It's hard being away from home for so long. But it also has its good points. It really helps you appreciate that which you have back home, and that was a big factor in my reasoning for wanting to go away for a year. I don't want to take anything for granted that I have back home, especially if it's a luxury that not everyone else is so lucky to have.
And with all of the experiences that I've come across in the 8 months that I've been down in Ecuador, there are still surprises that come out of no where from time to time. Even with everything that I've seen and dealt with, I still get frustrated and down sometimes. It's hard not to from time to time. Without the bitter there would be no sweet. But it makes it all the more interesting when something sweet happens.
Take for example this weekend in Zaruma. It's the kind of small town that everyone literally knows everyone else, and even if they don't know someone's name they'll know their face and can talk to them as if they were friends. After lunch on Saturday the neighbors were going into the center of town and left their baby with the family of my friend. As the parents of my friend, now grandparents themselves, brought the baby into the front yard, the whole family suddenly came out and showered love on the baby.
This child, just a few months old by my estimation, wasn't their child. But everyone treated him as if he was. Blowing kisses, talking in that high pitched, nearly inaudible jumble of words that could only be used on babies and by babies, and gentle games to stimulate the activity of his young brain. It was a touching scene, and I could see how this community would really treat everyone as if they were all a part of a larger, extended family.
While this was all going on, my own semi-childish brain thought about how similar this scene was to so many others going on in the United States, France, Morocco, all over the world. It might seem sappy or a bit over the top, maybe even cliche, but it really made me feel happy to be alive right then and there. We're all human, and even though there are differences in politics, religion, and a million other small and mostly unimportant details, everyone can agree that there's no wrong in a baby. They're just innocent and deserving of love.
Right now there's a plane landing in Boston, and it's sad that I'm not on it. But what's even sadder is that in a few months I will be on that plane landing in Boston, and that will be the end of my adventures and experiences in Ecuador. At least for the time being anyway. I know that I won't soon forget the things I've done nor the people that have brought me into their lives. Yet at some point I need to take that all home with me and move on, to put it all to use. And I just hope I don't forget about little lessons like seeing affection for a baby.