As I sit here in the Runa office in Archidona, I cannot help but feel the panic bubbling up in my chest: my time in Napo comes to an end in just a mere two weeks. All that has happened over the past six months and all of the people that I have met here in Ecuador have come together to shape an experience that now defines my sense of self and my sense of normality.
It is hard to realize that I have no idea when and if I will see all of this again, and it is even harder knowing that it will never be the same; I am a different person than the one I was when I first came here, and I will be a different person when I come back. It and I will be haunted by the memories I’ve had here. I will see my friends’ faces everywhere, feel the laughs we shared together, the frustrations. All of the escapes to the rivers, treks up the mountains, and hunts for ever-abundant jungle fruits will come back to me. I will be in search of memories and an experience that I will not be able to have again because the timing of this venture and the people that I am sharing it with are just so crucial. This truly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and for that I am both incredibly grateful and terribly heartbroken.
As I make myself come to terms with my nearing departure, I begin to notice and appreciate absolutely everything about this place that I love. Though I am finding it nearly impossible to squeeze the meaning I found from these last six months into a mere two weeks of savoring, I am drinking it all in as best I can: the vibrant Amazonian green, the unmistakeable bum-bum-bum of Kichwa music blasting on buses, the way the jungle-mountains fringe the cities and communities, how the buildings stand touching each other, often old and disintegrating, the way the people are shaped, their colorful outfits, their smiling faces, their curious stares. It’s all incomparable.
As all of this is coming to a close, the sadness is undeniable. However, both the good and the bad, the love, the struggle, the lightness, the challenge, the gratification, the frustration, the warmth, the intensity, the happiness I’ve felt here: that’s what makes it all worth it.