Editors Note: It was brought to my attention almost two years ago that my framing of Ariel’s encounter as a cultural exchange glossed over the history of systemic restriction of women’s access to reproductive health in Ecuador and Central/Southern American countries. This framing allowed the possibility for it to be construed that the family is responsible for their ignorance (cultural), rather than being victims of a cruel system meant to strip them of their rights (systemic). Glossing over these conditions only perpetuates the erasure of the experiences of women, especially indigenous, in Ecuador. For some context I suggest reading this article by The Nation from 2019 here.
The intent of the article was to decentralize my voice from the article and highlight Ariel’s experience. Nonetheless, the article lacked a purpose and context. In an effort to do better I am adding this editor’s note to explain why the article is problematic. I have no excuse for my lack of inaction for so long, I had a conversation about it two years ago and it got swept under the rug until the person who first brought it to my attention to me asked that I take action recently. I acknowledge that it should not be someone else’s responsibility to ask me to take such action, I can only attempt to know better and do better in the future.
I have donated the money I made from publishing this article to the Desafío Foundation. They are based in Ecuador working to increase access to contraceptives and fighting for women’s reproductive rights. You can read about their work here (in english) and donate here
I’ve been sitting on the photos from our stint on the Trans Ecuador Mountain Bike Route last summer trying to figure out what to write about. My photos tell their own story, so in lieu of the usual route discussion and tales of arduous climbs, I wanted to open a platform for Ariel to speak of a personal encounter she felt like sharing. This was a rather personal and charged experience, one I was not present for nor photographed. While there has been plenty of discussion about privilege in visiting developing countries on bikes, I feel in Ariel’s instance there was an authentic opportunity to educate and have a cultural exchange. The little things in your pocket shouldn’t be taken for granted, they have the ability to affect how someone experiences the world… -Spencer
The 11K elevation was too much for my lowland and desert accustomed body, I struggled to acclimate. Towards the second half of our trip, I started experiencing altitude sickness to a crippling degree. It was difficult to ride or even walk my bike. Short of breath and extremely tired, altitude sickness got the best of me, which lead to our painful separation with Spencer.