Friday, November 5, 2010

Playing to the Beat of Independence

Rachel's independent spirit of excitement and glee is shown early in life

There's a picture of Rachel with her brothers when she was two years of age in Lawton Oklahoma. Rachel's mouth was wide open in an expression of total glee, released from all bonds that might trouble a two year old.  I love that picture.  I think we all yearn for that release of entering into our surroundings, just stopping to smell the roses, picking up the symbols and playing to the beat of the band.  I guess that's why I married Rachel.  She smells the roses and plays the symbols. 

Rachel seizes the moment and symbols the beat of independence

November 3 was Cuenca Independence Day.  Bands played, Presidente Correa was in town to celebrate with us, vendors and artisans from all over the country were here to add color and nuance to an historic and significant event.  For those of us who live here now it is difficult to believe that Cuenca or Ecuador for that matter was ever anything but independent.  There's a spirit that goes with an independent country and an independent people.  Mark my word, the Ecuadorian spirit is alive and well and the people love their independence just like the American patriot from the US.

It strikes me about the similarities between our countries, the US and Ecuador.  Many people would cite the differences which are obviously apparent at every level, socio-economic, cultural, demographic, climatic, etc.   But let's look at core spirit and independent thinking. When the Ecuadorian people have had enough of the direction their leadership takes, they are heard.  They are heard in large numbers with an open voice.   Changes are made.   A couple years ago the American cousins of the North decided they didn't like their country's direction and voted in a massive change of political leadership and representation.  Two years later, expectations weren't met, and again the voice of the people was heard with a resulting change to the US House of Representatives.  It doesn't matter which side of the isle you sit on.  Democracy and independence is alive and well in the US and Ecuador.  Congratulations on your independence Ecuador!      

Sunday, October 31, 2010

We're Home!

It seems like it's been a long dry spell without posting.  So much has happened in the last few weeks but I just felt like we had to be in the 'zone' of tending to business and our prearranged assignments of tasks while in the US.  It is all a little unfortunate in a way because I'm not sure we were totally ourselves and we were certainly stressed while travelling about the US, shipping household goods to Cuenca from Denton Texas, meeting with family in Missouri, Texas and Oklahoma, getting married in Tennessee, going on a honeymoon in Missouri, going to the Ecuadorian consulate in Texas, taking care of business matters in Oklahoma, clearing out Rachel's house, having two household sales, and in general burning candles at both ends.  Color us exhausted.  Color us unwinding.  Color us relieved and happy to settle into this new home of ours in Cuenca.  We're home!

I'm hoping that Rachel will add a few words at some point to describe her feelings and emotions as she takes in her new surroundings.  I was in the states for almost a month so my first couple days back in Ecuador were a juxtaposition of dreamlike surrealism and giddy joy.  The 'giddiness' was certainly due in no small part to having the love of my life right here with me.   Its one thing to marvel at your surroundings but when there's no one to share it with it's like the proverbial falling tree in the forest with no one to hear it.  There's no sound.  My experience in Ecuador is at last a shared experience.  If you are a US expatriate you can identify with what I'm saying.  If you go back to the states and tell people about why you keep coming back here they just look at you like you are certainly a Martian.  At least to Rachel, I'm no longer a Martian.

Every time you engage in a conversation with a local here it is a virtual treasure trove of Ecuador culture and the heart of the people.  Today Rachel and I were blessed to meet Dr. Rodrigo Crespo Toral.  If you live in Ecuador, especially in Cuenca, you know the name Crespo.  There are statues and streets named for Rodrigo’s father and his great uncle Remigio in Cuenca.  They are a family of physicians, healers.    Rodrigo was a professor of pediatric medicine at Georgetown University.  At 86, he is still handsome and regal and is obviously proud of his beautiful wife of 62 years.  This day he had two granddaughters, their mother, and his lovely wife at his side.  We ate ice cream together at a wonderful heladoria on Parque Calderon.    It was important to Rodrigo that his granddaughters knew about the city that fostered his development.  The building where we ate our helados once housed the high school where Rodrigo learned Latin and the disciplines of biology and physiology.  I felt so humbled and privileged to be with him this day.  Rachel talked with him about being a specialty neo natal nurse in the US.  “You aren’t retiring are you?” he admonished.  I had the feeling Rodrigo wasn’t long out of the practice of medicine.  His passion was still in his eyes and his steady voice.  We had just brushed with the heart of Ecuador and her heart is well.