As I write this blog post I am sitting in the Chicago airport trying to process the past 48 hours. After we left the Amazon on Thursday, things began moving very fast regarding the coronavirus situation. Within a day three people in my program were directed to return home from their home university. By Sunday our whole program had been cancelled and we had all booked flights back to the states. It still has not hit me that this miraculous adventure that me and 16 other people had embarked on has been cut so short. We were supposed to have more time. More time to spend with our host families, more time to explore Quito and Ecuador, more time to connect with our peers. More time to go to the Galapagos. I feel like I was just getting comfortable and feeling a part of something. I was comfortable talking to strangers and navigating the city and now I must start all over. I want more time and I do not want to go home.
It has been hard to even reflect on all this because for the past 48 hours we were so worried about just getting out of the country. With borders closing, flights getting canceled, and more restrictions in place, there were some moments where I wasn’t sure if we would make it. This morning we got on one of the last flights out of Quito. Behind us was a long line of people whose flights who had been cancelled and were trying to get on our flight. On the flight information board there was a long list of cancelled flights and it was then that I realized that we were just barely getting out.
During this time, I have had such a whirlwind of feelings. On one hand I don’t want to leave and all I want is the program to go on; on the other hand, I was worrying that they wouldn’t let me leave and I would be stuck in Ecuador. Another thing I have been thinking about is that there aren’t many people that know what this experience was like. It is common for study abroad students to find it hard to explain their experiences to people when they return, but now I feel like even those people wouldn’t understand how it feels to leave something so unfinished like we did.
I do know one thing; I have unfinished business in Ecuador and I plan on returning one way or another. Until next time, Ecuador!