Saturday, January 23, 2010


Pichincha is Back!

How unusual it is to be home, sleeping in my own bed, cooking in my miniature kitchen, familiarizing myself with Quito again. Eric left for the airport before 8, but called me frantically a little before 9, having forgotten a crucial electronic item, so Maya and I raced to the airport to deliver it before he got on the plane right back to Coca. This time he is going to the Yasuni Research Station, deep in the forest across the river from Sacha. He is traveling with Erika and her boyfriend Victor, who have been preparing equipment for the research planned for the next week in Yasuni. Kathy, another professor who was on the course with us, stayed behind at Sacha to meet two of her students who had been working at Yasuni the whole time we were on the trip with the students. She will be returning to Yasuni with Scott and Peter to work on her research project involving soil.

Maya and I were invited to a tenth birthday party in Tumbaco, which is in the valley next to Quito and a little past Cumbaya. I am comfortable taking the bus there, so we met Guillermo at the nearby 'El EspaƱol' (coffee shop), and he drove us to his lovely home far away from the din of the city. There were about 50 children playing. A huge 'Titanic' blow-up slide occupied most of the back yard, and in another part of the property had a soccer field and a trampoline. Maya was tentative, but whenever I asked her if she wanted to go home, she insisted on staying. I talked with Guillermo about the sorry state of the economy and the concerns about the direction President Correa is taking for the country. I met all sorts of friends and family, and found myself automatically kissing each right cheek of every man, woman and child. I was asked about how I felt about Ecuador, and of course I expressed my concerns about security, and that started a lively conversation about crime and class and prejudice and the uncertainties about living in Ecuador. The Spanish was rapid, and I tried to understand, but was unable to say much, taking far too long to say anything sensible, so I listened. It was clear that many in Ecuador are very anxious about the future of the country.

It was late afternoon when Maya and I finally arrived home. We were both exhausted after our two week marathon with the students, and could easily have fallen into bed, but we went to see the 'Avatar' movie instead. I had seen it in 3D over Christmas, and after our time in the rainforest, I wanted very much to show it to Maya. It was intense in parts, and she objected to the noise and the scary parts, but afterward we had a lively discussion about the parallels between the story in the film and the destruction of the jungle and the incredible connection between the indigenous people and their environment. I am missing the jungle already.

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