Thursday, April 13, 2017

My biggest influence

From giving birth to me and watching me almost every night making sure I was breathing during 3 consecutive months, I don't know where I would be if she hadn't been around all these years.
If there is a turning point in my life, it should be when I was two years old and I spent three months in intensive care. During that period I suffered an intestine obstruction, kidney and respiratory failure, appendicitis and I literally was artificially resuscitated. Imagine my parents going through all those experiences in just three months. After I got recovered and went out from the hospital, nothing was easy, especially for my mom. I had some post-traumatic issues, I barely talk, very shy kid and had some learning problems.

I don't remember so much about my stay at the hospital, almost all my memories come from my rehabilitation process but I always remember something and the most important, my mom was there every time. She always pushed myself to give more, she believed in me even when the doctors told her I wasn't going to survive, she pushed me to be that normal kid that other people told her I wasn't going to be, she has been always there no matter what and although these days we have had difficult times, I am who I am because the values she inherited deeply in my heart. Compassion, empathy, respect to others especially to women and seniors, honesty, humility were some of the values she always taught me.

I didn't think a lot of all these things til I began to analyze myself and began to ask me, How I became the person I am? Why did I join Peace Corps? The responses to these questions are directly and indirectly related to my mom and how she raised me. Joining Peace Corps was my decision and it will help with the career I want to develop but I can't hide that my mom's stories about her experiences in Ecuador had a big influence. Peace Corps will give me a wide range of opportunities to develop even more some skills like cultural awareness, project management, business development and of course make lifetime friends while at the same time I am honoring my mom doing my service and giving back two years of service to the institution that made my life possible (my mother met my father doing her service in Ecuador). There are more reasons why I joined Peace Corps but I would have to write a lot more. We have people around us that make a difference and have had an important influence in our life, I have had a lot of people, including my mom and dad, and I won't get tired of telling to all of them, THANK YOU.

THANK YOU, MOM!

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De haberme dado a luz, a observarme respirar casi todas las noches durante tres meses consecutivos, yo no sé que hubiese sido de mi durante esos años de no haber recibido la atención que me dio mi madrel. Si hay un punto decisivo en mi vida debería ser cuando tenia 2 años y pase tres meses en cuidado intensivos. Durante ese periodo sufrí de obstrucción instestinal, paro respiratorio y renal, ápendice y fui resucitado artificialmente. Imaginen a mis padres pasar por todo esto en solo tres meses. Después que me recupere y salí del hospital nada fue fácil especialmente para mi madre. Tuve serios problemas-traumas post operaciones, casi no hablaba, era bien tímido y tenía problemas de aprendizaje.

No recuerdo mucho de mi estadía en el hospital, casi todos mis recuerdos provienen de mi proceso de rehabilitación, pero hay algo importante que recuerdo y claramante, mi madre siempre estuvo a mi lado. Incluso guardo recuerdos invaluables sobre esa etapa. Mi madre siempre me empujo a dar más de mi mismo, ella creyó en mi cuando inclusive cuando los doctores le dijeron que no iba a sobrevivir, ella me empujo a ser ese niño normal que siempre le decían no iba a poder ser, ella siempre ha estado para mi sin importar nada y aunque en estos dias hemos tenido tiempos dificiles en nuestra relación, soy quién soy gracias a los valores que inculcó muy profundamente en mi corazon. Compasión, empatía, respeto hacia los demás, especialmente a personas mayores y mujeres, honestidad y humildad, son  algunos de los valores que ella siempre me enseño.

No había pensado mucho acerca de estas cosas hasta hace poco cuando empece a autoanalizarme y preguntarme, ¿Como me convertí en la persona que soy hoy día? ¿Por qué me uní a Cuerpo de Paz? Las respuestas a estas preguntas estan directa e indirectamente relacionadas a mi madre y como ella me crió. Unirme a Cuerpo de Paz fue mi decisión y esta oportunidad me ayudará en la carrera que quiero desarrollar, pero no puedo esconder que las historias de mi madre sobre su experiencias en Cuerpo de Paz-Ecuador tuvieron mucha influencia. Cuerpo de Paz me va a brindar un amplio rango de oportunidades para desarrollar aún mas mis habilidades en conciencia cultural, manejo de proyectos, desarrollo de negocios y sobre todo voy desarrollar relaciones que durarán toda la vida. A la vez estoy honrando a mi madre haciendo mi servicio durante estos dos años y también sirvo a la organización que hizo posible mi vida(mi madre conocio a mi padre durante su servicio en Ecuador). Hay mas razones por las que me uní a Cuerpo de Paz pero tendría que escribir mucho más. Nosotros siempre tenemos personas a nuestro alrededor que hacen una diferencia y han tenido una influencia importante en nuestras vidas, he tenido muchas incluyendo mi madre y padre, entre otros, y nunca me cansaré de decirle, GRACIAS.

Gracias Madre!

I was shy but my little sister always suffered my mischievousness
Image may contain: 3 people, people sitting, child and indoor

At the bottom, Chimborazo Volcano. My little sister is not in this pic.
Image may contain: 1 person, standing, outdoor and nature

"The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps."

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

To all my fellow PC friends

To my fellow Peace Corps friends,

I know you have heard me talking about my experience with AmeriCorps NCCC FEMA Corps a lot but I do it because I know it can help you with the process you are going through. Back in 2014 by this same time, I joined AmeriCorps and I faced something I didn’t expect, language barrier. I went to serve in Sacramento believing that because I understood English I was going to be able to speak it and have a very nice time. A big surprise suddenly become an ugly surprise, I was trying to speak my translation from Spanish to English in my brain and people were barely understanding me and not to mention that my Spanish accent wasn’t helping a lot. I began to feel embarrassed every time I needed to speak, I didn’t participate in activities in the way I wanted, I had high and lows very frequently. I can’t count how many times I felt frustrated, sad and concerned that weeks were passing and I wasn’t seeing/realizing improvements. A couple of times I felt miserable because I couldn’t express my feelings, a lot of mixed feeling during those days but an incredible learning process was beginning without realizing it and I’m very proud every time I remember that process. I’m sure that you will feel the same in the future when you look back to these days.

I remember a couple of things that helped me so much in my process to re-train my brain and think in another language. I will mention other things that I realized after reflecting on my AmeriCorps experience as well. Worth to mention that every person has different ways to learn and some learn faster than others, said this, some things can apply or not to you.
-          First, it is a long process and recognize it. It will help you to have patience with yourself. If you haven’t developed patience let me tell that you will do it here.
-          Second, your brain has been thinking and process everything in English all your life, said that, your first couple of months you will perceive that you are having tiny improvements but believe me, your brain right now is going through a big change and those tiny improvements will become huge by the final of this training.
-          Third, immerse completely in this culture and try to speak Spanish as much as you can, I know you feel embarrassed when you speak but practicing will help the brain to get use to think in Spanish more quickly.

-          Fourth, don’t be shy to tell the people to correct you every time you say something wrong, be humble, try to joke about the situation, feel vulnerable and TRY to explain the process you are going through. Believe me, instead of feel more embarrassed you will feel empower to be yourself and will make a little bit easy this learning process.
-          Fifth, develop a support system. By that time, I was the only having that problem but I had an incredible team of 8 people with lot of patience willing to help me. They gave me the confidence to talk and corrected me every time I was saying something wrong. Here you have around 28 people with the same situation. Please, rely in each other and practice with them. Try to follow step number 3.
-          Sixth, enjoy the process. It is going to be hard but enjoy it. Other people have gone through the same language barrier and have been able to succeed and unless you are a lazy and don’t make the extra effort, you are going to succeed as well, just remember step number 1, Be patience with yourself.
I really hope this can help a little bit in this journey learning a new language. I’m sure that in two years you are going to look back and feel so proud of yourself and I will be so happy to see that moment. Don’t give up my friend because you have a big purpose in this beautiful country. It has been a pleasure to meet each one of you and I will be more than glad to help anyone in this process.

Resultado de imagen para be calm and enjoy the process

Kindly,

Fernando Ortiz


Special thanks to my team and surrogate family in AmeriCorps: Leah Steffens, Erica Beversluis, Hannah Frizzell, Brittney Wright, Austin Lange, Alex Jensen, Lara Marshall, Lauren Babcock, Blair Elaine.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

A journey began three years ago...

(Abajo en español)

It has been so long since my last post, I really couldn't explain how much I have grown as a person and how many new experiences I got since I first began to share my AmeriCorps' adventures in this blog.  I have failed to keep posting although I have a lot to share. It is incredible how in just three years I have been able to visit/live in different States and countries. I have been fortunate to live in Sacramento, Oakland/San Francisco(Bay Area), Denton(twice), Ecuador, New York City, South Carolina and Nicaragua where I'm currently living. I have lived in cities where people has a very humble way to live life and other cities that are flooded by big buildings and the word expensive is a common denominator. I find incredible that each of those cities shares its own beauty, ways to live life. Every place has its own and unique thing, probably something worth to write and share in a different post.

Summarizing these past three years, I could say it has been a complete adventure and also an incredible opportunity to discover myself as a person. I just remember embarking this journey not knowing what to expect or not having long term goals in my life and look at me right now, with a big dream to fulfill(I will talk more about it soon). I remember telling my friends with confidence three years ago that a very good opportunity was going to come, and life has surprised me with many opportunities. I promise to myself and to everyone reading this post I'm going to share more about all these changes for the past years, although it sounds an amazing journey but I believe my story and experience can help others. Crazy, I began this blog with AmeriCorps and put My Journey has begun as a title and it was really a beginning of amazing things. Keep around because I will continuously post in this blog for now on.

Thanks for reading.

Fernando Ortiz

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Ha sido un largo tiempo desde la última vez que escribí aquí. Realmente lo mucho que he crecido como persona y las tantas experiencias que he tenido desde que empeze este blog para compartir mi aventuras en AmeriCorps. Es increible como en solo tres años he tenido la oportunidad de vivir en diferentes países y estados de Estados Unidos. He podido vivir en Sacramento, Oakland/San Francisco(localizado en California), Denton(Texas), Ecuador, Manhattan(New York), Pawley Island y Charleston(Carolina del Sur) y por último en Nicaragua en donde actualmente me encuentro viviendo. He vivido en ciudades donde la gente vive bien humildemente y otras donde esta llenas de edificios grandes y donde la palabra "costoso" es un denominador común. Encentro íncreible como cada una de estas ciudades comparte su única belleza y modo de vivir la vida, algo interesante para escribir mas adelante.

Resumiendo estos pasado tres años  podría decir que ha sido una completa aventura y también una increible oportunidad de descubrirme como persona. Recurdo haber comenzado este viaje sin saber que esperar y sin ni siquiera tener alguna meta a largo plazo, y mirame ahora mismo, persiguiendo un gran sueño y meta(algo de lo que hablaré mas adelante). Tres años atrás recuerdo hablerle dicho a mis amigos que una gran oportunidad iba a llegar y la vida me ha sorprendido no con una sino con varias oportunidades enriquecedoras. Me prometo a mi mismo y a todo el que lee este blog que iré posteando y compartiendo mucho mas acerca de estos cambios que he vivido en los pasados tres años porque aunque suene grandioso esta aventura pero ha venido con altas y bajas, y estoy seguro que puede ayudar a cualquier persona que haya pasado por algo parecido. Locura!, como titule este blog Un Viaje Ha Comenzado, y así mismo fue, había comenzado un viaje grandioso en mi vida. Espero que les haya gustado y esperen mas muy pronto!

Gracias por leer,

Fernando Ortiz

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Doing what I want... not what the society want

Three years ago I had the privilege to get my second job, the job that has helped me to connect with myself. It was a very boring job in an office, helping college professors to correct their thesis papers or just simply get data from research samples. I was called research assistant, a very fancy name for my resume and exactly what I wanted, something very pretty that when companies looked at it, they were able to say ok I want this guy in my company. My goals for those days were so simple; finish my college degree, get a good job with a good salary, get a house, etc (I'm sure you know how to finish that list). My boss was a very smart and ethic woman, I will always be amazed how she could watch Netflix series and work at the same time, she was the most successful woman doing multitasking, real multi-hard both focus-tasking, that I have ever known. I also knew my mentor, a great man that has been for me always that I need help, I can't express how that man has influenced and has inspired me to go thru my real interests and follow what I want.

Why do I tell you about my second job? Because there is a before and after in me as a person when I finished that job, it is because I began to be the real Fernando Ortiz, the person that wants to help people, the person that doesn't want to be sit in an office wasting his time or giving all his potential to help one company to be richer when you just get a simple paycheck. I want to be the owner of a big company, feed my mind with books, experiences and places that will leave me breathless. I don't want a simple routine in my life, I want a routine where I'm growing as a person, not by a paycheck. I want to travel, have friends from all around the world to have the opportunity to get new perspectives about life and feed my soul with feelings such as gratitude, kindness, love and freedom. I'm an adventurer guy with a free soul and a voracious appetite for new things explores new places and expand my mind in all aspects. After that job I realized part of who I am and I was mentally aware of things I had never thought before, I was getting alive.

Everything has a price and this way of thinking has it. They have called me crazy, stupid and dumb. It is very hard to explain, to reach each thing that I mentioned before, I need to take risk, risk that not everybody is willing to take, guts to moved against the norm. patience to be misunderstood by my thoughts and be humble when the people fire at me with stupids things. I need to improve a lot of things in my life and I'm always open to doing it. I don't expect the people understand me but I don't want people telling me what I can't do, probably the people who judge me is the people that have not had the courage to take big risks, they are waiting for change doing the same things day after day, they pray to God for amazing things, when the amazing things happen with people who is moving day after day.

There is a rule of thumb in this journey, Never give up. No matter how difficult or impossible looks your path or where you want to go, NEVER GIVE UP. When difficult times come the easiest path is to give up but don't do it! I almost give up in both of my last two journeys and if I had done that, I had lost a lot of incredible things. The satisfaction is amazing when you reach something difficult, if you fail, believe me, you're ahead of a lot of people and it is a step forward in your life.

Trust in yourself, work smart and be careful who you chose to be a partner to follow your dreams. God and peace give me the strength in this journey, find what give you strength and follow your journey.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

We speak Spanish but we 're almost completely different

Three months ago I decided to stay in Ecuador to follow one of my dreams. My mom and I are from Puerto Rico and my dad from Ecuador, whom don't know me. I also wanted to have time with my grandparents for more than a couple of weeks, I felt the necessity in my heart to know more about my roots, more about my father's culture and traditions. I didn't feel completely inside my heart and the idea to move here was around me since one year ago. I bought a ticket to come to Ecuador the past January with the intention to stay only one month. The ticket was for February 4 to 27 but after 2 weeks in this country, that feeling that was with me during the last year, came again and I took the decision to stay and get a double citizenship given my Ecuadorian roots.

I have been here since February and as it happened me the last year living in US, the first months are easy but once the time goes, you could face the differentiation between your culture and the country you're residing. The language no matter if is the same or not, always is different. As you know, North America English isn't the same than British English, Brazil Portuguese isn't the same than Portugal, the same happens with Spanish. A funny anecdote, one time I was playing pool with my uncle and I made a crazy shot and I said: "I had lucky", but lucky in a particular way that puerto ricans say it but for my uncle's ears I said "I had a vagina", because the particular name that we use for lucky in Puerto Rico, in Ecuador means that part of the woman body. Another issue, Food traditions! the food could give you problems if you aren't familiar with them. Example, if you go to visit a familiar and they are eating, they will give you food and you can't denied to eat or just prepare to have big problems. Imagine you got to your uncle's house and they are eating strange things for you like guinea pigs, an animal that I look like a pretty domestic animal, I know, they look like a large big rat but for me they are cute and I don't want to eat them or at least avoid it. In my country a soup is served as a regular food meanwhile here is served as an appetizer for the lunch, so in my brain eating soup with something aside(bread, plantain ships, veggies) is enough for my stomach BUT here I have to make an effort to eat soup and lunch.

There are commons things such as the basic Spanish's words, the food is familiar with my taste, the weather is almost the same, more fresh here than Puerto Rico, Although no matter how similar it can be to your country, you always will miss talking with someone of your homeland, have a good coffee with your best friend or play Dominos with your family(tradition in Puerto Rico). There are a lot of differences that I have realized and I have faced during these months. If you go to another country to live just be careful how you express your feelings, be humble to admit your errors, talk frequently with your family and old friends because they will remember that you're not alone, and don't try to compare where you are living with your homeland, it will be something normal for your brain but for the people who are listening you, they could think that you're criticizing. Remember you are going to places where they use to do things as they have done for years, trying to change their minds is very difficult, no matter whether the change is good for them, a lot of times they will see you as a bad person and you will begin to have problems.

It isn't easy make a big change in your life, but I know every experience I'm getting here is preparing me for something great. Just try to push yourself out of your comfort zone and you will realize there are beautiful things out there and when you lose your path just pray and have faith that everything will be alright.




Saturday, May 23, 2015

Digging into a black hole!

I don't consider myself as an smart person but I've had experiences that taught me important lessons. Right now probably is one of them, I don't know what to think, what to do or how to act. I'm digging in a black hole where I don't freakin know where it will finish. Everything looks too dark, without any guide or signals to at least know if I'm doing the right things. I'm 26 years old and I don't have any idea if I will success in this journey that I'm right now, just I'm completely convinced that I will succeed soon or later, just I'm digging into a black hole, everything is too dark, nobody could give a guide or show me a signal. Probably the signals have been always in front of me but I'm so obstinate to follow what I think it will be worth for me instead giving up everything and take the easy path. I know everything is dark now but at the final I will see beautiful galaxies.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

It's time to write again!... A year in AmeriCorps NCCC FEMA Corps

(Abajo en español)

February 25, 2014

A couple walking the Bay to Breakers Marathon
I will always remember that date. Today is February 12, 2015, I look back and my life has changed so much after that day, it really was like the title of this blog, my journey had begun. I never imagined I was going to meet a lot of people from different part of United States, and  Oakland and Texas were going to be my home for 3 and 6 months. I visited the Golden Gate Bridge, Grand Canyon, Dallas Cowboys Stadium and so many amazing places that weren't in my plans. I ate for the first time Bagels, Peanut Butter/ Jelly Sandwich and No Gluten food. I lost over 12 pounds and I realized that I was or sadly I still addicted to sugar. . I had a complete crazy day in San Francisco where I met people from New Zeland, Mexico, France and Argentina, took a nap in a bleacher in the San Francisco Bay, walked and completed an insane 12 km Bay to Breakers marathon(google it), went to my first MLB game where I saw my favorite and 2014 MLB champion team San Francisco Giants, all of these things in the same day without planning it. I saw and touched snow for the first time, and of course I had a snowball fight with my team, The most important, I saw how 10 strange people were converted in my family for ten months. My 10 months were unforgettable and I will remember for the rest of my life.

My Amerifamily


My time in AmeriCorps NCCC FEMA Corps has a lot of mixed feelings but at this time I only want to remember the good ones, the bad moments I had, it has helped me to get more maturity and more confidence taking my own decisions. I miss my Ameri family, how every of them filled something in my life even at the final we were tired of each others. AmeriCorps NCCC FEMA Corps isn't a program for everybody, at least 60 people were out of the program at the final, you have to have a strong commitment and sometimes the right people in your side to finish the program. I had to make very tough decisions, decisions that really hurt me but it was something that I don't regret. I was so close to leave the program at the middle because it was very hard being in an office 9 hours without anything to do, literally ANYTHING to do or doing things very simple like moving objects from one room to another! Sometimes we felt like FEMA Bitches,a couple of employees asking for our "help" for stupids things or works that they were supposed to do.

Some of the teams in AmeriCorps had a very active year, but all depends what type of duties your group were assigned to. Our group never got deployed to any disaster, we stayed in offices all year something very BORED a lot of times, but the best part of it, you become part of a group of incredible people that work in those offices. It is amazing the quality of great people that you know in those offices. I'm so grateful of them, they help us every day and made our stayed in those office more easy, also we received excellent career advice and a lot of memorable moments.

I finished the program four months ago, it has been so quickly that I didn't realize it til now, finishing this post. In AmeriCorps I pushed myself so hard and I'm missing that, I was out of my comfort zone, I learned how to be fluent in English, I drop my time in the physical training from 19min to 12:50min 1.5 miles, I began doing 12 and 20 push ups/sit ups and I finished doing over 40 in each and I lost the fear of public speaking in my not native language. The journey had begun that February 25, 2014 from Puerto Rico to California, California to Texas, Texas to Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico to Ecuador, it has been 13 great months and I chose follow my heart and pursuit my happiness and personal goals.
Snowball fight!!

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25 de febrero de 2014

Siempre voy a recordar ese día, Hoy es 12 de febrero de 2015, miro hacia atrás y mi vida ha cambiado tanto desde ese día, fue como el título de este blog Mi viaje había comenzado. Nunca imaginé que iba a conocer a tantas personas de diferentes partes de Estados Unidos, que Oakland y Texas iban a ser mi hogar por 3 y 6 meses, que visitaría el famoso puente Golden Gate, el sorprendene Gran Cañon, el gigantesco estadio de los Dallas Cowboys y  otros extraordinarios lugares que no estaban ni en mis planes. Comí por primera vez Bagels, sandwich de mantequilla de maní con jalea y comí mucha comida sin glutén. También tuve en San Francisco uno de esos días completamente locos en la conocí personas de Nueva Zelanda, México, Francia y Argentina, cogí un nap en unos "bleachers" alfrente de la bahía de San Francisco, camine de costa a costa en un loco y extravagante maratón de 12 kilometros llamado Bay to Breakers(gogulealo) y termine viendo a mi equipo de pelota favorito y actuales campeones de MLB, los Gigantes de San Francisco, todo esto corrido en un lapso de 24 horas, sin dormir y sin haberlo planeado. Vi y toque por primera vez nieve y claro tuve una guerra de bolas de nieve con mi equipo, Lo mas importante vi como 10 extraños se convirtieron en mi familia, fueron 10 meses inolvidables y que siempre recordaré por el resto de mi vida.

Mi tiempo en AmeriCorps NCCC FEMA Corps tiene sentimientos encontrados pero en este momento solo prefiero recordar los buenos, los que día a día me hacen pensar que valio la pena, los tiempos malos que tuve me han ayudado a coger más madurez y a tomar las decisiones que hoy día estoy tomando. Extraño a mi familia de AmeriCorps, a mi equipo que estuvo viviendo conmigo por 10 meses corridos, todos llenaban cierta parte de mi en algún sentido aunque al final estuvieramos cansado unos del otro. AmeriCorps NCCC FEMA Corps no es un programa para todo el mundo, al menos 60 personas no terminaron el programa, tenías que tener un compromiso muy fuerte o la suerte de tener las personas correctas a tu lado para terminar el servicio voluntario. Durante el programa tuve que tomar desiciones muy duras, desiciones que realmente me dolieron pero fue algo que no me arrepiento. Estuve tan cerca de irme a mitad del programa, fue bien fuerte estar 9 horas en una oficina sin hacer literalmente nada o hacer cosas tan simples como mover objetos de una oficina a otra. Muchas veces nos sentiamos las perras de FEMA, unos cuantos empleados siempre pidiendo "ayuda" para hacer cosas estupidas o trabajos que ellos se supone que hicieran.

Algunos equipos en AmeriCorps tuvieron un año muy activo, pero todo dependía que tipo de tareas tu grupo fuese asignado. Mi equipo nunca fue enviado a ningún desastre natural, estuvimos en oficinas de FEMA todo el año, algo bien aburrido muchas veces, pero la mejor parte de eso, formabas parte de un grupo de personas increibles que trabajaban allí. Estoy tan agradecido, ellos nos ayudaron cada día e hicieron más fácil nuestra estadía en esas oficinas, también recibimos excelentes consejos profesionales y muchos momentos memorables.


Terminé el programa hace 4 meses, ha pasado todo tan rápido que no me había dado cuenta. En AmeriCorps me esforcé mucho y siempre quería pasar mis limites lo cual estoy extrañando mucho, estaba fuera de mi zona de confort, aprendí a hablar inglés fluentemente, baje mi tiempo de 19 minutos a 12:50 en 1.5 millas, comenzé haciendo solo 12 y 20 push ups/abdominales y termine haciendo mas de 40 en cada uno y perdí el miedo a hablar públicamente en mi idioma secundario. El viaje había comenzado ese 25 de febrero de 2014, de Puerto Rico a California, California a Texas, Texas a Puerto Rico y ahora finalmente de Puerto Rico a Ecuador. Mi siguiente parada no lo sé pero han sido 13 meses grandiosos y después de todo esto escogí hacerle caso a mi corazón y perseguir mi felicidad y metas personales.