Viva El Paro

10:31 October 13th was when I could finally take a breath. The past two weeks had been filled with anxiety, curiosity, boredom, learning, and confusion. From protests taking place outside the homes and jobs of our team leaders and fellows to running out of food, gas, and for some, freedom.

As Buddy and I were making our way home from Spanish class in Cuenca around 6:00pm, people gathering with posters and signs didn’t seem to be out of the ordinary. From what I had seen as a bit of public unrest would soon reveal itself as much more. Lacking knowledge and with foreigners curiosity the words “MORENO,” “ NO I.M.F, “ and amplified voices meant little to nothing to me other than a glance following a steady jog to the bus terminal. Little did I know, those words plastered on the posters and the voices that echoed around the plaza was worth more than just a glance. It was the beginning of a people standing up, a country dividing, a system under siege. 

Following the 6pm glance, I came to a speedy understanding of what I had seen in the city and what I was now experiencing. An uprising. An uprising resulting in no other than the Stand Fast rule. 

Living on a mountain and depending solely on a bus seemed totally fine, until the mountain without the bus was all I had. Learning that the Stand Fast rule had been imposed on us and the people we had just come to know for a little over 3 weeks would now be our 24 hour companions, this uprising became more and more real as the days went on. I don't know if anyone can relate to a precautionary rule that is a rule, but isn’t a real rule because it has never been enacted. Well, that is the Stand Fast rule. Something told to you during country launch and echoed as very unlikely, until this is your reality for almost 2 weeks and when the reason being is because your new home country is now like white blood cells battling a cancer from the inside. The people fighting the people. 

This battle became no gas in the house, no new groceries in the refrigerator, and no leaving a 200 yard radius for what seemed like an eternity. Don’t get me wrong because this also accelerated the rate at which I had to learn Spanish, became me learning to knit, and see the promise in the fight of a people for their land, their families, and themselves.

During this time I even started a protest myself after learning and seeing the oppressive ways of a system on its people and the real lives of the people. A protest in the sense of personal growth and retaliation to my own systems of oppression. I began asking the questions of how some of the things I was doing was working against the good of my health, mentally, physically, and emotionally. How were some of the habits and ways of doing things hindering my personal growth and prosperity?

Questions of these sorts presented themselves to me and with all the spare time I now had on my hands an opportunity also presented itself. Just like the people with the posters and the screams, there were some parts of me who yearned for change and burdens who could not be addressed without confrontation, deliberation, and change. Beginning with a pledge to rise with the sun every morning and complete the things that I deemed necessary in this world, whether that be working out, meditating, reading, or simply talking to God, I began a protest of my own. Although the ones here in Ecuador ended, mine have not. Everyday pledging to transform and take every day as a new beginning , viva el paro will live on.