When I had first arrived in Ibarra, I thought that it was going to be the longest 7 months of my life and when the time came for me to get ready to leave, all I could think was, “Where did those 7 months go?”
Was it really time for me to leave? At that point I felt I needed more time, more time with my host family, more time with my job and more time in Ibarra the city I learned to call home. I’ll admit it wasn’t easy at times and where I couldn’t stand living in Ecuador, yes I missed home, I missed my Southern life and home, but Ibarra had become my home too. I made friends, even if they weren’t my age they were my friends from the nice lady who ran the store near my house who I made sure I said “Hola, Hi,” to everyday or the guy who ran the Shwarma place when I did get Shwarma telling him about why I was there and what I did there. I’ll miss the kindness and openness that they shared with me, they got to know me not as the “gringa” but as part of their community.
When the time came to pack up my room, it was sad I closed my door when I packed a majority of my stuff because I just didn’t want them to have to watch me do it and because I cried a little. After I just went and hung out with my family, we had relatives from Spain come and they hadn’t seen each other in 10 years so to say the least it was a 3-day celebration, we danced a lot. My aunt never let me sit down she always asked me to stand up and dance, sometimes by myself or with her she would ask to show them dance moves, lets just say everyone was laughing and loving it. My host grandparents called me over and told me they were happy to know me and to make sure I knew that they were my “abuelos, grandparents” and I was a part of their family. My host mom told me that it was my home and I’m welcomed back anytime, that I’m free to stay in “my house,” when I visit again. Just knowing that this family you lived with aren’t just people you stayed with but a family that loves and cares about you.
After weeks of dreading it the day to say my final goodbyes arrived I had gotten up early that morning to say goodbye to my cousin who had school and then to walk my host brother to his school. We started walking to school, we were just talking and laughing he kept asking my questions like when am I coming back? How soon can I return? Can I have two houses one in America and one in Ecuador to vacation at? Then he said when he has a good job he’ll come visit me in Florida so I can him my life and around. We got to the front of his school, he just turned and hugged saying he was glad to have met me and gave me advice to take with me, that’s when I just started crying I wasn’t saying goodbye to my host brother but to my best friend in Ibarra. I headed back to the house just crying the whole way, I managed to stop when I got to the house and ate breakfast with everyone, then hung out with my little sister the whole morning. The time came to go to the bus terminal and wait with everyone to be picked up, my sister just sat in my arms and then I could feel the tear drops falling onto my arm, then I started crying again my host mom came up to us and just hugged us and told us it would be okay.
Luckily we had to wait a while but then the words we were dreading, “Guys it’s time to load up onto the bus,” we loaded up our luggage and took our last group photo and the minute the photo was done my sister turns and just hugs me and is crying hard. I just can’t hold back the tears that continuously run down my face, even writing this now makes me tear up and sad and after waiting as long as I can I have to load the bus and all I can do is look out at the window at my 12 year old sisters face red and tears flowing down, I just felt my heart break and almost the whole bus ride to Quito I could do nothing but cry. Eight months from then I never would have pictured myself that sad, but I was I had to leave my Ibarra family and my life there behind not knowing when I could return.
Those last few days in Quito were not fun at all, if I was in Ecaudor I wanted to be in Ibarra. I called my host family when I could until we had to give our phones back and go to the airport. We were all fine when waiting to leave, then we loaded the plane and just waited, the minute we took off, some of us just cried because this was it we were leaving Ecuador and all you could do then was cry. Ibarra is and will forever be apart of my heart, I am hoping to return in three years for my sister’ s Quinceranera, I would love to get a chance to return sooner, but either way I will be going back. I like to think of it as let’s not say goodbye but see you when I see you…