morning we went to an 8:15 a.m. mass. Victoria had paid $5 to have it
said for her sister, Emma, who passed away on August 20, 1966. Isabel,
Victoria, Marilyn, and I took a cab to the church (because our car was
at the mechanic). Yolanda, another of Victoria’s grown children, joined
us there. Brayan stayed in bed. Elvis didn’t come, either. But, then,
he had to go to work at 9:00 am.
It was an old, large church, so the sound system echoed off the walls
pretty badly. I usually understand a few words of a Catholic mass
because I grew up Catholic and the order of service and prayers are
pretty much ingrained. This time, mainly due to the sound system, I got
zip, nada. The only thing I
recognized was a hymn called Alabaré.
hymn was at a Disciples of Christ Men’s
Retreat. Since then, we’ve sung it a few times at United Christian
Church in Austin. It’s a very upbeat and joyous hymn.
This afternoon, Isabel, Victoria, Marilyn, and I took a taxi to the
cemetery in Quichinche. (The mechanic didn’t have Molly, our car, ready
at 3:00 pm, as he promised.) We helped Isabel and Victoria put new
flowers (beautiful roses) on the graves of two of Victoria’s sisters
and her mother. Isabel and Victoria said some prayers after their task
was done, as we stood (or sat in my case) nearby. They were very
appreciative that we had accompanied them.
I asked Isabel where Victoria’s father was buried, and she said the
Otavalo cemetery. That’s where I thought we were going in the first
said that they don’t go to his grave very often. I didn’t ask why
because I didn't want to pry.
I also asked if they did this once a year. Isabel said they did it
three times a year: 1) Día
del Madre (Mother’s Day, in May), 2) this time of year (when
died), and 3) Día de Difuntos
(Day of the Dead, Nov. 2nd). When I thought about it, I vaguely
remembered Isabel and Victoria going to the cemetery by themselves in
they felt more comfortable sharing the experience with us this time.
another sign that we’ve been accepted into the family.
I remember my mother putting flowers on her mother’s grave every year
on All Saints Day. She did this after she had retired and moved back to
Houma, Louisiana, where she grew up. Now a relative looks after my
mother’s grave and I am grateful. However, I have never felt a need to
visit on All Saints Day or any other day. The memories in my mind and
love in my heart seem to be sufficient. Plus, I haven’t gotten back to
Houma since my mother died. I, too, remember my dead loved ones – just
in a different way.
Isabel had to go to the bank this morning to pay Brayan’s matricula. A
matricula in this case is sort
of like school tuition. It allows the
child to be enrolled in the school. Here, oftentimes, you don’t pay an
organization directly – you get a paper from the organization and take
that, along with what you owe, to a given bank. For instance, when we
as employers pay Isabel’s IESS (Social Security) taxes, Marilyn goes to
the IESS office in Otavalo and is given a piece of paper, takes that to
Banco del Guayaquil, and pays what it says she owes. We have yet to
find out why it’s done this way.
Brayan goes to a Catholic school. After this initial payment of $70 or
so, Isabel will pay $40 or $45 a month. The public schools are free. As
in the US, many people seem to prefer private schools, if they can
afford them. But, of course, most people rely on the public schools
that their taxes support.
Also similar to what we’re used to in the US is that now is the time
for Isabel to buy Brayan’s school clothes. As children his age (nine)
will do, he’s grown a lot during the past year. You can tell that by
looking at the school pictures on the right. (School pictures are
taken before the start of the school term in Ecuador, at least at the
school Brayan attends.) He needs new pants, new
shoes, a new school sweater, etc. In Ecuador, most students who are not
at the university level where “uniforms”. These are often sweaters of a
certain color and pants or skirts of a certain color. The children are
allowed to wear indigenous clothing and often the school skirt goes
over the long wrapped skirt that many indigenous girls wear.
One interesting difference here in Ecuador is that many jobs require
uniforms. If you work at a bank, you wear a uniform. If you
work as a gardener for the highway department, you wear a brightly
colored orange uniform (great for not being hit by traffic). If
you’re a street cleaner, you wear a green or blue uniform. This
summer, when Marilyn asked her “English Day Camp” students if they
wanted to wear “regular” clothes or a shirt of the same color, they
voted to wear the same color. Individualism does not seem to be
an important value in Ecuador.
Children go to school here about the same number of months as children
in the US. However, it’s shifted by about three or four weeks. Brayan
got out of school at the end of June and his first day back will be
September 5th. Another difference is that the children go to
school at 7:00 am and get out at 12:30 or 1:00 pm. One advantage I can
see to this method is that the schools don’t have to provide much in
the way of almuerzos
(lunches). The children mostly eat desayuno
(breakfast) and almuerzo at
home. I wouldn’t be surprised if they
provided a snack, though, especially for the younger children.
Brayan still has a little more than two weeks before the dreaded gong
of the school bell. That’s probably just enough time for him to realize
it’s more boring here with us than it is with his amigos. NOT!!!
Non-Geeks and Non-Fixer-Uppers beware! This post may leave you bored to
All last week I had trouble with the Internet modem that we use. It
would lose its connection after 5-15 minutes and I would have to
restart it – a royal pain. On Wednesday night I finally asked Marilyn
to plug it directly into my computer instead of into the USB hub, where
it had been residing. It worked perfectly. So, I figured I just needed
to buy a new USB hub. Without plugging the modem into a USB hub, I
cannot use the Internet modem AND my full-sized keyboard at the same
time. It’s not impossible for me to work on my MacBook Pro’s keyboard,
but it’s a whole lot easier to work with my full-sized keyboard.
Marilyn was not having the problem, but then she always plugs the modem
directly into her computer. The USB ports on my computer are so close
together, and the Internet modem is so fat, that I can’t put another
USB device beside the modem, including a USB hub. My only choice is to
put the modem into a USB hub.
So, on Friday we got a new USB hub. I didn’t get a chance to try the
modem in the new USB hub until Saturday morning. It worked fine, but I
only worked with it for about 45 minutes before breakfast. When I went
back to work on it for a longer period of time, it began doing the same
thing – losing its connection every 5-15 minutes. I was back to having
to choose between the internet and my full-sized keyboard. Fortunately,
however, we thought of a less elegant solution.
Today, Monday, Marilyn whittled down the “housing” of the plug of the
USB hub that we bought on Friday so the modem would fit beside it in my
computer. Unfortunately, they still wouldn’t fit side-by-side, so I
asked her to whittle down the modem as well. This was a much more
difficult task because the modem has a hard plastic case rather than
the soft rubber of the USB hub’s plug “housing”. She kept giving me
dirty looks because all we had to work with was the kitchen’s sharpest
knife. (I may have to buy her a new knife and call it Día de
Cuchillo (Day of the Knife).)
Eventually, she whittled down enough for the two devices to fit
together. Now I don’t have to choose between my full-sized keyboard and
the Internet anymore. And, I think Marilyn still loves me. High-tech is
great, but sometimes you need a bit of low-tech to go with it.
After we got home from the Cumpleaños
celebration today (see Cumpleaños
Urcuquí), Cesar, Luz, and Agusita stayed at our house
for café. Agusita is
the diminutive, or affectionate, name for Maria Agusta. Almost everyone
has a diminutive name in Ecuador. The name often ends in –ita for
females or –ito
for males. For instance, our friends Blanca and Luis often call me
Glenncito when they want to show affection. We also call Blanca
Blanquita and Luis Luisito. I don’t know that Marilyn has been given a
diminutive name. Maybe she’s just too tall! Anyway, diminutive names
were REALLY confusing when we first came to Ecuador. “Who is Luisito?”
“I don’t know any Isabelita!”
After we finished café
and the children had gone upstairs to
play, we were sitting around talking about relationships. Marilyn told
Cesar, Luz, and Isabel how I had gotten down on one knee to propose
marriage to her. She
also pointed out that most people can readily see how she supports me,
but often they don’t see the things I do to support and encourage her.
Cesar told us how he’s 15 years older than Luz and that she’ll probably
have to take care of him in his old age, but it didn’t matter to her
because she loved him. Before we knew it, Cesar had tears in his eyes.
He’s a pretty sensitive man. When you consider the macho culture he was
born to and lives in, that’s pretty remarkable.
Today was the familia’s cumpleaños
(family’s birthday party)
celebration. Lately, we’ve been having more varied activities rather
than just getting together at a family member’s house. This time we
went to a hot
springs and associated piscinas
(swimming pools) in Urcuquí, about an hour from Otavalo.
Everyone was excited, despite having
to get up earlier than normal on a Sunday morning. Even those who
didn’t intend to swim were looking forward to it.
Off we go (11 people filled
the bed of Tocayo's truck -
never ceases to amaze me)
The stream on which
the piscinas are located.
We were late picking up Cesar, Luz, and Maria Agusta. But Tocayo and
the rest were even later. We waited over an hour at Pilar and Tocayo’s
house. However, that just meant that Marilyn had time to take some
pictures of Imbabura and Cotacachi because both nearby volcanoes had
more snow than we’ve ever seen on them before.
The drive was one we had only done partially, and the part we hadn’t
done was truly beautiful. Also, we came back a different way, so we saw
even more pretty countryside. Marilyn and I noticed that Cesar seemed
to know a lot about the area and we asked him why. He said he used to
deliver beer in the area. It seems that older brother Alfredo’s beer
distributorship has supported a lot of the family members at one time
or another. I know of two out of six of Victoria’s children’s families
who derive income from jobs with the distributorship at the moment, not
to mention Alfredo himself.
Like most piscinas we’ve been
to, this one had lots of steps. But
Tocayo, with help, had no trouble getting me to the pools. I liked
Tocayo from the first time I met him because he immediately picked me
up and carried me from the car to the house. My type of man!
Betty and daughters,
Ambar and Nahomi
Pilar and Tocayo
I swam until I had had enough. The water was pretty
brown (Marilyn doesn’t know if my T-shirt will ever be white again),
and it wasn’t as warm as that at Chachimbiro, but it was pleasant,
especially on a warmish day. There was a volleyball court, and many of
the males in our party enjoyed that. Also, Marilyn and I noticed that
Brayan was much more comfortable in the water. That was gratifying to
us since we encouraged him to take swim lessons this summer. (He wasn’t
wild about the idea, but went along with it.)
After I finished swimming, I sat beside Victoria and watched the others
for a while. She and I enjoyed a bag of potato chips together while we
watched people frolicking in the piscinas.
time, so I was glad I was finished enjoying the
Speaking of the brown waters, I later decided that the color must be
due in large part to dissolved iron. I came to this conclusion because
Marilyn nor I felt dirty upon getting out of the water, as we have at
other piscinas. Plus, the
T-shirt I wore while swimming was stained
unevenly – not something I would expect from mere dirt.
Later, we had a picnic on the edge of the parking lot where there was
grass. Tocayo arranged his truck near our car so that our picnic spot
was pretty private. We noted that when we have had picnics in the
have often consisted of light meals. Here, people are apt to bring
everything but the kitchen sink. Midday meals are usually pretty
hearty affairs, no matter where one happens to be at the time.
After the picnic, we had our monthly meeting to decide where we would
hold the next cumpleaños.
la Familia in Atutaquí on our way home. It is a family
and it looked inviting when we passed it on the way to Urcuquí.
When we left the piscina,
I’ll bet we didn’t get half a mile before
Tocayo’s truck stopped. I’m thinking, “¿Qué
problema?” It became clear that we stopped because Tocayo wanted
show us a little shrine that someone had erected in the woods. Besides
the usual religious artifacts, it had some very pretty gardens for
Isabel and Luz (guess who
supplied the LSU Tiger shirt -
BTW, Isabel likes tigers)
The family park in Atutaquí was nice and we decided to have the
next party there on Sept. 18th. We’ll also go to Lago Yahuarcocha that
day for tilapia. Brayan and Maria Agusta especially liked the park
because it had so much to do for children. I liked it because it had
something I rarely see in the cities and towns of Ecuador – little, if
Victoria and I waited in the car while the others checked out the park.
She was moaning a little because of pain when we arrived.
Unfortunately, while we were waiting, Victoria’s moaning increased and
made me a little nervous. Therefore, the next time Marilyn came back
and checked on us, I told her I thought it was time to take Victoria
home. That ended the get-together, but it was okay. After all, most of
us, including Victoria, had gotten up about 5:30 am and it was now
almost 6:00 pm. This was, without a doubt, the longest
cumpleaños get-together that we’ve had thus far, and it provided
some great memories.
I got an
email from a pastor in Arkansas by the name of Jim Moore today:
is Jim Moore, pastor of Millwood Christian Church, Rogers, Arkansas.
(originally from Austin - McCallum High School).
I am in
Iberra with 7 other Disciples ministers. We are staying at Hacienda
Chorlvavi. We came across your blog and are not sure where you are
located. We will be in Iberra until Saturday and then back to Quito
possible and if we are in the same area we would like to visit with
be down in the Chota Valley this afternoon but will be back here this
love to visit with you,
I was busy and almost threw this out without looking at it. I don’t
know any Jim Moore. After I opened it, I had to decide if this guy was
on the level. I decided he was.
Some Of The Ministers
When Marilyn got back, we (with Isabel’s input) decided to invite the
group for café, but they didn't want to impose (and needed to
have a meeting that night), so they invited us for dinner at the
Hacienda Charlovi, where they were staying. We’ve eaten there before,
and were more than willing to go, but our car was in the shop. No
problem. Jim, Fernando (the guide), and Patricio (the driver) picked us
up and brought us to their hotel. It was a delightful evening, and we
didn't have to strain to understand the conversation! It was in
English. We told them about what we've been doing down here, and they
told us about the community they're interested in and some of its
needs. Then we sat in on their meeting and shared some thoughts and
Fernando is more than a guide. He's a native Ecuadorian from Quito and,
like many people we've met from Ecuador, he's passionate about his
country. He speaks fluent English. The fact that he works as a guide
leaves him with sufficient money for a very good life and he has
contact with many norte americanos
through work. His passion includes helping others less fortunate and he
has chosen a particular area that is extremely poor north of Ibarra to
assist. We would guess, without having seen the location but hearing
the group talk of their experience, that he is working with poorer
people than those that we work with. He is also working with people
even lower on the social scale here than indigenous peoples: Afro
Americans. Just as in the US, people from Africa were brought here to
work as slaves.
One story goes that, because of the similar climates of the lowlands of
Ecuador and parts of Africa, some of these people didn’t immediately
realize that they were in another country after disembarking, much less
another continent. They just thought their captors had had a change of
heart and returned them to their homeland. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.
Some More Of The Ministers
Sitting in on the meeting of the group of ministers and Fernando was
also rewarding. It was educational to hear about the problems of a
different group and to hear how people are trying to deal with those
As a bonus, I was reconnected with a friend. Larry Cruse, one of the
ministers, is a person I had gotten to know when I attended the Men’s
Retreats held at the Disciples Conference Center in Brownwood, Texas.
As the song goes, “It’s a small world after all.” The “email from the
blue” turned out to be a very enlightening, interesting, and meaningful
It’s been a whirlwind 4 or 5 weeks for me. Today is my first day for a while
to feel relaxed without having a project “over my head”.
There have been several thoughts running through my head that I’ve
wanted to share with the blog’s readers, but I haven’t had time to put
them down on paper until today. So finally, I have some time to write.
Lee Allison Meeting With A Group
In mid July, FEDICE had a visit from Lee Alison from Illinois. She not
only has a passion for mission, but a talent for sleuthing out needs
and problems. Her church has connections with five different
organizations in Ecuador, one of which is FEDICE. She also serves on a
regional mission committee in southeast Illinois. After spending a week
with a group that was working with Ecuador’s Habitat for Humanity, she
spent several days sola with
FEDICE staff finding out more about what the organization is currently
doing and meeting with people in communities surrounding Otavalo.
For 2 ½ days, I got to spend time with her as her taxista (taxi driver). We observed
day care centers in San Miguel Alto, San Rafael, and Caluquí
(where I teach English classes); we talked with workers in several
strawberry fields; and we visited churches in Tocagón, Cachimuel and
Cuatras Esquinas. All of these places are within a 10-mile radius of
Otavalo, but it was still a busy tour.
Lee Alison speaks fluent Spanish which is a real gift. She found out
things like 1) the government is no longer providing vitamins to the
children in the day care centers; 2) only about half of the centers
have working refrigerators; 3) half of the building of one center has
recently been condemned because spring rains caused foundation shifting
and wall cracking resulting in the children now meeting in a really
cramped room; 4) growing and selling strawberries makes little income
for the workers; and 5) some of the strawberry fields need a soil
evaluation because they lack nutrients evidenced by failure to thrive.
She probably learned other things as well, but these I remember.
After her visit, I began teaching an English day camp in the Indigenous
community of San Rafael. The children here in Ecuador often don’t have
many activities in the summer unless their parents have money,
especially in the communities outside the cities. So summer can be a
time of sitting around and watching television.
My two classes met for 1 hour each day, 5 days a week for 3 weeks.
Whew! After the 2 hours of classes each afternoon, I was pretty tired,
but then needed to spend the evening preparing for the next day. One
class consisted of an average of 23 children from 6 to 11 year olds;
the other had youths from 11 to early 20’s with the average attendance
being 10 students.
Because my forté is not large group behavior management, I secretly
figured the classes would dwindle in size because who really wants to
learn English during a summer vacation. I was wrong. Many of the
children rarely missed a class. For a week and a half, I had parents
coming to class asking me to please include their child/children in one
of the English classes (which I did). I know that speaking English is a
skill many parents want for their children because it often results in
better paying jobs in their children’s futures. But the children must
have found the activities and the time with peers a pretty attractive
alternative to their normal vacation days.
My activities were pretty simple. I introduced new words, then I
usually assigned a drawing project that was to be labeled in English.
Sometimes the project was for each individual; other times the children
worked in small groups. In the youth class, they worked together more.
These weren’t the most creative activities, but I tried my best to make
We ended English Day Camp with a short presentation to those parents
who were able to come on a late afternoon to see and hear. It was a
wonderful affirmation to meet some of the parents who were so
appreciative of their children’s opportunity to spend part of their
summer learning English. All of my students had experienced English in
school, but usually school English is focused on reading and writing
and taught by a native Ecuadorian whose pronunciation might not always
be accurate. Each day, my students had opportunities to speak out loud
what they were learning. For some, it was a pretty uncomfortable
experience. By the end of the 3 weeks, most were feeling a lot more
confident in trying out the foreign words.
All of this leads to my thoughts I wanted to share with you: If your
congregation is thinking about taking a mission trip but a construction
project is not a good fit for your potential group, there are other
ways to share time with people here in Ecuador and “to help them help
Lee Allison in
Lee Alison thinks outside the box and helped me to do so, too. Here are
some ideas if you can come work with FEDICE in Ecuador:
• Most of the churches in Otavalo and surrounding areas fall into the
following categories: Catholic, Evangelical, Seventh Day Adventist, and
Mormon. Christian education for youth is somewhat limited. Most don’t
have a Sunday school like many churches have in the United States. If
your potential mission group has a passion for education or vacation
Bible school, why not offer a week in the summer or classes after
school one week during the school year. Rarely are there children’s
programs in the summer in the communities. Unlike children in the US,
children here don’t have after school activities (especially in the
Indigenous communities). And school ends around 12:30 or 1:00 p.m.
• Lee Alison has a passion for preventing teenage pregnancy as well as
a passion for empowering the people of Ecuador. While she was visiting
the Otavalo area, she arranged to meet after church the teenage boys
and girls from the Evangelical church in Tocagón. She talked about a 16
year old friend of hers that has a 3 or 4 year old child and the
consequences for her friend of having that child at such an early age.
She encouraged the youth of Tocagón to think how their lives would
change if they were to have a child at their current age. This is
another example of thinking outside the box of how a mission group
might share their knowledge.
• Another idea is to teach adults that are interested in teaching
Christian education. This might have to be an evening class because
most adults work during the day, 6 or 7 days a week. What a valuable
lesson to give communities so they can carry on Christian education
after your group leaves!
• In the Evangelical Churches in the communities around here, baptism
often takes place in Lago San Pablo. Most Indigenous children don’t
have opportunities to learn to swim in a swim class, so baptism can be
a little scary. And the swim classes I’ve observed teach the crawl
stroke and that’s about it. The Red Cross beginner swimming programs
I’ve worked in as a younger person included learning to float, turning
over from front to back to front, diving, and using some safe rescue
techniques. All of the latter are missing from classes here if one is
lucky enough to take a swim class. If your group can afford it, why not
rent a pool in Otavalo for several afternoons and bring a group of
children from a community to swim lessons so that, in the future, they
will be safer in the water.
• Do you have experts in farming in your group? Can someone share
information on organic gardening on a large scale or analyzing soil
samples? We buy vegetables from our local Akí (kind of like a
very small Sam’s) that are labeled organic, so methods are known here.
But I have observed plots of strawberries that are not too far from
each other where one produces well and the other barely produces. The
farmers wonder what the difference is and suspect it has something to
do with the soil. But they are not sure what to do. What do you know
that might help them?
• Are there numbers gurus in your group? The Cooperativas, which I sort
of looked upon as helpful money lenders until recently, are doing very
well. They have a one time interest charge from 6% to 9% that is
equally divided by the number of months in the length of the loan, then
added to the borrowers monthly bill. The catch is, if one pays late,
they get charged triple the interest payment for that month. I’m not
sure how many of the folks down here understand how much interest
they’re paying. Maybe someone in your group could help explain.
• Do you have nurses or doctors or dentists or nutritionists in your
group? The food eaten by the Indigenous people is good and I suspect
relatively balanced nutrition-wise. But some folks are not used to new
tastes and don’t especially like green vegetables. Who has some new
recipes they would like to share? Pain control is not done too well.
Given that, who wants teeth looked at by the local dentist? Most people
have teeth removed rather than fixed, probably because of cost and
maybe because of poor dental techniques. And I’m not sure a lot of
folks here know how to use dental floss. Can your group teach a health
class or two?
• Or maybe you have a veterinarian who wouldn’t mind performing a few
birth control operations on the many dogs here. Our dog isn’t spayed
because what is offered is a 6-month birth control shot that we have to
go in for. I once had a dog put down because he was too aggressive. The
vet here used a very painful method for the dog, which made me very sad
(and I know the dog didn’t like it very much either).
All of these ideas are just that: Ideas. Maybe there is a group of folks
here that would be interested in your group’s ideas. ...Or maybe not.
But FEDICE would love to hear your thoughts and have you come and learn
about the people of Ecuador. We could help make your mission experience
What if your group doesn’t speak any Spanish? FEDICE is usually able to
provide translators. But your trip would be enhanced if you or some of
your group had some facility with the language. Maybe you might think
about learning from that book you have on your bookshelf called Learning to Speak Spanish on Your Own
or Becoming Bi-Lingual in Ten Easy
I encourage you and your group to think outside or around or through
that old box of yours. Maybe you could come and do that building
project, but set one day or one half day aside for the children or
teachers of children and share your knowledge. Maybe you could rent a
bigger bus, and take some of the children and their families to a few
turistico sites they never get to see even though the sites are really
close to where they live but the public buses don’t go to.
FEDICE does a good job of helping groups put their faith into action.
Come learn from and about the Indigenous peoples of Ecuador. You’ll
find yourself going home to continue putting your faith into action on
your own turf. You’ll have your heart filled with love that was given
to you because of your caring and sharing. It will be time and
resources well spent.
Today our cascada (waterfall) was
actually fixed and working. Technically, it’s a pila, or fountain, but everyone in
the house calls it a cascada
because, well, it behaves more like a waterfall than a fountain. The
water does not shoot up and fall back down. It is forced upward through
a hose before escaping through a string of holes to fall over real
rocks with the soothing sound I’d been longing for since acquiring the
somewhat dilapidated pila
when we bought the house.
The repairmen started refurbishing it about three months ago, tearing
it down here, building it up there, and informing us they would have to
sledgehammer the entire floor (which they didn’t do, thank goodness) to
get the plumbing right. They did bust a hole in Victoria’s bathroom for
plumbing, which they patched and painted nicely. Our pila is in the center of the house
in an atrium. The atrium has a glass top, and we have put many plants
in there, with many more plants to come. We knew a good fountain there
would make the space very relaxing.
Being somewhat environmentally conscious, despite being a fan of big
oil, I (and Marilyn) decided from the start that we didn’t want to have
a fountain without recycled water. That’s when the trouble started.
The first pump they brought (for $300) was a bit loud. Kind of like an
old vacuum cleaner on its last legs. The architect who was in charge of
our remodeling project had told us the pump would be quiet, so she was
forced to order another pump. She said it would take two months. Since
the pila was not necessary, we said, “No
problema,” and were content to wait for the new pump for two
It came about two weeks ago. The first surprise was that… it didn’t
work. The second surprise was that… it was second-hand. Why would you
order a second-hand pump when it wouldn’t be here for two months? Did
they have to wait until a “hot” one came along?
This morning, before anyone was up (I love the way people do business
here), the guy was back with the repaired second-hand pump, buzzing at
the door to be let in. He installed the pump and left. Because no one
was dressed for the day, not a single person thought about testing it
until later. When Isabel did try it, you guessed it. It didn’t work.
Happily, that was only temporary, due to the most unusual power outage
I’ve ever experienced (see the post Half Light).
I was at my computer after the power came back on, when Marilyn and
Isabel came to the office and dragged me down to the atrium. They were
excited. The cascada was
flowing as it should (minus a few adjustments). I got excited, too. I
had been waiting for this day for a long time. I immediately asked
Marilyn to get me my Kindle, and I and sat in the atrium for two or
three hours reading and listening to the soothing sounds of our cascada.
She can jump 3 feet up in a single bound!
This is where Canela, our 9-month-old dog, comes in. “Finally!” you
say. As I was reading and making sure she didn’t eat any plants, I saw
out of the corner of my eye that she wanted a drink from the cascada. “I need to watch this,” I
thought. Cautiously, Canela approached the pool at the bottom of the
cascada. She got splashed by the falling water and jumped back. Unless
heated, the water here is what a northerner might call brisk and a
southerner would definitely call ice cold.
Apparently, Canela’s thirst was stronger than her desire (if one
existed) to keep warm because, pretty soon she took a drink, despite
being splashed continually. She must have thought, “This isn’t too
bad,” because she soon put a front paw tentatively into the water. The
other front paw soon followed. Next thing I knew, she was totally in
the water, being showered by the cascada.
All of a sudden, she lets out a loud bark, jumps almost straight up
from a four-point stance, lands outside the pool, and keeps barking as
she’s running around the atrium. I laughed so hard that Isabel and
Marilyn came to see what was going on. At that point, Canela started
jumping up on Marilyn. That made me laugh even harder and it was hard
for me to say, “No!” to try to help discipline her.
Canela, unfortunately, has a history of this behavior, which is why
everyone in the family often refers to her as loca (crazy). Marilyn, Brayan, and
Yolanda, another daughter of Victoria’s, took Canela to Cascada de
Peguche the other day, a real cascada.
of course), when Yolanda
suggested Canela might need a drink. Marilyn brought Canela to the bank
of the stream, expecting her to tranquilly lap at the water. All of a
sudden, Canela jumped in, slipped her harness, jumped out barking, ran
round and round the three of them, and jumped up on whomever she could.
It took five minutes to catch her the first time. They weren’t able to
get the harness on quickly enough, so it took another three minutes to
catch her the second time, get the harness on, and settle her down.
We all know this is bad behavior. We’re certain that it can be trained
out of her. She’s already much better behaved than she was just a short
while ago, most of the time. When I was told about the Cascada de
Peguche episode, I was appropriately sympathetic. But when I saw her
antics today, I just had to laugh, especially when she jumped up from
that four-point stance like she’d been shot from a cannon. I’ve seen
that move before and it always makes me burst out laughing.
A working indoor cascada and
Canela’s antics. What more could I ask for on a laid-back Saturday in
The electricity goes out here fairly often. We can count on it happening an
average of once every two weeks, maybe a little more frequently. Of
course, we’ve learned to live with it. Washing the clothes gets put off
a bit. We might have to go somewhere on foot rather than use the car,
because we have yet to figure out how to manually open the automatic
garage door. The only time it bothers me a great deal is when I’m
trying to watch a Saints game on DirecTV. Then I either get incensed or
very blue (and, for those of you unaware, blue is NOT a Saints color.)
This morning we had an unusual experience that made me feel like I may
be in the Twilight Zone. The power went out, but only sort of. It was
like we were on half-power. Marilyn and I had never experienced this
type of “half light” before. (They call electricity luz here because, I guess, lights
are the most visible feature of electricity. Come to think of it, I can
remember my grandparents always referring to electrical power as “the
I was at my computer, so I noticed it right away because my computer
screen dimmed when it went to battery power. “Looks like the power’s
out again,” I said to Marilyn. She pointed out that the light on the
power strip was still on. “Uh-oh,” I thought, “the computer power cord
Canella (our dog) chewed on must have finally cashed it in. Good thing
I bought a spare.” (I had been thinking I wasted my money on that spare
one so, in one way, I felt redeemed and congratulated myself on my
foresightfulness.) Then we discovered that some electrical appliances
worked, while others did not. So we figured the computer power cord was
probably still okay and I was back to wishing I hadn’t spent eighty
bucks on a spare.
When we tried the lights, some lit halfway, and some remained unlit.
Now, we expect the new energy saving neon bulbs in our house to come on
at less than full power but, when the incandescent bulbs did the same
thing, it was just plain weird. I know I heard the host of the classic
TV show, Rod Sterling, say, “You have now entered the Twilight Zone.”
Before I totally freaked out, the power went off completely and I felt
much better. Life in Ecuador was back to the way it was supposed to be.