All right, I am finally back in town with some spare time on my hands to stop in and say hello. It´s been such an awesome time of reflecting and planning.
I went down to Zaruma for a night and two days ( a total of 8hrs spent on the bus). It´s a town built on the side of a mountain, sort of like the modern version of the mysterious Mexican ruins. Everything is small and painted sort of candy-like. There is roads for cars, the sort that you wonder where they aim for when the brakes go out, or how do they know about oncoming traffic? I would marvel and treasure flat spots and huff and puff the rest of the time. Zaruma was founded sometime in the 1500´s and is a gold mining town so in a way it also looks like a city built on an ant hill with all these little mines everywhere.
Luckily, we weren´t at as high of an altitude as Coyote´s sight in Jima. Still. Benito referred to our relation to his house in altitude. ¨We´re 150 ft below my house”,40 minutes later,”We´re 850ft above my house”. I joked with Benito about 3 and 4 story houses that you walked past and each floor was street level at some point. At Benito´s house I practiced my whistling from the roof, went through his music selection and I got to sleep in a hammock. So nice.
Zaruma was the closest to Peru that I got. I realized this when I saw the map and considered a bus ride to cross the border but it was just in hopes for a passport stamp and I wasn´t up for the hassles that there might be with the border patrol. This trip has been more about reconnecting with friends/hiding.
I had done lots of drawing at Coyote´s sight. We hitched up to another little settlement to make soap. The day was spent boiling down pig fat. I kept busy drawing. I love Conté Crayons! It´s like a chunk of graphite so you get lots of thick and thin lines all smudged together and the illusion makes a hazy replica of what you´ve been copying, people think it´s all planned and accurate. I think it would give almost anyone the illusion of artisitic ability. It´s really nifty. It´s also like speed drawing. I drew horses, cats, children, people, the fire, everything. Coyote marveled at my cross culture relations. I didn´t need to speak to anyone, just draw them and they appreciated their world through my eyes. It´s nice to feel like I am accomplishing something without understanding a word of the language.
The hitches were adventurous in themselves. It was more about trying not to envision yourself hurling over the top of the pick-up and over the edge of the mountain than about what sort of person was offering the ride. They throw their vehicles around the twisted mountains with little regard about oncoming traffic, sharp bends, or potholes. Potholes is a loose term I think it is actually ditches created by water run off, roads are more like a dried river bed going down a mountain.
In the mornings Coyote has repeatedly made me burnt banana pancakes, we´ve sipped our local Zaruma coffee or Peruvian coffee as we talk about our plans, guys, how they all go together, and how our futures might be able to overlap. We want to publish books, go hiking, help Dad on the sailboat. I even told her about his sawmill business and how we could be the ones to learn and run his sawmill. That would be so awesome. One really fun idea that Coyote mentioned was to get a house boat and sail it around the coast or on the Mississippi River. We could write, publish, and sell our books from there. Have a little coffee shop/bookstore on board. How fun would that be?
I sort of felt guilty a couple of times for not being out there and “traveling”, you know, drawing to communicate, seeing a new place every night, being lost. But I still got to do some of that, I make up for it whenever I am in Cuenca alone. With Coyote and Benito I have seen tiny pieces of Ecuador that aren´t on the regular tourist map. With their help I had better conversations with people. Got to see some culture and some history. I like to be at Coyote´s place and envision the Peace Corps life. It´s very quiet. Lots of time to plan.
Last night I got to be on my own again. Coyote is coming to Cuenca and we are going to take the night bus up to Quito but I came early to have a peaceful Sabbath. Jima is having a crazy festival. I ended up picking up my custom made boots on my own. Yes, it did work out. I am now the uncertain owner of a pair of knee high boots!!! Another great accomplishment in Ecuador. My only regret is that I did a horrendous job at haggling and instead of paying $60 which is still a little pricey for Ecuador, I paid $85. Humph. Well, I am hoping that they earn their keep. I went to the leathershop to hand pick the leather to be used. I had about 2 choices. I hope to one day be wearing them often but I do not feel graceful on these uneven cobblestone sidewalks for the moment. The Peace Corps people at the Cuenca house have been very supportive about the price and the boots. Of course I would never find custom made boots at that price and leather ones off the shelf are most likely more expensive as well. I just want to know about the quality.
I had the realization that my highschool reunion is coming up this summer and I just recieved word that one of my friends that informed me of wedding plans before I left for Antarctica is actually getting married on a day that I can attend! What a way to greet being back home.
Today I was able to ask for a Mr. Freeze type frozen treat by remembering the ¨Ma-nah-ma-na” song. I ate with other Peace Corps people last night (pizza) and they sang the flavor to that tune. I did have to draw a picture of a Mr. Freeze to get the initial frozen tube of sugar but by mumbling “wah-na-ma-na” I got the recommended white flavor. Nifty!
All right, well, I´ll see about writing in Quito, I´ll be home next week, how crazy is that? I am excited but planning on going to Oklahoma before I can even say hi. Hope to see some of you then. Bye.