I was talking with a friend recently who told me, “I’m thinking I might move back tothe U.S.” I was quite surprised both by his announcement and his reasoning. He said he is having difficulty making friends and feels he might have better luck if he returned to the North American heartland.
What? I recalled he originally moved here because he felt isolated in his hometown of nearly 40 years. And, he was having difficulty making friends.
It just didn’t make sense to me.
As I walked home afterward, I considered his predicament and came away with this suggestion: have faith.
One of my strongest attachments to Cuenca, in addition to the ease of making friends, is the abundance of faith I see every day. Although I do not consider myself particularly religious, I am deeply moved and influenced by the power of faith exhibited here — and not simply in church.
The men and women from the campo have a faith that is firmly rooted in the soil. Their faith in a good harvest that will sustain them and is strong and unbending, buffering them against the winds of change. When a late or early rain drains their plans, they start over, fully believing that a future harvest will bear fruit.
Students are optimistic. There is zero consideration that their life will be cut down by misfortune. Instead, students here have faith that they will participate in a future that includes better opportunities and an ever-maturing relationship with their families.
Shop keepers throughout Cuenca are tidying up their businesses. Fresh paint and remodeling is evident on nearly every block. Folks are enthusiastic; they have faith in better days to come.
City officials have faith that expanding pedestrian zones, will encourage leisurely exercise and offer multiple opportunities to visit comfortable outdoor cafes, or shop in a cute boutique, a single block away, that is showcasing a designer. Rather than the yammering of motorbikes, one hears an aviary of voices … and occasionally even birds.
City planners are, at long last, putting the finishing touches on an enhanced public transportation option suitable for everyone. Workers near the Rotary Market, Feria Libre, and the city’s heart will have easy access to their destination without the burden, and ever-increasing cost, of parking a car. Those fortunate enough to be retired, and visitors familiar with innovation, will welcome the low step, quiet option the tranvia will provide.
The city of Cuenca has faith that electric buses, an expanded tram system, and a grid crisscrossing the city connecting bike lanes and pedestrian paths, will assist everyone to get out and enjoy the day while being social, active, and environmentally conscious.
I too have faith in the people of Cuenca. And, I imagine there are scant few who do not harbor some precious moment when a stranger held out a hand of support or took time out of their day to patiently attend to your needs. I know it happens all the time.
I hope my friend reads my response and makes a thoughtful choice. We have but one life to live, and he may prefer to spend his time in the nurturing embrace of strongly held faith.