Saturday, August 15, 2009

Misadventures in Ecuador: in which I survive for two days in Guayaquil on 11 centavos and kindness

I made it to Ecuador. It has been a trying journey, but here I am in Baños, which, although jam-packed with tourists, has already won me over with its small-town charm and natural beauty.

Long story short, I arrived in Guayaquil with 11 centavos (that´s 11 cents in soles, which is approximately 3 cents in USD, because the 1 centavo (penny) isn´t even accepted) and somehow, with the help of lots of other people, not to mention the universe, I persevered. It was rough, and I cried a lot, but I also learned a lot. Too cheesy for you? Just wait. For two days, all I had to eat was a macandcheese cheese packet and angel hair pasta. Thank god it was angel hair. I can´t imagine crunching (not to mention digesting) anything more substantial.

Sometimes I forget how necessary money is to ones´survival in the world. Then, I am in this huge city unable to pay for anything, and without money to make a call for help, and I remember. It is humbling. I have such shame about asking for help sometimes, although that is one of the greatest lessons I am learning on this trip. I can only imagine what it is like for people who are always asking, begging, pleading with their eyes, hands, and mouths. Comprame, they say, and sometimes I don´t even look them in their eyes. Finding and embracing your humanity is a big deal.

Can I also mention I trusted a lot of older men to help me out of my sticky situation? Not sketchy ones, but still, there is a stereotype. If you´re not supposed to accept a piece of taffy from an older dude, why would you let one a) accompany you to the bus station, or b) walk you to the ATM machine late at night? Just wanna send a shout out to the really nice older men who helped me in Guayaquil. Hah.

Also, after I e-mailed my mom to let her know I was ok (in our last conversation, in the thick of my Guayaquil mis-adventures, I basically blubbered,) she sent me this hillarious and loving e-mail, which I just got this morning:

What a relief! I was having visions of you huddled in an alleyway, fending off men and begging for food! But mostly I knew that you are a resourceful young woman, and that you would be fine. I look forward to talking to you soon.



She´s the greatest.

Headed up to Kaititawa School tomorrow. Found an amazing Americorps opportunity at Mason County Literacy in Olympia. It´s community-based literacy work: working with the immigrant community, doing tutoring and ESL work, etc. Sounds perfect, right? Yep! So . . . altogether, things are coming together and looking up, up, up.

Which brings me to life lesson #1359500: keep trusting the universe and everything will work out, even if you only have 11 centavos and nothing to eat but raw angel hair and a mac&cheese cheese packet.

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