A climb, a city, a change

... And now, after over a month in the Ecuadorian Amazon-- a month of tranquil but intense learning, reflection, and healing-- I am suddenly back in the urban jungle of Quito.  It feels a bit strange to say goodbye to the eastern lowlands, as I doubt I´ll return on this visit, but also exciting and invigorating to be moving on.  I feel, finally, ready to approach my travels here with a new attitude: one of flow, optimism, and release.  A beautiful word I learned a while back, suelta, encompasses this attitude (which I am still nurturing and which I will, I imagine, always have to cultivate since I tend to grasp hold of plans and goals).  It means to let go. So I am letting go of a few things that have been holding me back in various ways, superficially and subconsciously.  First, the desire to ¨learn Spanish¨ has admittedly taken me to wonderful places and people and presented a firm base for my travels, always trying to seek out Spanish speakers and converse with whoever is around.  Fortunately, it´s brought me miles and miles beyond what linguistic skills I arrived with, but it´s also stood as an artificial block between me and other travelers who don´t speak much castillano.  I know I´ve been cold and rather closed to those people in comparison to Spanish speakers, even though they might have enriched my experiences beyond compare.  This goal, then, is settled as it stands.  I will obviously continue to speak mostly Spanish, but I´m letting go of language in favor of people.  Any people who brighten the way.

Also, my apparent need to feel productive, professionally, whatever that means, is purposefully slipping through the cracks.  I came here with motives to gain valuable career experiences, but what I´ve realized after my three volunteer stints is that even an official volunteer program doesn´t guarantee specific skills.  Rather, any volunteering simply provides opportunities to learn, informally for the most part, about myself, my interactions with others, and whatever task is at hand.  Instead of coming home with a particular resumé line, no matter what I do I`ll come refreshed and brimming with new experience.  So, rather than worrying another minute about finding the perfect organization or farm to work for, I´m hoping to just soak it all in, whatever it happens to be, attentively and energetically.

That´s what´s been going on in my head the past week or so.

And what have I been doing?  I found Saraswati through a couple friends near Marco´s farm, and headed up to Tena last Thursday to check it out and volunteer.  The family that owns the farm is an English-Colombian couple with a young son, and since they own an English language institute in Tena they were often absent from the finca itself.  However, the husband Benjamin sleeps there and every morning he and his two helpers, Parsad and Pablo, practice bhakti yoga, which entails chanting Hare Krishna, mantras, reading holy books, playing soft instruments at 5:30.  After an hour of wafting back and forth from sleep, I would awake every morning to practice yoga postures with Pablo.  Early, but if you know me you know I loved it.  As for work, I went to help at the school on Friday and Sunday, playing and saying random English words to the 2 and 3 year-olds that come every morning, and on Tuesday we all planted some trees and made cane juice.  Unfortunately I have to cut this short, but if you´re interested in hearing more about the Hare Krishna culture and traditions, which are all fascinating and rare, I would love to share more.  All my love.

Sideways making cane juice in the hand-crank mill.