our car with which we have a love-hate relationship,
wouldn’t start before breakfast, a
ocho (at 8 o’clock). Molly wouldn’t start after breakfast, a las nueve (at 9 o'clock).
Molly start at medio día
(noon), when Marilyn had her luncheon date? Since the car
wouldn't start, Marilyn had to take the bus to her pre-school English
Caluquí. The bright side of this was that she found a shorter
only took 20 minutes to walk up the mountain from the Pan American
When the chips were down, Molly was finally awake and
rarin’ to go. Marilyn had arranged to take Maria, Don Segundo’s wife,
to Victoria’s casa for lunch.
The day before, Marilyn had asked Carmela, an elderly woman living here
at the hotel temporarily, if she’d like to join the luncheon. After
some convincing by her daughter as well as Isabel, Carmela agreed to
go. So off Marilyn and Carmela went to pick up Maria.
When they got to Maria’s, she was nowhere to be found. Finally, after a
couple of neighbors had joined the search, Maria showed up carrying a
load of grasses and herbs on her back that she had gathered for her cuyes (guinea pigs). Either Don
Segundo had forgotten to remind her about the luncheon, or she had
forgotten. After quickly changing her clothes, she asked if Miriam, her
niece and one of the searchers, could come with them. Maybe she wanted
Miriam along for kidnap protection. More likely, Maria wanted a good
translator since her primary language is Quichua instead of Spanish.
Miriam and Maria
Lunch was interesting. Victoria had lunch all ready, but didn't seem to
realize that Marilyn needed to prepare the dessert of apple crisp
beforehand so it could cook while they ate. With Marilyn’s limited
Spanish, she had a hard time getting Victoria to go visit her guests
and leave her and the niece in la
cocina to prepare the apple crisp. Anyway, Marilyn, Miriam, and
Brayan put together the dessert. Marilyn had no recipe, she forgot to
bring the oatmeal for the topping, and there were cinnamon sticks, but
no ground cinnamon, so she had to chop up the sticks as best she could
to use as the spice.
Carmela, Maria, Miriam, and Brayan
About half way through the dessert preparation, Marilyn needed to turn
on the gas oven. It turned out that Victoria (and Brayan) don't light
the oven. So they called Isabel on the phone for instructions. Marilyn
couldn't understand, so she put Miriam on the phone. She's probably
around 13 years old and speaks Spanish. They did figure it out although
Marilyn spent some time on the floor crawling around trying to light
the oven with some extremely short matches. She still couldn't figure
out how to turn the temperature up without the gas turning off. The
apple crisp was a bit more like dried apples, but folks ate it all the
same. Whether they were being polite or they really liked it, we don’t
know. (When Glenn had some later, he thought it was pretty good. Not
Marilyn’s culinary best, but pretty good.)
Anyway, the meal was good. Marilyn couldn't get Victoria to sit down
and visit, however. Instead, she was busy getting the food on the
table, picking up plates, etc. In the culture here, women tend to be
the servers, especially in their own homes.
Then Marilyn drove those who needed a ride back home. At Maria's, she
and Brayan, who had come along, got to see her cuyes, and Carmela got to take home
some herbs from Maria’s garden.
All in all, Marilyn says she thinks people had an OK time, though she’s
not really sure. For Victoria, Maria, and Carmela, at least, the day
was certainly different from their regular days, and it may give them
something to talk about for quite a while.
of going to any of the churches we’ve been to here didn’t appeal to us
very much this morning. Some have very loud music that forces us
to use earplugs. Others don't have very friendly congregants. So
we decided to have a little devotional in our room after breakfast.
Consequently, we discovered that our room has at least one more “space”
For a long time, we’ve joked that one area of our room is Marilyn’s
office, another is my office, another (with a couch) is our living
room, the bed and nightstand constitute our bedroom, and, of course, we
have a private bathroom. There’s even a space that serves as a tiny
Today we discovered we have a chapel. There’s a little alcove where we
put the large going away card and cross given to us by United Christian
Church. The card has a picture of the stained glass window above the
altar at our church. I sat in front of that alcove and Marilyn pulled
up a chair and, voila!, our own little chapel. We even had music
because the sound system at the church next door was going full blast,
which meant that the decibels were at a comfortable level in our room.
Marilyn picked a passage from Chronicles that we took turns reading.
It seemed to be a benediction of what we've been doing and was
quite comforting. To finish, I started a prayer and she finished it.
Because we don’t understand spoken Spanish all that well (yet), our
little devotional was at least as meaningful to us as attending a
church service. And seeing our little alcove as a chapel
transforms it into another beautiful place in a land of beautiful
After we had finished things that needed to be taken care of, and eaten
almuerzo (lunch), we decided
to drive to Parque Archaelogical
Cochasquí. This park has several pyramids composed of
basalt slabs that are now covered with grass. We got there after the
park had closed, but the drive was spectacular. Some people think the
site was built as a fortress because of its strategic location. Others
surmise it was built as a celestial observation point because of
circular structures that have been found, plus the fact that it is
aligned directly between Volcán
Cayambe and another well-known celestial observation point. It
is only 3 minutos off the
We went through Tocachi to get to Parque
Archaelogical Cochasquí. Tocachi reminded me of some
towns in south Louisiana, in that it’s built linearly – along the
highway. No bayous or shrimp trawlers along here, though. We were about
3,000 metros high. Instead,
we looked up a mountain on one side of the highway. On the other side
of the highway, it was as if we were on a balcony – a really, really
high balcony. The earth dropped away and we could see for miles and
miles, including numerous volcanoes, plateaus, and barrancas (canyons). Almost every casa in this small town had this
view. A few weeks ago, we went to a town called Mira, which the guide
book we have (The Rough Guide to Ecuador) describes as “The Balcony of
the Andes”. There’s no doubt in our minds that Tocachi rivals Mira for
At the park itself, Marilyn walked where she could (since the park was
closed) and I got out of the car and waited in the parking lot. From
there, I still had a grand view, including the beautiful snow-covered
cone of Volcán Cotopaxi,
the cloud-shrouded Volcán
Pichinca, and a large portion of the city of Quito in the
distance. We’re told that six volcanoes can be viewed from various
spots on the pyramids.
We noticed caballos and asked where they went. For $20, one can ride
for two hours to Laguna Mojanda
high on Volcán Fuya Fuya,
which is one of our favorite spots, and two hours back. For $40, six
people can take a 45-minute jeep tour to Laguna Mojanda. I assume it’s 45
minutes back to Parque Archaelogical
Cochasquí, not 45 minutes roundtrip.
Ecuador has so many beautiful places. We've primarily restricted
ourselves to the Andes on this stay. That means that there are scores
of beautiful Ecuadorian locales along the coast, in the jungle, even in
the Andes, that we won’t see. I am continually amazed that we are
fortunate enough to be living and working here for an extended period
of time. Some call what we’re doing God’s work. I merely think of it as
connecting with people different from ourselves in the vague hope that,
somehow, the world may become more peaceful, more open, more just, more
caring. Each time I behold a spectacularly beautiful place and think
about how marvelous it would be to live there, however, I am reminded
of the short conversation Marilyn had with a resident of Apuela, a town
high in beautiful mountains.
Marilyn: “It’s so beautiful here.”
Resident: “It’s not beautiful here. The people are very, very poor.”
Did he mean the people couldn’t appreciate the beauty because life was
so difficult without enough money? Did he think that money was more
beautiful than nature? Did he not realize the inherent beauty in the
life he led? I'll never know exactly what he meant. But his
something to reflect upon as I am fortunate enough to type these words
into my expensive MacBook and potentially share them with millions of
people. His statement haunts me, nags at me, each time I marvel at a
beautiful place, or beautiful people, or a beautiful object. It may do
so until my dying day.
I've always heard about female intuition. What about male
intuition? Is there such a thing? I'm sure there is at some
"basic" levels - sensing danger, determining how to best provide for a
family, figuring out where to best hunt animals for food - but, in my
mind, female intuition has always been associated with "higher" levels,
such as determining what is the most socially acceptable thing to say
or do. If I have the "higher" form of male intuition, I think it
kicked in last night.
were going into the hotel last night after a full day
of fun with friends, I saw a distinguished looking gentleman with a
cane getting into his car. Somehow, I knew he would be
interesting to talk with. I hoped we would see him at breakfast
At desayuno this morning,
there was the usual guided tour that's here on the weekend for the
Otavalo mercado, as well as
about three families with one child each. (Marilyn observed, "If
you want to travel in Ecuador, it may be too expensive to travel with
more than one child.") The families were no
doubt here because of the three-day holiday weekend celebrating 10 de Agosto, Independence Day.
Towards the end of the meal, the distinguished looking gentleman sat
down at the next table. However, my back was to him, so I couldn’t see
who was sitting with him.
Upon finishing our meal, Marilyn took her
computer back to nuestra
habitación (our room) before coming to get me. While
waiting, I turned around so I could see the activity in the rest of the
dining room. To my surprise, the man with the cane was with a woman in
Of course, I wasn't surprised he was with a woman in a
wheelchair. That's natural. I was surprised because last
night I had assumed that he was the one with the disability.
Indeed, he was slightly disabled, but not so much so that he couldn't
get his wife up and down the steps of the hotel. Now I really
wanted to meet him AND his wife. How could I swing it without
disturbing their breakfast? In walked Marilyn. My problem
Marilyn started talking to them just as natural as you please. She’s
friendly that way. Living in Texas for 25 or 30 years has that effect
on people. Soon, I was in the conversation and answering
questions about the ramps we brought from the U.S. María and
Juan were contemplating ordering the ramps,
when I had the bright idea
of bringing a pair back for them the next time we visit we the States.
idea was a winner. We exchanged email addresses and they invited us to
visit them when we were in Quito. We, of course, invited them to
use our ramps as much as they needed while they were here.
Juan y María were a
very delightful couple to talk with.
My hunch of the night before had proven correct. Maybe I do have
the "higher" form of male intuition after all. Then, again, maybe I
spent so much time in la cocina
(the kitchen) while growing up that the female intuition of my mother
and her friends rubbed off on me.
the reasons I so like Ecuador is because of the people I have met here.
When I can spend time with Ecuadorian folks, I enjoy myself. Last week,
I had an opportunity to spend most of my day with different groups and
individuals that made my day particularly special.
The way I began my exceptional day was teaching my twice a week
pre-school English class in Caluquí. I am usually greeted with
many Goood mor-ning, teecher’s,
as I walk through the playground and into the building. And this was no
exception. What a way to be greeted!
"Let's all siiiinng... The Body Parts Song!"
I have moved the class to a different room as it is more conducive to
hanging posters and having the children sit in two semi-circles rather
than a circle. This has enabled all the children at the same time to
see the drawings and pictures I use. The class also uses an open space
for more active activities toward the end when the children are
restless. In addition, I’m using more rhythmic and singing activities
to help them remember their new English words. All in all, because the
children are learning and understanding better and I’m finally getting
more of my students’ names, class was a real joy.
When I returned home, Glenn suggested I visit Maria before I run out of
time during the week. In July, Don Segundo, one of the gardeners here
at the hotel, was not at work. When he finally returned after an
absence of 4 weeks, I asked him how his wife was. I had heard that she
was ill and he was staying home to take care of her since they had no
children that could stay with her. Don Segundo is a very quiet man
whose first language is Quichua, but he does speak some Spanish as
well. He must have spoken to me for 5 minutes which is way more than
the usual Buenos Días
that we exchange. Although I did not understand all that he said, I did
understand that he was very concerned and very sad.
Marilyn y Maria
Isabel filled me in on the details later. Don Segundo had had to take
his wife to the hospital where the doctor recommended that Maria have
an operation. Because their church did not allow operations but
expected God to heal, they did not consider the operation.
Nevertheless, Maria was not totally well in addition to being lonely
while at home all day. I asked Isabel if she thought they might feel OK
with my visiting Maria on occasion. By the evening of that day several
weeks ago, I had the answer: I would go home with Don Segundo on the
bus after work and meet Maria. Maria’s first concern was that she spoke
only Quichua and only understands some Spanish. I speak no Quichua. How
would we communicate? In spite of these limitations, she decided it was
OK and now I drop in to say hello about once a week since that time in
Getting back to the second activity of my great day, I took Glenn’s
advice and went to visit Maria. She was glad to see me as always.
Although I don’t understand much of what she says, I do get just a bit
on occasion because there are some words similar to Spanish. I must
serve some purpose as she enjoys talking to me. And we always share a
prayer. Sometimes she begins in Quichua and I end in Spanish or vice
versa. I enjoyed my visit with Maria this day, too, especially since we
decided that next time I would take her to visit Victoria, Isabel’s
mother, who is also sick and lonely during the day. And, the real plus
is that Victoria speaks Quichua!
After almuerzo (late lunch),
Glenn and I took three of the women who work at the hotel on an
excursion when their workday ended at 4:00 p.m. Margoth and Rosa clean
our rooms on a regular basis and Elvia cooks many meals for us. None of
them own cars, so getting to go to a scenic place can be a special
occasion. They piled into the back of our car and we headed up to Laguna Mojanda, a spring fed lake
that provides water for the communities south of Otavalo and Otavalo
itself. The 1 hour drive up 4,000 feet is filled with lovely views of
Otavalo from above and farms on steep mountains. We stopped several
times to take in the sights. When we arrived, Rosa headed down a hill
to a lookout above the lake. We all followed while Glenn waited
patiently in the car. Then our legs carried us up towards Fuya Fuya a little way before
returning back down to the lakeshore to touch the water. We were all
surprised that it actually wasn’t too cold in spite of the 12,400 feet
elevation. We all were wearing jackets and hats because the air
temperature was cold! After a little more exploring, we headed back
down the cobblestone road to Otavalo.
What fun it is to share experiences with others. Not all my days are
filled with great encounters among the delightful people Glenn and I
know here in Ecuador, but a day like I just described makes us aware of
how sharing the love we receive brings joy back to us twice over.
days ago, Marilyn and I had gone over to help Elvis, Isabel's oldest
son, paint the space they had
rented for his forthcoming venture - a bar. It's a large room,
with a bathroom a little bigger
than a closet. Only, there's no toilet, sink, or urinal in el baño yet. It's the
owner's responsibility to install that, and Elvis and Isabel are only
Marilyn did a good job of painting. After all, she had had muchas practicas
when the mission groups came through this summer. She was also good at
finding jobs that Brayan, Isabel's 8-year-old son, could do so that he
could be a part of the team. We talked about
names for the bar, and, because Elvis's name is Elvis, I came up with
Hound Dog. That didn't translate too well into Spanish,
however. He decided on the Latin word "Oteum". He said it
to relax. Not bad. I'm still partial to Hound Dog, though.
when Isabel finished work at 4:00 p.m., we took her, Elvis, and a
friend of Isabel’s named Auri to the mall in Ibarra. (Funny how they do
things here. Isabel didn't ask if we could take Auri until we were all
in the car and onto the street. Auri was waiting on the side of
the road about 4 blocks away. If we had said we couldn't take
her, I guess Isabel would have called and Auri would have simply walked
back home.) Auri and Isabel told us they've been friends since
school. Their sons are about the same ages, except that Auri has
The main purpose of the excursión
was to buy glassware for Elvis’s new bar, but we all had fun walking
around. On the way, Elvis told us he was naming two cocktails after us
– Cocktail Marilyn and Cocktail Glenn. Can't wait to try
them. At least, we'll be famous in one place in Otavalo, Ecuador.
I've always wanted something named after me - a baby, a park, a street,
a school, a monument, a town, a country, a bright star in the heavens -
something. A cocktail works as good as anything else.
While Isabel, Elvis, and Auri were purchasing the glassware, Marilyn
and I looked at a store that sold Apple products. Then we
purchased a couple of models for Brayan to put together on our upcoming
trip to Cuenca so he wouldn't get too bored in the car during our long
is good at planning and is efficient. In fact, in her usual
well-organized manner, Marilyn got me back into the car at the
time, before the rest had returned. When they did return, they
suggested we all go to another store. So they had to get me out
Sometimes Marilyn is a little too efficient.
Isabel bought a sweater and two pairs of shoes, and I bought an
undershirt. Marilyn had ripped an old one by accident two days earlier
and I hadn't brought many down to begin with. Only, I didn’t really buy
it. Isabel wouldn’t let me pay for it. We walked around some more, then
had pizza, then shopped some more without finding anything, then drove
back to Otavalo.
It was really neat to watch Isabel and Auri interact with the
comfortableness of old friends. Though they both live in Otavalo,
a pretty small town, their houses are fairly far apart, and work and
transportation are not conducive to visiting in person. However,
they talk on the telephone nearly every day.
As is usually the case when we take Isabel anywhere, she invited us to
her house for chocolate caliente y
pan de yuca (hot chocolate and yucca bread). We had never had pan de yuca, and it was really
good. Victoria had been ill and in bed most of the day, but when we
went into her bedroom, especially Marilyn, and invited her to eat with
us, she got up. Isabel was amazed when she was told to set six places
instead of five. There's no doubt in my mind that Victoria truly loves
Isabel says that Marilyn can get Victoria to do things when no one else
Auri came over at 10:00 a.m. the next morning for a visit. She doesn’t
live far from the Ally Micuy. She brought a gift of higos (figs). Yum. Isabel stayed
for the entire visit and we had a very nice time. Auri invited us to
her casa for almuerzo at noon on Wednesday. That
was fast. We only met her the night before. Of course, she did say that
Isabel has told her so much about us that she feels she knows us. Have we connected with another friend