DAY 35: Overcoming Our Fears

Today was a day to remember.






This morning, I got up groggy and tired from our late night showing the previous night and had no clue how eventful my upcoming day would entail. I would be spending my last 12 hours in Ecuador and be traveling back to the United States a changed person. This past 5 weeks has been one for the books! Filled with new friendships, cultural experiences, self-growth, singing, and too many learning experiences than I could count, I will truly cherish my past five weeks on this dialogue. Not looking forward to leaving this special place, I got the strength to get out of bed and start my day.

Since we have had a full week of finishing up our final projects, sketchbooks, and presenting them at the gallery in Ilades the night prior, our whole crew got a late start and had a quick and final breakfast at Sierra Madre. With the help of double-fisting two cups of coffee, we then made our way to our last “Rap-Up” session at Ilades. There, we did a recap of our night prior. As a whole, we were very impressed by the turn out of our showing, and agreed it was a good way to finish our classes and trip. At the event, we were fortunate enough to see some familiar faces that we have met along our journey including APAK, Jose Carlos, Edison, Juan, etc. and show them what we have accomplished and learned.

The air in the room then drastically changed as we reflected on our past adventures; what they had meant to us, and having to say goodbye to Jean. Trying to figuring out what manner to sum up our trip, ideas like saying our favorite moment on the trip to singing one of our many favorite songs, we decided to hear quotes that Eva had recorded throughout the past five weeks that captured our past moments, and were outrageously funny. Some quotes consisted of, “You can punch me,” and “One phobia a day is probably good,” which were said by two people that will not be named in our group. By the end of the list, we all were hysterically cracking up, confirming how the quotes described how that particular person behaved on the trip, and reminiscing on those great memories. We concluded the rap session with both Jean and David saying some personal and final words that made us feel uneasy with sadness. We all formally agreed how none of us liked saying goodbyes because they were too hard (except for Eesha who enjoyed moving onto the next chapter).

After, there were no more words left to say and we began to take down our posters of our photos taken on the trip. Not surprised in the slightest, we discovered the best way to remove the posters without ripping them were to use either our husky cards or licenses to peal them away from the wall. This is a primary example of how unique and humorous our group was. Once they were all taken down, the classrooms’ walls were then again blank and untouched as if our photos or our group had ever existed at Ilades. Looking back at the classroom in Ilades, we reminisced on how we learned the basic components of sketching and drawing that we would use throughout our past and futuretravels- the time in Ilades would never be forgotten.

The day was then open until 7 PM, where after we would then make our way to the airport for our red eye flight. Now, to anyone who is reading this blog post, I do need to inform you how great these 5 weeks truly was. Everyone on this trip interpreted their experiences in their own way, but together we agreed that it was very influential in our past, present, and future lives. With this being said, 8 of 14 members on the dialogue decided to face our fears and get a representation of what this experience truly meant to us: 7 of us got tattoos and 1 person got a piercing to signify many meanings, with mainly one relating to the Ecuador. Thankfully, two members of our group were pretty well versed in the art of tattooing, and were able to guide us towards the appropriate care and preservation of our tattoos. Thank you Brenna and Skye for your wisdom and support!

From the hours of 12 pm to 5:30, our group walked into the tattoo parlor and made it our temporary home. While creating our designs with the artists, we kept our morale high through the many anthems from Mama Mia the musical. More excited than nervous, we were excited to share this experience together- one that we would never forget. By having the accompaniment of song during our wait, our nerves began to subside as we each took our turn getting inked.

Coming from a musical family and enjoying singing everyday, the process of me getting a tattoo was more like a concert compared to a painful memory. With the help of four friends in the room, we sang the anthems of Miley Cyrus to pass the time while the artist created the design onto my ankle. A quote said by my emotional supporter Eesha to distract me that I will never forget was, “I’d tell you a chemistry joke, but I wouldn’t get a reaction.” All these positive and upbeat diversions made the time go past by fast and very enjoyable. Within less than ten minutes, the artist completed the image on my ankle that portrayed a plethora of meanings that I will never forget or regret: one of them relating to the importance of this trip to Ecuador.

Following my completion, I gave out my touch of support to my other fellow friends as they conquered their pain, while receiving their designs. Holding each other’s hands and being supportive towards one another during this intimate, vulnerable, and important moment of each of our lives was an honor, and to me just as significant as the tattoos themselves. The end result was seven of us getting tattoos related to Ecuador, including the latitude zero, and getting a piercing. These gestures were a reminder of each other everyday, and what we have accomplished on this dialogue. After we completed these monumental achievements, we quickly headed back to get a quick dinner at the hotel before the bus arrived at 7 PM.

Trying to make the most of our final time of us all being together and trying to get the most of the last bit out of Ecuador that we could, we all ate take-out from our favorite Italian restaurant. As we ate, we all felt accomplished and believed that the actions and encounters we took today were a great approach for making the most our last moments in Ecuador. Feeling like the last supper, I didn’t want to be anywhere else in the world at that moment.

Once we all finished dinner, it was time to get our belongings, head onto the bus, and say our final goodbyes to Sierra Madre. After packing up the bus, we all waved through its windows out to two of our adventurous classmates who were continuing their Latin American adventure after the dialogue. There was no turning back, as we then pulled away from the hotel to the airport.

Sensing the long road ahead back to America, we all tried to relax and watch the final glimpses of the city of Quito. Seeing one of my forever-favorite views was the city lights that lit up the night sky, so I was excited that it would be my final glimpse of the beautiful country. We then got to the airport, and had to say goodbye to our final Ecuadorian friend and bus driver Marcello. We could have not have over came the Ecuadorian terrain without the talented driver that he was. After leaving him, we made our way to the check into Delta Airlines. As we gave our passports to the attendants, we knew there would be long travels ahead of us: A Red Eye flight at 11:30 PM to Atlanta, Georgia, and an 8:30 AM flight from there to Boston, MA. As we gave our bags to the airline that were filled with many of our well-worn clothes, gifts, crafts, and memorabilia’s, its parting symbolized the marks that we had made with Ecuador, as well as how it affected us. We then headed into security and soon to the United States, where we would hope to show the world everything that we learned on our trip.