It’s been noticeably cool of late, cold enough for the Canadians and Yankees who live here to agree on something, a rarity unto itself. The mornings are often crystal clear. Bracing even. Beautifully woven alpaca shawls of every hue are luxuriously wrapped over cotton blouses and swaying skirts buffering women scurrying to work, warmth, and another day on the job. Stiletto heels spark against the pavement. Men commute by foot, as well; however they confine their fashion sense to wearing standard issue business attire or a North Face jacket and jeans. Everyone wears a hat.
This weekend is reserved for the celebration of First Cry of Independence Day.
It is with profound pride that Ecuador celebrates this “first cry;” this failed insurrection that laid the foundation for lasting independence 12 years later. The celebration is another reminder of how the people of Ecuador strive to embrace the many dimensions of freedom — the thirst as well as the quaff. There is a fundamental divide in the historical arc of the U.S. and Ecuador; one is defined by the construction of a political machine sanctioning “manifest destiny”, of exceptionalism, of genocide, of discarding aboriginal culture under the guise that Jesus Christ supported such slaughter. Such savagery did not endure here.
The people of Ecuador did.
The people of Ecuador stoically lived through lifetimes of misery and abuse while mining jewels of compassion and fostering a realization that the struggle is every bit as worthy as the success. The good people of Ecuador were spared the shame of being rabid conquerors. Instead, they were granted the resources to further an understanding of diversity.
Happy First Cry of Independence Day to one and all.
As to be expected, many stores are closed for the holiday and many crafts are being sold street-fair style, with white tents lining courtyards throughout the city. All manners of exquisite hand-crafts are stacked high, the beautiful objects ready to overwhelm their wobbly tables. The melodic song of merchants calling out to passersby is as soft as fine alpaca wool, the monotone resonates like traditional songs of freedom: “This is what I am. This is what I have to offer.”
Our pal and fearless leader, Tim, returned to Quingeo to attend a birthday party for seniors in the literacy program the other day. He said they shot marbles, played musical chairs, had races while balancing an egg on a spoon, and enjoyed cake and ice cream. When he told me of his adventure he said that the people of Quingeo were genuinely overwhelmed that he would take the time to honor their “special day.” The pure grace and humility of the seniors was exposed yet again.
Anyway, we’re thinking about mounting another campaign where you can join us on a bus to Quingeo to surprise these old folks with another dazzling party sometime in February or March. If y’all want to come you better sign up soon. Send me an email. email@example.com
Nothing of any importance has happened of late, and that is a good thing. Of course, there is the small matter of government scandals and the occasional hysteria over perceived slights by inattentive drivers, but overall, life is good. I still enjoy a moment every day, and always without warning, when I am caught mid-stride in wonder once again at the beauty and nature of this special place. The tranquility of sitting in San Sebastian Plaza, having coffee con leche with friends, or reading at home has become very dear to me.
My pace has slowed, now even smaller details have time to be recognized and savored.
I hope my letter finds you well and in good spirits. We’ll chat again, soon.