Challenge and Beauty

At this stage of the service portion of SST, a distinct highlight for me has been continuing to experience the abundance of natural beauty that Ecuador has to offer. In the study portion of SST, we were able to experience and engage with mountains, coast, and rainforests, sometimes within the course of driving on the same road!

On service, I am living in a part of Ecuador’s cloud forest. My family has an ecotourism business on the weekends called “ El Cortijo Bambusa” where they lead tourism groups on hikes on their property. On the hike, there are seven waterfalls that all make their way down to join with the river further down the mountain. Along the way, there are many opportunities for photos and other fun activities which allow people to really enjoy this experience. At the end of the hike, groups enjoy a delicious meal at the neighbor’s restaurant.

This past weekend I accompanied my host brother and his wife along with a group of tourists on this hike. My host brother set up hammocks at some of the waterfalls for some picturesque photo opportunities and placed along the hike are wooden signs with words of encouragement and fun quotes that help you to pause and take in the views. Along the way, I was able to connect with the tourists and my host brother and his wife in a special way as we engaged in the natural beauty together.

I have found my SST experience to be much like a hike through the forest to see some waterfalls. It can be long and difficult at points,  but holy cow is it worth it. The beauty is unlike anything you have experienced before and the connections that you make along the way add depth and meaning to the experience. Throughout this experience, I am learning to be flexible and not let my need to control the future affect the experiences of the present. I’m having so much fun and doing things that I never thought I would be able to do. However, SST is also designed to be difficult and challenge you in new ways and I am learning to find myself in the unknown and uncertainty of new experiences.

“I hope you can see the beautiful chaos of how the path twists and bends, and how the journey is absolutely worth taking no matter how it ends.”

  • Morgan Harper Nichols