A Writer’s South American Confessional


My nomadic tendencies impart no novelty to anyone who knows me. Intrinsic – and my job – I joyfully seek opportunity to see the world, speak Spanish, practice another language, and generally push myself to move beyond the comfort I call home.

Typically, retrieving my passport from its safe incites a childlike anticipation for another stamp that’s almost better than Christmas for a five year old that ate too many cookies. This time, I left behind a life and a love for a three-month adventure of uncertainty, leading a group of 11 young adults right along with me.

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Yet only now, a third of the way through, do I find myself committing to words the inspiration that ordinarily spews restlessly from my mind. Perhaps after four trips and well over a year of my entire life spent here in Ecuador, my “other” home is now pedestrian – the exact opposite of why I travel.
For weeks possibilities meander, fickle and fleeting: I am focused on the students, none of this is new, my writing is out of practice, being away from home distracts my heart from feeling, or maybe it is that I simply just need to write.

Finally, though, Ecuador’s beauty triumphed over my halted mind. Descending from the Santa Rosa barrio after an afternoon of caring for a sick (and heartening) young woman on our program, music rose from the church below flooding the valley with a pious soundtrack. Ahead the patchwork green of the Andes rose bright and contrasting against the opening sky and low hanging, lingering clouds.

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I felt words swell and scramble to escape onto paper or screen. It isn’t that the smell of burning eucalyptus doesn’t still enchant and remind me of “home”, that the clicking frogs on a wet night don’t still sing me to sleep, that the bustle and color of Otavalo doesn’t inspire comfort, or the taste of maracuya (passion fruit) juice makes me order it whenever I can.

It’s not that calla lily’s simply grow at will along the side of the road in random beauty leave me to swoon, that equal light and dark keeps life predictable in an unpredictable environment, or I don’t feel humbled by snow covered volcanoes, the equatorial sun, or the deep green stretches of mountain terrain.

I do. I am. They do. It does.

More subtly, Marcel Proust reminds: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

I see you Ecuador. I see you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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