Pathways

Galen Tsongas - Ecuador


October 4, 2012

This is by no means an easy task. From San Francisco to Stanford, from Stanford to the hostel in Quito, from the hostel in Quito to a new home in Quito. This is my life at this moment, and it’s huge. I understand very little Spanish and am constantly reminded that this is where I am in my life… On my adventure. When you, my friends, my family, read this, I hope to give you some idea of the atmosphere I am in, the emotions I am feeling, and the challenges I am facing. No one can truly understand what anyone is experiencing unless you are that person, but I hope to convey my experiences so that all of you have a piece of my soul, and heart. I’ll start at Stanford even though this journey started before Stanford (though my thoughts may seem, and very much are, scatter-brained… so bear with me). San Francisco was behind me as the car sped down south to the Stanford University (all credit due to the driver Jim, partner russ, and co-pilot DOG). I slept in a three person dorm, completely foreign to me, as I am an only child. Sleep was impossible, but eventually I was tamed by the healer… With the help of tea and 2am showers. My entire being, my entire self, was pulled apart like the stuffing in a certain scarecrow from a certain movie with certain flying monkies… And no, there are no monkies in Quito. The stuffing is still being pulled apart and tossed. I had only a romanticized vision of the path that lay in front of me that was immediately dismantled as I connected with myself and other fellows, whose relationships are priceless. I could lose everything, but these people, I could not do without. They helped me crack my external shell that I wore to hide who I was (then) to everyone, including me. I am still figuring out who I am… Friends: You may have thought you knew me, but truthfully, I didn’t even know myself. Maybe we know nothing of ourselves when we live comfortably in the same environment year after year. Do we build up our image in the interests of being percieved as others want to percieve us and then believe that the person we are percieved as is who we truly are? If I stayed in San Francisco, I know that question I asked would be true for me. It has been 3 weeks. I have been graciously accepted into a home in Quito where I now live with two host brothers: Santiago, 22. And Jose, 19. And a host mom: Martha, 49.


WHEN THE FELLOWS ARRIVED:

We traveled from the airport to a hostel that we stayed at for three days… Again I had a three person room. The plumbing in the hostel, shall we say, isn’t as powerful as the plumbing in the U.S. and within a day, my room mates and I had “problemas”. The food at the hostel was delicious everytime, and I’m sure everyone gained a few pounds. No one has lost pounds due to sickness…  yet. Our host families arrived on saturday, the 1st of September, to hoist us all into a new world, and essentially a new life. Views? Opinions? They are stacked so solidly when surrounded and encapsulated by the only reality we choose to live in… But I’m talking about only myself when I say “we”… Sorry for imposing that belief unto any of you. I could erase that, but this is supposed to be honest and in the now, where I am becoming comfortable. The first day with the host family was spent on the volcano, Pichincha, looking out over the city. Santiago asked if i wanted to travel to the top of pichincha and I said “Yes” within a heartbeat. We are to travel to the top on the 9th of september [A NOTE:  We didn’t go to the top.]. After we had lunch on Pichincha, we went down to the amusement park where Jose, Santiago, and I went Go-karting. I wasn’t in the happiest of moods that day. I felt on the verge of tears all day from a combination of homesickness, frustration of not knowing the language, and feeling alienated. But after Karting, as it’s called here, I felt a feeling of acceptance. I love it now. I love the people (staff, natives of Quito, and fellows all over the world). We are all on our different paths. Sometimes they meet, sometimes they drift apart. And sometimes we must carve a path to someone elses path and help them clear the way, then return to our own path. Who can ever say if, or when, our paths will intersect? I know I can’t, so I’ll just go where my path leads me.

 

09/2-9/3

Post Script:

So much has happened after I wrote this post and I feel obligated to say what has happened. All fellows split up for one week to go to their host families and apprenticeships in their different regions. I am in the rainforest, my region is Napo, and my town is Misahaulli. I live in a concrete house/ hut with a steel roof over the top. I know most of you in San Francisco don’t have steel roofs and heavy rainfall so try to imagine millions of angry mice with rubber mallets, hammering down upon steel above your head for an hour… It is deafening. There are tons of insects living in their with me, but unfortunately no humans… Those funny creatures live 30 feet away in a similar concrete hut. I do believe there is a wasps’ nest in there with me, and I know that tarantulas live under my bed, accompanied by all sorts of morsels… My work place, when I was there last, had only two people who flirt all the time and seperated themselves from me during lunch and other times to cuddle and be alone. I’m going back this Saturday with a tent and a fan (it is extremely hot and humid… I’m from a place where there are no seasons except fog). I forgot to mention my stomach problems… Suffice it to say I had stomach problems and had to go to a doctor or two, in Tena, the capital of the region, Napo. I went to a doctor in Quito for another opinion, because doctors seem to say that all stomach problems are infections, which frankly sounds like a ploy or sinister sorts… Hmmmm. The doctor in Quito told me to stop taking the medicine I was subscribed in Tena because apparently one of the pills can stunt cartillege growth… There were no ultra-sounds. I have a cold right now as I’m writing, but for the most part my stomach pains are gone. Time to go buy a tent!

Galen Tsongas