They said October would be hard. And it has been. Just not in the way I expected.
For 12 days, national protests paralyzed the entire country of Ecuador because of a new deal the president signed involving the IMF (International Monetary Fund.) I could go into specifics but you can read up on that in the news if you wish.
For 12 days, there was no public transportation and no school. Roads were blockaded with trees and burning tires. Local stores closed as resources began to dwindle.
And I was lucky to be in a fairly peaceful area.
This Paro was not expected nor wanted. And it was certainly not easy.
And yet, it was easy.
Was it fun being locked into our small community and house? No.
Was it fun having to worry about our safety or our resources? No.
Was it fun not knowing when the Paro would end and normal life would resume? No.
But in comparison to all the others who protested, who fought and who stood up for what they believed in, my experience was not hard. It wasn’t traumatic, nor did I feel the true weight that Ecuadorians and the Indigenous communities felt during this time.
If anything, walking everywhere made me truly look at my community. It made me slow down and remember that some of the most beautiful things in life are the minuscule moments that often pass us by because we choose not to see them.
These protests also made me admire the people in this country in an unbelievable way. An entire country stopped – sacrificing safety, comfort, work, resource and transportation – because they were not going to sit idly by and let their leaders make decisions that adversely affected them. And after 12 days of fighting against the military, of brutality and pain and death, they ultimately won the battle.
This is what democracy looks like.
Now that normal life has resumed, I have fallen in love with this country in a new way, perhaps because I was given the opportunity to see it with new eyes. The beauty of the varying landscapes and biomes seem to match the beautiful and diverse qualities of the Ecuadorian people, which together form a perfect equilibrium.
Maybe this is bad to say ( I am sorry, Mom!) but I don’t think I’m very homesick.
I am in awe of this land. I am in awe of its people.
I find myself dreaming of the day when I can return to Ecuador on my own, free to roam uninhibited, to explore farther than I have or I will this year. I find myself cherishing beautiful moments, for I know that when I return to the States, all these memories will simply appear as a dream, for they always do.
But I love to dream. And I am so thankful to be living in one.
Photos of other adventures so far: