Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I wonder if the altitude is affecting my sleep. I am having scary dreams, but perhaps that is because just before bed, I heard some bloodcurdling screams, convincing me that someone was being murdered nearby. It turns out that a woman was giving birth in the fertility clinic next door, and that this was quite ordinary. So along with the wind howling and the dogs barking and the woman screeching a few feet from my bed, it is understandable that I am having nightmares and sleeping fitfully. I wake up feeling uncomfortable and uncertain as to whether I have slept at all. And at one point during the night I found both of Maya's feet in my face: she moves around the bed constantly.

Maya was off to camp early and I took the opportunity to take a morning walk in the sunshine. The mountains were clearly visible in every direction and the view was stunning. I was expecting to look for more apartments when I returned to the house, but after a second breakfast, the priority was to find a machete for Vincent, Erika's boyfriend from Montreal, who is traveling home Thursday and cannot leave Ecuador without one.

Time has a curious quality to it here. I find myself waiting and waiting for things to occur; somehow I am not able to make anything happen, and then suddenly I have to rush back to get Maya. It is a new experience to be so powerless. My fear about being robbed makes me hesitant to go out on my own. I cannot lose my other camera, and have too little money to stomach another loss. I find myself getting more and more restless in the house, but anxious about leaving, and I don't want Maya to be wondering where I am if I am late to pick her up.

Maya is quite content to attend her morning camp and her afternoon ballet. I want to explore the town and experience everything. Instead, I am held hostage to my own fears.

It rained in the afternoon when I walked to the ballet school and then further to look at another apartment. The views of the surrounding mountains were wonderful again until I looked down and saw block after block of cinderblock and corrugated metal shelters. These were homes to the poor, but the lady showing us the apartment assured us that they were 'good' poor people, whatever that meant. Did it mean we were safe from crime? I doubt that. Maya pointed out that the poor could not help it, they needed to eat and to live, and that theft was perhaps all they could do to survive. My perception of this place is significantly altered by the robbery, and it is impossible to reflect on the poverty without discomfort and unease.

I will try again tomorrow to take the risk and go downtown to experience what I know this city has to offer.

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