March 8, 2010
My family left for the United States in 1963, when I had just turned five years old. This is the family passport picture--my father was already in the States.
I did not visit again until I was 25. I had been traveling for a bit at that point, using my Ecuadorean passport, and it would have been easier to do so with an American one. However, I had resisted becoming an American citizen for many years as I had some romantic ideas about national identity--I even thought I might move back to Ecuador. My parents had not kept any ties to Ecuador—not with family, nor with its culture, other than my mother continuing to cook Ecuadorean dishes, which we loved. So it wasn’t that my “homeland” was calling to me but rather that I did not feel that I had any kind of national identity at all. I definitely did not feel myself to be American but neither did I feel to be Ecuadorean. I knew little about Ecuador or its people and I didn’t know what to expect. I just wanted to find out where I belonged.
The moment I set foot in Ecuador, I knew that this wasn´t it. As a young, professional, ambitious, and well-educated person, I did not like the way women were treated nor what was expected of them. It would have been a very bad fit for me at that point in my life.
That was over 25 years ago and I did not return again until three years ago. My mother was aging and her health deteriorating and she wanted to see her sisters, whom she hadn’t seen for many years. Though she didn’t say it in so many words, I knew she was saying goodbye, both to her sisters and to her homeland. It was on that visit that I had my first experience of Cuenca and, as so many do, I fell in love with it. It was easy to imagine myself living here.
My mother died in December—I had wanted to stay close because of her health but now I feel I can live anywhere. So here I am, until May 5, looking for a permanent place to live. Whether I buy or rent will be a surprise (to me!). When I return again some time in the summer, I’ll be calling Cuenca home for the foreseeable future. Let’s see how it goes.
Posted by Lourdes at 3:10 PM