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Coming Home: Ecuador

Ecuador | Becky Wandell

Home: Portland, Oregon

By 10:30 Sunday night, March 15, I had settled into bed and checked my phone. I scrolled past messages exploding: Start packing. We’re going home.

Not me — I’m extending for a third year! Besides, we’re on a “standfast,” schools are closed. I’m safe with my host family here in Ibarra. The Ecuadorian government is already taking precautions!

My phone rang — my supervisor. Two checked bags. Be ready to leave by midday.

Upstairs I heard the TV in Margarita and Jose’s room so I knew they were still awake. I banged on the door. Margarita came running. “Que pasó?” The three of us stood in the doorway, holding each other, crying.


I banged on the door. Margarita came running. “Que pasó?” The three of us stood in the doorway, holding each other, crying. 


The next morning I texted the principal of the school where I had been teaching and training teachers. I had a packet of maps from the U.S. for the school. She came, said she would share my goodbyes. We stood in the street and cried. All morning long my extended family called or came by: I would always be part of their family, their doors were always open, they would wait for my return. Then little Pablo: “No te vayas, Becky! No te vayas!” Don’t go!

Margarita made a lovely soup for lunch — our last meal.


Showing for GLOW: Girls Leading Our World


In a hotel conference room in Quito, we learned our service was officially being terminated. Ecuadorian borders were closed. It took three different flights to get us all from Quito to Guayaquil for a connection to the States. Airport staff were fully suited, masked, gloved. They took our temperature from 12 feet away. They squirted disinfectant gel into our hands.

When we arrived in Miami, we headed to customs. No masks, no gloves, no gel. I stepped up to the customs official, expecting questions about where I had traveled from, where I was going. He only wanted to know if I was carrying any agricultural products. I thought, Their script is a little out of date.

Then he said, “Welcome home.” A strange concept when your heart is on a different continent.



This story was first published in WorldView magazine’s Summer 2020 issue. Read the entire magazine for free now in the WorldView app. Here’s how:

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