Open Your Eyes to the Teachings of Time

Natalie Toops - Ecuador


March 11, 2019

Recently I have been putting myself into perspective, that means I have 11
weeks left in Ecuador, 30 days at my apprenticeship, and eight more Spanish
classes (taking traveling days into consideration). Therefore, I have been
in Ecuador for 19 weeks, spent 45 days at my apprenticeship, and have had
12 Spanish classes (counting traveling days). Most of the time I try not to
quantify my experiences as that can take me out of the moment. However, the
closer I grow to my new family, friends, and my love for Ecuador, the
closer I come to leaving. I count the days trying to make sense of it all,
when I am reminded how time is an illusion. As a sadness could grow, love
grows as well. I am motivated to use my time wisely and take in as much as
I can.

It is such a gift to travel to another country and learn from new ways of
life. I realized how much of a blessing it is when I talk to other fellows
and their experiences. Their mouths are filled with complaints and their
words bite with spite (at times). We all love to complain but when it
becomes a routine, we become blind to the opportunities in front of us. I
listen and try to empathize with their words and experiences. Though I
cannot help but think about all the positivity I have been showered with.
My family is welcoming, we often share jokes and chase each other around
the park. I now know my hunger to learn and desire to work in education. My
Spanish is ever-growing and I have developed the independence and mindset
of an adult. I have learned that global awareness requires the curiosity of
a child and the empathy of an elephant. My town is so beautiful and safe,
with neighbors that greet you as you walk by. Is it luck that has put me in
such a great place or is it the fog of expectations that clouds my fellow
fellows’ eyes from seeing their own beauty in this experience?

We all have less than three months left here, I have vowed to spend more
time with my family, engage in my community, and appreciate what Ecuador
has to offer. I am taking my mom to the gym with me, ask for help with my
Spanish homework, and converse more with my family, even if they do not
want to. I will (hopefully) participate in running for Carnival Queen and
talk to my neighbors as they visit my family’s papas fritas food shack. I
will not judge the lifestyles and customs of Ecuador, in which lies much
knowledge and experience. I cannot say what the experiences of my fellows
will be, but I know that the way we perceive things influences their
outcomes. For anyone reading this, put yourself into perspective. Where are
you in life? If we choose to open our eyes to the opportunities in front of
us, maybe more positivity will enter into your life as well. At times
negativity will hit you, but it is not permanent, more importantly, what
can it teach you? Value your time as it will slip away if you focus on the
way things are not going instead of the way they are going. I am learning
from and loving my time in Ecuador, but I am excited about what more I can
learn and love. Even though three months seems so short it can be filled
with as much education and joy as a lifetime if you let it.

Natalie Toops