Friday, June 7, 2013

What a Beautiful Day

Yesterday was a fabulous day here in Cotacachi.  Of course, there are far more fabulous days here than there are challenging ones but yesterday seemed particularly good.

When the skies are clear (or almost clear) we get up to views of the mountains that are stunning.  I took this photo while pet sitting just a few blocks from home but you can see them from all over town. What a beautiful view!

This is a corner of one of our parks in town and a peek down the main street.  Of course there's Mt. Cotacachi in the background.  By the way, the statues in the park represent the city's claims to fame--the fellow in the middle is a leather worker with his apron on and a table in front of him where he's working with a piece of leather.  The man on the left and boy on the right are musicians, depicting our strong musical heritage here.  The canopies behind them are for an indigenous artisan market that operates seven days a week.  In all the time I've been here (over a year, now) I've never seen them closed.

When you turn around and look the other way, there's Mt. Imbabura.  He always looks so handsome when there are a few clouds around to make a hat or a scarf.  Yesterday they didn't quite pull it off but he's still pretty amazing.  By the way, legend has it that he and Mt. Cotacachi have quite a relationship going on.  If you get up in the morning and Mama Cotacachi has new snow on her peak it means the Papa Imbabura has visited her the night before.

When I come back from my walk with Paco (my little buddy I'm sitting for right now), this is the view I get of Mt. Imbabura.

Paco and I go for our first walk around 6:30 (yes, I can actually get up that early when necessary--I've been known to get up then even when I don't have to but it's not a frequent event when I don't have a little someone telling me it's time to go outside).  We head for the park and take a stroll around it.  Since I've been over here and wandering around the park before things really get perking around here, I've seen one of our homeless people where he takes shelter at night.

Banco Pichincha is in one of more modern buildings here.  The shelter it provides for people using the ATM also provides a covered night-time place for this man to stay.  He has far more belongings that most of the homeless people I've seen here.  As with most of them, he takes everything with him when he travels.

He was very generous in letting me take his photo.  Of course I thanked him by giving him breakfast money.  That isn't the reason for that smile, though.  He smiles a lot.

He's a very ingenious fellow.  He's made a wagon of sorts to haul much of his stuff around.  I see him walking down the street pulling his wagon behind him.  I have no idea how get gets everything from his night-time shelter to wherever he goes during the day but he obviously manages it because I see him here every morning and I never see him during banking hours or even when Paco and I go for our last walk of the day around 8:00.  [Update June 8: I saw him packing up this morning and realized how silly it was of me not to have figured out how he gets everything where he needs it to be.  He hauls it all with him--all of it--at the same time.  See the big white bag?  He ties that to his back. Then he puts the black bag that's right next to him over his head so it hangs down in front. Finally he picks up the smaller bags in one hand and the box with wheels in the other and carries it all down the steps.  When he gets to even ground he gets to pull the box instead of carrying it.  Even as small and frail-looking as this man is, he's stronger than most people I know, just as most people here are.]

What makes this a good thing here is that the homeless people aren't rousted like they are so often in the States.  As long as he behaves well (not accosting people on the street or failing to leave before the bank opens, for instance), he's left in peace.  We don't have a shelter yet but we're about to get a soup kitchen and the plans are to try to at least provide a space where the homeless can take a shower and possibly even a shelter at some point.  It's all through volunteer contributions so it will take a while to get just the kitchen going but it's a beginning and an opportunity for the beggars and those who are poor beyond belief to get a hot meal every day.

On Wednesday I had bought $2 worth of organic pickling cucumbers so Paco and I went home and I made refrigerator pickles.  I had enough cucumbers to make 12 cups of slices.  Next time I'll get $1 worth of them.  That's actually plenty, even when I give several jars to friends.

After breakfast and a shower, I was off to do some grocery shopping.  When I shop at Monica's, I can take Paco with me since he's a very well-behaved little guy but Tia is less dog friendly so he stayed home this time.  I also stopped at the bakery on my way back.  I really wish the bakeries had bread that was a little more interesting but it's still fresh, homemade bread and rolls.  I learned long ago to get as much as I need for one day--two at the most--because they don't use any preservatives and it dries out in no time at all.

At 1:00 it was time to go to Casi Olivia's for the Thursday needlework group.  It's a smaller group than the Tuesday morning one but we still have an awfully good time.  The bonus is that it's in a restaurant so I have lunch while I'm there.  I picked out some more organic produce before I headed home shortly after 3:00.

In addition to the cucumbers, I had also gotten five little Japanese eggplants the day before ($1) and went to work making a very abbreviated version of moussaka. I really love that.  It dirties up about every pot and pan in the house but it is so very good.  I had a friend over to share it with me and we had a lovely time.  We hadn't had a chance to get together in forever so it was fun catching up.

When she and her puppies headed home, Paco and I went out for his evening walk around the park.  Well, that's when the day got really interesting.

There were a bunch more cars around than I usually see pretty close to 8:00 at night.  There were also lots of guys standing around in black suits with white shirts but most were minus their bow ties.  Oh, and two buses that announced they were Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional del Ecuador. Darn!  There had been a concert and I missed it!  I was devastated and irritated.  The side of the buses announced their June tour schedule and Cotacachi was last night and Ibarra (about a 45 minute bus ride from here) was to be tonight.  I asked one of the musicians where in Ibarra they would be playing.  After he told me he asked why I didn't go tonight.  I tried to say I didn't know it was going to be here.  I apologized for not speaking enough Spanish to get my thoughts across properly and he said, perfectly, "Oh, do you speak English?" It was really very funny.  Anyway, I had jumped to the wrong conclusion that because they didn't have their ties on that they had finished and were getting ready to leave.  NO!  They were getting ready to begin--in eight minutes.  I dashed back to Paco's house, dropped him off, grabbed a shawl to cover up the T-shirt I was wearing since I didn't have time to change clothes, and hurried back up there.  I didn't even have time to grab my camera.  I found a seat just as they were getting ready to begin.

It was amazing.  It was breath-taking.  It filled me with joy and excitement.  There was a classical guitarist who joined them and played a couple of solos who was out of this world.  I've heard flamenco music on television and in movies but to hear him was, well, indescribable.  There was orchestral salsa.  Who knew?  There was Debussy. The last piece was very fast and made you just want to clap along and pretty soon the conductor turned to us and indicated that we should join in.  We did--with gusto.  Did I say it was amazing?  Oh, yes, I guess I did, didn't I?

When it was done, about 90 minutes later, I was far too keyed up to go straight home but Eddie's opened up for us (Eddie had been at the concert) and I spent a little while in there, talking and listening.

What an amazing day and night.  No, this wasn't a typical day but things happen all the time that are unexpected and full of wonder.  It's like that for all of us, it's just harder to notice some days than others.     

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