I’ve been granted a gift greater than any vast fortune; I’m in love with the most marvelous woman ever. She is alluring, smarter than I am by a country mile, is extraordinarily kind, consistently generous towards others, deeply reflective, and enjoys a spiritual awareness that is refreshing and vigorous. She shares my addiction to solitary pursuits. Her nationally recognized stature as a talented writer is formidable but not symphonic; it is as straight up and productive as a Minnesota cornfield.
She loves to dance. She doesn’t want her portrait published.
I’m full-fledged stoked.
I also renewed my love affair with Ecuador; I moved to a small village overlooking the enchanting town of Paute.
Paute is a farming community of 25,000 with few expats; their number is surely under 60. The stair-steep mountains that dominate the region are crawling with greenhouses like caterpillars incubating tomatoes, lettuce, and unfurling flowers.
Sunday is, by far, the busiest day of the week. Law offices and banks are open and crowded. The Mercado is spilling over knee-high walls saturating sidewalks and pathways with a fantastic stew of hand thrown pottery, cast iron farm tools, and fine food of every variety. The cuy market is bustling. Dozens of ducks are discussing each other’s quackery and their own unknown future in cages suitable only for short-term residency; a few more are housed in old rice sacks. I bet they think they are in a snowstorm.
People are bent on their tasks just as their parents’ grandparents had done on their Sundays – now as fixed as mist driven morning clouds.
Being addressed as a neighbor is way more special than calling you a friend. Most families are content to share their days working together on the farm and dancing on holidays to tunes older than the oldest can remember. Most expats are treated with patience, a touch of befuddlement, and pity that they have no family members living within 60 meters of their home.
The streets are deserted by 8 p.m., the only conspicuous racket is bolted to a beat-up dirt bike struggling to deliver pizza to people glowing in the ice cave glare of a Netflix movie. Dogs bark at each other over the long-distance telephone line of echoes bouncing among the peaks.
And so it goes.
I will continue to commute to Cuenca a couple of days a week to check out what is interesting and will write often of my home. There is a lot to see when the pace is as leisurely as walking a curious dog.
I am very happy here. I spend all day mad crazy in love, spend my nights watching stars drift towards Asia, and wake to roosters crowing a greeting moments before dawn.