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Charlotte Kaufman - Ecuador


September 18, 2013

I found a strange bug crawling on the wall that bordered my bed this evening. It made me rethink the whole level of comfort I thought I had developed in what I like to call my new home in Quito. I asked myself, how many of these creepy, four-and-a-half-legged insects lie under my bed at night, waiting to devour me in my sleep? Is this bug specific to Ecuador or is it simply a near-to-bed-bug species, which exists all over the world, but that I never saw before?

It is this bug, however, that reminded me what my first week and a few days in Quito has been all about: UNLEARNING (Though a seemingly backwards process, it truly pushes me forwards.)

Everyday as I venture through this fascinating city, I unlearn, and question the norms I developed throughout my life. I unlearn by chasing crowded buses, which don’t stop, but merely slow down for you to hop on. I unlearn as I realize that plans are of little importance during the weekends; what is meant to be a lazy Sunday afternoon can turn into a day of drunken fiestas and bull fights, in valleys outside of Quito. I unlearn through exposure to new philosophies such Viktor E Frankl’s who believes in the pursuit of a meaningful life rather than a happy one– Each time I unlearn, I feel lighter and freer as I let go of my past values. I am more comfortable than ever acknowledging how little I know.

As I itch myself to sleep tonight in fear of this single bug, I am comforted by the fact that in less than two weeks, I will move to the Napo region of Ecuador to work for a nonprofit women’s organization called Sinchi Warmi. I will wake up every morning to the jungle, to the river, to my new, eleven other siblings… unlearning all the way.

Charlotte Kaufman