Hey family and friends,
Hope everyone is well. I had a great visit with my Mom and Sister about 2 weeks ago and I hope that they have been able to tell you about their experiences in Ecuador personally. After having not seen my family for 5 months, it was definitely an emotional rush to see them. I struggled to find the words to explain parts of Ecuador and my experiences because I couldn’t stop smiling. It felt so natural to be back with the family. I have undoubtedly felt the blues here from time to time, which made it that much better to see first hand the people that I love and care about the most.. We were lucky enough to make it out to the Galapagos Islands and the islands are pretty wild. I was struck by how dry the islands are. I was expecting to see more tropical islands, but they are very desert like. The animal life has an incredible range of species from outrageously colored birds to sea turtles procreating in seemingly every place. Very lucky to make it out there, especially considering since not even 1% of Ecuadorians will have the chance to see this miraculous place in their own country.
After returning back to the mainland, we made the journey out to my host community. We had a nice dinner together and my family got to know the people who I live with and vis versa. After saying good-byes, we made the trek to Otavalo (one of the largest artisan markets in South America) and spent the next day cruising around the beautiful city and observing the people. There was a parade for President Correa (elections for president are within 2 weeks) that night and it was fun to watch the people dancing and singing in support of their President. I believe that Ecuadorians use the elections as an excuse to go out and dance and sing for hours on end. The campaign song for President Correa is a blatant knock-off of the 80’s classic We’re Not Gonna Take It (here is the link for the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifFimVUDug4). This song blasts almost everyday in my town, but I can’t help but crack a smile when I hear the cowbell strike up the rhythm for UNA SOLA VUELTA. After our time in Otovalo, we made the trip to Quito to meet my Quiteno host family (pictured below). We had a typical Ecuadorian gathering meal of bread and tea and went out on the city afterwards. The next day Jenna and Mom took their plane back to the states, and I made the trip back to my host community.
Some things that I took away from this visit was that what we speak makes up only a small percentage of communication. I have experienced this first hand when I think people are speaking a language from a different planet, and I saw this reinforced once again when my family came. Neither of my Ecuadorian families speak English y vis versa, but in both places, both parties were able to communicate and have a good time. Food and laughter are two of the easiest and best ways to knock down any barrier. I’m extremely grateful that we had the fortune to go to the Galapagos but I’m equally grateful for my experience and that my family was able to see what I am living. Seeing places is not even the half of traveling. It is the knowing of people and experiences gained that give travel meaning. That is why it is awesome that my family and myself included saw the hitchhiking bus vendors that sell magic cream to heal all the ails of the body or watch an indigenous man in Otovalo carry a sack of corn literally bigger than himself through the marketplace. The fact of the matter is that there are countless ways of life whether it be the crabs seen below or a cab driver in Quito who may be lucky enough to make $10 a day. It can be difficult to put everything together but here is a quote that I find very applicable to the visit my family had.
“I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong. If we will only allow that, as we progress, we remain unsure, we will leave opportunities for alternatives. We will not become enthusiastic for the fact, the knowledge, the absolute truth of the day, but remain always uncertain … In order to make progress, one must leave the door to the unknown ajar.”
― Richard P. Feynman
Lastly, 5 months and a continent apart cannot damage our closest relationships in life. Relationships and people may change, but the world is constantly changing, too. So while it has been hard at times to be away from home and the U.S., I know that I am fully supported and loved and the same goes for my family and friends. Thanks for reading.