Today marks one year I've been here in Ecuador and I still find myself confused some days at why I am here? Whatever made me volunteer to be sent to some unknown foreign land to give up real coffee, customer service, and privacy? But for some reason I was jumping for joy to sign the dotted line and hop on that plane to whatever waited for me on the other side of the hemisphere. And after 12 challenging months I'm glad I jumped.
This one year mark came faster than I had expected yet in another breath it feels like ages since I have lived the American life and seen your faces. To be honest the past month has been a hard one. As for my work and town I am the happiest I have been here in Ecuador, but personally I've never been away from home for a year and am just missing the little things. The comforts that I took for granted; my bed, public libraries, bike rides, pike place market, tofu, Bellingham life, live music, so many things and all of you! But it's that struggle and challenge that make this such a beautiful experience.
I think we (or should I say I) get caught up in this idyllic idea that Peace Corps sends out young Americans to save the poor undereducated malnourished suffering people of the world. And maybe that's why I have reached the one year mark and don't know what to celebrate because my American mindset is looking for numbers and objective successes to share with you but my true successes have been my experiences and relationships that can never be measured.
Ecuador is a beautifully diverse and developing country with an intricate culture. And in more ways than one has saved me not from despair, but from living a monotone life. Ecuador has taught me how to be stronger within myself, sound my voice, and hold my head up even when it would be easier to hide. Shown me the many blessing I have been given through family, friends, education, and opportunities in ways that I never appreciated before. Helped me to understand how we as Americans are perceived from the outside. And most importantly Ecuador has allowed me to see the faces of poverty, the capability of the impoverished, and that poverty isn't just the lack of financial support.
I have a long ways to go…14 months of service, much more Spanish to reach fluency, and patience to understand the quirks of daily Ecuadorian life. Sometime I'll be honest 14 months seems so far away when I am ready to get started with what's next, but then I realize focusing on tomorrow I'm missing all the beauty that today holds for me.
Thank you all for your love, words, and support. I have needed it all and because of it I have made it to this great celebration of one year!!
Much love to you all always.
P.S. Here are some pictures from Old Town Quito.