Since my arrival to Ecuador in September, I have been constantly traveling. Though I lived in Quito for the first few months, and now have my (semi) permanent home in Romerillos, every week I am hopping on a bus to go somewhere. **I love using public transportation here because it is so easy and cheap.** Whether it is a 15-minute ride to Machachi to go to the market, the half-hour journey to teach English in Pastocalle, or the 2-hour trip to Quito for a church conference or visiting friends, at least twice a week I am on the move. Hailing a bus on the highway has become a natural habit for me.
Despite the feeling of freedom and independence that comes with travel, it also comes with EXHAUSTION, not only physical, but emotional. At times I really want to return to Quito to visit friends or escape the cold, but I know the journey and constant switching of locations is tiring. Something I appreciate greatly about my missionary program is its focus on living in community. I have enjoyed getting to know my neighbors and fellow church members here. But with my job also comes the responsibility, and opportunity, of travel. Inevitably, I must go back and forth to Quito every month for various meetings and activities. In addition, I like to spent time off in the city. And on occasions we travel to other towns to visit churches there. Each trip to a new place is fresh and exciting, but I also know that I am missing out on life in my town. I often find myself thinking about my neighbors and friends in Romerillos, wondering what they are doing. It is a privilege to be able to daily share in their joys and struggles.
This same feeling of nostalgia comes with the knowledge that I am only here temporarily. Having been here for eight months now, I am almost halfway through my 1.5 years in Ecuador. How bittersweet it is to meet wonderful people here, make new friends, and become a part of the community, knowing that it will not last forever. Right now I miss my family in the U.S., but I know that when I leave this place, there will be a gap in my heart, from the relationships I have built in Ecuador.
That is the hard bit about traveling, and especially living abroad. You will always carry a little piece of the places you lived and visited...pictures, memories, faces, conversations. Even if I never return to Ecuador (and I sincerely hope that I will), I will most definitely never forget it. And I hope that this place will not forget me. So as I continue on the road, amidst its surprises and challenges, I will try to be fully present wherever I am. To feel the pain, the joy, and the uniqueness of each moment as it comes. And to live to the fullest the path that I am on.