Friday, January 1, 2016

A Tale of Heart on Fire in the City of Cuenca.

I jump over flame on the Cuenca street of Honorato Vasquez this New Year´s eve night. The custom long endures for meanings unsure; I make meaning for myself that the leap takes symbol of vitality born anew.

Fire consumes the remnants of a past now tethered in memory, and over the heat I hurdle onto further offerings of time yet undiscovered for ill or not---and offer gratitude.    
My want for deep experience testifies in an idiom not yet fully learned. Raised in North America to most value intellect, I feel South America calling with warm, heated winds of corporal sense. Cuencanos dance tonight in welcome to the new born 2016, and I saw it so not in an ornate club but in the street dirt of land ancient to earth---not by many couples separate but as people united. I have long waited for these moments without ever knowing.

Death shall not take my life unlived to full measure, not now. I am seed in soil ripe with nutrients for spring growth. Damn the years. Ecuador rubs into me and onto me while connections form into friendships which adhere and bind. I become as graft of vine onto branch.
The owners who rent my apartment extend accepted invitation to their family Christmas. I meet an entire Ecuadorian family from grandparents to sons and daughters, grandchildren, aunts, uncles and cousins---all willing to share family warmth with me the tenant. Laughter ensues as jokes stoke fun and music brings dancing. The wealth in this land of Ecuador derives not from the worth of money. I learn in my bones poverty resides more not in absent material but in the absences of heart.   

Colored lights decorate New Year´s eve night in downtown Cuenca´s Parque Calderon. I purchase a stick of meat cooked by veteran man of many years, and we small talk in the Spanish so far spread about the southern hemisphere. I eat the small measure of food with gusto and take a stone bench to watch what appears about. An man size effigy  in flames explodes to shred the dummy and emit cascades of smoke. The tending 30-something Ecuador man with lighted match then sets rockets skyward which burst above in sound, light and color. We pass greetings and I move to walk myself home. I´ve heard family news this day that weighs, that clouds the spirit of celebration. It gives added measure to knowledge that life struggles in vulnerable circumstance.

I examine a pile of ashes and retrieve this half-burned ledger. The numbers calculate 2015 sales and I get my meaning. The things of life turn to ash. I am ash---not yet made. I sense in Ecuador a facing towards death that grants an extra appreciation for life. I speculate. Hosts of Ecuadorians on the day of the dead flock to the graves of deceased loved ones in cemeteries throughout Ecuador. They sit for hours beside the tombstones, place flowers and cards with messages to family on the other side. They eat and drink. The specter of death does little hide from native Ecuadorians, augmenting ability, it seems to me, to live in manner warmer, more of essence than ways lived in the culture of Caucasian North America.