I felt sad while walking about the neighborhood last night where I’m staying at Hostal Rosario on Honorato Vasques street in Cuenca, Ecuador.
Pale flakes sprinkled on my mood while light and color exuded mystery in a locale quietly tossed in song with music and laughter.
I can telephone my only living aunt but can’t drive fifty miles to visit and it’s a dull ache that place that wants to hug and kiss the worn cheek of the woman I will most likely never again see alive.It hurts.
Cuenca salves similar hidden woe without knowing and perhaps in subconscious empathy for me the retired man struggling to understand and speak Spanish. The teenager standing amongst pals greets with fisted hand while the old woman selling goods like Gatorade and Clorets smiles with a welcome to Ecuador expression that warms with kindness I feel.The world looked Spanish from the vantage of Cuenca’s stone streets I trod last night, but I looked in the sky and saw the same moon above San Francisco, Paris and Rome. No matter what anyone may remark about Cuenca noise and dirt or its third world status, no matter what about all that this city draws tourists from around the globe. Hippies carrying backpacks and speaking Italian signal evidence of what I mean about this being an international city. I’ve heard French and German spoken by people taking photos and perusing maps eager to capture new sets of travel memories. Red and yellow double-decker buses accommodate passengers taking tours of the city as Cuenca charms both eye and heart.
I feel in this society a rule of relaxation which doesn’t quite exist in the world from which I came. I’ve learned Cuenca cab drivers don’t like their taxi doors slammed shut while I rush fast to get going. That’s the way I’ve always done it but I’ve been reprimanded for doing so and now close those doors with a much lighter touch. It’s called adjusting. I hope to come upon a future when for myself, after having made more adjustments of various kind, I’ll begin to look upon the planet in a way I’ve never before done. That’s what I hope grow out of my Ecuador experiment.
I start taking Spanish lessons Monday four days a week two hours a day at the Yanapuma school and perceive this the way best to avoid later misunderstandings which have wrinkled interaction with Ecuadorian friends who don’t speak English.
I’m beginning to understand additional Spanish daily on the fly by reading street signs, ordering meals or buying goods at the small mercados. I hear now sometimes words and sentences I understand said by people walking past me on the street and it’s a benefit of immersion when this happens. I’m going to be watching TV and reading books and newspapers in Spanish and without one doubt given patient time, practice and study improvement will accrue to fluent status.