It is always a pleasure to go back home, speak my native language, savor the flavors I grew up with and admire the mountains. This time around it was very hard to leave, yet I felt content to have found so many of my loved ones smiling about their lives.
My mom and her husband Tommy laugh as they correct each other about insignificant details about je ne sais quoi, no one wins, they laugh, hold hands and move on. Their life just flows, adorned with smiles, orchids, tangerine trees and love.
Manuel and Antonio, my adorable little brothers, spend their summer playing together. Arguments come up and instead of dwelling on insignificant details, like they used to, they move on and continue to play. They are becoming friends and an incredible company to each other.
My dad sits in a gorgeous, two century year-old and recently renovated watermill / guesthouse that he and his wife Caro have been working on for two years. All four of his kids play with his granddaughter on the floor, while he sits back with Caro in his arms. His constant smile tells the whole story.
My beautiful sister, Bernarda, kisses her boyfriend in front of my grandma – she is in love. A ping pong table welcomes you when you enter their apartment, she has obviously found her soulmate.
My friends have started new jobs, most of them love what they are doing. Some wish they could retire in the next month, yet no one seemed to be terribly unhappy with their situation. They have each other, weekends for out-of-town trips and a lot of laughing material that could cheer up even the bitterest of souls.
This trip we also got to see many of my cousins, who I had not seen in ages. They too, seemed to be pretty at peace with their life.
As we travelled around Ecuador, I held in my hand a very precious book that had been in my reading list for over 2 years, but which I had not gotten around to buying – Half the Sky, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn.
This book narrates the stories of victims to some of the biggest gender-related injustices in the world, child prostitution and trafficking, honor killings, child marriage, Female Genital Cutting and infanticide. As I soaked in Kristof and Wudunn’s stories, I looked at my country with different eyes. I smiled as I saw women out and about, working, going to the market, handling money, dressed like they want and although there is much to do in Ecuador towards gender equality, I was glad to reflect on the fact that we are not doing too bad – in relation to many countries.
(Mami, no te tome ninguna foto con Milushkin… q tontera! )