Lights on the Rio Tomebamba mean it’s Christmastime in Cuenca
We don’t do Thanksgiving here in Cuenca but our Christmas is spectacular.
My apartment is on a section of the Tomebamba River that is festooned with a string of blue lights across the river every 75 feet or so and this year they have added fish, frogs and ducks. The timing had nothing to do with Thanksgiving but on the Friday after Thanksgiving crews were busy laying out the power cables for the Christmas lights. Then a couple of weeks later I looked out the window and there was an angel on a pole just across the street, shining directly into my apartment. The hustle and bustle continues and intensifies, culminating in the 7 hour El Niño parade on Christmas eve, when 10,000 people from parishes near and far participate, each with their version of Mary, Joseph and Jesus along with many secular entrants.
I have considered Cuenca to be home for some time now but have been thinking a little more deeply about what “home” means to me. My first and “deep in my gut” home is Oregon, where I was born on the coast in Tillamook and spent nearly 30 years growing up and getting my formal education, including 2 years in the Army.
Then, it was on to California for three years in Sacramento before moving to Oakland and the East Bay for 50 years, which became my second home. And now, after 6 ½ years, Cuenca has become my third home, and at age 88 I assume my external journey is completed, but who knows what life will bring me?
But my internal journey, which has been helped by these years in the tranquility of Cuenca, continues. My basic belief is that society works better when people cooperate, when there is a level of trust within the community, and we see the other with curiosity rather than fear. Behaving in that way gradually changes the brain and is passed on in our DNA. So my goal has been to be more loving, compassionate and forgiving of the frail human being while I make a judgment of wrongdoing for his action in murdering someone. And if I want a loving society the only person that I can change is me, so the better I can be the better society will be.
So I continue with my interesting, at times difficult, at times exhilarating, journey that I believe is more important than any “practical” goal I set for my life. Since it is impossible for us frail humans to become fully loving, this is a lifelong endeavor with many more “oops” moments than “ah” moments. And for me, having some sense of internal peace and well being, it has been well worth the trip.
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My slow healing eye has now put off surgery to no earlier than March. My frustration level jumped a lot for a while but has mostly returned to a generally low level.
A couple of weeks ago on the way to the lavanderia with my dirty clothes there were a couple of young women standing in a doorway talking. One of them said to me “Good day” in a very British sounding way. Since she had brown skin I was intrigued so on the way back I stopped and asked. She was from Egypt, had been here for a couple of months and was loving Cuenca. There was a bit more chatting and then, out of the blue, a sudden mutual hug and twirl with big smiles and for a few seconds we were in a different space. Cuenca is a wonderful place.
Cuidense. And my love, Dave.