¡Tenemos la Reina!

Last Thursday and Friday I didn’t feel well and I am still not quite sure what the actual culprit was, but I have a feeling it’s a mix of eating SO MUCH on a regular basis (I’m literally always full) and a decrease in how much water I drink. Water actually costs more than fruit, therefore, we drink LOTS of juice which all tastes DELICIOUS because it’s so fresh but I wasn’t making up for it with water that my body was used to having.

Anyways, quick shoutout to cheer (congrats to all those who made IPFW cheer team/can’t believe my career is over) for teaching me to smile through the pain to perform because on Friday I was crowned Queen of Quito Public Schools!


Let me try to give you a rundown for how this all came to be:

  • After school on Friday, my host mom, another teacher and I were all sitting in my host mom’s classroom talk (per usual everyday after school because class gets over at 12:40 but we can’t leave until 13:25) and I was kind of zoned out (a whole week teaching, translating constantly and trying to understand everything around you in a new place will do that to you). Next thing I know, my host mom looks to me and says something about “Madrina” to which I respond, “Si” because I had just talked to my host mom about being a Godmother (miss you Izzy!). They both say “perfecto” and go back to their conversation and I go back to zoning out.
  • Fast forward to Monday and every time I pass other teachers at Quitumbe they say something about “La Madrina” (Godmother) or “La Reina” (Queen) and “viernes” (Friday) ….I’m so confused and ask the other U.S. student, Austin, who is MUCH better in Spanish (he majored in it) if he has any idea about what everyone is talking about and what is happening on Friday and he is no help.

***I believe I’ve said this before, but it still rings true: Usually the language barrier isn’t a problem, but every once and awhile I feel like I’m missing something huge and this is how I feel at this point during the week***

  • Tuesday after the students leave, there’s a meeting for all the teachers. At the meeting, they are trying to recruit people to be in a dance and when someone suggests me be in it (mind you I have no idea what the dance is for) the principal of the school, Fernando, says “No, Ariana es nuestra Madrina” and EVERYONE claps and pats me on the back and cheers….. I AM SO CONFUSED. I HAVE NO CLUE WHAT’S GOING ON. Also, Austin isn’t at the meeting so I can’t ask him what’s going on. I spotted one of the best English speakers/teachers at the school, B-lined it to him once the meeting was over and said,

“Can you PLEASE tell me what IN THE WORLD is going on?”

He responds with,

“You’re mom is crazy.”

To paraphrase what Jimmy, the English speaking teacher, said:

  • On Friday, the students do not have school because we are holding an athletic competition for all of the teachers from the Municipal (public) schools of Quito. There will be basketball, (Ecua) voley, swimming, and lots of other sports. You (meaning me) will be the representative for Quitumbe – La Madrina. You will get all dressed up and walk in a parade and they’ll announce your name and you’ll walk in front of everyone and wave. (So, basically a beauty pageant or something – I’m not entirely sure still.) You’ll probably get a banner to wear and if you win you’ll be the Queen! Then you’ll get flowers and a crown and everyone will love you! (I cannot believe my host mom signed me up for this.) 
  • We get in the car after school and I took the aux cord to play the Despacito remix with Justin Bieber and my host mom asks if I know the words to Thriller by Michael Jackson (of course I do, because who doesn’t?) and she tells me that’s good because I am going to lip-sync it while the teachers do a dance…… oh, okay.
  • Wednesday night I tried on some dresses that one might wear to a semi-formal or homecoming dance in high school and my family votes on a green colored one because Quitumbe’s colors are blue and green. round 10:30pm, I’m laying in bed and my host mom asks me if I know the dance moves to Thriller and I said no because I was so tired and didn’t want to get up.
  • Thursday after school we stay for a few minutes so the teachers can practice their dance to Thriller and I help them with the dance moves – it’s very simple but definitely gets the job done. All the while, I’m lip-syncing and trying to pull off some MJ moves. After lunch, we start running errands. We get gold foil paper, a gold cape for my host mom, a blue cape for me, some lipstick and I buy heels for my dress. At this point, I feel so horrible I turned down ice cream – I never. ever. turn down ice cream. I went to bed early and without dinner in hopes sleep would cure me.
  • Friday morning, I force myself out of bed because I am feeling worse than I did on Thursday. I curled my hair (first time doing anything to my hair while in Ecuador because it rains everyday so it isn’t usually worth the time) and actually spent a fair amount of time on my make up. We went to my host aunt’s so she could do my host mom’s Zombie make up and we got on the road. I slept over an hour of the drive and when I woke up, we were kind of lost but it was 8:15am and everything started at 8:30! I changed in the car, but we were stuck in traffic and I could see the school so I jumped out (it was like 8:40 at this point) and ran to find the rest of the crew from Quitumbe. The put the cape on me and it was go time. I had no time to think or to take anything in so I just went with what I figured I should do – and it worked! Elsa, my host mom, made it just in time for the dance also.​
    ​(sorry for the poor quality, but I had to take a video of the video on my host mom’s phone because the file was too large to send!)
  • There is a running of the torch and then the National Anthem of Ecuador – which everyone sings – and then they call each of the Madrina’s to stand in a line one by one. I may be biased but I’m pretty sure Quitumbe has the loudest cheering section. There’s a small “dance” time for all of the Madrina’s, Mascots and Principals and then we line back up. They announce number three (not me), number two (also not me), and then there is a long drum roll and the announcer says,

“La Reina de los Municipales de Quito es de la Unidad Educativa Municipal………



(actually pronounced correctly nonetheless!)
  • And the crowd goes wild! I was actually shocked that I won and as soon as they said my name there was .05 seconds of fear that I might have to give a speech but thankfully I didn’t.  A million pictures later (my teeth were dry and I’m sure I look like I’m cheesing way too hard because I literally forgot how to smile) and I go to the classroom that was for our school, drink some water and put my head down because I was in so much pain.

The day goes on and I’m signed up to play basketball. I said before it’s hard to coach in Spanish, but it’s a toss up between what it harder: coaching in another language or being coached in another language. We ended up winning the game, but I kid you not, I was sure that I was going to die out on the court. I wasn’t subbed out the entire game and all I could think of was the time Dave (Coach Westendorf) didn’t sub me out against St. Charles when I was in 6th grade and OH how I longed to be in the shape I was back then!! There really is less oxygen at an altitude of 9,400 ft compared to 300 ft.

After the women’s basketball game, we watched part of the men’s basketball game. BOY! Are teachers full of school spirit! There were so many chants from both groups of fans but my personal favorite was when the other team was winning, their fans chanted something about being better than us and the teachers from Quitumbe chanted,


(We have the queen! We have the queen! We have the queen!)

Over all, it was definitely one of the most memorable experiences of my life despite not feeling well. I also have a new crown, shirt, socks, and sports uniform for Quitumbe.

We left towards the end of the men’s basketball game and I slept the whole way home. Once we got home, I ate an apple and took a nap until 7pm. I wasn’t feeling 100%, but definitely doubled what I was before.

My family had a plan for the night, as the don’t like to stay in the house – which is why I love them – but I REALLY didn’t want to go….so I went. I’ll let you know how my weekend went in another post. 🙂

(Ps. I’ll hopefully get more pictures at some point because one of the teachers was taking pictures the whole time with a nice camera – I’ll update this post as soon as I do!)


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