Ecuador 8/31/2018 - 9/15/2018

Thursday, 9/13/2018 - Abuelita and Ice Cream

This morning when I went upstairs to get set up in my office, Abuelita followed me. She watched with interest as I plugged my laptop cord into the wall, and plugged in my USB headset. She approached and stood next to me, looking at my set-up with a big smile on her face. She doesn't pose, so it is difficult to capture her vitality in photos. If I do manage to preserve her joyous nature digitally, it is usually due to luck. I realized that this was the perfect opportunity for something I have never attempted: a selfie with Abuelita! I pointed my phone at the two of us and managed to get a great shot, although it was a bit off-center. I tried again but by then she had already moved and was now in profile. I felt quite happy with the images that I captured...her charisma really comes through.

I didn't have an early meeting, so I had breakfast with the family: scrambled eggs, ham, cheese, bread, juice, and coffee made with hot milk instead of water.

Sisa was dismissed early from school. Antonio had to go to Otavalo to meet with Vista Para Todos, the charitable organization which had performed Shina's eye surgeries. She is having some trouble reading and writing due to her visual disability, so he wanted to get some documentation to try to get an aide to help her at school. Sisa went with him to the appointment and then they went together to Ibarra for her English class.

For lunch, we had soup, pasta, a fried egg, and mixed vegetables. I ate upstairs while I was in a conference call. The pasta had been cooked in an Asian sauce which Rosa had bought at the supermarket in Otavalo. She said that Javier had brought some when he visited once, and the family had really liked it.

After only 3 days, Abuelita's baby chicks are convinced that she is their mother. They were together in front of her outdoor kitchen when she realized that she needed to get something upstairs. She left them and walked up the stairs. While she was gone, they wandered around forlornly, as though they were lost. When she came back outside, they ran to her and fell into step in single file behind her. It was so adorable.

We heard music coming from a truck in the distance. We asked the kids what it was, and Yupanqui and Shina told us that it was the ice cream truck. They didn't make a big deal about it, but Craig and I did. I grabbed some coins and we headed out to the street and called the kids to join. Soon a pickup truck emblazoned with the familiar logo of "Cosmic Cat Ice Cream" slowed to a stop in front of us. The driver seemed a bit confused to be flagged down by a pair of gringos. It was like he thought we might have mistaken him for a cab. Yeah, if a cab had trippy artwork on the side and two soft serve machines in the back. I assured him that we were indeed looking to buy ice cream.

He prepared six cones for us, some vanilla and some strawberry. They cost twenty-five cents each. We gave one to Shina and Yupanqui, as well as to Rosa, and we each took one ourselves. We had earmarked the last one for Aida, but she had disappeared. Abuelita came down the stairs, and Craig offered a cone to her. We weren't sure whether she would want it, but she got a huge smile on her face and reached out to take us, thanking us. And I caught it on film! This was my lucky day with Abuelita shots, for sure! She took her cone back to her outdoor kitchen, and we saw her scrape off a small bit of ice cream to give to El Señor Chipikins.

Delicious Ice Cream: The Cosmic Cat
25 cent cones

After eating our ice cream, we went with Abuelita to her outdoor kitchen and enjoyed standing in the warmth of her fire. A pack of dogs entered the yard and ran off behind the guest house. Cachupin was reluctant to join them, but when he heard one of his friend dogs yelp, he took off in pursuit.

The sky looked really interesting with the late afternoon sun peering out from behind cloud cover. It almost felt like an eclipse.

We spent some time this afternoon packing up the casita. We would leave for home early on Saturday morning, so tomorrow was our last chance to pack. We knew that we would want to spend time with the family tomorrow, so we got a head start today. We took an inventory of everything that we were leaving behind, and wrote a list of things that we knew we needed to bring next time.

Shina and Yupanqui were playing with El Señor Chipikins. Shina tucked him into their bed, and Yupanqui gave him a kitten themed coloring book to look at as if it were a magazine. They are so adorable! It is cute to see their interactions when Sisa isn't home. As the eldest, the kids emulate her. But when left to their own devices, they showcase their own creativity.

Sisa and Antonio returned from Ibarra. Her teacher in the village has decided not to give her homework on Mondays and Thursdays in order to be supportive of her English studies. That is very thoughtful and helpful, since for all intents and purposes Sisa puts in two 12 hour days per week!

For dinner we had soup, beef, potatoes, cucumber and tomato salad, and rice.

Cachupin came home limping. I wondered if he had gotten injured by that pack of dogs. I went to get him a granola bar (a treat that we occasionally give to him and he very much enjoys). He always remembers that we do this, and looks at us in anticipation every time we emerge from the casita. I approached himn with the familiar green foil wrapper, and he started to wag his tail. I spent some time with him outside, petting him and making sure he was ok. Chipikins gets most of the attention these days, but Cachupin is a well behaved and loyal dog. We always try to show him some love.

When I went back into the kitchen, the family presented us each with a sweater. It was so sweet of them. Soon everyone was yawning after a long day, so we retired to our rooms.

Just as I was adjusting the sheets on my top bunk (the way the bed is constructed makes it a bit difficult for it to remain tucked in), I heard the sound of raindrops hitting our roof. The much anticipated rain was arriving! I ran outside in my pajamas to get my laundry off the clothesline. I ran into Rosa, who was doing the same, and Antonio, who was trying to protect the speakers that he had been constructing. We all laughed, running into one another in the dark wearing our pajamas, happy for the rain's arrival but trying to do what damage control we could.
Selfie with Abuelita in my office

Selfie with Abuelita in my office

Sisa preparing to go to Ibarra for English class

Sisa preparing to go to Ibarra for English class

Shina and El Senor Chipikins with Abuelita photobomb

Shina and El Señor Chipikins with Abuelita photobomb

Craig gives Abuelita an ice cream cone

Craig gives Abuelita an ice cream cone

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