went on our way…while it was still raining. I have to tell you guys that being from Texas (where it is mainly flat lands and little-to-no hills) I had NO biking experience with the exception of riding my bike 7 minutes to class on flat pavement. So you can imagine that this posed quite a challenge for me…especially considering that the other three I came with had lots of experience. So there were MANY times that I was far behind them (like 10+ minutes) because I had to take a break (or several) and catch my breath. It was when I had caught up that they explained to me how the gears on a mountain bike worked which made things a BIT easier. But for the most part, I suffered on the trail. However, I will say that the views were among the most beautiful sights that I had ever seen in my life. BUT I’m the type of person who would be just as content staying indoors watching Netflix and NOT getting drenched.

Sidenote: My favorite part of the trail was going underneath a waterfall. 🙂 My least favorite part was getting stuck with about 600+ other people because of a mudslide. 😦

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Our map after going through the waterfall.

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The dreaded mudslide.

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Lol. Even in Ecuador.

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Anyway, when we were finally free, we continued to bike and I instantly missed being stuck and not having to bike. My group was FAR ahead of me (probably like, an hour ahead) and I biked and ended up on a different path than how we got there, which took me on a longer path back to the city. So maybe 2+ hours later, I finally made it back and had a relatively hard time finding the hostal (considering there were about 25+). But eventually, some nice man gave me perfect directions and I made it back exhausted, dirty, wet, and hungry, but alive. 🙂 My group had already started preparing dinner, and I was too hungry to shower first, so I ate, then showered, and passed out.

I guessed my original plan of going to a discoteca just wouldn’t happen and I was quite alright with that.

*Also*

So I had neglected to mention earlier in the week, but there’s this guy that I’ve been messaging on Tinder. I know, I know. My love life is hopeless. But idk…he seems pretty alright. Cute (I can actually tell this time because I creeped on his Facebook), 26, seems to have an awesome job, and messages me sweet things every day, several times a day. I won’t comment for sure on height, because I had completely missed the mark on the last guy, but he seems to be at least a bit taller than me? Hopefully a lot more? Idk. (Honestly y’all, I think I have a phobia of short men hitting on me). BUT by creeping, I found out that he has a daughter… Yeah. But he seems to really, really, reallllllly love her (which, of course, is GREAT) so I’m hoping that I can look past that? Ugh. I’m hopeless. We may meet in the near future. As always, I will let y’all know how everything goes.

Thanks for staying tuned and keeping up with my disaster of a life! 😉 Until next week!

Adventures in Ecuador – Week 2

Okay guys. So this post will be a little longer than Week 1, because I realized that typing out my day the day of would actually be a smarter idea so that I don’t miss anything important.

Sunday:

Shit hit the fan today.

Okay, so remember in my last post how I talked about how L was getting on my damn nerves? Well today, I passive-aggressively took action. I’ll explain.

So today, she dragged me along with her at 8am to go to a famous park in Quito and a famous botanical garden. I had told my host family a few nights before that I was not a nature person and hated being outside in the sun. Despite this, L asked me (or better yet, made me) go with her. It was only while we were walking during the 30-minute trek that she finally asked if it was okay with me that I was going. At this point, there was no point in turning back so I gave her my best smile and said, “Sure it’s fine! I don’t like nature, but I’ll make an exception since I’m in another country.” See, guys, I consider myself an open-minded person. So I was willing to put aside my discomfort and be a good sport to go on this expedition, because why the hell not? And I WILL admit, the garden was very beautiful, so I don’t regret going.

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BUT after our visit, L kept stopping at different sales booths while the sun was climbing and the heat was getting uncomfortable. I have asthma guys, and high elevation and heat is a no-no for me. So I voiced this to her and she got all passive-aggressive and condescending, which ticked me the fuck off.

Oh hey, I forgot to mention how I passive-aggressively took action. Well on the way to the park, L kept talking down on Quito, comparing it to the U.S. (as usual) and I completely tore down her observations by listing the number of ways in which the U.S. falls short to many other countries—Ecuador included. I hoped that by explaining to her my stance, she would realize that she does not have an anti-Ecuador ally in me and would stop bitching. Totally not the case. But I digress.

After our visit, L informed me that we would be going to the Teleferico, which is a cable car in Ecuador that takes you to the top of Pichincha Mountain. Say WHAT? Okay, I will admit that I wanted to go at some point during my trip, but the fact that she just laid that bomb on me pissed me off. I was TIRED. But again, being a good sport, I agreed to go. She said that we would take a taxi and I was like, “Okay.” So we were walking with the goal of finding a taxi at some point, but then I said, “Why don’t we take a bus, since it will be a lot cheaper?” She agreed. So we’re walking…and walking…and walking, and then I spot a fruiteria. Now I KNEW that L was going to stop inside, because she always fucking stops at healthy food places and it’s while I’m patiently waiting for her that a bus comes…and goes. I could not believe it. When L came back out, I told her and she was like, “Oh. Okay well let’s keep walking and find one.” And it’s while we’re walking that she says, “Honestly, we might as well just walk the whole way.”

GUYS. WTF. The base of the mountain was a good 45 minute walk for where we were, a steep incline upward into a higher elevation harder-to-breathe area, AND IT WAS HOT. At first, I kept silent and walked. But then, it got to be too much to bear. My body was literally giving out. So I told her that I would have rather taken transportation AND SHE HAS THE NERVE TO TELL ME THAT I SHOULD GO BACK HOME BECAUSE I’M RUINING HER GOOD TIME AND THAT MAYBE WE SHOULDN’T SPEND TIME TOGETHER ANYMORE. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

  1. I had already walked a good 30 minutes. Why the HELL would I walk all the way back?
  2. The ONLY reason I was there was because she made me go with her.
  3. I had been a good sport and put up with her bitching about Ecuador, and for her to bitch me out because I complained ONCE about something health-related was fucking unnecessary.

So guys, I took a taxi by myself—earning a passive-aggressive response from her, went and took beautiful pictures, and then took a taxi back home. I felt good doing it too. Liberated and free from L’s nagging.

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When I came back home and sat with the other tourists living with me, I briefly updated them on what happened so that I could have the first say before L came and told them what happened. Thankfully, they sympathized with me. (I could sense that they thought L could be overbearing) And as I predicted, L came back and gave a stupid kinda I-apologize-for-what-happened-Nicole-but-maybe-this-is-a-good-thing-and-you-can-be-more-independent bullshit apology. So yeah. Dinner was so awkward. But whatever.

Oh, and about the date with the Israeli guy. It didn’t happen. But I’m totally okay with it. It was all tentative anyway because G had a business trip to this far city called Mindo and I didn’t expect him to come back by the time of our date anyway. AND I hope he doesn’t call. I’ll explain why in the Monday section.

Monday:

As predicted, things were awkward again between me and L. I didn’t really communicate with her much on the bus ride to the volunteer center and while walking, she mentioned how I seemed to be holding a grudge and should talk about it because she deserves respect. I basically told her that I didn’t want to talk about anything with her and owed her nothing. And that was that. So while volunteering (unfortunately, we work with the same kids), things were tense. But I made a conscious effort to ignore her and be more talkative with my fellow volunteers, now that I didn’t have her breathing down my neck. At a certain point, I left the room to take a break and saw two other volunteers (one of them being the hot Ecuadorian guy I mentioned near the beginning of my last post) playing football (or in America’s case, soccer). I joined them, joked around, and had a pretty good time. It was during this time that me and Hot Ecuadorian Volunteer (we’ll call him “M”) really hit it off and he asked to take me out sometime…again. *SCORE* I, of course, agreed and he asked if I would hang out with him after volunteering so he could show me some places and introduce me to his friend. After volunteering, I told L that I was leaving with M and she begrudgingly said “Fine.” I rolled my eyes and me and M pretty much talked shit about her in his car.

Anyway M drove me to his house, and then his friend’s house in the beautiful, rich part of Quito called Cumbaya. I couldn’t help but laugh, because I knew it would’ve been L’s dream to see such an Americanized version of Quito. But karma’s a bitch, right? Anyway, we went to his friend’s house to borrow his car because, apparently, there is a law in Ecuador that license plates that end in a certain digit cannot be on the road past a certain curfew on certain days. Crazy right? So we went to his friend’s house, which was BEAUTIFUL, and I met him along with his mother, aunt, sister, and little brother. Then we chilled in his backyard and M made us drinks. After that, his friend (we’ll call him “D”) drove us to this nice upper-middle class veranda of restaurants and bought us more local drinks (which were gross, but free so I can’t complain), we talked A LOT about all sorts of stuff, I got very drunk (which made them laugh), and then we went to a beautiful park and listened to all kinds of music.

It was during this time that they said they would take me to a fun discoteca in Cumbaya, unlike the ones I’d already been to. We listened to more music, and M tried to teach me some really nice (kinda sensual, but maybe I’m just an uptight American) dances. After, they drove me home.

I came home and told my house inhabitants about my day. The mother and daughter were extremely happy for me and L seemed somewhat jealous (which, I won’t deny, made me happy).

SO basically, I had a FANTASTIC day today and absolutely cannot wait to see M again. Beeteedubz, that’s why I don’t want G to call me back. Lol. 🙂

Tuesday:

So today was very average. M didn’t come to the volunteer facility today, so I was kinda (okay, very) sad. But it’s okay. I don’t depend on no man for happiness. 😉 Lol. Or at least I try not to, if I’m being real with myself.

So anyway, all day today, I could tell that L was being really petty and probably regretted asking me not to hang out with her anymore. At breakfast, our host mom asked what our plans were for the weekend. I said that I honestly didn’t know and L took the opportunity to mention M and asked if I would be hanging out with him. I said a short, “Maybe,” and my host mom warned me to be careful and asked a little bit about him. L then tried to nonchalantly mention how one of the volunteers from Germany had an Ecuadorian boyfriend that she’d been dating while here. I tried my best not to laugh. I mean, she was really acting petty by prying into her love life and trying to insinuate that I had one of my own.

And then after breakfast on the way to the volunteer site, she started talking about how she would plan on going to Mindo this weekend, although it’s a trip that she wished she could share with someone else instead of be at alone. Hint hint. I internally rolled my eyes and was like “Maybe you should go make some friends and take someone.” Lol. Because guys, I am done going anywhere (with the exception of to the volunteer site and back home) with her. I decided to be civil, but she would not find a close friend in me. Can you believe she actually had the nerve to, again, bring up the average annual income in Ecuador and ask how they can afford houses? LIKE, PLEASE FUCKING STOP.

I talk so much about my drama that I always neglect to mention the actual volunteering aspect of my trip. Guys, I FREAKING LOVE THESE KIDS. I have learned so much about how to handle them, become a much more patient person, and have improved my communication with the ones who can talk. Ugh. Love, love, love. I wish that I could spend more than nine weeks there. Yesterday when I was hanging out with M, he told me about a college near his that apparently has free tuition and lots of Americans study abroad there? I didn’t really know what to think about that. I mean, I was like whoa there. You’re intelligent, tall, attractive, kind, funny, and have and accent to die for…but you’re essentially asking me to move to your country and we only met last week. I mean guys, there is no way that I would leave my country for a guy…but for medically-related experience and volunteering with these kids during my gap year? Hmm. A definite maybe. It’s something I’m going to look into.

Wednesday:

Today, we took the kids out to a farm for horse therapy. It was fun and a nice break from the norm, but I will admit that I got exhausted very quickly due to being so out of shape this year. However, I thought today was great overall and I got to bond a lot more with my fellow volunteers, as well as learn from one of the German volunteers that the German government has a program that will completely pay for you to do volunteer work anywhere in the world from the beginning of college until you are 27. Like, seriously? Wtf. America, STEP YOUR GAME UP.

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After helping the kiddos ride, we took the van for about an hour back to volunteer facility and fed them (after feeding ourselves, of course). I saw M (happy day) and he solidified our plans for the next day and said he would pick me up from the volunteer site at 2 to take me back to Cumbaya to chill before hitting the club. So I spent a good amount of time tonight packing the things I’d need to get ready after volunteering tomorrow. Lol.

ALSO, L isn’t as bad as usual anymore (maybe because I’m not around her as much) and left the volunteer site early to explore a new volunteer opportunity with orphans at another facility. That means that I took the two buses I needed to go back home by myself, without her help. I mean, I don’t want to gloat, but I hope that the fact that I was capable of getting around without her is something that she realized today. And I low-key hope she sticks with the new volunteer facility so I can continue to be more independent and not have her breathing down my neck.

ANYWAY, I’m SO excited for tomorrow. 🙂 I’ll let y’all know how everything goes!

Thursday:

Ay ay ay. Thursday. Smh. Okay, here we go.

Thursday started off pretty normal. We went to the volunteer site and did our usual work until about 11. I decided to bring a few of the gifts that I had purchased for the kids back in the States (I will bring the rest at a later date) and I was so HAPPY to see how much the kids and workers appreciated them. Like, it was one of the most heart-warming moments I had ever felt. One of my favorite kids (although it’s so hard to have favorites since they’re all freaking awesome and adorable) saw the teddy bear that I brought and immediately became attached to it for the rest of the day. He named him “Osito” (or “Little Bear”).

But anyway, all that happened and then at 1:30, M and D came to pick up my friend (“P”) and me. We then basically wasted time by chilling at the mall and drinking (illegally) at the park while listening to music again. However…a police officer caught us at the park with the car (not drinking, thank God) and told us to leave before he called for back-up. So we got in the car and drove off.

What was really interesting about today was the protesting that D and M did while driving. Apparently, the Ecuadorian president is extremely corrupt and pretty much everyone hates him. There have been crazy protests and riots on the street, but today was my first time actually seeing protesting of some kind up close and personal. D would honk his horn to a beat while M waved a black flag out the window and yelled “Fuera Correa, Fuera.” What was amazing was when other cars would start honking to the same beat and people outside would give them a thumbs up or a nod of approval. I will admit that when they first started doing that, I was very nervous thinking we’d get shot at or something. But it was pretty obvious that almost everyone was on the same wavelength when it came to disliking the government.

After we wasted a significant amount of time, we went to a restaurant to meet up with some of their other friends to watch the Ecuador vs. Chile football game. (Ecuador lost btw). By this time, it was 8pm and I was sobering up fast and getting very hungry. (Same thing with P). So we asked if we could go to a cheaper restaurant and D and M offered to go with us to meet with some other friends. So they drove us. While eating, I was extremely sober and disappointed (I reach the lowest of lows when I sober up, which is why I don’t like drinking early) and P confided in me that she wanted to go home. I was disappointed, but totally understood.

After I ate, the guys found P a taxi and I went with them to wait for the club to open. I met some more of their friends, but by this point, I was being a total bitch. It wasn’t really my fault though. Lol. It was because when Sober Sally rears her ugly head, I get angry. So M kept trying to make me smile and feel better, but I wasn’t having it until I could get drunk again. So eventually, the club opened up. It was Lady’s Night, which meant free admission and free drinks. BAD COMBO. Basically, lots of stuff happened and I don’t remember much past a certain point. 😦 I do, however, remember D’s sister paying for my taxi ride home. But that night was pretty rough. I definitely don’t want to go into details, but I think that I’m done with parties at least for this week.

Friday:

Friday, I didn’t want to wake up for volunteering because I had a massive hangover. I FELT SO BAD. 😦 But anyway, M texted me because I accidentally went home with his wallet that he left in my purse. So I made the hour trip back to his neighborhood to give his stuff back (since he didn’t have a car and it was only fair).

I have something funny to mention. Before going, I decided I didn’t want to put too much effort into my outfit (because when I feel like crap, I like to look like crap). So I wore a pair of Nike shorts, an oversized sweatshirt, and ratchet tattered flip-flops (that were actually ruined because of the previous night). GUYS. I am NOT exaggerating when I say that in between my walk to the bank, to the bus station, to my destination, and back, I was catcalled and got car honks OVER 30 TIMES. I am SO serious. Like, what?? It was absolutely crazy. Like, don’t ever where Nike shorts unless you will feel absolutely comfortable being solicited by strangers.

But anyway, my meeting with M was brief. I gave him his stuff, we laughed about what happened the night before, and I left. I’m going to be honest. My infatuation with M has decreased significantly. Partly because of my less-than-stellar experience the day before (sorry that I’m being vague. But the day before was just yikes) and partly because I found out from his friends and saw with my own eyes that he is a manwhore. Like, ugh. There’s ALWAYS a catch. This is why I just don’t date. Guys piss me off.

So anyway, after I returned, L hinted at me that she would have liked for me to join her on her trip to Mindo that weekend. I promptly rejected her invitation. I knew better. However, I knew that with the mother and daughter that lived with us going with their school to the Amazon the whole weekend and with L going to Mindo I wanted to have an adventure of my own. So I decided to go to the Mitad del Mundo (the Equator) on Saturday.

Saturday:

Saturday was pretty chill. I woke up early for breakfast at 8am and then got ready and went the bus station to depart for the Mitad del Mundo. It was pretty nice guys. And I was so ecstatic to have made it there and back in peace by myself. PLUS, my hair WAS BANGING. Thank God for that fabulous braid-out.

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I’m in both hemispheres in this picture.
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Afterward, I came back home and just chilled until my host mom came back home with a NEW host student! She seemed pretty nice (and scared, because she knew almost no Spanish) and I made plans to show her around the city the next day (thus, testing myself in my newly developed sense of direction).

Stay tuned for next week! 🙂

P.S. I’m reallllllly lazy, but I’ll come back and insert pictures in this post and the last one, as well as the following posts to come. 🙂

Adventures in Ecuador – Week 1

I am spending this summer in the city of Quito located in Ecuador. Why? Well let me explain.

My college offers an amazing opportunity to 10-15 students each year called a GO (Global Outreach) Fellowship. What a GO Fellowship is is an all-expense paid opportunity to travel to any country in the world during a summer for the purpose of doing service for a community within that country. Applicants are tasked with finding a volunteer organization, finding a type of volunteer opportunity, and creating a proposal with a $4000 budget. After submitting the application and references, the pool is minimized to the top applicants and an interview is offered. If selected, the recipient must promise to document their journey and promote the GO Fellowship to the student body the following school year.

I was (thankfully) selected as a recipient of the award and I am spending nine weeks working for an organization that cares for children with disabilities in Quito. I will be posting weekly updates on my experiences in Ecuador.

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Pre-departure.

Sunday:

Sunday, I arrived in Ecuador around 3pm. Taking the plane for the first time by myself from Dallas to Miami to Quito was not as bad as I thought it would be (although I made a few dumb mistakes). When I finally arrived, I met with my host mother and father at the airport and they were (and still continue to be) an ABSOLUTE DREAM. They are very kind, caring, funny, helpful, and patient people. I will admit that I had some race-related apprehensions. I know it may sound dumb, but after looking into race-relations in Ecuador, I had to admit that I was the slightest bit nervous that my host family would resent me because I am Black. Absolutely NOT the case. Also, I would have to say that I attracted a lot of attention from men on the street who (unlike in the U.S.) have no shame in openly staring or catcalling. But I digress. I met the other people who would be staying with me in the house. One (we’ll call her “L”) is a volunteer for the same organization as me who I was grateful to have as a guide and resource. She is from Minnesota and is a mother of five. However, I have to say that she and I have a relationship similar to me and my other friends that are my age, so things are not as awkward as you would think they’d be. Another was a 19-year-old girl who grew up in France, but currently lives in Switzerland and is perfectly fluent in Spanish. She was here for Spanish schooling purposes. And the last two were a mother and daughter from New Mexico who are very kind and also in Ecuador for Spanish schooling purposes. I had to admit that the first day, I felt really awkward and a little homesick, knowing that because of my deplorable sense of direction, I was pretty-much stranded in the city and nervous about volunteering at 8am the next day.

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Monday:

Monday was my first day volunteering at the organization and I will be honest—I was totally miserable. The work was tedious, dirty, and exhausting, my Spanish was not as good as I thought it was and therefore I was always confused as to what to do. And I did not like the food I was given at all. Speaking of food, I am not a big fan of the Ecuadorian diet. Lunch and dinner are typically a type of sopa (soup) followed by a main course. I was shocked my first night in Ecuador when for dinner, my host mother gave me an actual full plate of food after I struggled with an unappetizing bowl of lukewarm soup. Also, THEIR FOOD IS SO BLAND. It kills me because I LOVE spicy food. Ugh.

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Still talking about Monday, I became acquainted with Ecuadorian pedestrian and bus life. ECUADORIANS ARE CRAZY DRIVERS AND PEDESTRIANS. People will run across streets, narrowly avoiding cars going at full speed and that cars never slow down for them. They simply honk and hope for the best. Additionally, the bus system is incredibly flawed. All sorts of people (young and elderly alike) will push through people without so much as an “perdon” (excuse me) in order to cram into a bus until there is absolutely no room for movement. And bus drivers barely stop to let people off or on, so you really have to move with urgency and be rude in order to get to where you need to.

Tuesday:

Tuesday was drastically better than Monday for several reasons. First off, I met this extremely attractive and sweet Ecuadorian volunteer who had just started. We hit it off very well (although his English was as bad as my Spanish which, to me, makes for some very funny romcom-like situations) and he essentially asked to show me around the city and take me to some parties at some point, to which I gave a resounding “HELL YES.” Lol. Additionally, I had gotten to know the kids I worked with very well. Generally, I take care of the nine younger children who generally cannot walk and have no capacity to take care of themselves (with the exception of three). I realized that I had never in my life really had such contact with people with disabilities before. Sure, I had cousins and relatives of friends who had disabilities and I played with or talked with them to some extent. But in terms of feeding, changing diapers, and brushing teeth? Never. And I have to say that I was extremely proud of myself to be able to look past getting slobbered on, poop on my hands, and having food coughed up on me in order to take care of the kids. Also, the day was a lot more fun because they were celebrating Dia de los Ninos and had fun activities that we helped the children partake in. I very-much enjoyed myself.

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Wednesday:

Wednesday was a little hectic at first. We had to find a theater that everyone was meeting at because the children had to rehearse for a play that was being put on on Friday and we were very lost. However, we eventually found our way and had a great time helping the children perform on stage. Other than the fact that  one of the kids who had a habit of licking his hands slammed his hand against my face in order to try and break my glasses (he didn’t), Wednesday went pretty well.

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Thursday:

By Thursday, I felt pretty down with how everything worked. I was communicating better with the organization staff and other volunteers, and we spent the day pretty much doing what we did on Monday—only with a lot more new volunteers. I helped the children with physical therapy, aroma therapy, and tactile therapy, and played with them outside. Although all but one of them cannot talk, I felt like at this point, the children knew that I was a friend who cared very deeply for their well-being. I am always gentle with them, rocking them, or even just stroking their heads in order to be a source of comfort. I carry them with me, baby-talk, and basically treat them as if they were my own. I could say at this point that I absolutely loved being with the children, despite the fact that it took so much energy for me to work with them.

Around dinner time, me and my host family gal pals went to the historical part of Quito and had dinner complete with local special drinks in a nice restaurant with dark lighting and moody live music. It was a great experience except for the fact that I forgot my camera and the bill was deceivingly crazy expensive.

Thursday was also my first experience going to a discoteca (or club). Ecuador has blocks with rows of clubs lining every street in an area called Foch down a street called Amazones. I went with L (I told you our relationship was pretty chill) and had an okay time. I say okay because it wasn’t really my scene. I was hit on and danced with a few guys, but for the most part, I felt out of it. (Sidenote: Apparently, when a guy offers you a glass of alcohol on the dancefloor, it’s an invitation to dance—NOT just a random act of kindness. I had no idea, so it turns out that I inadvertently rejected quite a few advances). Also, I was stared at and catcalled A LOT on the way to the discoteca, which made me uncomfortable. My drunk state turned sour by the end of the night, and I asked L to walk home with me. I would try again the following night.

Friday:

We didn’t have to go to the organization that morning because the play was later that day and that was what we were really needed for. So instead, that morning we went to a day care high up near the mountain peaks so that L could look at other volunteer options. The children were ages three and four and absolutely adorable, but I didn’t feel like I’d feel as impacted working with them as with the kids I was already working with. So I knew I couldn’t volunteer there. Eventually, after taking the wrong bus, we went back home and then went to the theater to dress up and set-up for the performance. It went great and I had a lot of fun.

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Afterward, I hit the discotecas again. Only this time, we tried one that was apparently the most popular for Ecuadorians and foreigners alike called “Bungalow.” To be blunt, I hated it. I didn’t like the crowd and the only music they played was techno. So we went to a few other places and I still did not enjoy myself. It was while we were walking to a restaurant in the area that two guys came up and tried to hit it off with us. My guy (we’ll call him “G”) was an extremely attractive (he reminds me of Eli Roth) Israeli 27-year-old engineer who was in Ecuador on business and seemed to really have his life together. L and her guy didn’t hit it off well and it was apparent that he was being childish about her rejection. So he coaxed G to leave with him to “meet some friends.” But eventually when I was at the restaurant, G came back because he wanted to talk to me and L left us alone to hit the club again. We hit it off very well and eventually, me and L went to his realllllly fancy schmancy hotel to hang out. We stayed until the very early hours of the morning and came back home.

Saturday:

Saturday was a very chill day. Like I said before, we came back during the early hours of the morning in time for breakfast. So after breakfast, I went to bed. L annoyingly came to my room to coax me out of bed, but I repeatedly said no to any type of adventure she wanted to partake in. So she left and I went back to sleep. I woke up later and she came back while I was getting ready. I honestly wanted space from her, because by this point, I realized that her personality reallllllllly got on my nerves, so I said I’d go get lunch and come back later. I took my time so that when I came back, it was too late to do anything (lol) then went back to sleep. After I woke up and had dinner, L helped me contact G after a day of me deliberating whether or not I actually wanted to call the number he gave me. I eventually decided to go for it since he’d only be in Ecuador for one more week anyway (for, you see, I hate commitments and relationships and avoid them at all costs). He surprisingly asked me out on a date on Sunday night, which ended Saturday on a high note. I’ll let y’all know how everything goes in my next post! 🙂

Sidenotes:

I learned that people in Ecuador seriously love Texas. Like, Texas seems to be the most well-known state and whenever people ask me where I’m from and I say Texas (compared to when other people say other states), THEY GO CRAZY. I honestly feel like a mini-celebrity.

Alcohol is crazy expensive here for the most part. Like, I’m talking $70-$200 for a simple bottle of wine.

I was complimented on my hair by this attractive guy outside a club. I’m wearing my hair in a braidout puff while here and the guy (who had 3c curls) was like “where are you from? Your hair is beautiful!” Just a little uplifting news for my fellow 4c’s out there. 😉

Speaking of hair, my hair loves the Ecuadorian climate and water. It’s thriving, y’all. Thank God.

L is starting to get on my nerves for several reasons:

  1. SHE DOES NOT EVER STOP TALKING. LIKE EVER.
  2. She is very condescending, points out people that she thinks is gay, and actually thinks that being gay is a choice. Like, seriously.
  3. She has such high standards and constantly compares Ecuador to the States. Like, it’s fucking Ecuador, not Minnesota. Sorry that things are so different and it makes you uncomfortable. Get the fuck over it.

I don’t know how to handle her anymore. If anyone has suggestions, please let me know.

Until next time! 🙂

About Two Years Post-Relaxer Updates

Hey y’all! Time for a quick update (and probably my last one until I leave for Ecuador on the 31st)! I’m about two years post my last relaxer! Woo! Notice I said “post-relaxer” and not “post big chop!” Meaning this is about the time two years ago that I started transitioning BEFORE my big chop. So I’m not exactly two years fully natural yet. 😦 That’s in December. But regardless! I still feel like this is a date worth commemorating so I’m going to post a few pictures of my hair right now! Like last time, I have no makeup on, so PLEASE no judgments! Lol.

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My regimen definitely changed quite a bit this winter and I think it proved very successful. First off, I changed my leave-in to “SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen, Grow & Restore Leave-In Conditioner” and changed my oil to organic coconut oil (specifically the “Simply Balanced” brand). I also washed my hair a lot less frequently (about once every two weeks at first, but then I started getting lazy toward the end of the season and washed it even less frequently than that. Lol). And due to the efficiency of my new products, I only felt my hair start to get dry after 2 or 3 days, so I’d do the LOC method every 2 days or so instead of every day.

And the BIGGEST change-up for my hair routine was my protective style. I started incorporating the use of a wig that I had made. And let me tell you…BEST PROTECTIVE STYLE EVER. I had access to my hair every night and I was frequently complemented on my hair. It also protected my hair from the cold environment and kept me warm! Lol. I have to say, I was a strong opponent of wigs but now I totally advocate them! I can’t wait to use them again next winter! 🙂 I think it’s also important for me to mention that I kept my hair in flat twists under my wig. Please don’t just slap a wig on if you’re past the TWA stage and now in the awkward-length stage territory. You’re hair will tangle and mat up and that won’t be fun. :/

And also remember not to leave your twists in too long to prevent matting! I re-did my twists no longer than every 5 weeks!

Any questions or comments? Leave them below! 😉

My First Year 4C Natural Hair Care Regimen

I know how it feels to be excited after your first big chop, but then not really know where to go from there. Of course I vaguely knew about the natural hair community, but I knew almost nothing about natural hair slang, different moisturizing methods, products, or regimens. These are all things I deeply dove into post Big Chop. This was because after my BC, I had box braids until Spring Break and I realized when I took my braids out that my hair was a lot different in terms of how to handle it compared to in December when I BC’ed. I realized then that I had to learn as much as possible about how to take care of my hair. I would not go through another 10+ years of short, uneven hair and damage.

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I started watching and reading (and I’m not exaggerating) hundreds of vlogs, blogs, forums, and websites. In a matter of months, I felt like I’d absorbed a lifetime’s worth of information about natural hair–and more specifically–4C natural hair. I felt very prepared for my journey that following summer. I experimented and came up with a regimen that I had to tweak until I became comfortable with it and actually saw results. And for all of those people reading this, stuck on how to care for your hair, let me tell you that there is no surefire one-size-fits-all regimen for 4C natural hair. What works for me may not necessarily work for you and that’s completely fine! I used other people’s regimens as a starting point and went on from there. Therefore, feel free to use mine as a starting point for your journey. 🙂

Also, the reason why I’m posting this after a year is because I wanted to have proof of progress and not just go around spouting tips and pointers that may not actually be beneficial at all. I appreciate all the Youtubers and bloggers that teach as they go, because I looked up to a lot of them. But I’m not one of them. I believe gotta show the goods if I wanna preach.

I am a firm supporter and user of the LOC method. LOC stands for “Leave-in. Oil. Cream.” It gives the order in which you should apply products in your hair for max moisture and is a popular, highly-advocated way of moisturizing natural hair.

First Month

When I first BC’ed, I didn’t do the LOC method at all, but I got away with it, because my hair was so short anyway. That time period is your free pass to do almost anything with your hair without any lasting damage. But be warned: You have to develop a healthy hair regimen if you ever want to see length retention. My first month being natural, I used Dark and Lovely Au Naturale shampoo and conditioner, Worlds of Curls Curl Activator Gel, and a cool hair pick.

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I do not particularly recommend any of these products beyond your first month of being natural. The shampoo and conditioner only caught my attention because the bottles were pretty (lol) and I liked the usage of “anti-shrinkage” on the bottle, which I’m gonna tell you IS A LIE.  The curl activator gel was very sticky and I was so afraid to let anything touch my hair. Often times, I was inadvertently touch my hair (because I was IN LOVE WITH IT) and when I’d bite my nails, it’d taste sweet due to the glycerin. So yeah, it was a very interesting product that I gave to my mom to use in her salon a month after I bought it. And the pick was just so freaking cool looking, but I’d get lots of breakage using it.

I washed my hair three times a week and used all of these products each time. Wash-and-Gos were my go-to style. When Winter Break ended, I got box braids done and didn’t see my hair again until Spring Break.

Spring Break

By this time, I was about three months natural. I took out my braids then. I do NOT advise you to keep any protective style for longer than six weeks. In fact, right now I’m scared to go past a month. But I digress. I did away with the pick because I had educated myself about natural hair and got better results from finger detangling. I only had a week of Spring Break, so I didn’t exactly develop a regimen, but in that week, I used the same shampoo and conditioner (I was aware that the ingredients weren’t exactly good for natural hair, but I didn’t see the point of buying new products then until the summer) and bought Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Cantu Shea Butter Leave-In Conditioning Repair Cream. I didn’t exactly do the LOC method at this point. It was more like the LO method–just Leave-In and Oil. At the time, I didn’t see the point of adding cream to the mix. After washing my hair that first day, I did my first really awkward twist-out. I say awkward because my hair still seemed to be too short for them. *shrug* Anyway, I got braids in a week later.

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Summertime!

Yaaaaaaas! Y’all, the summer of 2014 was a very important summer for me. It was during this time that I really figured out what my hair liked and didn’t like. Additionally, it was the longest time I’d ever had my natural hair out, so I grew a lot of self-confidence. Okay, let’s begin.

That summer, I found my staple products (with the exception of my cream which I’ll discuss more on later).

  • Shampoo: SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo
  • Conditioner: SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner
  • Deep Conditioner: SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque
  • Leave-In Conditioner: Cantu Shea Butter Leave-In Conditioning Repair Cream
  • Oil: Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) (I use Great Value. No need to be all fancy)
  • Cream: Cantu Shea Butter Coconut Curling Cream (later changed to SheaMoisture Coconut and Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie)
  • Silk Bonnet

Like I said before, I originally didn’t do the “cream” part in the LOC method, but I realized that my hair was a lot drier without it and the the EVOO left a rather unpleasant smell on my hair accessories without the cream. So halfway through the summer, I started to use it and saw better results.

I learned that during the summer, my hair needs the LOC method twice a day, so I do it when I wake up and right before bed. I had two wash days a week, one with both shampoo and conditioner and the other with just conditioner. After washing my hair and applying the LOC products, I would do mini twists and leave them in overnight (with a silk bonnet, of course). The next morning, I would unravel the twists and add my LOC products to my hair. I HATE the way twist-outs look on me, so I didn’t mind the diminished definition after putting in the products. I just wanted the stretch the twists gave me.

I ONLY did twist-outs on wash days, because I didn’t want to manipulate my hair too much and I didn’t have the patience to set aside 2 hours every night. Every other day, I would do mini pineapples (or multiple ponytails) on my hair since my hair was at the time too short for one regular pineapple. This kept my hair stretched and diminished my tangles.

Initially, I didn’t deep condition (DC) my hair at all. At the time, I didn’t know how important it was and thought that I could go without it. Dead. Wrong. At a certain point, I realized that no mater how much I moisturized my hair, it would still break (I don’t mean shedding where you’d see the white bulb at the end of a strand, but actual mid strand breakage). I tried to find a solution online and realized that I should try out a deep conditioner. So I bought…

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…SheaMoisture Deep Treatment Masque (with EVOO added). I left it in for 30 minutes. I read that scientifically, there is no reason to keep it in for more than 30 minutes because your hair is literally incapable of absorbing more nutrients from the masque after that time. I saw instant results! My hair was noticeably softer the next day and I had almost no breakage! My hair can go two weeks at longest without being deep conditioned, so I did it every two weeks in place of a normal wash day.

This routine was what I had developed over the summer and I saw amazing progress doing this! The only change made to my routine was that I changed my cream to SheaMoisture Coconut and Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie.

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I didn’t switch necessarily because I didn’t like what I was using before, but there was no more at the store so I bought this instead. But I actually like this one more for its smell and its thicker consistency. 🙂

Winter Time

My winter time regimen is very different from the summertime, because the weather is so dry and cold that no matter what I do, it will break. Therefore, I wash less frequently and do wigs as a protective style. However, since it’s still winter time, I don’t feel wholly comfortable telling my regimen unless I see positive results. Therefore, I will do another post on my winter time regimen after winter! 😉

But anyway, I hope this helped some of you! How was your first year being natural? Are you still in your first year? Any concerns? Advice? Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section.

Until later! ❤

OFFICIALLY ONE-YEAR NATURAL Y’ALL!

Happy (belated) New Year y’all! Okay. It’s been a long time since I’ve posted something, but what with my junior year of college starting up this past Fall, I simply couldn’t find the time. :/ And now I have to drive back to campus tomorrow because winter break’s over. Yuck. So I figured I should update this thang now. And as y’all read in the title:

I’M OFFICIALLY ONE-YEAR NATURAL…as of December 18, 2014. I KNOW. I’m late posting this. But it’s all gucci. Because of how rough the semester has been, I was just way too lazy to do anything other than watch Netflix and eat in bed all break, much-less update my blog. But anyway, what am I doing? Let me show y’all a picture! 🙂

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Look at that natural hair goodness. PLEASE no remarks on the lack of make-up. I will reiterate–I was EXHAUSTED from this past semester. So no fucks were given. At least I have something. Lol. Oh, and currently, my hair is APL (armpit length) when stretched. Didn’t take a picture of that because I was too lazy, so you’ll have to just take my word for it. Because seriously, why would I lie? Lol.

I don’t know why, but my first year felt really long to me. Maybe it was impatience? Maybe it was excitement? I feel like I’ve been natural for much longer than I have but whatever. I’m sincerely enjoying every step of my journey. My confidence has grown, I used the entire summer to experiment with products and regimens until I had one down-pat, I’ve tried new protective styles, and I’ve watched my hair grow! I’m so happy to have made this decision and can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store for me.

Oh! And now that I’ve been through a whole year with great results, I’ll do another post soon on what my regimen was for this past year for anyone who may be interested. I didn’t want to toot my own horn and spread a regimen without knowing for sure how it’d affect my hair. But now that I know, I feel a little better about posting it! 😉 Until later. But for now, I’ll post a little timeline of my hair journey starting with college.

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Move-In Day freshman year 2012. Short hair for dayz, but at least I was happy?

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Spring semester freshman year 2012. Protective-styled for the first time, although the idea of going natural still hadn’t occurred to me yet.

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Summer after freshman year 2013. This is the last time I relaxed my hair and I only did it because I had an internship at a pediatric hospital and I didn’t want to look rough just yet. So I got that weave put in, yo.

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Fall semester sophomore year, 2013. By this time, I had finally discovered the possibility of going natural and was protective styling again.

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FINALLY BIG CHOPPED winter break of sophomore year! I was lovin’ my TWA at this point. 😉

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Back to braids for the spring semester of 2014.

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Couldn’t resist seeing my hair again. Hahaha. So I took my braids down during spring break.

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Braids again after spring break. BUT this time (because of a bad experience with my last stylist that I won’t get into), I did the braids myself! I was pretty proud. 🙂

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SUMMER OF EXPERIMENTATION! (Please ignore the stupid Snapchat captions). I learned a lot about my hair the summer after sophomore year (2014). I also had three summer classes and two jobs (never again) so I had gained a lot of confidence being around people with my natural hair ALL THE TIME.

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Back to braids (that I did myself) for the Fall semester of junior year 2014! Bleh. Don’t get me wrong–I think the braids are cute. But by this point, I was sick and tired of braids. Plus, THEY TOOK TOO LONG (~17 hours of almost non-stop braiding with a 30 minute break. What can I say? I’m a go-getter).

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I was IN-LOVE when I took out my braids for Thanksgiving Break! Unfortunately, this was before detangling, washing, and LOTS of shedding from locks. I definitely learned my lesson after three days of painstakingly detangling my hair with my eyes threatening to tear up. I vowed never to have a “protective” style in my hair for more than a month.

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I did NOT want to do braids again so my friend did crochet braids for me for my birthday! It was my first time doing them since kindergarten and I initially loved them. But then I realized that it was just way too much hair for me and I grew frustrated, keeping my hair in a ponytail except for occasions where I’d dress up and go out. But literally EVERYBODY loved my hair and I’d always, always, alwaaaays get complimented. Alas, I took it out for winter break–leading us to my one-year anniversary! 🙂

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Started from the bottom now we’re hair. Ahahaa, get it? (Please don’t kill me, y’all. I had to do it.)

What is “Natural Hair” and What’s the Big Freaking Deal? A Guide for People of Other Races.

I realize that I talk about natural hair a LOT. The reason why is because I very recently had a cultural reawakening and decided to embrace this lifestyle for the rest of my life. So naturally, I am always researching and reading about other women’s experiences in order to make the right choices on the natural hair journey. But something that never fails to surprise me is the number of white friends and people that I come across that have no idea what terms like “natural hair,” “relaxer,” “kinky hair,” etc. mean. It’s because I grew up within the African hair culture. Therefore, it makes sense that a lot of people who didn’t have no idea what these terms are. I love enlightened people, and I really do hope that a lot of people read this post because knowledge is power. And understanding something as touchy as Black hair and being familiar with its stigmas and entailment make society a lot better, imo. So here we go!

What Is “Natural Hair?”

Natural hair is African-descendant hair that is untouched by permanent structure-changing chemicals, such as relaxers (colloquially known as “creamy crack”). Of everything that I have come across, the thing that has shocked me the most with regards to white people and Black hair is the fact that A LOT of white people do not realize that almost every. single. Black woman that they come across does NOT have naturally straight hair. Do not get me wrong. I am not saying that there are no Black women that exist with naturally straight hair. I am sure it happens, but it is oh so rare to come across. Usually, people with at least some amount of African heritage have very wavy, curly, coily, or kinky hair. (Emphasis on curly, coily, and kinky.) Most of the Black women seen with straight hair have either straightened their hair, relaxed their hair, or have weaves(sewn-in extensions) or wigs.

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Additionally, many white people that I’ve met have been surprised to find out that I do not wash my hair every day. Believe it or not, most Black women don’t. This is because our hair structure is extremely different from white, straight hair. The curlier hair is, the drier it tends to get. Therefore, when we wash our hair excessively, we strip it of its natural oils. This means more breakage. Because of this, oils are also actually good for our hair.

What Exactly Is A Relaxer?

As I mentioned before, a relaxer is a permanent, structure-changing chemical. They can be compared to perms for white people. Whereas perms curl a white person’s straight hair,  a relaxer straightens a Blacks person’s curled hair. I have heard that perms for white people do not hurt (although I am not 100% sure if that’s the truth). This is NOT the same for Black people relaxers. Filled with dangerous chemicals like calcium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide, or lye, relaxers work to weaken the protein structure of curled hair. As a result, the hair is straighter, but the scalp is prone to burns. I testify to the fact. Relaxers can be extremely painful. I remember crying frequently as a child (and even as an adult) getting relaxers. I absolutely hated them. This heavily influenced my decision to go natural and stop relaxer treatments completely. A lot of times, you may have come across Black women with their straightened “real hair” out,  but noticed that it is usually uneven and/or short. This may be a result of relaxer damage. It may also be a result of improper hair care techniques. Unfortunately, a lot of Black women with relaxed hair are uninformed of the necessary procedures to have length retention. I was one of them, which is why my hair had been the same length for the majority of my life. Relaxed hair is severely dehydrated (and natural hair is already dry to begin with), so when not moisturized and conditioned, hair breaks off at either the same or at a faster rate than growth, resulting in hair that seemingly “does not grow.” Black women’s hair grows at about the same average length of every other race’s (1/2 inch per month), but the length isn’t always retained.

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Ugh! Painful memories…

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“Kid-Friendly” Version. I can still hear the “Just For Me” theme song in my head.

 

So Why Do Not All Black Women Just Wear Their Natural Hair?

There are many possible answers to this question, but the two I would like to focus on are 1) lack-of-patience/time and 2) negative stigmas. Many Black women with relaxed hair would, in fact, like to go natural. But for many of these women the problem lies within either not having the patience to grow out natural hair or not having the time. Natural hair is serious work. Idc what anyone says, you really have to devote your time and patience to keeping up with a natural hair regimen in which you will retain length. For me, moisturizing, doing protective styles, detangling, and washing my hair takes about 28 out of the 168 hours in the week for me (since my hair is very kinky). Some women figure why do all that mess when I can just slap a relaxer on every 6 weeks?

The bigger reason that continually sparks debate and rivalry within (and even outside of) the Black community is the historically-tied negative stigmas of a Black woman’s natural hair. During the days of slavery, kinky, wild, and unruly hair was tied to the “inferior niggers.” To this current age, European standards are valued around the world and natural hair does not fit within those values. Many women are fed the idea starting from childhood into adulthood from their parents, friends, family, boyfriends, and even strangers that weave, relaxed hair, and straightener-straightened hair (pretty much any hair resembling that of the white race) is better than “nappy, bad, Black hair.” This results in the “war” within the Black community. Since joining #teamnatural, the animosity between the two groups have become a lot more apparent to me. I personally, along with a lot of other people, don’t think there should be any tension between the Relaxed and Naturals since the overall goal is healthy hair,” but it definitely exists.

Why Do Some Women Go Natural?

There are so many various answers to this question. Some do it because they believe it’ll save them a lot of money (considering many women spend thousands to maintain their relaxed hair each year). Some women do it because they absolutely hate the way relaxers feel (like me). Some women do it as a political/social statement saying that they will no longer conform to society’s standard of beauty (like me as well). Some women do it because they want to be able to finally attain long, healthy hair (also like me. lol). It really does depend on the woman and I really suggest asking her to get to know her back story. She will probably appreciate your interest and willingness to educate yourself on her lifestyle choice. I know I would. 🙂

Why Do Black Women Get Mad When Someone Touches Their Hair?

Guys, I CANNOT stress this enough. DO NOT TOUCH A BLACK WOMAN’S HAIR, ESPECIALLY WITHOUT HER PERMISSION. In fact, DO NOT EVEN ASK. Why? Well let me try to break it down as simply as I can. It is rude. Simply rude. Here is the mindset of many women who get angry when you touch their natural hair/afro:

Black women have been dehumanized throughout history. From being enslaved like animals, to being forcibly raped by slave masters, to today’s current abuse from not only people–but society in general. Our hair has been subjected to ridicule. Many men from within our own race will not spare a second glance at those of us with natural hair because they prefer European locks and skin. For many of us, growing up we had to endure the emotional and physical trauma of wanting straight hair while having our mothers pull and tug and relax our hair. We suffered burns (many times permanent) from hot combs, straighteners, and relaxers. We experienced constant breakage trying to achieve long hair that just seemed to come so naturally to the white women who had men fawn over them. Some of us have been fired or denied from receiving a job. There have been cases of the children among us being suspended from school for wearing their hair as it naturally grows out of their heads.To embark on this journey, as melodramatic as it sounds, was a life-changing experience we knew we would face with disparagement and taunts from our loved ones and strangers. Many of us had to cut off the very hair we had tried to grow in order to begin this journey, resulting in embarrassment and self-consciousness from looking like “a boy” or (as some ignorant people so crudely say) “a cancer patient.” OUR HAIR IS OUR TEMPLE. It is the symbol of our journey to self-acceptance and the battle against traditional beauty standards. So when someone (no matter how “good” their intentions are) just up and touches our hair, it is as if they have a God-given right to do so…to handle us like animals or even slaves. Our hair is not some kind of circus freakshow. It is how God (or nature, or evolution. whatever you believe) intended for our hair to be. It is who we are…an extension of ourselves. After going through so much in life (and after having many of our ancestors go through so much in life) what right does someone have to just put their hands all up in our hair? It gives the impression of a Black woman being strange, or alien-like. If you have questions, please ask them. But do not touch as if all of the knowledge you would have received from asking will be transferred to your brain through your fingertips. Also, do not dare get enraged at the person when she most-likely says “No, you cannot touch my hair.” Suck it up and move one. You’ll be fine. Also look at it like this: When’s the last time you’ve seen a Black person ask a white woman “Can I touch your hair?” Rarely happens, my friend.

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This being said, there are some Black women who truly do not mind someone touching their hair. And that’s fine. Their body, their rules. But just in case, I suggest just avoiding the act of touching any Black woman’s hair in general (natural, relaxed, weaved, or otherwise).

 

This is basically all the crucial information that I think everyone should know about Black hair. It’s definitely a simplified guide because there is so much more to know, but I think that if someone at least knows what I have discussed, he/she will be well-informed. 🙂

 

Question? Comments? Concerns? Lemme hear ’em in the comments! 🙂

Ciao! ❤