Every day I feel my reality changing, but the change is conscious and intentional. Four months have gone by and my world is slipping further and further from where I was, yet I feel more connected to who I was. Today marks the halfway point of this journey and the culmination of good and bad has been on my mind of late. Yet I feel the questions consume me. What do I want to leave here? Have I done what I set out to do? Am I happy? I think the answers to these questions lie in the people I have met along the way.
The small Amazonian community of Santa Rita has been the quintessence of my experience. My family, proud of their Kichwa heritage, has welcomed me into their home. My host family of six siblings and two endearing parents has provided me experiences of substance and truth. From a host sister whose goal is to be the first in the family to go to college, to father who serves the community as vice president, there are certain things I absolutely admire in my family. But the success does not come without struggle. Throughout my time here I have been able to hear stories, pasts, and histories. Only through asking questions has anything ever become clear. My host family has shown me the way questions illuminate the greater answers.
Realities that I might otherwise have not seen have become clear. There have been times I don’t have the words to express my sentiments. I see a community composed of humble hard working people pushing past the day’s work in the Chakras. The Campesinos know the fruition that a day under the Ecuadorian sun will bring for the family. I see resemblance in my own roots. I’m reminded of the brute work that has shaped my abuelos worn hands. The lands and fields of this world have given life and do not recognize boundaries. In these moments of struggle people hold dear what has allowed them to prosper. For the Kichwa people, it has been the acknowledgement that the green vastness of the jungle is their home. The rain-forest gives the daily ability to cultivate the season’s offerings of yuca, guayusa, choclo, and cacao. Despite the time that has passed, the rain-forest is the closest connection to ancestors that have paved the way. The lessons and understanding that have impacted me most have come from understanding people and their history.
When I first arrived there were times I felt too scared to ask questions. For that reason, my perspective had been limited. What I hope to achieve here most is understanding and connection, but without questions there can be neither. From learning the Kichwa language, to eating juicy worms called chontacurros that ended up tasting like bacon, I can assure you questions have been essential. The difference between now and four months ago is that I have four months less of question asking. With the most difficult and insightful questions still left unanswered, I have to continue searching and engaging. Every moment has been worth it, but am I willing to continue to asking? Not only ask others, but ask myself.