My days here are numbered. I don’t have a penchant for drama without irony, but I can’t help but feel the clock tick and the sun setting on my time here in Ecuador. I love a good sunset (who doesn’t), and my atardecer here is burning brighter than ever. As I reflect on the past six months I have had and the remaining six weeks I have left, my old habits catch up to me. I’ve always been notorious for romanticizing things. In my head, almost everything is rose colored. As I still have time left to enjoy Ecuador, but I know that it’ll be over soon, I’d like this blog post to serve as a reminder to myself of things that I still have time to enjoy and that I couldn’t possibly over-romanticize in my head. These are the things that I’m confident will be as good as I remember them to be when I come back to Ecuador. No matter what I do, the joy I will remember from experiencing these things will not be exaggerated. Yes, Reina. These were just as good as you remember them.
The smiles from my abuelita. They are instant and warm and honest and I will miss them dearly.
The feel of hot café puro in my hands. My host family’s mugs are the perfect size for wrapping both hands around and hugging to your chest. I drink coffee in the morning alone and again at 5 pm with the family. Both are times from which I gather warmth and love.
Sundays. The entire Guachapala family comes over for lunch and dinner. When we’re all together, it’s twenty people and nine dogs. Quite a few mouths to feed, but the laughter and card games are worth it.
Our garden. My family and I have often joked that we live in a mini bosque. Trees and flowers and plants encase our home and the sunlight streaming in lights every leaf into a brilliant green and every color of the flowers glows.
The hugs from the kids in the schools are unbridled and unconditional. They unhesitatingly throw themselves at me and my fellow co-teacher, Antony. I’m going to miss their “Hola, Profe Regina!” that I hear in the streets every time I leave the house.
The jokes with my host family. They’re not afraid to tease me, and after a few weeks, I wasn’t afraid to give it right back. We have lots of inside jokes (“fly fly” “dame dos meces” “de atrás” “más arriba más arriba”). I wouldn’t trade any of them for the world.
My mountains. I feel a strange sense of pride and possessiveness over them, even though I did nothing to construct them and I’ll only be with them for seven months. But they’re home.
The beauty of Cuenca. It is colorful and alive and distinct. I don’t know if I could ever have my fill.
There are more things, of course. I have enjoyed my time getting to know this land, its people, my friends here, and myself. I know that leaving will ache something fierce but that hopefully, someday, I can return back and relive these moments. My homecoming in one, five, ten, or twenty years will serve as proof to me that these things are as good as my memory promises. I can’t wait to come back home.