post-ecuador/pre-going-”home”

Surabhee Arjunwadkar - Ecuador


May 17, 2019

IMG_1702 edit.jpg

A series of thoughts about a series of things attempting to address the question,

“So, how was Ecuador?”

1.

Going home has been different for everyone,

Or so I’ve heard.

I’m not home yet.

And at this point, I don’t know if it is really home,

or just an incredibly familiar place that I have told myself is my home.

I wrote my first blog before leaving Pune

and I didn’t even have to think twice before I said it was home.

I was so sure I wanted to live there for the rest of my life,

Because I knew how to do things, how to get around.

And then,

I moved to Ecuador.

And everything changed.

I do not know if Pune is my home anymore.

But why does home have to be a physical space?

Whoever limited home to four walls?

Why can’t home be a mental space?

A way of thinking?

A way of being?

A way of existing?

2.

Ecuador, for me, is not a series of events.

It is the small details that made up my everyday life:

the way my abuelita smiled,

the way my mami talked to herself when she was working,

the telenovelas my sisters watched,

the way my dad said my name,

the way people greeted everybody,

the way Linda, the roof-dog, banged on the metal roof-door when she was hungry,

the taste of aji, llapingachos and tomate de árbol,

the burnt smell of cooking-meat everywhere on the streets,

the fresh, crisp air of the Andes,

how Mama Cotacachi and Taita Imbabura watched over us wherever we went,

And the way life became so much simpler

and more complicated at the same time.

Quiero decir a Ecuador:

Gracias por todo,

por la cultura,

por todas las personas increíbles que conocí,

y por el amor que me diste.

Pai.

(Pai means thank you in Kichwa)

3.

What can I say about Ecuador,

how much can I talk about Ecuador

so that you can understand what my life looked like?

I want to tell you everything,

every moment of happiness,

uncomfort,

loneliness,

agony,

pain,

sadness

and all the emotions I felt during these seven months.

I want to describe every single thing I saw, every single detail.

But I can’t.

I can’t tell you everything I experienced.

When you ask me,

“So, how was Ecuador?”,

You are expecting a short answer to your short question.

And I don’t blame you for it.

But you don’t realise the magnitude of the question..

And to not take too much of your time,

to not sound too pretentious,

to not give off the wrong impression,

to not sound too negative,

or too positive

or too neutral,

or too descriptive

or too cryptic

or too this

or too that,

all I say is,

“It was beautiful.”

But that’s not the truth.

The truth is that it was really difficult at times,

and ugly,

and painful.

And at times, all I wanted to do was leave.

But I couldn’t.

But there were times where,

I cried on the bus,

And I cried on the walk up the hill to my house,

Because I was too sad to leave.

Too sad to leave behind all the beautiful people I had met,

All the connections I had made.

Sometimes, I cannot believe I went to Ecuador,

That I lived there.

It seems like a faraway dream,

Like a movie you watched when you were young.

I keep reminding myself that it was real.

It was honest, raw, vulnerable, unapologetic, emotional, transformative, life-changing.

It was real.


(Photo by Macy Lipkin)


Surabhee Arjunwadkar