Saturday, October 2, 2010

Ecuador Makes Headlines

Well, by now most everyone has heard about the 'difficulties' we had here in Ecuador a couple days ago.  I need to write about it before I forget it.  I don't mean that it was totally forgettable; I just mean that in about a week I will have no idea about when it happened or how it changed anything.  This was not 9-11, folks.  This wasn't the Watts riots of LA.   This was not a great tsunami flood.  This wasn't even an Iowa blizzard or flood.  World events are things that change us and how we perceive the world in general.  This was not a world event.  So what was it then?  Well, I'm not really sure.  I think it had something to do with some people not making as much money as they wanted.  Imagine that.  If a group of people (policia ala Barnio Fifo) decide they don't like things a certain way and they have guns and were issued a bullet today, trouble is always a possibility. Now how these collective Barnios got the 150 collective Gomerio Pylitos in the military to side with them is beyond me.  I think it must have been a mixture of:   "Damn, we haven't run this president out of office yet and he's been in here for FIVE YEARS!"  and "Hey, guys, if we do a demonstration maybe we can get a raise and we'll get that new Samsung!"

It is true that Correa is a bit of a theatrical peacock, but I'm actually on his side on this one.  The motives behind this uprising weren't the sorts of things that stir your soul like 'Remember the Alamo' or 'Give me liberty or give me death'.  The bad guys in this case were the ones that raised the trouble in the first place.  They're all fired, some or most of them in jail, and who knows how many got hurt or worse.  Is there some angst against Presidente Correa in this bet there is.  Does everyone love President Obama in the US?  Not.  Does Correa control the press?  Well, pretty much.  Television journalism in Ecuador doesn't have the same 'standards' as in the US.  But there again, change your channels from CNN to Fox News and you'll find a different flavor as well.  Who tells the truth?  You decide.

I'll be glad when this all blows over.  It already has here.  For us in Cuenca it was a late morning and early afternoon of 'what’s going on?’  The banks closed for the afternoon, most shops closed, the schools let out, and I wasn't able to buy my delicious Ecuadorian bacon.  That was the extent of my inconvenience and horror.  The next day I got my bacon and the girls at the meat counter in the Coopera were as friendly as ever.  The streets and shops were all back to normal.  Life goes merrily along and yes the dogs still bark.

For those of you who have altered your thinking about whether to retire in Ecuador because of this put it all in perspective.  If you read a little history, you'll see that Ecuador has a unique but total democracy.  If things get bad here, the president is gone.  Trust me.  I finally found it in print the other day and I wish I had got a quote on it, but it goes something like this:  'The military and the police are not allegiant to the President; they are allegiant to the People'.  Before you start thinking anarchy, don't.  It works here.  It always has.  Ask the Incas, ask the Spanish.  It's not about a society of people that want to impose their will on the rest of the world.  We're too small for that here in Ecuador.  I don't think we even have an F-16.   But don't try to invade Ecuador either.  We'll send the Shuar after you and you'll definitely regret it.  Ask Peru.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sunrise in Cuenca

This morning Rachel called me at 6:00 AM from the states on Skype.  We have coffee together on Skype.  It's not the same as holding her hand, but it's all we have right now.  I looked out the window and the sun was rising over Cuenca.  This scene repeats itself daily and each day I almost gasp.  This day I got to share it with Rachel because I took the web cam and showed her.  Of course a $60 webcam doesn't do it justice, nor for that matter does a $100 camera.  In fact, the only way you can appreciate it is to be here.  Rachel's not here with me, so for right now, it's just a pretty sunrise.  Well, that's not entirely true either.  It is a reminder that we have been blessed, not only with each other but with good health, wonderful friends and family and the God given ability to just enjoy life on earth.

In 13 days, 3 and a half hours, and a handful of long minutes Rachel and I will be together again.  In a turbo charged Miata moment we'll be be ripping down the highway, top down, hair on fire, looking for a preacher.  We're getting married.

We met when we were 12.  There was something very special between us then, but neither of us knew the other felt that way so time and life in general kept us apart for 47 years.  We raised families and our marriages had sad endings.  Then she caught wind that I was going to Ecuador to live a different life than what I had been living.  Perhaps she's just a romantic like me, but she wanted to know more.  She wanted to live vicariously in my emails.  I asked her why it had to be vicariously.  I crossed several states to see her again, our friendship blossomed and that 'thing' that we had when we were 12 was discovered to be real.  Like that sunrise with bold blues, reds, and pinks we knew that we had been missing something most of our life.  I was reawakened in Ecuador.  I was reborn with Rachel.  Our time is now.

We have much to do.  Rachel wants to bring some of her personal things that will surely give life to our otherwise sterile condo.  I'm looking forward to the warmth and calm her things will give our abode.  But of course that means shipping.  It means going through the customs gauntlet in Guayaquil.   Already I hear groans and gnashing of teeth.  But we've got the best shipper in Ecuador looking out for us, so we'll be ok.  Rachel's having to bear this burden of packaging what she wants to ship, and selling the rest.  If you are in Ecuador and you came from somewhere else, you know this drill already.  She's also closing down her last days as a neo natal specialized registered nurse and she's saying goodbye to those blessed little babies whose lives may be owed to her.  All this to be with me?  I've got a big commitment ahead.  I want Rachel to be happy and fulfilled.  She deserves only the best.  I will do my best.

We will be traversing the middle of the USA to see her parents, our children and families, our siblings and families,  some special cousins and some very special friends.  Most of them think we have totally gone off the deep end.  They are right.  By the standards of our former lives, we have definitely gone off the deep end.   We have traded loneliness for companionship, emptiness for love.  We have traded responsible careers for passion.  We have left our cars for....bicycles, walking and fitness.  We have left our beautiful homes for ..... a condo that will never need heat or air conditioning,  ever.   We are leaving $150 doctor visits where the doctor sees you for five minutes for a doctor that actually sees you for an hour and charges you $25.   What were we thinking?   Now if I could only do something about the barking dogs!