First impressions of Ecuador
By Scarboro lay missioner Carolyn Beukeboom
After a year that included four months of mission preparation at Scarboro Missions and five months of language school in Bolivia, I am excited to be finally in my mission placement in Ecuador. Although I am in awe right now at the newness of everything and enjoying the spectacular scenery, there is still the anxiety and challenge of communicating in a foreign language. While I have learned the Spanish grammar necessary to speak, it is now time to practice what I have learned.
I am writing this reflection from a small village in the mountains, about a half-hour journey from Riobamba. The view is breathtaking. On a clear day Mount Chimborazo can be seen with its snow-covered peaks. The Indigenous community here live in small one-room houses made of mud or bricks with straw roofs. The people, including young children, tend to their sheep, cows, pigs, and fields in the area surrounding the village. I have decided to spend the night to experience only a small part of the reality of life here.
As soon as the sun goes down the bitter cold quickly sets in. It is incredible to see the harsh conditions in which these people live. Yet a group of giggling children have just stopped by to chat. It is their bright cheery smiles, through their dirty little faces, that becomes infectious when one sits and ponders village life here.
Since being in Riobamba I have had the opportunity to experience the many celebrations surrounding Christmas and New Years. In the days leading up to Christmas and even after, there are daily parades in the city itself with bands playing traditional music, people dressed in colorful, bright costumes, dancing, and of course the carrying of the baby Jesus. Thus Christmas for me this year was definitely much simpler. There was not the hustle and bustle and rushed feeling that usually accompanies the season. I certainly did not miss the mall scene, but rather enjoyed the simple celebrations in the villages.
I am happy to be here and am very eager to start working. At the present moment I am meeting many new people, discovering and learning about the culture, and searching out nursing-related work opportunities. I look forward to being with, forming friendships, learning from, and working with the people of Riobamba, Ecuador