Unfolding Landscapes

Jesse Aranda-Comer - Ecuador


April 3, 2017

For the first time in my life, I have had to truly depend on a public transport system. My hometown of Houston, Texas is an extremely spacious city, enveloped in two massive highway systems. As a result, I almost always have to drive when having to go somewhere. However for the past seven months I have lived in a rural mountainous community, a forty five minute trek through a winding mountain pass from the nearest city. Whilst being here I have dealt with this lack of transportation freedom by simply saddling up for long bus rides. This meant whenever I desired to go to Cuenca, one of the most modernized cities in the south of Ecuador, I was in for a long haul. The usual trip from San Juan to Cuenca would cost me about 2 hours and 15 minutes of my life sitting on a bus, watching the landscape unfold before me. Thusly, I had plenty of time to ponder and think about what kind of imprint I would allow this landscape and environment to make upon me. I traveled to and fro Cuenca nearly 50 times. I found that the only respite from my restlessness on the ranch, was to travel and to physically move my being. For in that transition, I was not stagnant, but stuck in limbo. Once I became accustomed to long bus rides, I learned to cherish the time in between departure and arrival. In that space of time, I was able to note the rawness of each person’s existence, for bus rides are an amazing exposé of a country’s people. At this point in time, my love-hate relationship with buses is coming to a close, yet it has given me a newfound appreciation for transportation freedom. The decision to go anywhere on a moment’s notice, completely dependent on one’s will, has powerful inherent value. For one alone decides what path they will take each day. 

Jesse Aranda-Comer