Tomorrow morning we leave for the United States and we are all so excited to be home, see our friends and family, get settled into our house and be in the city we love so much.
As the year comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on what it has all meant. There have been so many benefits for our family and for each of us as individuals- some tangible, some less so. While Don and I have learned so much about ourselves and Ecuador, the true beneficiaries of our year have been our kids. They are now fluent in Spanish, have lived in a very different culture and have become fully accustomed to life outside of the US, have been exposed to travel and adventure, and, hopefully, are far more open minded and flexible. We have marveled at how quickly they adapted to life here, made friends, picked up Spanish, and became open to new experiences. Although they truly were not excited about our year here (in fact they called Ecuador "Ecuapoop" before we left :), I can confidently say they have had an amazing year and they are already asking when they can return to their friends in Cuenca.
As for me, I have savored all the time we have had together as a family. I know that when school starts up again in the fall and we all go our separate ways for the entire day until dinner, I will miss our 2 p.m. daily lunches, our hours spent together traveling and exploring new places, our many restaurant meals, our hikes together, and our laughs and frustrations that stem from living in Ecuador. I know the experiences we have had this year have made us an even closer family and we will look back on this year for the rest of our lives.
Having said all of this, I am ready to go home. I love our lives in Seattle so much. Here are the top 10 things I won't miss from this year:
10. The Guayaquil bus station where we got robbed.
9. Bad pillows and hard beds in hotels.
8. People cutting in line at the store and interrupting.
7. A lack of commitment and follow through from my University students.
6. Really bad boxed wine.
5. A meal with potatoes, rice, pasta and no greens.
4. Long, bumpy bus rides with violent or religious movies on at an exorbitant volume.
3. The cheese from Ecuador.
2. Intermittent, lukewarm showers with no pressure (forget about a bath!)
1. Nasty smelling black diesel spewing from buses.
And now for the top 10 things I WILL miss from Ecuador:
10. $10 hour long massages complete with hot rocks and 2 massage therapists.
9. Fresh mangos, pineapples, and papaya for breakfast every day.
8. The warmth and sincerity of the Ecuadorian people. We literally never met a rude person the entire year.
7. The beauty of Cajas National Park and the Andes in general.
6. The ceviche on the coast.
5. The white powder-like sand of the Galapagos.
4. The time to read 25 books in a year and actually reflect on them.
3. The friendships we formed through exercise, volunteer work, university work and the girls' school.
2. Our gracious, loving and generous Ecuadorian family who included us in all they did- Rita, Jaime, and their 3 kids and 4 grandchildren.
1. All the time we shared together as a family.