The little changes, the ones that creep up slowly on you, are so fun when you finally notice that they’ve been taking place. A house slowly taking shape, over 4 months after watching 2 men working with the most basic tools and materials imaginable. It has a roof now! The puppy Cory used to be able to sit on my shoulder and now he’s enormous and still growing. Mi español tambien!
Last weekend, I was offered a free seat on the nice bus from Guayaquil to Manglaralto. I had been chatting with the drivers while waiting for my much smellier, hotter, slower, but cheaper bus to arrive. They let me sit on the little fold out seat in the front when the “co-pilot” usually sits, and in return I was expected to entertain with my gripping conversation for the 3 hour trip. They were bored after driving back and forth all day and appreciated someone with funny accent to break up monotony of the day. For a free ride in air-conditioning, I was happy to oblige. This is when I finally realized how much my Spanish had improved. About 2 hours in, while eating some ice-cream (a gift from the bus drivers) I realized that my Spanish was finally good enough to let my personality show through. I wasn’t just communicated information, I was making jokes, I was being sarcastic, I was having a real conversation. This of course had been going on for a while now, but I had only just realized the gradual shift.
Some other changes are big. After living and working in Guayaquil for 2 months, I have let the currents pull me back to the coast once again, and now I’m living in Libertad. The ocean view from malecón sparkles at night with what seems like hundreds of fishing boats with twinkling lights on the horizon. The city is just big enough to have places to explore, and just grungy enough to be interesting. Melissa, Sarah, and I have managed to find a job teaching together at the same school, and we have *gasp* an interactive whiteboard! This is amazing after working at a school where I was lucky if I could get photocopies and I didn’t even have a tape deck to use for listening exercises.
There have been some sad changes too. Sarah, a partner in crime for 4 months of this Ecuadorean adventure, is returning to Texas, and this has spurred a period of melancholy and self-reflection where I considered the reasons that I am here, and what I hope to gain from this experience. Was the itch that compelled me to leave everyone and everything I know and set out alone into the unknown a passing whim, or something that I committed to? And if I am committed to it, for what reasons and are they the right ones? After several days, I feel reaffirmed in my conviction to see this out. I’m not just here for the sake of a change of scenery, but because I have come to believe that the only way that I can be truly happy is for life to always feel like an adventure. And all the crazy and interesting people I’ve met along the way have only confirmed this for me. I don’t want to ever look back on my life and think that I didn’t try something that I wanted to out of fear of the unfamiliar, or insecurity in my ability to do what I set my mind to. Yes, there are things I could be doing in New York, but I have a home, food in my stomach, amazing friends, a job that makes me feel like I’m making a difference in peoples lives, and everyday is filled with anticipation and excitement.
Original published May 6, 2011, on tumblr as “Cambios”.