Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ciao, Ambuqui

My planned 3 week “trial run” in Salinas de Guaranda turned into a stay of just over a month. It went well, and I am looking forward to returning in January, or sooner if possible. For now I am back in Ambuqui, and as always this little house feels a lot like home, yet this “homecoming” I do believe will be my last.

I have been nursing a cuba libre for half an hour (I would kill for an ice cube), staring at the keyboard and hoping my fingers will start moving. No dice. But I would like to post something – it`s been over a month.

- Noted today that bus drivers are most reckless and therefore most dangerous when a pretty girl is sitting in the jumpseat up front next to his. Most of the time he is checking out her cleavage and making small talk, only occasionally bothering to glance at the road. When he does take a moment to have a look at the road it is only to perform a nearly impossible pass on a blind curve or some other life threatening maneuver meant to gain her respect and admiration. The drivers helper, el ayudante, obligingly serves as wing man , keeping the conversation moving along briskly and occupying her momentarily while the driver catches a closer look at the goodies. Amazing what you can learn by keeping your eyes on the big mirror in the front of the bus. After a while I dozed off and when I woke up 15 minutes later the pretty girl was gone, and the driver stared blankly out at the road ahead.

- My favorite breakfast place when in Ibarra is the Pushkin Café. I have no idea where the name comes from, (I will ask someday) but I love the Soviet/Eastern European literary allusions that it evokes. I ate there this morning (dos huevos con tocino y hamon, queso, jugo de mora, café y pan –$2.30) and was happy when the proprietress noted that I had not been in for awhile. I told her I had been away, but would come back soon. I`ll ask about the name.

- On my way from Ibarra to Salinas last month I took a bus that routinely bypasses Quito but makes a stop in an outlying community called Pifo. There we are allowed a few moments to stretch our legs, use the bathroom, grab a bite to eat – very civilized, actually. I leaned up against a wall which had been warmed by the sun for a minute while the bus was unloading passengers and goods not traveling on. As I watched, a little girl of about 10 or 11 years motioned for me to come help her. At her feet was a large canvas bag loaded with godknowswhat. She asked me to lift it and put it on her back. I did, just barely – the bag surely weighed 100 pounds, if not more. I held it there while she wrapped a blanket around her huge load and her little body. She said “gracias” and trundled off, nearly bent in half. I shook my head in disbelief and hoped she did not have far to go.

- Today (Dec.8) is my fathers` birthday. If still living he would be 89 years old. He died at 84, which isn`t too bad. I`m not sure I want to live that long – another 30 years. Can`t imagine it. 20 years more seems sufficient. Happy Birthday, Dad, I miss you.

11 diciembre

Back in the dark ages, when black vinyl and a turntable were your only real option for listening to recorded music, a British blues-rock band called Ten Years After put out a great album which I have forgotten the name of. One of the songs on this LP was called “leavin`again” and I have been singing it to myself all day. Have made the decision that it is time, after 2 years and 2 months, to wave goodbye to Ambuqui. It has been a good, good home to me, but as I have mentioned before – if I have a future in Ecuador it is not here. So the day has been spent, like so many other days in my life, packing boxes, dividing stuff into piles, filling wastebaskets, re-reading parts of favorite books, repacking, and wondering where did all this shit come from???

I thought about counting up all the houses, apartments, rooms, tents, motels, camper vans, etc. that I have lived in thus far – then decided against it, figuring it would either be too depressing or too exhilarating. Better to stay on an even keel, keep working, keep packing. At times in my life I have left a home with great sadness and with very little hope, but that is not the case now. As I look out my window at the scrubby mountainside, I know I will miss the dry and hot beauty of Ambuqui, and at times I will miss the languorous indifference of my friends here; their wistfulness, and their seemingly complete dedication to never change. Nevertheless for me, no sadness, plenty of hope, and eyes on the future. Imagine that.

Some of my stuff, tools, a few books, and warmer clothing will go back with me to Salinas. The rest I will leave with some friends in Ibarra, or give away here in Ambuqui. Next week I will go to Quito armed with a slew of papers from the foundation in Salinas, all and more of which are required to renew my visa. It could be easy, just a few hours, or it could be hell – days, even weeks, return trips to Quito, etc. – possibly without success. I`m rooting for easy.


“There`s a lot of beauty and a lot of good folk in this old world, child. Don`t you ever forget that.”

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