Sunday, November 22, 2015

Staying cool in the city of Cuenca.


I don’t quite get it. After waiting three years---I don’t quite get why I don’t feel more upbeat than I do about obtaining my cedula last week. It feels ordinary when it’s not ordinary. It’s an official declaration from the government of Ecuador that I’ve been welcomed into the country. That’s something about which to party.

Building on Estevez de Toral near Mariscal de Sucre

I am going to host a party to celebrate, but inside, I feel relatively neutral. Why the sober face?  It’s not because I’m not appreciative. I’m grateful I hired Gringo Visas to work on my behalf to obtain the cedula. I was never worried in any core way---I was sometimes impatient--- yes, but never worried about the ultimate outcome.    
 
Morning rain on Estevez de Toral

I think I’m putting on the long face about Cuenca deliberately because I don’t want to fool myself. It’s just a place to live. It’s not paradise on earth. Nothing on earth is anything like paradise and I don’t want to get moved too much by the romance and antique beauty of this trendy, cosmopolitan city. I want to be reserved and conservative while I let the enormity of the change modify me at a pace I can absorb.
 
I do feel grey, steel currents, some awesome keeling of the sailing vessel as it tacks at an angle in the new wind I’ve chosen to take my life. I’m going to be durable as never before. I never did think I’d suffer respiration troubles. But my lungs lacking capacity at the 8,300 feet of Andean mountain altitude in Cuenca, hurt---enough to get me scrambling to grab an asthma inhaler!  I’ve adjusted by now so I’m fine.

And I am adjusting as a whole, experiencing resurgent vitality and sometimes loads of fun---renewing old connections made in 2012 and making new connections in 2015.

One part of what is intriguing of late to me is the resilience of Ecuadorians. It´s something deep. They don’t as a whole have much money---it seems like what to an ex-pat is chump change is a lot to an Ecuadorian---it’s exactly what they don’t have or can’t afford to spend on extras. The rent I pay for the apartment in which I live is a quite a deal to me---$330 a month for two bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen and sitting área---all utilities included. Yet it´s been explained by Ecuadorian visitors I could get much more  for much  less. These people appear as comfortable and well dressed as anyone with a $60,000 salary back in the states. They have confidence, big city cool and classic composure. Definitely, sex appeal and Catholicism are alive and well in Cuenca. 

Native Ecuadorian in Cuenca

I observe the aged woman wearing a deep colored purple dress and black baseball hat. Her braided hair falls down her back in pigtails, and she’s barefoot. Her leg muscles don’t bulge but they’re developed enough to notice. She carries a basket of fruit and vegetables on her back and she could walk with it fully laden probably across the entirety of Cuenca. The air about her is quiet, accepting, patient.
 
Woman buying bread from man in barrio San Sebastian

I don’t know enough to say much. But Ecuadorians wearing traditional indigenous clothing are called Native Ecuadorians---the people who were living in Ecuador when the Spanish arrived. Their history in South America extends back 11,000 years. According to Wiki, seven percent of Ecuador’s population is indigenous, 72 percent mixed indigenous and European and 20 percent mostly Spanish stock. But I heard an Ecuadorian friend tell me every Ecuadorian is indigenous as they all come from Ecuador.

Cuenca model
  
Chalices used in Catholic Mass