Ecuador takes my breath away; it is stunningly beautiful. In Ecuador, no one rushes to get anywhere, no one is in a hurry and they are frequently late. But they do not apologize or feel guilty because it is simply who they are. Time is valued differently in their culture. Ecuadorians do not base their lives on clocks or time, but instead take their time and enjoy life, despite the widespread poverty. Last summer I journeyed to Ecuador with a student church group.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
The rainforest village of Huaticocha gave me a chance to interact with the Ecuadorian culture. It is impossible for me to fully and adequately describe the beauty of Huaticocha and the love I have for it. More special than the vibrant green landscape, beautiful, powerful waterfall, or even the wonderful and delicious food are the people. In Huaticocha, they never know when or if they will have running water. It comes from Quito, the capital, and sometimes it does not come at all. But the Huaticochans are innovative. They know how to shower and even flush a toilet without running water; they adapt.
The people of Huaticocha may not always get places on time, but they do value time. The Huaticochans never waste time, they are constantly working, and working hard. I had the privilege of working alongside some of the Huaticochan men clearing land for the construction of a seminary, and they are some of the hardest working, most driven people I have ever come into contact with. Even the little, old men can slice a cocoa tree in two with just one swing of their machete, it was unbelievable to witness. Not even the muscular, football players in our group could even come close to matching their strength.
The Huaticochans are special to me because of their hearts. The Huaticochans are real, pure. They can see right through the masks that we Americans like to wear. They expose their hearts for all to see and are never ashamed of whom they are.
There were times when we made mistakes or messes that the Huaticochans cleaned up, but I never heard a single one of them complain. Although my group went to help them, they helped us five hundred times more. The Huaticochans absolutely changed my perspective and my heart. They showed me what it means to truly love, for the entire village poured out their love on me, even though I did nothing to deserve it. They taught me what it means to really serve; for the Huaticochans translated on my behalf, cooked every meal for me, and gave me a place to stay, all with smiles on their faces and an embrace at the ready. The Huaticochans never asked anything of me and yet freely gave of themselves without being asked. Most importantly, they taught me how to be truly joyful, for they are unconditionally joyful, even without some of the American “necessities.” My time in Huaticocha, Ecuador completely changed my life; I finally began to grow up. I may not be quite ready to completely give up the kid in me just yet, but I am a more mature, open minded, and joyful young lady because of the Huaticochans.
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