Every time I step out of my room in the Amazon, I always take a second to soak up the dichotomy of the imagery in front of me: My vision is many times blurred by the images engraved in my mind from life in the United States and those I see; I thus see two sceneries, not one.
I have been living with an indigenous family for four days now, and I cannot shake the feeling of how surreal this all feels! Although comforts from back home sometimes feel like far-away dreams, living in the rainforest is also hard for me to believe. Waking up in the morning to the sound of different animals, brushing off all of the insects that took refuge on me for the night, opening my door and noticing how much my American Eagle flannel pajamas do not match my surroundings, is all very new, yet it is quickly becoming normal to me… Showering using the buckets outside in the company of chickens, wearing OFF as if it were my perfume, eating the “kills and picks” of the day, and having very little internet connection is also becoming all I know… WHAT!
Aside from the humor that I gain from watching myself perform simple tasks here, every experience in my mind continues to be shadowed by what the “normal” thing to do back home would be. Having this perspective is keeping me from fully enjoying everything that makes the Kitchwa culture what it is.
I am currently trying unravel a revelation- if you may- regarding the physical and emotional challenges I am facing. I have the option of moving back into the volunteer house after spending a little bit of more time with my host family, and not stay with the family for the remaining two and a half weeks. The truth is, I feel comfortable in the house of my host family- they feed me, I have my own room, and they care about me. But moving back into the volunteer house would be easier, because it reminds me of life in America- snacks in the kitchen, plumbing, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi… And there’s that word: EASY. I’ve always been one to challenge myself, whether it is in a sport, in class, at a job, or even in an opinion about an important topic. From pushing myself and persevering, I’ve learned so much about what I can do and what my true limits are. I’m not quite sure why I feel like running away from this; it is not me and I know I would be letting myself down if I chose to move back into the volunteer house.
I’ve written before that growth cannot occur without challenges; a new heart cannot be formed without breaking the previous one, and I am not ready to become a hypocrite. Want to hear something completely honest? I haven’t been praying, or doing much self reflection whatsoever, while I have been in Ecuador. Praying has always been something that has helped me overcome obstacles, have faith in myself, and not feel alone. I guess I’m being reluctant to growth and change because I found that I am comfortable somewhere else other than with my host family. But maybe I can change that and make this my new home…? I’m finding that these are all more reasons for me to stay and stop this dual vision of mine.
Comparing life here with American life is actually extremely obscene. The scenery that I see from my window back home is no match for the beauty that I see here; it is not fair to compare restaurants in Princeton, New Jersey with the ones in the Amazon. Perhaps while writing this, I have become that much more ready to start seeing one thing at a time, appreciate what it gives me, and recognize how blessed I am to be here. One of my very good friends mentioned that I go through emotions quickly, and yes that is true, but it is only because I can write about them. Now that I have the answer I was looking for, I have to find the confidence in me to convinced myself to stay here for two more weeks, and love every minute of it.