Monday, April 14, 2008

As the Worlds Begin to Collide...

I have been here in Ecuador for seven months and twelve days without reprieve. In about two weeks, I will make my first journey back to the land of the free and the home of the brave for a brief visit to celebrate a friend's wedding. I am slightly terrified at the prospects of what I will encounter.

Here, I've seen history making constitutional changes, floods that have devastated provinces and decimated roads right in the middle of Quito leaving crater sized holes wide open into the depths of earth and causing enough crippling havoc to be declared a national emergency by the President. I've seen a regional war almost break out between three fragile South American countries with rippling affects on the people here as they are constantly tormented and victimized by desperate Colombians displaced by their violent country. I've met refugees who have lost family. I've seen countless strikes, protests, and demonstrations regarding a plethora of issues including ones against my homeland. I've experience sexism and discrimination on a daily basis. I've seen heart breaking children in malnutrition clinics, been robbed by a five year old girl, watched a volcano erupt, experienced bureaucracy through a third world government, and survived three months without pay, parasites, gut wrenching amoebas, bronchial, ear, sinus, bladder, and respiratory infections as well as severe skin problems, a sprained ankle, stomach, kidney and female issues all in a three month span. I've made due with less than I had when I was a 14 year old babysitter for the neighborhood families on my street. Add Anti-Americanism to the list. I haven't slept in a real bed since the hotel on September 1. I haven't paid more than 25 cents for water or $4 for a four course lunch in nearly 8 months. My eyes have experienced near wars, national disasters, a complete robbery of my host family's house, student's who have lost cars and fortunes to do theft, a host dad who was robbed at an ATM, shady taxi drivers, solo bus trips through the campo, questionable food and hotel rooms and enough rain to last me a lifetime. Toilet paper, hot water, and security are luxuries here.

I have a life here that includes a family, friends, a compañero, a job, and a friend from home. Daily living is easy and uncomplicated. I have a different nickname and a daily routine where I finish half my work day before 9 a.m. I even look different with hair 10 shades lighter. My legs, feet, arms, and face are an entirely different color than my chest, stomach and butt. I spend the majority of my time speaking and studying another language. Spanglish is the current wavelength. Some might have forgotten I live in the third world...

This is my life until I step into an airport on April 30th to embark on a 20 hour trip to another life. I am doing my best to prepare myself for the blinding culture of the first world...

1 comment:

Dowdi said...

Amazing the difference a plane ride can make. And amazing how much Americans take for granted on a daily basis. I think one of the best side-effects of traveling is a gradually increasing appreciation for what we have, a decreasing desire for useless materialism, and a realigning of our priorities.