Thursday, December 2, 2010

odds and ends

Odds and ends, in no particular order.

Cahuasqui 5 PM. Oct 31. Up at the house en la loma. It´s a beautiful day, and I´m punching 10 inch diameter holes through the 2 foot thick rammed earth walls to see just how hard it´s going to be to put a few windows in the place. Right now there are none;imagine generations of the same family living in a house almost continuously for almost 100 years and never once thinking “hmm, a window over there might be nice.” Well maybe they did think about it, who knows. Perhaps so many hours were spent outdoors in the daily routine that when sunset came it was a relief to go inside, shut the door and forget about the damned fresh air, the sun, the heat, the cold, and the rain for a little while.

Down below in town the weekly soccer game is in progress, the rivals to the locals having come in by bus from Pablo Arenas or Urcuqui. The sound system as usual is blaring away, and everyone up and down the entire valley is at this very moment listening to “Call Me” by Blondie. I wonder who chooses the music at these things. . .

Ibarra 6.30 AM Oct 1 - The day after the “attempted coup” and I am in the Ibarra bus terminal on my way to Natabuela to work at the hogar de los discapacitados. President Correa has made his triumphant return to the palace and given his rousing and defiant speech, denouncing the striking police and as well his political foes. In the “battle for his release” from the police hospital 4 or 5 young men have been killed, several more badly injured. Correa calls them heroes; he takes no responsibility for the series of events and his own provocations which led to this senseless, and some say choreographed, violence. In Guayaquil, Quito, and throughout the country dozens if not hundreds of stores have been looted, banks robbed, automobiles burned or overturned, etc. etc. Correa, standing late last night on the balcony of the presidential palace - with large screens, cameras and sound systems somehow, mysteriously, already in place - pounds his chest and vows to punish those responsible. . .

The terminal, normally bustling at this hour, is quiet. Wafting sweetly from the overhead speakers, heard only by a few and likely understood only by me, comes a poignant lament from the band REM - “Everybody Hurts.” So true, on this particular morning.

Salinas de Guaranda 1.30 AM Nov 5 - Someone is ringing the church bells. The Padre is out of town, in Ambato, so I figure that one or two of the local delinquents or borrachos are out having a lark and a laugh - but the peal of the bells is so sweet and soulful, totally without malice, honestly one of the most beautiful sounds I have ever heard. On and on it goes, or so it seems in my half awake state, and before the mysterious bell ringer tires of his folly I drift back off to sleep.

A day later there is an afternoon mass. A matriarch of the town, 90 years old and whose name is unknown to me has died the night before, about 20 minutes before the sound of ringing bells gently roused me from my sleep. And although it is not at all original, I found myself for several days thereafter recalling lines from John Donne “never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”

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