As I sit here and write this post, I look back at my time here in Ecuador and can’t believe it’s been 6 months already. I’m not sure if this is because my time at the travel agency is over, or perhaps because The Bachelorette is finished, or what, but lately I’ve been thinking about everything that has happened recently in my life while waiting on the bus. There are many fears that I have conquered and amazing experiences had in such a short amount of time.
To start with, I conquered one of the biggest fears of all when moving abroad: finding a way to survive! I came to this country not knowing anyone, not having a job, not having a place to live, and not knowing the language, so pretty much I hopped on the plane with faith and a prayer. Looking back now, I can understand why so many people were slightly worried about me and questioning my mental status since it didn’t seem like I was jumping into a situation where I would succeed. From the moment I landed in Quito, I had challenges and thanks to some incredible strangers, I was able to make it through this journey. Within a month, I had a job teaching English, a place to live, and was starting to make some friendships. I learned to have no shame and ask for friends so I wouldn’t be lonely, something I have never had to do before. And some great friendships have emerged due to that! It sounds so weird but there are people that I met at the Spanish school, who I only knew for 2-3 weeks but feel like we’ve been friends for years. Something about going through the challenge of learning a language and exploring a foreign city together really creates a strong bond.
One thing that people tell me here is that I am so calm and adventurous. Those are 2 descriptions that I NEVER would have used to describe myself while living in the states. But looking back, I guess Ecuador Kim is all about faces fears and taking advantage of the opportunities placed in front of me. Thanks to my Norwegian buddy, I jumped into a freezing cold crater lake in a volcano and climbed 5000m up another volcano to where the glacier started.
Before coming to Ecuador, I would have said “Heck NO,” I’m not jumping into a lake that is freezing cold- No Thank You! I didn’t realize it at the time, but that must have been when Ecuador Kim was “born.” From then on, it has been constant adventures. Heck, at the beginning, just trying to figure out the buses or going to the grocery store was an adventure. Due to friends that I can only assume were a gift from God, I have done spontaneous rock climbing while trying to hike up yet another volcano and jumping off of a bridge.
And we all know that America Kim wouldn’t even look over the railing on a bridge 100m above a river, let alone even think for a second about jumping off of it. In a weird way, I feel freer here in Ecuador as if nothing can hold me back. It’s very cliche, but fears don’t have near as much control over me anymore- and its only been 6 months! Who knows what else I will do while in Ecuador!
Another cliche about traveling is how it changes your mindset. And of course, in this short time, I feel that my mindset has changed too. When traveling, things unexpected always happen like missing your bus stop or getting food poisoning in a tiny town. I just had to accept things for the way they were and find a way to fix the situation. Getting frustrated wasn’t going to solve anything and would only make the problem worse. Don’t get me wrong, there are still things that frustrate me, but I’m much better and letting things go and just laughing it off while saying “Oh Ecuador…” It’s gotten to the point that I don’t even think twice about the fact that you can’t flush toilet paper down the toilet in this country- yep you throw it way instead. I feel that I have a different perspective and am learning what is truly important in life.
Another opportunity I had was to work at a travel agency with some of the most knowledgable people in the industry. Having no experience at all, they gave me a chance and I was able to learn something everyday whether it was more areas in Ecuador to explore, creating a website, or just learning about marketing in general. And I’m sure along the way, my co-workers would look at me and think “dang those gringas are weird!” I can only hope that I was given this chance to help prepare me for a job working with a travel agency at some point in my future.
Alright, sorry for all of the travel cliches, but I guess people always say those things for a reason. This reflection makes me so excited to see what else is in store for me during my last 3 1/2 months in Ecuador and the adventures that will follow.