Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Life Lessons

Gray Days in Quito

I am alternatively angry, irritated, disgusted, fearful, defeated, sad. I was robbed again last night,this time on the Ecovia. I was rushing to a dance performance at the Teatro Nacional, and just to save a dollar, I took the Ecovia after 6:30. I found myself a safe little space between the two halves of the bus, and just a stop away I checked my cellphone for the time. I still had two minutes to get to Casa de la Cultura and find a seat. I put my phone back in my purse, (forgot to zip it, mea culpa) and squeezed past unyielding bodies to get out the door. I immediately looked for my cell to call Eric and tell him that I made it, when I discovered that both the phone and a few dollars were gone!

So this is the fourth robbery for us. I am tallying our losses: a laptop computer and computer bag, a camera, seven cellphones including an iphone, several hundred dollars, my (indispensible) English Spanish dictionary, a sweatshirt, two pairs of underwear, a totebag, a car radio, a carlock, my camera instruction manual, and most importantly, my confidence and sense of security. I am told to accept that this is simply the way it is here, to be more careful, to be happy I was not knifed or shot or killed, but I am not comfortable with this reality.

Just last week, Eric talked about moving to Ecuador permanently. I was feeling good about our experience here and perhaps I was forgetting the losses, and I expressed enthusiasm. As of this moment, I cannot imagine living in constant fear, never knowing when I will be threatened.

I have adjusted to living simply, I have embraced our minimalist existence. Perhaps knowing it was not permanent made it easier, but I am amazed that I am so comfortable with less, that I do not miss all that STUFF that I thought was essential. I have not become accustomed to losing the little that I have.

Why is there a Plane in the Park?

I wonder if this is some sort of life lesson, that giving up my life and my work and my house and all that was familiar was a way to grow and to evolve, but what am I supposed to learn from being a victim of crime over and over again? My father, who knows about loss, was always emphatic when I lost something, that 'things are things' and never as important as relationships and family, to be thankful for what is important and let go of the material stuff, all of which is in fact inessential.

I spent my morning helping wrap 385 presents for needy children. The group of Canadian women I am associated with used the money we made at the bazaar to purchase the gifts, which we will give to the children for Christmas. I was reminded that the average yearly income of Ecuadorians is less than $3000 a year, so I am trying to understand the level of crime as a reflection of the high poverty rate, but nothing is working to moderate my bitterness.

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