Sometimes there’s litter. Lots of it. Sometimes some Ecuadorians don’t seem to appreciate the beautiful country they have. You see them just dropping stuff in the street.
Sometimes small children are doing the work – bringing wood to your room for your woodstove, bringing cutlery and napkins to the table for dinner, serving you in the shop.
Sometimes it’s the men toiling in the fields but usually it’s the women and children. The men do the sewing.
Sometimes people smile and wave as you walk past; sometimes they say ‘Buenos dias’ and ask ‘A dónde vas?’ [where are you going] so they can kindly check you’re on the right path. But sometimes they cautiously avoid you.
Sometimes they ask where you’re from, tell you about themselves and their children and grandchildren, that they used to only speak Kichwa until 8 years ago, and laugh at the fact that before they learned Spanish they couldn’t understand anyone! Then they speak more Spanish that you don’t understand and they good-naturedly laugh at you!
Sometimes… no, always, there are food vendors who come onto the buses at nearly every stop selling their street-food wares. Sometimes, someone actually buys something!
Sometimes there’s someone on a pick-up truck with a loudspeaker rapidly and repeatedly announcing something to the passing world.
The road names are incestuously all the same in the towns and cities; numerous significant dates, liberators, other cities and towns. They all look the same too – the only way you think you might have reached your destination is by looking at the time.
Sometimes there are five, six, seven of the same shop in one tiny town with the same packeted-stock of crisps, banana chips and biscuits, and you wonder how long they’ve had that stock and how they stay in business!
High in the cold remote Sierra, where ‘as-the-crow-flies’ is an impossible feat the whole length of the country, the agriculture is very manual, small-scale, humble and close to the breadline. In the hot flatter coastal regions it’s vast, industrialised and rich in colour, beneficial weather and natural resources if not, comparatively, in wealth. The people there seemed to just want my dollars, rather than to help me.
Sometimes you think you’ve seen all the landscapes Ecuador has to offer, and then you turn a mountain-corner into somewhere like Parque le Cajas or Vilcabamba and you realise you have lots to learn!
Sometimes it would be more useful to speak French and German than Spanish as most of the travellers here are from France or Switzerland or Germany.
Sometimes time really slows down for a day and then you know you’ve been doing something new.
Sometimes there’s no-one! Sometimes you don’t know who else will walk into the room in the next minute, hour, day.
Sometimes you wonder what’s going on with everyone at home.
Sometimes I get used to being on my own for a few days and temporarily forget how to be comfortable being sociable. The human brain gets quickly accustomed to its observations, and we want to be comfortable, so often we subconsciously prefer things to stay the same, even if that’s not the optimal situation. But change is good! When we see or do truly new things we don’t take them for granted.
Sometimes you find a great cafe and want to keep going back. Sometimes you’re bored of a place and it feels comfortable all at the same time.
You lock away your valuables. Then sometimes you realise you had something else in that compartment that you need out so you have to unlock it and lock it again. Sometimes you forget where something is entirely and have to empty out your whole bag. Sometimes this gets frustrating! Sometimes you have to forgive yourself.
Sometimes you’re in a place for a few days, and you can just be; but sometimes you have to research where next to go, where to stay, how to get there, how long will it take, what do you need on the bus.
Sometimes you remember to be truly, wholeheartedly grateful that you’re not at work and you drop your shoulders and breathe in freedom.
OFTEN I FEEL BAD ABOUT THE NUMBER OF PLASTIC BOTTLES I’M USING AND I SEE OTHERS USING. HOW CAN THIS BE CHANGED?!
Sometimes the room smells a bit musty.
Sometimes you want to use up the stuff you have so you have less to carry; but at the same time you want to save it and be frugal because it will save you precious dollars.
Sometimes you don’t know which shower tap is for hot water, so you turn one and wait… turn the other, and wait…
Sometimes it’s not worth the trauma and self-doubt and extra work to cook for yourself in front of others in the hostel because the cost of eating a meal out is the same!
Sometimes you discover a new obsession (camomile and honey tea!)
Sometimes you get to just lose yourself putting one foot in front of the other.
Sometimes there are butterflies catching their colours in the sunshine!
Sometimes there’s a deliciously warm moment with a perfect caressing breeze and you want to hold onto the moment before the cold tips the balance again.
SOMETIMES THERE’S A CHANCE TO SEE THE STARS IN THEIR DEEP MILKY-WAY GLORY! Sometimes i’m looking up at them in the dark and get startled by a nearby banana tree rustling in the wind.