I had another big theme planned for this week, but I think I’ll ruminate on that one for a while longer and keep this simple. I’m finally leaving Ecuador. While originally planning my trip, this country was little more than the space between Colombia and Peru in my mind, and yet I’ve stayed here for three months, making it the country in which I’ve stayed the longest, regardless of the fact that it’s also the smallest. The only reason I’m leaving is because my tourist visa expires on Sunday. That, and my flight home leaves out of Lima.
I have loved every moment of my time here: the fuckups, the moments of anxiety, of awe, of absolute heartrending perfection, from sitting alone on the end of a rock jetty in the Galápagos to sitting in a beach bar playing Scrabble with expatriates to biking down a volcano. But everywhere I’ve been I have also been glad to leave, if only in delicious anticipation of the next unknown. Everywhere, that is, except for Cuenca.
I knew it as soon as I got here, which is why I extended my stay from a few days to a few weeks. Something about Cuenca struck some corresponding thing in me and it has continued to vibrate for the entire almost-month I’ve been here. I’ve only had this feeling once before, and that was Paris, a city which still inspires me, of which I still dream. There are many possible reasons for this: it reminds me of Querétaro (where I lived in Mexico), I have already found a niche in which I could be happy, and I have had more concentrated fun here than anywhere else…
All I know is that this will be the only place I’ve been in the last four months which will hold onto a piece of me when I leave it, a kind of nostalgic calling card to remind me of what I’ve left behind and what I could one day come back to if I choose. This will be the only city I move on from where I will feel as if I was saying goodbye to a long-lost friend whom time and circumstance were coercing me to abandon too soon.