It is very odd being back in the States, where I-phones are everywhere (they are in Ecuador of course, but not in such mass numbers), where we are not running to a new town every three days, where the Andes are gone, where we have a total fool for a leader (more on that later), and much more. Strange. Happily, we like Chico, Ca. more than we did Oakland, and good projects and events are approaching. Still we miss Ecuador.
Ecuador does not claim to be a tropical paradise the way countries that appeal more to U.S. tourism do. It is, rather, a complex, spectacularly beautiful, and sad country. The contradictions are everywhere. I asked in another post how beauty and tragedy can coexist. I have never found a satisfactory answer.
Years ago, Kate and I visited friends of hers in Milwaukee and went to a Unitarian service with them. A big poster in the sanctuary said something very close to “There are no answers, only questions.” This summed up my thinking beforehand and gave me something to quote since then. One insight I like from Buddhism (although I can’t claim to be a Buddhist) is that all life is suffering; accept that and you can see that it is much more in addition. Life is bittersweet, that’s how it is, but I don’t think anyone really knows why.
Ecuador is bittersweet, and a place we would like to return to, we barely scratched the surface. Of course we have many places we’d like to return to and life is short, but we’ll see. If we do go back to Ecuador or somewhere else in South America, we may need to find something like a project where we can have a base to work from and people to connect with more. One issue is my Spanish boiled down to what Kate calls “Survival Spanish.” Well, I survived. Kate did better than I did, she has more experience with Spanish, although she says I did better than I think. Maybe, but we did feel isolated and lonely sometimes. We did find people to talk with, but more would have been better. We will see what the future holds.
So here we are, back from the Developing World and Trump talks about s**thole countries. I find this deeply offensive. Kate and I have traveled in other third world countries and found them all to be complex. beautiful, and sad, like Ecuador. What does Trump really know? It’s scary, I’ve thought for a long time that U.S. society and culture were in decline; Trump and company are taking us into a tailspin, and I do not know where this will go. It is hard to see how the world’s response will effect us as people who love world travel – this is certainly a first world problem, there are more important issues of course. All these topics are for future thoughts and posts.
I do have projects out the wazoo, but I must continue to blog on travel and other topics. Discipline, PGB! And I will pull some photos together and put them here when I can, most likely with other Ecuador thoughts. For now – hasta tardes! Viva Ecuador!!