settling in, in Ecuador

Tomorrow is my 8 month anniversary in Ecuador, and I’m really surprised by how fast it crept up on me. I originally signed up for 13 months here, and its crazy to think that I only have 5 more of those months to enjoy before I start my second contract with Manna– 5 more months of hanging out with my amazing group of PDs, 5 more months of living in the Manna house, 5 more months of one of the best experiences of my life.

Excuse my creeping nostalgia, I have a feeling that its going to be popping up a lot more as time keeps passing so rapidly. But on to what I really wanted to address…

I get the impression that some people think all I do here is have cool adventures and hike mountains and work with impoverished kids and change lives…. while I do things like that sometimes [or, hope to!] after 8 months I am definitely settling in to a life here. I do normal things like go grocery shopping, hunting for coffee in downtown Sangolqui, and going on dates at the mall. A recent weekend included babysitting my pastor’s kids, going to the movies, wandering around parks in Quito, and eating the Ecuadorian equivalent of dirty water dogs at the end of a late night. Life here is pretty normal– its just my life now, not My Life in Ecuador. I think thats why I have been struggling recently with thinking of cool things to write about on my blog, or interesting things to say. Things that at first were enchanting, wildly different, or astonishing about Ecuador are now becoming the normal that I am used to.

a day in my [very blessed, deeply cherished!] life

a day in my [very blessed, deeply cherished!] life

I don’t want to sound like I am just taking for granted all of the things that I am blessed with here, because I really don’t think thats the case, though it may seem like it. Last week one of the Vanderbilt volunteers asked me if I’ve gotten used to all the natural beauty of this country, especially the soaring mountains and snow-capped volcanos, and I had to admit that I kind of have. It sounds a little tragic, but I think its normal, and even good. It means I’m settling in, it means I’m looking at this place as home now, rather than foreign. I can’t walk outside my front door ever day and gasp and marvel at the different colors of green on the mountainside, just like after a while when I was in New York I couldn’t be awestruck every time I caught a glimpse of the Empire State Building. Now that doesn’t mean I no longer have those special moments where I catch a glimpse of Cotopaxi while I’m on the bus home from Quito and thank God for the beauty of his creation. It just means that I am learning to embrace the immense beauty all around me, and let it become the landscape of my every day.

This weekend I spent an inordinately long amount of time at the telephone and internet companies at the mall trying to figure out if I could get internet in an apartment that I found and that I really loved. After multiple trips to all the stores of all of  Ecuador’s major internet providers, I finally realized that it would be impossible, and I had to tell the owner that I couldn’t sign for the apartment. Not that exciting or uplifting of a weekend by any means, but as I sat at the coffee shop in the mall with José afterwards I realized that there was something kid of special about that anyways. Spending time with him doing normal life things, and enjoying my time in this country, is so beautiful and prescious to me, even when it doesn’t mean being a tourist or doing something crazy and adventurous and new.

I’m settling in to month number 9 here, but thank God I still have 17 more to go. Theres something quite beautiful about the extraordinary becoming something we get to experience on a daily basis.


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