Being a comic nerd, I’ve always had an obsession with caped vigilantes, swooping in to save the world and prevent the evils from coming out on top. From Spiderman, to Nightwing, I’ve always imagined myself with their abilities, making a difference out there in the world. But it’s my time here in Ecuador that has truly revealed to me that the real heroes need not have special powers, or be caped or have really cool (or not so cool) superhero names. Sometimes by simply doing the smallest favour for someone, you can become their hero. This is a lesson I learnt today from my host dad.
As we were on one of our usual casual drives between Puyo and a small area outside of town called Tarqui, I was confused as my host dad parked the car on the side of the road and appeared to be waiting for some random boys walking down the road. As they approached, I noticed that one of the boys was blind in one eye and was being led by his younger brother home. Somehow, my host dad managed to pick them out as he was driving and decided that he was going to give these random two boys a ride. As we spoke to them, we discovered that they were on their way home from visiting people in Tarqui and had planned to walk about an hour to get to the bus stop to get home. They were of the indigenous Shuar people and weren’t actually living with their father at the time as he was working elsewhere. Their mother was also working and tried hard to supplement the money the government provided her in order to take care of her children.
As we arrived at the bus stop, they thanked us for the ride and got out to wait for the bus. My host dad drove no more than 5 metres before deciding that he was going to buy them bread to take home to their family. He gave us money and we bought them a dollar’s worth of bread from the nearest bakery and gave the grateful boys the bread as they hopped on their bus and departed home.
Now, though he may not have saved a crashing plane, or a cat out of a tree, I was so inspired by the hero I was sitting next to. If my host dad, a handicapped man who has his own problems to worry about, could take time out of his day to help others and not expect to receive anything for it, what stops me from doing the same?
It was then, sitting in the car, eating my morado mora helado next to my host dad, that I realised why it is that, like many others, I love superheros. While all the powers and outfits are cool, it’s really because they inspire me to do something, to make a positive impact wherever I can, however I can without any real powers (that’s also why I’m always Batman over Superman FYI). It reminded me that, not all heroes wear capes, sometimes they drive black pickup trucks and live in Puyo, Ecuador.
All this over some mora ice cream and the hum an engine.