Before I get into Ecuador--considering not much has ¨happened¨since I got here, anyway-- I want to acknowledge where I came from. A few days before I left Corvallis, I hiked to the top of Mary´s Peak with some friends, through snow and dense stands of evergreens. At the top, we finally felt the warmth of sun (though we were already sweaty from the incline) and sat to eat. The snow was dazzling, heaping over each tree limb, and I could make out the Cascades from Washington to Rainier. Yes, Rainier. Just a few thousand feet above the valley floor, my eyes beheld the faint light reflected from a behemoth on the Puget Sound. Now I remember why Mary´s Peak is such a symbol of home to me. On my last morning at home, I pulled up the blinds from the panoramic window overlooking the Hammer field and Highway 99, and the world was completely shrouded in frost and fog. White. Starlings flocked in the back yard, and the leaves of the front hedge were covered in tiny ice feathers. They stayed frozen like that, all morning.
Just south of Houston, there were lines of ships coming in and out of harbor, leaving tiny white flurries in their wake. Further past shore, dozens of them waited, all crooked and colorful, for their turn to enter the port. I wondered who was on those ships. How often did they get to spend time with their families, at home? How many of them even had a place to call home? I dozed as they disappeared behind us, and woke just as the sun was cutting golden through the western clouds. Below me, under a dull purple haze, slid another shoreline thick with low vegetation and barely spotted with lights. Nicaragua? The Yucatan? I had no way to know.
Hours later as we descended into the Andes, the clouds finally gave way to foggy, tungsten streets. Tiny cars floated amid the skyscrapers and palm trees, still a world away from seat 28A. The buildings barely disappeared before we hit the ground, and I felt strangely relaxed. I had no idea what was to come here, no one to turn to, no firm purpose or plan. Today was difficult. Tomorrow, I will wake up again in a hectic city, and hopefully head for the hills.