Beginning of the End

12 May

Today began another cycle of intensive English courses as the university. The last cycle that I’ll be teaching this year. The last that I’ll be teaching at the University of Cuenca in Ecuador. My other class at night has been continuing and will end in June. This new course will end in July, and then I’ll be finished as a volunteer English teacher in Ecuador. It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that, like it or not, the year in Ecuador is dwindling down, and every day that passes, well spent or wasted, is just like sand slipping through the hour glass.

It’s a strange thing to find yourself looking at a calendar with a date of departure set. Almost like looking down the glass and seeing that only the backwash is left. You could stay positive and say there’s still some left, or go all sour and accept that there’s not much left. No matter how much difficulty I’ve dealt with or crap I’ve been angry about, I know I’ll still be upset to leave. What’s worse is it seems that I’ve finally now started to connect with a new group of friends, and though there’s still two months or so left, having friends that you know you’ll have for a while as opposed to friends that know you’ll be gone soon are two very different things. Everything seems to be on rush mode now.

By now I feel like a seasoned teacher. I’ve already gone through three different cycles with probably over 140 students, and whereas I was nervous and had no idea what I was doing on my first day in September, today it was smooth and all business. Experience, it seems, would have its perks. Who-da thunk it? But again, there’s that hint of sadness in saying goodbye to another class that you’d enjoyed and having to start all over again.

Yet I’m still here, still going along, and only from time to time am I reminded that my time is winding down. Otherwise, for the majority of the time I feel like I’m still just coming up on month 5 and have so much left to do. I still want to get deep into the jungle. I still want to do the famed Quilatoa Loop, a stunning expanse of land in the center of the country with lakes and craters. I still want to see a cockfight.

Some other foreigners I’ve known for a while now are starting to leave, as their contracts are expiring. Back home or to the next country they go, and here I stay. It’s almost like getting old and just waiting to die. You hear the friends saying that we need to go out one last time and do this one last time, and soon they get on a bus and leave. But you remain behind. And knowing that your own time will come soon, when you’re the one who’s having going away parties and saying goodbye to friends made, you wonder if it will be the same reception. If people will think about you for maybe a day and then move on. Hopefully there’s more of a lasting impression than that. But basically, even the locals I’ve become friends with, even if I was the first gringo they ever met, they will eventually have to move on and maybe even make more gringo friends. Who knows?

What I do know is that a couple of months ago I didn’t feel as strongly about my setting as I do right now. And anytime a change of scenery is coming up, you’re bound to feel more sentimental and want to stick around just a little longer. My only consolation is that I know I’m going to Argentina in August, and maybe with a little luck and money, I’ll be able to work my way back to Ecuador before going back to the United States. Whenever that may be.

Another day down in the books. One less to do what I haven’t yet done. It’s time to get busy.

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