Friday, Jun 14, 2019
Lately I’ve noticed something going on in me about how I feel living here in Ecuador. The lens I am seeing my surroundings in is changing, and I can’t say it is for the better. I am curious if this is a normal process for someone living here at the 3 and 1/2 year mark?
What I used to see and cherish as simple, humble, and endearing has changed to messy, impoverished, and irritating. A curious change I think. In truth, the only thing that has changed is me and my lens, because everything around me is exactly as it was when I arrived 3 and 1/2 years ago. I’m not panicking about this, or even really concerned. I’m more fascinated by what happens in the psyche and emotions of someone like me who lives abroad.
I was driving with my friend Shawn to Salinas this week. To get there, we pass through five or six small pueblos located along the coastline. These small “cities” are a mess by any US standard. Houses and business buildings are mostly gray cinder block. Many exterior walls have some quantity of holes or degree of breakage in them. Upper floors remain unfinished with exposed re-bar protruding from concrete pillars.
Driving by the homes, most can be seen directly into because there is no glass or coverings on any of the windows. Inside there is often only one room, hammocks hung, a single light bulb dangling from the ceiling, some kind of kitchen sink or water source, and god only knows where the bathroom is.
Outside on the streets, dogs run wild chasing cars, including ours. Most look malnourished, some are covered with mange. This only adds to my sense of chaos and the dis-repaired state of things. Thoughts arrive in my mind like gray clouds blowing in and blocking the sun until I finally ask, “What in the fuck am I doing living here?”
I have no sense of panic or despair. It is more a question I am curious to understand. And it isn’t the question itself I am curious about. I am more curious about the change in my feelings. What happened? Why is it here now? How could something I viewed as so unique and tranquil now create a sense of irritation? The human condition is truly a bizarre thing. Isn’t it?
Otherwise this week, when I wasn’t pondering these questions, I was just doing what I have always been doing…working (a little) and enjoying myself (more). I’m lucky to have friends to visit and laugh with about the crazy things we encounter living in Ecuador. The experience has had its ups and downs but I still wouldn’t trade it for anything else.
Where else could I see a man push his food cart, complete with a table on top down the main road in town?
My time house sitting continues. As a result I have been able to speak a lot more Spanish with the people who help out around here. There is always someone coming or going who provides me with an opportunity to start a conversation.
One of the maintenance men is about my age. He has nine children…5 boys and 4 girls. He got married at 22 and has been married now for 36 years. He grew up in Curia (my favorite beach bar place on my beach walk to Olon). I can only imagine what Curia looked like 54 years ago; actually, it probably looked much the same as it does now.
At any rate it has been fun having conversations each morning with my new friend. Without hesitation I can say, this is something I do love about living here in Ecuador…connecting with the locals.