QUITO: Ama la Vida

I’ve been in Ecuador for one month exactly. This is going to sound crazy, but I don’t know if I’ve ever been happier. 

Don’t get me wrong, this country has some weird quirks, but the culture, the people and the carefree, life-loving attitude make up for it. 

Sometimes in Ecuador it rains when your clothes are hanging out to dry, the tank of gas runs out when it’s time to take what you thought would be a hot shower or you forget that the septic system cannot handle toilet paper. Sometimes the drive to school — I’m lucky that I have a friend that drives me and I don’t have to take the bus— takes an hour and a half instead of 30 minutes. 

But like the Ecuadorians tell me everyday: “tranquilla, no te preocupes, ” which means be calm don’t worry. They do not say this in a demeaning way but to let me know that everything is going to be okay, just relax.

For those of you who know me, patience is not one of my strong suits and stress follows me wherever I go.Yet somehow stress didn’t seem to make it onto the flight with me to Ecuador. 

Ecuadorians have only shown me patience and kindness and maybe it’s contagious. 

I still have hard, demanding classes, and I’m learning a lot. Sometimes I get headaches because my brain is on Spanish overload, but I’m approaching my workload here differently. Suddenly everything is an opportunity: an opportunity to learn, an opportunity to grow in faith and understanding and an opportunity to take advantage of a new culture and have fun. 

Since I’ve gotten here, I honestly think I’ve become more laidback, more patient and more understanding. At first I always found myself asking, what are we doing right now? 

But now I get it, life doesn’t always have to have a schedule. Every minute of everyday doesn’t need to be allocated to something in particular. Sometimes (or frequently) it’s nice to just stop, hangout with people, talk and build relationships.

In the past month, I’ve had many moments that of both gratitude and bewilderment because I was having so much fun in such a different social culture. 

I’ve belted Spanish songs at a karaoke bar, an extremely popular pastime here; salsa danced in various locations; hung out with friends on the tops of mountains while they played guitar for hours; and celebrated a birthday on a chiva, which is an open air party bus/moving dance floor that includes unlimited canelazo.

Canelazo is a traditional Ecuadorian drink that can be best compared to as a spiced, hot apple cider with an unprecedented, delicious aftertaste.  

I have three months left in Ecuador to learn Spanish, to take in culture, to take advantage of this wonderful country and to continue to learn how to ama la vida — love life.