This program is honestly really taxing sometimes.
When I left Quito and my first host family to come to Otavalo, I was way sad. I remember thinking that I wasn’t ready to leave my family, who I’d just begun to grow close to, and I wasn’t ready to leave a city that I had finally begun to get comfortable in. As I was leaving, there was this huge feeling of longing in my heart – something that I knew I’d definitely experienced before, but I couldn’t put my finger on where I’d felt it before – it sure as heck was not pleasant, though.
Well, I thought, Tough beans Austin. No way around it.
Later that day, on the bus ride to Otavalo, I saw the Imbabura Volcano for the first time, along with its adjacent lake and the Otavalo Valley, and I was instantly enamored. Suddenly, all the fear and sadness I felt whilst leaving Quito had vanished, and in its place was excitement, sure, but also a whole lotta nervousness – I mean, I’d just left one family to go to another one. Who knows how they would be like?
When I met my family here in Otavalo, the Zambranos, I was incredibly nervous. They tell me now, about a month or so later, that during my first week, I did not speak much and sat very stiffly at the dinner table. Pretty quickly, however, I grew close to them. They’re really incredible people – hell, it’s like almost every member of my family is incredible somehow. It’s hard not to be inspired by them, and it would have really been a challenge to try and stay disconnected with them for very long, especially when we seem to relate so well.
Today, I went to visit my host family back in Quito again. As I was leaving Otavalo via bus, I started to feel the same way I felt when I left Quito for the first time, as I saw the valley and the lake recede behind me, just like the sprawling buildings and rolling hills of Quito did a month ago. I think I realized something watching that.
See, I’ve been getting really homesick lately, what with the lack of all my non-Global Citizen Year friends and family, and the tragic loss of my ability to go out whenever I want and buy boba teas and deep-fried chickens and fantastic burgers (don’t get me wrong, I love the food here, but I’ve been to so many restaurants just looking for substitutes of my favorite foods back home – honestly though, there is no substitute to eleven herbs and spices). What I’m starting to understand, though, is that when I do come home and am reunited with all these things, I will still be homesick. I’ve found new places to consider home, you see, in addition to cozy Deboer Lane – be it an apartment tucked away on Avenida La Prensa somewhere in the northern region of Quito, or a one-of-a-kind, hand-built, kind of ridiculously cool house built onto the side of a hill in Otavalo. As I watched myself leave these two places, even though it was impermanent, I felt a longing in my heart – just like when I left good ol’ San Jose behind me. Fantastic, right? All that means is that this feeling of homesickness will never really end!!!!
Right now, as I’m writing this, I’m sitting on the bus that’ll take me home to Otavalo. I was staring through the window earlier, watching as the lights on the hillsides of Quito started to turn on as the sun began to set, trying my best to look very emotional and whatnot (kind of like how people do when they’ve got their earphones in, listening to dramatic music, and are like, ‘man this could totally be a music video’), listening to sad, weepy songs and thinking things along the lines of, Jeez louise, this program is ruthless. It definitely would’ve been simpler if I had just gone to college.
Yeah, Austin. It would’ve definitely been simpler, but looking back would you really have done something else now?
That’s a good point you(I?) made, Austin. I should probably stop listening to these sad songs then, huh.
You’re probably right, Austin.
I then proceeded to shuffle through my music until I hit “Halfway There,” by boy band sensation Big Time Rush.
Welp. It fits.
I guess in the end, yeah, I’ll be homesick for the rest of my life, but hey. If the things you do aren’t memorable enough to make you wistfully remember them as you stare out of moving vehicle windows, why are you doing them, right?
I’m going to try and sleep now – I’ve got a couple more hours til I get home.
Until next time, everyone.
– Austin Nguyen