We have lived out of suitcases for five months now. I can’t count the number of beds we have slept in, nor the buses we have boarded. The experiences are rich; the lessons many. People we have met along the way represent a variety of lifestyles: urban, rural, traditional, modern. Still, the core of the human experience remains evident amongst the contrasting lifestyles. We work, we play, we eat, we have families. We want health, security and happiness. We love and we want to be loved. These values seem to transcend cultures. Earlier this week on a bus from Riobamba to Quito, Ecuador, I enjoyed talking to a woman who was accompanying her 18-year-old daughter to their once-a-month neurological treatment. A beautiful bright young lady, she has had this condition since birth. The two of them sat cuddled throughout the 4-hour bus ride. Behind them sat an indigenous woman with her baby. A panama hat with a big peacock feather sat atop her long black braided hair. She was dressed in an ankle-length black skirt with a colorful Andean shaw draped around her shoulders. Her baby peacefully nursed and slept most of the trip. As we approached the town where she disembarked, she spoke in quichua on her cell phone. The buses in Ecuador host a range of socio-economic classes – common folks from different backgrounds. Bus travel is a great way to learn about culture and see the countryside.
This afternoon we’re on a bus to Otavalo for the weekend. On this bus, amongst all Ecuadorians, there is one other couple from the states. We have enjoyed sharing travel stories and empathizing about the bittersweetness of going home and re-entering American society. These Americans are among other travelers we have met who inspire us with their “live life” attitudes. And we love that our kids are meeting such a variety of people- from different countries and of different perspectives. We have talked with “trimmers” from California, “gap year” students, teachers, missionaries, immigrants, right-wingers, left-wingers, Europeans, Asians, South Americans, North Americans, Africans, and Scandinavians. In Peru and Ecuador we have talked to taxi drivers, farmers, venders, business owners, teachers, and children. All have been friendly and helpful. While much of our learning is logistical (how to travel in South America), philosophical discussions arise from exposure to such a variety of people. This is exactly the fodder we had hoped for.
Though we have had amazing travel experiences, we are growing tired of being on the move. We look forward to settling down for 5 months in a town where we can become part of a community. I can’t wait to have a bit of structure to our days, to have my own kitchen, and to store our backpacks for a trimester of school in Ecuador. Our kids are ready. Their Spanish skills far exceed their parents’. We all anticipate challenge and frustration, but also the gratification that follows knowing another culture.
Note: Since writing this post, we have spent over 20 more hours on buses and visited unique places. Many photos to come!