Expat Life

Five easy pieces

By Robert Bradley

I – ​  It is another one of those days. A stop in your tracks, fresh as new spring day that feels just like the time when you did the best thing ever and even the breeze seemed to be congratulating you. I feel warmth and reassurance.

​II – ​  As I walked through the Plazoleta Cruz del  Vado this morning, I saw clouds the size of monuments. The color of fine marble. My chiseled imagination revealed fantastic stories, survivors from a past age entangled in fog like stone. The clouds became monuments of my own design, deep with meaning unknown and unknowable.

​III – ​ I was walking down Pres. Borrero Street this evening when I was jolted away from my surreal state of mind. Why had I never noticed that building before? For some reason, I had completely and repeatedly overlooked it. It was with a small measure of anxiety that I considered as to why had I not recognized this before, and then it came to me. The facade was simply the last tumbler falling into place, for every other shop, balcony, doorway, and fixture stood clearly in their own light. My conceit was unlocked, I discovered a deeper understanding of place.

​IV – ​  I was resting in the shade under a large tree. I removed my hat to cool my brow and laid back with my eyes closed for a moment. Or so I thought.  Almost immediately embracing warmth suspended me on a cloud just above the headwaters of dreams, the portal between sleep and wakefulness.

I relived a moment 40 years before when the wind caressed me exactly the same way, the temperature perfectly matching that time long ago. The familiar thrum of people scratching, shuffling and speaking echoed from a distance too distant for words but with a melody that rang true and ageless.  My closed eyes sought out the other places where I might visit this dream state. There were many in numbers but singular in nature.

I was the feeling the warmth of home.

​V – ​ I was chatting with a friend the other day when the subjects of my bumpy sidewalks stories and careful street crossings came up. She asked how these things influence my opinion of Cuenca. ​I explained that my photography has improved precisely due to these very factors, for I have learned to be more aware and look more keenly at my surroundings.

Cuenca’s beauty and diversity of opportunity have encouraged me to become actively involved, to be engaged in my surroundings. And it is this engagement that creates the special feeling of belonging.

I am no longer a visitor full of bright-eyed enchantment. I am a​ resident crisply aware that this wonderful place that combines ageless beauty, lavish abundance, and abounding vitality ​is ingrained in me​ now.

Cuenca is indeed a joyful and vigorous land.

I hope to serve it well.

 

Robert Bradley

Robert Bradley

Robert Bradley is a former restaurateur and Manager of multiple Meals on Wheels sites in Portland, OR. He has long experience in public service and community relations. He moved to Cuenca in February ’17.

  • Nat Goodale

    Wonderful writing and perspective. I too love the subtleties of Cuenca and Ecuador.

  • StillWatching

    I’ve never been able to get a handle on what it is that elicits strong memories of distant past events, but the feeling you describe is one I’ve had many times. Sometimes it is a place, a smell, a feel or just the right light that triggers those memories, but for whatever reason, your blue doorway picture took me back to a day that I had 47 years ago and it is a most comfortable and happy memory and for that, I thank you.

    Hasta mañana, Robert.