Where I Am

Carly Sitrin - Ecuador


November 10, 2012

And there is a chance that everything we did was incorrect, but stasis itself is criminal for those with the means to move, and the means to weave communion between people.

-Dave Eggers


So here I am. From Hillsborough, New Jersey to California to Quito to Riobamba to Bayushig, Ecuador. After weeks of planning, packing, and anticipating I found myself standing at the top of a steep hill with my bags at my feet. The wind tore right through my carefully layered clothing and I shivered deeply. In that moment, I couldn’t help wondering just what exactly I had gotten myself into.

In the days to come I would learn the bus system, get myself to work everyday volunteering at the convent with disabled orphans, get to know my new family, stay in touch with my friends, eat unusual (and often delicious) foods, and try to maintain my sanity all while desperately attempting to learn Spanish. At first, I admit it was difficult. The nature of my apprenticeship requires a level of patience that I had never before needed to display and the temptation to become silent and withdrawn was definitely enticing. However, as time passed, I felt myself becoming increasingly comfortable in my environment and began truly enjoying the company of the nuns at work and my relatives at home. Soon there were moments when I felt myself smiling for no reason at all. I was simply happy to be where I was.

Now I am here, four weeks later. Sitting at the peak of yet another, higher, hill looking out at the unbelievably gorgeous valley below my feet and wondering what these next few months will bring. For if this journey is about carving my niche in the mountainside of Bayushig, Ecuador, then this first month was about gathering the strength needed to lift the pickaxe.

Some October highlights include:

  • A cookout with my entire extended family; we roasted cuy (guinea pig) and plantains and watched Enchanted (in Spanish of course)
  • Learning how to work the hot water and knowing that no matter how stressful these next few months may be, I will always have a warm shower to come home to.
  • Peeling a potato with a knife. It may not sound like much, but I aim to cook an entire meal for my family by April so this first step was crucial!
  • Feeling the earth shake as the active volcano Tungurahua belched steam mere miles from my home.
  • Purchasing a warm jacket from the trunk of a woman’s car. The air here is crisp and unforgiving and that jacket has served me beautifully.
  • Mailing in my absentee ballot and officially voting for the first time!
  • Successfully using the past tense in a casual conversation with my family.
  • Watching countless games of soccer in the streets of my town and eating a steaming bowl of freshly made french fries.
  • Meeting up with a few friends in Riobamba and getting lunch at Chili’s to soothe our aching American stomachs.
  • Going to bed at 8pm and waking up at 7am. I am nothing if not well rested.
  • Celebrating the holiday with my family by baking bread and drinking a hot mug of colada morada.

Carly Sitrin