Sunday, August 14, 2011


¡Viva Ecuador!

That's right, Ecuador's Independence day was August 10th, which was (barely) celebrated on the island by a small parade in somewhat inclement weather. Being a Wednesday, the holiday was moved to Friday, providing proud citizens with a three-day weekend to reflect upon the liberation of the small nation.

Since it's quite possible that Ecuador loves its holidays more than any other free nation in the world, last week's classes were poorly attended. But this could be due to several reasons. Either students were A) confused about the weeks holiday schedule that I plainly posted for them, B) too wrapped up in the marching parades and flag-hanging and powerful speeches given by their leaders, or C) totally didn't bat an eye about ditching out on class. Or any combination of the three.

No matter, it was nice to glide through a shorter and easier week, all the while looking forward to taking the boat out this weekend for a quick run to test the engines and do general cleaning.

That is, until Thursday morning, when word spread that we were under an Orange Alert.

Upon first hearing this, I was more than a little worried about the fruit that has only recently come into season, and of which I have been consuming like some sort of shameless Vitamin C junkie.

But, to my further dismay, the warning was not concerning the abundant fruit harvests, but to the strong waves that were due to arrive within the next four days.

The next four days which happened to fall over the three-day holiday weekend. Crap.

So, while some nervously monitored the shores and breaking tides, plenty of others were left trying to fill their days with other activities, since their business trips, food and gas cargo, and tourism ventures were delayed for half a week.

The weather hindered many options by refusing to put on a happy face and let the sun out long enough to dry up the rainy/misty landscape. (Not to mention the beaches were completely prohibited, don't even think about it, gringa.)

Movies were bought. Naps were taken. I read two books. We even attended a glow stick party. Same bar, same songs, same drinks, same people, but with glow sticks. It was a nice try.

We spent most of a whole day in the highlands farm, socks and shirts tucked in to keep out the biting ants and mosquitos (to no avail) while we collected oranges, tangerines, papayas, avocados, bananas, and one lonely egg that hadn't already begun incubating. Even the donkey looked disappointed with the foiled holiday plans.

So now here we are, Sunday afternoon and not even a dampening of the waterfront with hazardous or violent waves. The sun has decided to come out as an act of consolation, and the boats have once more fallen back into routine tours and charters and deliveries.

So the joke was on us, Ecuador. Maybe you really just wanted to insist that we all take the rest that you thought we surely needed this weekend, in honor of your free and laid-back spirit.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cowgirl Shower

We ran out of water the other day.

As in, when I turned on the sink, after much spitting and sputtering, out coughed some brown sludge, not exactly what I wanted to brush my teeth with.

This meant, of course, that the cistern which provides agua dulceto the main house and the three apartments on the same property, was empty. To remedy this situation, mi suegro, Vicente, must power up the generator to transfer water from the main cistern, or else pump water from the huge diesel water supply truck that he drives. Either way, I'm not allowed to help in the process.

It was later afternoon, and my in-laws had just returned from their highlands farm, tired yet lugging crates of oranges, large bundle of fresh flowers, a few fresh eggs, a head of ripening bananas, and a few bags of rich, nearly black soil for the small garden and plants in the yard.

Even if the water transfer were to happen right away, that didn't mean I could wait a few minutes to turn on the tap again.

The set-up of hoses and generator takes about fifteen minutes. Then, when the noisy machine is turned on, the actual transfer takes at least a half an hour. Then, one must wait for the water to settle. The shortest time is at least another half hour, longer if you're smart.

Since this is fresh water, but not clean drinking water, there are a few friends floating in the mix. Since the cistern provides water through a pump that floats on the top, you shouldn't be impatient to get wet from that stream. Anything you've got to clean can wait and will be better off for doing it.

Since we recently had a new shower head installed (an electric one that provides alternating three minutes of pretty warm water and regular, icy water), I had lost my habit of always showering in the middle of the day, with the few minutes of luke-warm water that was heated by the mid-day sun as it sat in the black rubber hoses between the cistern and the apartment.

Here it was, sundown, and I had planned on going out, which I reluctantly agreed called for a shower and clean clothes that weren't cut offs.

Grabbing towel, bucket, and bar of soap, I slipped on my bathing suit and flip flops and headed outside to the side of the house where there is a small cistern and table-like basin for the hand washing.

With only the lights of the clear stars and the colored lamps from the Malecon about two hundred feet away, I lathered and shampooed and rinsed the old fashioned way, feeling like a cowgirl bathing in the silent witness of the stars, and the family dogs.