Hi, I’m Mercedes and I’m a Canecuadorean. Or simply put, Canadian and Ecuadorean. This past summer I got to go to Ecuador to see the country where my dad grew up for the first time! Obviously I was excited to meet family, see where he spent most of his life, but I was also super pumped for the insta pics. I even created a Hootsuite account so I could schedule posts in case I knew my WiFi would be unreliable for a couple days (I may have a slight obsession…). Me and my sister went shopping to get outfits specifically for insta pics. I even had to go out the night before our flight to find a floppy sunhat so we could wear them together and look super cute for pics (we wore them once). My dad thought he was running this vacation, but realistically, it was Instagram.
For two weeks of the trip I had my sister as my go to photographer. She knew she had to take at least 20 pictures with different angles, different poses, etc. Our storage was filled with clusters of what would appear to be the same picture to anyone who doesn’t care about the “perfect” insta pic.
One day, we went to Peguche falls near Otavalo. There was this massive rock about 20ft from the waterfall and everyone was taking pictures on it. We were walking towards it getting soaking wet, muddy, cold, and we didn’t really want to get up there. But, we “did it for the insta”.
During the last week of our family vacation my photographer/sister went back to Canada with my mom and I was stuck with my dad. I love spending time with my dad don’t get me wrong, but I knew I was doomed with him as my new insta photographer. Although my sister and I both tried to teach him the ways of the insta pic, on his first day he only took 2 pictures and my eyes were closed in one. Smh. The struggle was real.
One of the only things I asked to see in Ecuador was the Treehouse, more commonly known as the swing at the end of the world in Baños, close to the Amazon. Did I want to go there for the experience? Nope. I wanted to go for the insta. We took a 6 hour bus to Baños, checked into the hotel, and wasted no time finding another bus to take us up to the mountain. We took the sketchiest bus, it was pretty much a giant golf cart that seated 20.
Once we got to the treehouse we had to wait in line for 45 minutes to get on the swing. I took that time to find the right spot for the angle, and made my dad practice taking the right shot. I was going to get my insta pic or we were going to wait in line again.
Finally it was my turn, I sat on the swing and used the rope to bar myself in, no part of this was regulated or safe. I walked myself backwards up the 45 degree angle platform, my stomach started to turn as I saw the cliff I was about to swing over. Our bus driver was the one pushing the swing and no, he wasn’t trained to do it. 1…………..2………………..3…
I no longer cared about getting that “perfect” insta pic. No picture could ever capture the view or the feeling I had swinging over the edge of this mountain. Being so high up I could look down on the clouds and out at the mountains, farms, trails and houses. It was an incredible experience.
I loved every second despite the fact that I was terrified, gripping the swing so hard I was giving myself rope burn. After I got off my dad handed me my phone back and I didn’t even check to see if he had gotten the picture, it didn’t matter anymore. I just wanted to be there, see things without the filter of a phone. More and more these days I think we forget that sometimes it’s more important to be in the moment than make an impression on social media. I am totally guilty of being more focused on creating pictures than memories and I doubt I’m the only one. Taking the time to appreciate where I was and who I was with gave my pictures an actual meaning which automatically made them perfect, despite how imperfect they might be.
When we got back to the hotel I decided to look at my phone, the experience was amazing but it hadn’t changed me completely. I still wanted to post my picture. I wasn’t too hopeful that my dad had gotten the picture I wanted. I was pretty certain I was about to open my phone to 10 blurry pictures. Surprisingly, he’d taken 60 shots and I got my perfect insta pic.