Friday, April 16, 2010
I am feeling conflicted. I have less than three months left in Quito, and so much to see and do in so little time, shortened by the week or weeks that I will be in Baltimore, yet I am also trying to slow down and live a quieter and less frantic existence. I am more comfortable when I am running all the time, with projects and appointments and deadlines. I expected to sleep so much more in Ecuador than I did in my previous life, but somehow I manage to fill every moment so that I am still sleeping only four or five hours a night because there is so much to do and no time to rest and I will sleep when I am dead.
I am definitely slowing down these past couple of weeks ( maybe just a week), allowing myself to crawl into bed after Maya leaves for school, reading mindless novels on my new kindle ( an addicting new toy), not having an agenda each day, not measuring my worth by my accomplishments, not accomplishing anything at all some days, and avoiding energetic activities. And I am feeling much much better and questioning the need for surgery, certainly the rush to surgery. I will fly to Baltimore for a thorough evaluation and listen to recommendations, but am eager to return to Quito and experience the last few weeks of my year in Ecuador.
It has been an eventful year, with much drama and excitement. It was a tough adjustment for all of us ( maybe not so much for Eric), but it feels as if we are finally just figuring out how to live here, and I do not feel ready to leave. Learning the language plays a huge role in feeling less foreign. A taxi driver asked me where I was from and when I told him that I was from Canada, he disagreed, and informed me that I looked and sounded more like a local. Of course, he may just have been charming me, but there is no doubt that I do feel less of a 'gringa', and much more at home in Quito.
Despite my efforts to do less in my life, I got myself moving by noon. My first stop was the Produbanco at Megamaxi, where I waited for an interminable time in line to pay our rent. We pay in cash, which we then deposit in the duena's bank account. I am convinced that we are part of a money laundering scheme ( billions of dollars yearly are laundered in Ecuador), when our monthly rent is paid in 'efectivo'.
I took the Ecovia to the Casa de la Cultura, where I tried for the third or fourth time to get into the Museo de la Casa de la Cultura. It was closed on Tuesday when Maya and I tried to get in while waiting for the MRI results at the nearby military hospital. This time I walked in the open front door and found no one behind the desk. I looked around and found a security guard eating his lunch in a back room. He informed me that the place was closed until 2 PM. I countered that I had no time if I waited until 2, having to pick up Maya from school by 3. He agreed to let me in, but took my purse (with my money, cellphone, camera, kindle, identification, bank card!) and locked it in a drawer and gave me the key. I was suspicious and concerned, but decided to trust him for the moment.
I was the only museum visitor and it was dark and gloomy. Light sensors picked up my movements and minimal light followed me through the vast and eerie rooms. A collection of portraits of historical figures by 19th century painters made me wish I knew more about the characters. Simon Bolivar was the most popular, with one or two paintings of his lover alongside him. Gabriel Garcia Moreno, Eugenio Espejo, other well known Ecuadorians were represented. It was significant that all of these important personages were decidedly European, in contrast to the 'modern era' section upstairs, which had many 'Indigenista' paintings, idealizing the native inhabitants of Ecuador. Canvases by Guayasamin, Egas and Kingman were most compelling.
The best part of the museum was an amazing collection of musical instruments, mostly Ecuadorian and South American. There were so many different guitar like instruments, as well as panflutes and harps and drums and more. The precolumbian artifacts were extensive. Flutes were made of ceramic and bone and wood and bamboo. Whistle bottles and anthropomorphic figures of all sorts were used as wind instruments. The early Ecuadorians used almost every kind of instrument long before the westerners came.
The museum had a small ethnographic section with costumes of several ethnic groups, which convinced me that I must make a trip to the Chimborazo province in the south, which is known to have the greatest diversity of indigenous groups in all Ecuador. One more thing that I must do before I leave!