Packed Away

A gray suitcase and a gray backpack. That’s all it took to pack away my life. When I left for Ecuador, that didn’t bother me at all. In fact, I was pleased to have been able to condense what had already been a very full life into two carry-ons. But now, staring at the bags in front of me as I prepare to ship myself, and them, 12 hours south of Quito to Cuenca, I am struck by their inherent blandness. And it bothers me. It really, really bothers me.

These past three weeks have been filled with so much color, so much life. I have discovered the joy that lies in waking up to the sound of your five-year-old host sister singing in the shower. And that my favorite way to fall asleep is to the soft hum of a busy city. The sepia light seeping in through the curtains. Feeling the heat and weight of my blankets encouraging me to be still, and drift. The immense relief of not being the one to drop a potato in my coffee at breakfast, for once. The pride of avoiding getting ripped off by a taxi driver in broken, but somehow effective Spanish. The pure bliss that is Ecua-bread” and its accompanying smell. I have experienced a new kind of exhaustion that can only come from attempting a new language all day long. I’ve witnessed wild dance performances that swirl down narrow streets and through rooms in an art museum