This was written a week before we left Ecuador, sometime around the first week in August. But then things got crazy and we never posted it. The entry is old, but the sentiments are still true.
We are officially Mexico bound starting in the wee hours of Sunday morning. After 9 months of discovering the secrets of Ecuadorian life, living in the heart of Andes mountains, teaching classes upon classes about phrasal verbs, present perfect and relative clauses, improving our ethpanyol, and always being within a few hours of the ocean or the Amazon, it seems almost unreal to be saying goodbye to the home we have created south of the Equator.
Although it wasn't always easy - and we never expected it to be - we survived horrendously long hours of work for no more than $4 per hour. And we enjoyed it. Yes, I personally had a few too many break-downs and sob sessions, but after I came back from my temporary insanity, I was still able to appreciate the unique and incredibly hospitable country we were living in.
When we told people that we were moving to "Ecuador!", we had the typical oohs and aahs from those who imagined it to be exotic and "tribal." In fact, despite our extensive travels to foreign lands, we imagined Ecuador as an untamed, wild place where we'd learn Spanish within minutes, sit on the beach and relax all the time, and maybe teach a little when we got a break from our avocado eating or backpacking around the continent.
However, it always becomes clear when we land in a new country, that it is simply another place. It's new and exciting, but it is a place.
Instead of dreamland, our routine consisted of waking up at 6 am to catch the #22 or #5 bus to Nuestra Familia, teaching 4 or 5 hours, coming home to prepare, cook and eat an increasingly delicious lunch, and then almost immediately leaving again to catch the less reliable #6 bus toward Nexus Lenguas y Culturas. When we got home at night, usually around 9, we'd eat a snack, watch some show that we had on the computer and then go to sleep. Life wasn't exotic.
But Ecuador has been very good to us. We've met, and continue to meet, impossibly kind and generous people. We've made friends, gotten to know neighbors and become a part of a country rich in culture and life. Mexico will still have beaches and avocados, but it's going to be a bittersweet departure next Sunday. Saying "chao!" to Ecuador is tough, but another land and another country beckons us onward.
A few of the things we will miss about Ecuador:
- Being a bus ride away from the beach, the Amazon and living in the mountains
- Big Cola (Coca-Cola's small but sweet competitor. Suck it, Coke!)
- Natural, plain yogurt in a bag
- Puppies and babies everywhere!
- The landscapes: mountains, rivers, ocean, rainforest, lakes, volcanoes
- $1 smoothies
- Fresh avocados, pineapples, mangoes, strawberries and raspberries by the bushel
- Cheap public transportation, $1/hour to get anywhere in the country
- DVDs for $1.50 which means never having to go to the theatre because the pirated DVD will be in stores the next week
- Chopin, our landlord's homely dog with a Hitler mustache that came about from an unfortunate incident with a chicken leg
- The man who shines shoes on Avenida Benigno Malo
- Deportivo Cuenca