I arrived home last week in Huntsville, Alabama after many a close encounter at the airport(s). My family moved to Huntsville, Alabama from Spartanburg while I was abroad which has been an interesting adjustment to yet a new environment (and trying to figure out what light switch does what in the house), but the transition has certainly been made easier by the enormous amounts of good homecooked food, and having my parents around!
My awkward conversation with border control lady:
Lady: So you were traveling?
Me: Yes ma’am
Lady: Okay, and now where are you headed?
Me: Home!!! (big smile)
Lady: Okay, what’s your home address?
Me: Er…well…about that. Um…my family moved while I was gone but I think it’s on that sheet you have there…
Lady: ….Okay, go on through.
I also learned a valuable lesson about airline companies after I arrived at my gate to catch my third and final flight of the day, and was told that though I paid a couple hundred dollars for the ticket, I did not in fact have a seat on the flight(!) Fortunately someone was willing to give up his seat for me and take a voucher, and I was able to make it home in time for my Mom’s birthday!
It has definitely been an adventurous five months, and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at Wofford in a few short days. A quick recap of Ecuador:
*Transitioning into the final country proved tougher than I thought having little to no contacts in the city.
*This was compounded by a strange food illness that affected me for almost half the time I was there.
*I was able to meet with GIZ, a German government organization involved in international development (the same organization I wanted to meet up with in Chile), and got some info about a cool biofuels project they are implementing in the Galapagos.
*I got to see some really cool views of Quito and the surrounding area from the top of Pichincha and the volcano Cotopaxi! (see photos)
This semester was incredibly challenging but ultimately an unforgettable experience and I will always hold these five months dear to me. As my semester was drawing to a close, I couldn’t help but reflect on two poignant reminders of an adventure that is drawing to a close. The first has to do with a Portuguese word that truly encompasses all of the emotions that I felt when getting on that final plane, saudade. Much has been made about how to translate this word into English, and the best explanation I can find is here:
The second reminder came when I was re-reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic The Great Gatsby. I’m not sure what compelled me to upload this of all books onto my Kindle at the time (especially when I’m several thousand pages behind in the Game of Thrones books), but this passage struck me as entirely too relevant for anyone who has fallen in love with a place, a person, a memory, or all of the above.
“The track curved and now it was going away from the sun, which as it sank lower, seemed to spread itself in benediction over the vanishing city where she had drawn her breath. He stretched out his hand desperately as if to snatch only a wisp of air, to save a fragment of the spot that she had made lovely for him. But it was all going by too fast now for his blurred eyes and he knew that he had lost that part of it, the freshest and the best, forever.”
Lastly I just want to say farewell and good luck to all the great people I met along the way, and I’m sure we will see each other again some day. South America is a fantastic place with beautiful landscapes, friendly people, and an interesting array of different cultures, and I hope to return again someday.