Thursday, October 28, 2010

Now That You've Caught It

Yesterday we spent our first full day in Cuenca. In the morning we still had to deal with lodging for the night, but we got that taken care of and then…then…

Watching paint dry
Then what?

Now if you had somehow got the idea that our family are not planners, let me correct your impression. We have lists of things to do here, lists of things yet to tie up at home, and lists of thoughts that pop up randomly during a day. We each keep several lists in different places on different topics for different purposes.

These are called "systems." Excellent systems. And we each come up with better systems than our previous systems almost every day. Very efficient. Very.

And now we are here having gotten done what we needed to get done to get here. And now we…have to…said we'd…dreamed of…couldn't wait for…

I wonder if this is how Noah felt. You have tons to do in addition to your regular life (just build a gigantic ship to carry every living animal, you know, on lunch breaks or something) that completely consumes you. Till the big day. Close up the doors, and…wait. “Shem, break out the cards. What? What do you mean? Shem, we’re stuck in this smelly, noisy floating zoo for, what, two days, two years? I don’t know. This much I don’t know. I ask. What do I get?  I get ‘…very disappointed in my people…great shame…starting over…you will bring them to a new land, Noah.’ It’s like talking to your mother. So we’re here for God only knows how long, and you forget the cards. Sure, we play Mumblety-peg again, your brother loses another toe. Ham, you are a great carpenter, you could rebuild Heaven from a single tree; for grace you got bupkis. No, we need cards. What are we going to do in here? Shem!...michugena, oy!”

Of course the first day we’re excited to wake up, have breakfast at the hotel, get all ready and go out into our great, unexplored new world. We step out onto the busy Cuenca street, and…which way do we turn? There’s this church plaza right here. Yeah, OK. Nice. Very nice. OK…so did you bring cards, Honey?

All right, maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but there is certainly an unexpected feeling you get when trading one M.O. (the one we’re all familiar with: too much too do, too little time) for another (almost nothing to do and ages to do it). The rush of adventure, the excitement of new sights and sounds and tastes, the reading of poetry while hanging in a hammock…these things don’t just happen to you. You forget that exploring the Undiscovered Country still requires a plan, a map, or at least a decent pair of shoes for walking incessantly around.

So we’re letting the overstuffed life disability wear off so that we can learn again to live again in the moment without a plan, and also learn again to plan, not just to do, but to be.

And we’ll learn some nice new card games.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Leaver of the Pack

We told someone recently that we were not only leaving our dog as we go to Ecuador, but we are giving her away. "But she's your pack--you have to take her with you."

It was Old Yeller or Where the Red Fern Grows or something I saw as a kid, where I'm pretty sure it ended up with the kid, shedding tears, having to shoot his own faithful dog to put him out of his misery or something. Yep, that's me, except it feels more like kicking her out of the back of a moving pickup truck as we approach the Canadian border or something. "Sorry, old girl, no dogs allowed..."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

One Week and Counting (Backwards)

Sometimes I envision writing a book about this experience and helping others to do the same thing. Not because I think I will, but because it helps me get through some of what we're dealing with.

So there I am in my wingback leather chair in my study, pipe sticking out of the corner of my mouth, typing away about the moment when, three weeks before we were scheduled to depart, Ecuador experienced a near coup. Tap tap tap. I pause and chuckle to myself as I remember that moment, that feeling like a flaccid, wrinkly balloon which has had the air let out of it. But now, with the past and our experience behind us, what can one do but laugh about the things that prove of no consequence. Tap tap tap. Hah hah! Yes, rich that. Rich.

Rationally I know from my own experiences and the experiences of others that there are times when the bottom feels like it falls out, but if you keep your head about you, the road will rise up to meet you again. Rationally, I know that. But it helps to put on my mental red satin smoking jacket and sit in my imaginary study and pretend I've lived through it and am oh so seasoned now. Tap tap tap.

Actually the near coup was good practice. Now we are one week out from departure and…seemingly regressing in our progress. We are using an attorney in Ecuador who is a friend of a friend. We have had no direct contact or correspondence with him (he doesn't speak English, and I don't want to risk my Spanish on legal matters), and we have had instructions from him only upon asking our friend what's up. So here we are one week out, and we discover, after inquiring again as to the status, that we must go to the nearest Ecuadorian embassy or consulate to provide some documents and actually get our visas. Los Angeles. One week before we're supposed to leave for Ecuador. The whole family.

Tap tap. Tap.

heh heh. tap.

Good times. Good times.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Quiet Riot

It could have been worse. They could have taken up president Correa’s offer  to “come and kill me!” as he tore open his shirt to expose his chest.