Hello, It's been a while, and I'm just getting chances to write, so here goes. I was back in Boston in September into the beginning of October. After returning to Ecuador, I was able to visit El Chontal and also Quevedo. So here are some updates on what has been going on.
School English Club
When I went home, one of the fruits was a meeting at Cardinal Spellman high school with the head of the foreign languages department and the principal. My friend Jason is a religion teacher there and he put us in contact. I spent a morning visiting and meeting with the principal and with the Spanish teachers and some students, looking to arrange for a form of exchange with the students here in Puerto Quito. It turned out really well, and we've begun to do some planning for the students to begin to encounter each other. We're planning on starting with a video exchange, where each group makes a video for the other. It was just this last week that I was able to meet with the students to finalize a plan. We're hoping to make some videos on different aspects of Puerto Quito, and the students at Cardinal Spellman are considering making a video on Thanksgiving.
Here's a picture of the students in the English Club:
This has been a goal of mine for a while, to have an exchange set up between the people here and the people back home in Boston, especially in the Church. My hope is that a relationship can develop, and my role is like John the Baptist, as a sort of matchmaker. I have a lot of hope that this will be a transforming and inspiring experience for all involved. It's really a lot of what the bridge-building is about, what the effort and mission is about in being here. When I had come down to Ecuador last year, the book I was reading, and the central theme, was Sharing Faith Across the Hemisphere. This type of interchange I think is not only central to my being here, but it's also very important for people in both hemispheres.
There's a great division still between North America and Latin America, although we are neighbors. And yet, God asks us simply to love our neighbors. "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Mk 12:31) Life gets a lot simpler that way, when we simply love each other, break down the divisions. But when we are competitive and independent and set up barriers, what happens is that big problems develop for each side. And each side can search for ways to fix the problems, to try to solve them, and they will never find the solutions. And that's because God puts the answers to our problems in other people, on the "other side" of the barrier. If we only love each other, we'll discover the relief to all our problems. But if we don't, we are blind to the reality that we cannot solve our own problems ourselves, that we need God, who simply points us to our neighbor.
I think this division is a core cause for all of the problems in the US, from political to economic to social, to the problems with family and sex and drugs. Much of the news, the activism (both religious, right, left And so, those things that turn that barrier into a bridge are at the very core of bringing about a resolution and reconciliation of peoples and our institutions and cultures. At the core of that transformation is the Church, and those bridges that are built between North and South, that give testimony to the reality that we are brothers and sisters in Christ, we are neighbors who can love each other and in that discover a side of life that brings relief to all our problems.
So I really think that, though this may seem like a very small thing, it's a really, really big thing.
“Christians should cooperate willingly and wholeheartedly in establishing an international order that includes a genuine respect for all freedoms and amicable brotherhood between all. This is all the more pressing since the greater part of the world is still suffering from so much poverty that it is as if Christ Himself were crying out in these poor to beg the charity of the disciples. Do not let men, then, be scandalized because some countries with a majority of citizens who are counted as Christians have an abundance of wealth, whereas others are deprived of the necessities of life and are tormented with hunger, disease, and every kind of misery. The spirit of poverty and charity are the glory and witness of the Church of Christ.” - Gaudium Et Spes #88, from The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World of the Second Vatican Council.
Amigos del Arca
There's a log for the Foundation Amigos del Arca Ecuador that we've begun to work on in a few different ways. Each Friday we have a day of community prayer and celebration and social time. One of the first meetings we had in June, we did a dynamic session where everyone came up and wrote their name into a flag that was placed in the boat, the Ark. We had a mock replica made up in wood, and though it's not finished yet, here is a picture of it. Making the logo concrete like this can be very inspiring and edifying, as every aspect has a very fundamental meaning about the identity and mission of the Foundation. The husband of Rosa, who does occupational therapy with the disabled, made it and did a great job.
Make yourself an ark of wood. (Gen 6:14)
Padre Finbarr also returned in September, and we had a welcoming celebration.
After I returned from my home trip, I arrived at the town fiestas. The Foundation was one of the leaders of the parade. And yes, I did wear that duck bill cap for the whole walk - I think I forgot about it and left it on for a while afterwards too…
Visiting The Villages
Some of the Franciscan sisters and I continue to visit a few villages, or recintos, for celebrations of the Word on Sundays and catechesis to prepare the children for their first Holy Communion. In one recinto, Santa Cecilia, I've always felt that by coming and loving the people and proclaiming the Word of God along with the catechesis, we are not just preparing the people to receive the sacrament in the Mass, but also in life. I mean, what we are doing in God's grace is preparing the people to receive a holy communion with a small "c". Communion with a small "c" is the intimate sense of a community of love, love of God and neighbor, that is the fruit of receiving Holy Communion - Communion with a big "C" - in Mass. A few weeks ago, the president mentioned to us that there's been a change in the whole village since we've been coming. Things have just gotten better in the whole village. What an awe-inspiring privilege it is to accompany the Lord in His work, to prepare the way for Him to come.
"The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God." (Lk 3:4-6)
Return Trip Home
In September and October I made a return trip home to the Boston area. I spent it visiting a lot of people and places, buying some needed things, and collecting things to bring down. It also included a little retreat time.
A funny thing that happened as our American Airlines plane landed in Miami. As we were taxiing I was watching the overhead video screen and it was a professionally done video ad for American Airlines. At the end, it said, "The New American Has Arrived." I couldn't help but relate to that one!
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor 5:17-21)
I love the national seashore of the Cape, so I made it down to Wellfleet and Truro, to some of the national seashore beaches like Marconi and Cahoon Hollow. In late September out of season, the weather is still beautiful and the crowds are small, so you have a beautiful beach time with some privacy!
Of my many, many visits, I was able to make it to the Italian Home for Children in Jamaica Plain, and share in the Sunday service there. When Sr Margaret suddenly invited me get up in front of the kids to speak, it was the first time I had spoken publicly in English in months, and I drew a blank. Confusion ran through my mind, and I painstakenly blurted out some story from my time in Ecuador that made little sense. A great humbling time. But it was great to be with the kids, though now with the fast turnover, I didn't see any familiar faces.
One of the places I visited was the cemetery for Jesuits at the Campion Center in Weston. A good friend and former spiritual director, Fr Jake Moriarty, is buried there, having passed away in 2010. I still visit his grace regularly, and I remember our friendship, and especially how much he helped me when I left the seminary the first time in severe depression. When others come to me suffering from similar things, I think of him and how he was with me, and I follow that example in my availability to others. Well, in this beautiful picture, you can barely see the large crucifix in the background, with all the stones from the Jesuits. It just truck me how much power there is in Jesus' crucifixion, in all the humiliation and suffering and mess of his crucifixion. It wasn't by force or rules or coercion or intimidation, that all these men gave Him their lives in response to that one crucifixion 2000 years ago. It was by attraction.
"And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." (Jn 12:32)
I did make it around to see so many people, it was like a whirlwind. I enjoyed every one of my visits, so to everyone who took me in, thank you! And I'm especially appreciative of Matt Pandolfo, Sonny Frissora , the Ryan family, Lina Gomes, and the Kraman family, Sr Margaret Yennock, Fr Jim Czerkawski and Bob Giers and the Men's Faith Sharing Group at St Anthony's, for being particularly kind and generous and supportive of me in my time back. Thanks very much to all of you! And if I've forgotten to mention you and I should have, I apologize, as I'm writing this late at night!
I was able to bring a bunch of things back, including another laptop, some speakers, and a projector. But I also brought back bags of plastic rosaries and flyers of rosary guides. I took a picture of my packed suitcase because I think of this as missionary contraband. In the drug industry, the bags would contain coke and the money would be banded. But missionary contraband is bags of rosaries and banded rosary guides. Those are the drugs and money of the missionary. Of course when I finally opened my bag at the end of my trip, most everything was askew and I had one of those slips of paper that goes something like: "Your bag was searched by US customs inspection" And when I put the bag through one of the scanners in Ecuador, the woman called me over to look at the x-ray screen of my bag. You could see tons and tons of squiggly lines from all the rosaries strings. She said, "Why do you have all these electronics?" I said, "Oh, those are roooosaries." And that was that…
In one of my visits to some of the groups that I am a part of, I was able to visit the Men's Faith Sharing group at St Anthony's Shrine in Boston and share a bit of what's been happening in Ecuador. It was great to be with the guys, and to still feel a part of the group with Fr Jim and Bob and the guys. It's very humbling to still feel welcomed after such a long time away, especially because I started visiting this group only a few months before I left for Ecuador. We're hoping to still walk together even at a distance and share in what God is doing here in Ecuador, so I'm very grateful for the friendship and camaraderie.
I was able to take a few days to visit priests and friends in religious life, including several parishes and monasteries. I had made a list of names to ask that religious pray for people in the parish here that I minister to and work with. One monk took it upon himself to pray by name for everyone on the list, and a few communities have these people in their prayer queues. It's a part of building bridges in the Church, that people have a relationship with brothers and sisters in other parts of the world, even if only, or especially if, it's in prayer…
You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us in answer to many prayers. (2 Cor 1:11)
In visiting a monastery to make a retreat, I encountered a few old friends. The first time I saw these guys, they were roaming lose. They are very curious, but I don't care to get tooo close. But I get a kick out of the fact that I've never seen a llama in Ecuador, and then I come back to Massachusetts and I can hardly get away from them on my retreat time!
Visits to Chontal and Quevedo
On my way back to Ecuador, I visited El Chontal, in the province of Imabura. This is about a 5 hour bus ride from where I am in Puerto Quito. I stayed with friends there who own a hotel, and they had a new room constructed and were happy to share it with me. Here you can see a group of kids being catechized in the church. As my Spanish has grown, I now feel more comfortable speaking and listening and interacting directly with the folks. It was good to see many people after so long.
I had always visited in the times of the fiestas, but this time I missed them by a week. Chontal is a very rural area, and poor. But also beautiful. Here is a pig that a few of kids took me to see, and also the newly made pools in the river where people will bathe. The experience with nature here is really beautiful.
The kids were on school vacation, and there are some cute ones that I've gotten to know over the years.
There was some sad news shared as soon as I got there. Usually, the rain season begins there in September, but it was now October and there was no rain. This was a worry of everyone, because it basically amounts to a dangerous drought. For people already living tightly, it weighs their hearts down even more. And everyone was talking about the lack of rain. So, I decided to put the missionary contraband to work. It was the feast of our Lady of the Rosary, and I thought, if we ask Mary through the Rosary on this feast day, how is it possible that she could refuse to intercede with God and ask for rain? But, I thought, we had to be together to do it, we had to have some communion or she wouldn't be moved. The power of anyone's prayer is in their willingness to love one another. So, I organized with the catechist, and on Monday afternoon, I started to visit everyone house to house with the rosary beads and the guides, chatting and inviting everyone to come if they'd like to the church that evening at 7 to pray the rosary together. I went to everyone I could find, and many people took the rosaries and the fliers, and I came away with a lot of special moments, and some fruits I didn't know existed.
So we brought out the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and put it on the altar, people brought flowers, and we had a good showing like the town hadn't seen in a while, and the children led the rosary. But there was no rain.
We decided to pray again the next night, at the same time. And again people showed up and we prayed the rosary. But there was no rain. We came again on the third night, and again we prayed. But there was no rain.
On the fourth night, the parish priest came to celebrate Mass. Again, we all gathered and prayed the rosary before Mass started. When we finished, you could hear a faint sound tapping on the roof. But by the time Mass had begun, we had a full fledged downpour of rain coming down on the village. The first time since the last rain season had ended months earlier.
As the rain poured down for the Liturgy of the Word, this was the Gospel reading:
Jesus said to his disciples: “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’ and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence.
“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Lk 11:5-13)
After visiting Chontal, I made it out to visit Quevedo and my friend Padre Julian and the Shrine of the Divino Nino. It was Padre Julian who had organized with the Franciscan Missions to have the church built in Chontal where he was the parish priest back then. We've become good friends, and it was great to spend time with him.
Some of the people he knows in the parish have friends in the circus there, and we made it to one of the shows. They are very good, but I can't understand much because it's mostly double entendre, and I have enough trouble with single entendre. Padre Julian is finding a ministry to the circus performers, which is a very beautiful thing to me. I can see a bond happening and a responsiveness from the performers. Jesus doesn't seek primarily the people already in the Church, "for the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." (Lk 19:10) So it's a beautiful testimony to the real presence of Jesus, His real life, alive and present and in loving action today. Padre Julian's even been invited to give a prayer at a large gathering of circus performers. So please pray for him and the people he is ministering to. For me, the show was great, and so was my whole few days with Padre Julian, getting to see a lot of people that I met the last time I was there in August of last year.
I got to spend a day of recollection recently in Agnus Dei, and I ran into this guy:
I didn't know fresh water crabs existed. When he saw me, he put out his claws and opened them wide. Every minute or so he would bang them together, as if to say, "See these things, Do you see these things??!! Bring it on, you've got a date with these bad boy claws!!" But on the inside, I know he was terrified: "Please go away and don't cook me up in a pot, pleeeaaaaase, please, please please!"
And for your amusement: Tramites (Tragedies)
Tramites here means everything that has to do with official government documents that you’d deal with in your life, like things related to titles, licenses, marriage certificates, etc. A better word for it, and I believe that all who've experienced it would agree, is "tragedies." What do I mean?
Well, I've been going through a number of stages to get my driver's license. The first is finding someone who knows a little bit about that, to help get organized and plan. A few websites in Ecuador are helpful, as well as a few written by other Americans who have moved to Ecuador. What I had to do was get together my passport and visa and my Massachusetts driver's license, along with copies of each. I also have to get an official blood-type card from the Red Cross, as well as - and this was the harder part - a document of some sort (it's unclear exactly what they expect) that verifies my driver's license, issued by a relevant government authority. That’s what has taken the longest, because first I had to order a driving record from the State of Massachusetts, then I had to pick it up while I was back in the States, then I had to bring it back here, and then translate it and have it notarized. Of course that takes time. I'll give you a little story so you can get a feel where the bottleneck is.
I have a friend who works in the high school here, and his brother is a lawyer. I went to him to get my driving record notarized after I had translated it myself into Spanish. Now, how that all makes sense is anyone's guess, you’d think that a notary would have to have it be translated by a known, trusted translator. But that's where the lawyer friend comes in. So I handed over the documents along with copies, as well as - gulp - my passport. This was Tuesday. He said it should be ready by Thursday, later in the afternoon. Fine, I thought. I went by his place on Thursday in the afternoon. He lives above his office, and he came to the window to tell me that it will be tomorrow. I came back on Friday, he said it would be tomorrow, that the guy who he gives these things out to will be delivering tonight. Finally on Saturday morning I stopped by and everything was done. $20 it cost me. But you can see how a one-day task can stretch out to a week.
The other thing I had to do was get a blood type card. This was the big mystery, as nobody that I knew really seemed to know what had to be done. But there was word that it had to be a Red Cross blood type card. Fine. I heard that there was a Red Cross in the town about a half-hour away. So one day I got on the bus, and when I got off, I took a cab to the Red Cross. We went down this backroad, and there in the middle of little farms is this 3-room white structure surrounded by a fence, that says Red Cross on it. I got out of the taxi and called out, and a man came out. I told him I'd like to get a blood type card. He said that at that little location, he needs medical papers that give the "doctor's orders", or something to that effect. So, I walked back to the bus stop (there were no cabs coming from that remote spot), and went home. I decided that I would go to a Red Cross in Quito the next time I went to Quito. Well, I went to Quito shortly afterwards, and because the buses arrive around 10am and leave by 5pm or so, I ran out of time to actually make it to the Red Cross. So, after speaking with someone, I decided I would go back to the town where I had the original Red Cross encounter and go to the local medical center to get a blood test, and then go to the that Red Cross again with what I needed.
So the other day, I take the half-hour bus ride to the town and go to the medical clinic and ask for a blood test. After a little give and take between the staff, they filled out the sheet I needed and gave it to me. Then they went to look for the doctor who would do the test. The staff member came back to me and said he wasn't available anymore today, but to come back tomorrow morning, first thing. So I walked back to the bus stop, and went back home.
The next day, I returned at about 11am. They directed me directly to the doctor, so one of the staff led me past a few doorways to get to the doctor's office. "He wants a blood test." I can't right now, I'm busy. I have the gloves on - he held up his hands showing me the gloves. Come back in one hour. At noontime? Yes.
So I went off to an internet café and returned exactly one hour later. He took me in and had me sit down. Then he took out a needle, and it broke and the needle part - still covered thankfully - fell to the floor. He picked it back up and put it back on, and then - barehanded; I don't know why you wouldn't *want* the gloves for this - he drew blood from my arm. He had a little tray with three dimples in it and put some of my blood in each one. Then, he brought over some viles that apparently are used to mix into the blood samples to determine type. So we are talking and he's mixing the agents with my blood samples, and finally he says, "It's A, you're type A!" Then a little bit of small talk, and then I hear, "AB. You're AB! Wow, that's rare, only a few percent of people are that blood type." (Come to find out later, almost everyone here in Ecuador is type O) So he gives me an official govenment blood type card with AB positive written on it and signs it. Then he tells me that I don't need a Red Cross card, that the one he's given me is all I need. I give him the acknowledgment, and meanwhile I'm thinking, "I'm getting that Red Cross card no matter what." There would be nothing worse than traveling 3.5 hours one way to Quito and finding out you're missing one little Red Cross card. So, I go and get a cab and I return to that Red Cross, and now I've got papers, baby! I get out of the cab, and I walk up to the gate. Hello? Nobody. I decided, darnit, I've come this far, I'm gonna give it some time. I took a walk, got an ice cream sandwich, got a drink, and came back an hour later. Hello? Everything was absolutely the same. Nobody. So, I decided that I would go home. Maybe I could go to the Red Cross in Quito, I thought.
As I'm walking, a woman is coming down the street and I ask her if she knows anything about the Red Cross there, if it's open today. She said, it should be open, and suggested they were at lunch, that I should try back in about 15 minutes. I thought, it's worth 15 minutes of my time to take a shot at saving a hunting trip for a Red Cross in Quito.
So about 20 minutes or so later, I came back. Everything looked the same. Discouraged, I was about to put my head down, when I noticed that the door to the building was now open. Someone was there! I struck paydirt, I thought to myself. So I called out a few times, and sure enough, the same guy came out as before, and we recognized each other and exchanged greetings. He wondered what I was doing back and looked at me with doubt. Then I took out my papers, thinking, please accept them. Everything looked great, he unlocked the gate and opened the door. Then…. Then … wait a minute. You're type AB positive? Sorry, we don't have the agents to test for that blood type here, it's so rare. You'll have to go to Santo Domingo or Quito. They have those agents there. "What about this blood type card that I already have, will they accept it for getting a driver's license?" "No, they won't, they only take the Red Cross cards." "The guy at the medical clinic told me this would be good enough." He smiled at me. "No, they don't accept that. Sorry. If you were a different blood type, I would have been glad to help you out."
He seemed like a friendly and sincere and helpful guy, but his good personality was offset by the fact that for me, several days of time waiting, searching, going through hoops was all gone.
But that's not the end of the story. A few days later I did go to Quito. I thought, today I'll get my blood type card, and I'll bring everything into the driver's license place (the Transito), all in one fell swoop. I'll get my blood type verified (You're A. No, you're AB.) and come out of Quito sitting golden with an appointment for taking the final jump-through-hoops test they give for getting a license. So I went with a friend on the 3 1/2 hour bus ride, and after grabbing a bite to eat, we took about a half hour cab ride to the Red Cross. There's a guard at the door, and he gives me a number and lets me in. He indicates going to a waiting room, and so I go up a few stairs and enter this waiting room. I don't really know what's going on - with my Spanish level I miss a lot - and suddenly a notice another little room attached. There a sign that says "Blood Type test here," and there are people sitting in chairs and waiting. So, I get up and walk into this little room, thinking, "now here's where I'm supposed to be." Now, as a gringo, you're already a center of attention, but now getting up and _ unknowingly - cutting a bunch of people in line, you've got people's attention. Well, when I entered that little room, I noticed everyone else had big slips of paper that I didn't have. But I just sat down, thinking, someone will tell me how I've screwed up here. Sure enough, a guy pokes his head over from the other side, "You have to come here first." So, I get back up and leave everyone is getting a little laugh including myself, and I go back into the first waiting room and sit down. But the guy is still calling me - he had wanted me to come directly to his window. So, I get back up and go up to his window. Now, I'm entertainment for most, but that's nothing new for me. He asks for my passport, and in about 30 seconds I have the coveted slip of paper and I'm off to the other waiting room. A few minute wait, and I'm on the hot seat, getting my thumb pricked and bled. (The nurse used no gloves - amazing!) Back to the other waiting room, and in 10 minutes I had my blood type card in my hand for $5. The first thing I did was check the blood type.
So I leave with my friend, and outside is the woman with her own laminations business, so I pay the dollar to get the card laminated. Finally, after so many trips to the nearby town, to medical clinics and Red Cross, I had - are you ready? - my laminated official Red Cross blood type card. Signed, sealed, and ready to be delivered, baby!
Now, that's not even the end of the story. Because the tramites (pronounced tra-mi-taiz), or rather "tragedies", continued.
My friend and I were fortunate to visit a few other friends in a couple of hospitals in Quito that day (That's a whole other story altogether.) Near about 3pm, we set off in a series of cabs and buses to reach the Transito, the RMV of Ecuador. I go in with my friend, who is Ecuatoriana and helping me clarify some conversations, and I am told that I first have to go to the cashier and pay for the driver's license cost. So, we go up these stairs, walk into a large room, and are directed to the cashier. And there's a line. So I get in line behind about 30 people, and wait. But the line's moving, moving, I'm thinking, great, this is going to happen. My friend is already scouting out the next move I have to make after I pay, it's all set up. Finally, I get to the cashier, pay the $38.50, and then I'm off to the next post. It's like one of those Tough Mudder competitions or something like that. So I go into this guy's office, and he gives me a little slip of paper with the number 10 on it and directs me into the large room nearby. Challenge accomplished and I'm off. I go and find the cubicle with the 10 on it, and sit in the waiting chairs nearby. Nothing's happening for about 5 minutes, so I finally walk up to the guy. "Have a seat," he says. I tell him I want to get a first-time Ecuadorian driver's license. Here it was, about 4 o'clock, and it was finally going down. I had reached the end of the trail. Or so I had thought.
"Where are your documents?" Here they are. I unfolded all the necessary materials, I had brought it all. "No, I mean the documents that shows that these have been reviewed?" What do you mean? "Didn't you go to the reviewer already?" What? … Apparently, I was misdirected from the beginning. Before paying for or doing anything, I needed to go to someone who reviewed my documents to see if I have everything.
So off we went, my friend and I, back to the original greeter. We asked for the document I needed to sign and have reviewed by the woman who checks to see if you’ve got everything you're supposed to. After a dirty look or two, I got the paper. Then, I sat down to look at it…. Check, check, check, check …. Hmmm …. I don't have a copy of my driving record - but I have the originals. They can have darn originals, I'm thinking. So I go up to the lady, who is now wrapping up her deskspace, loading up her purse and getting ready to leave, and I tell her I believe I have everything I need, but I just don't have a copy of my driving record, but that, hey, no problem, you guys can have the originals, I don't want them! Not good enough. It's got to be a copy and the original. You can come back tomorrow after you get a copy. …
Now I moved into "please" mode. Please, I'm coming from Puerto Quito, 3 1/2 hour bus ride away, is there anything you can do? She pauses. You can ask to use one of the copy machines upstairs. Thank you! And off we went upstairs. My friend asks a security guard where we can make a photocopy, and we're directed out a door. We reach the door and then ask someone else, we're pointed up the street somewhere. Dejected, I said, No, there's somewhere in here. Then, I saw a copy machine. "Excuse me, could I use your copy machine to make just a few copies to help me get my license?" After a moment, OK. So I dig out my papers while a woman is coming over to fire up the copy machine, and it's then that I noticed that I don't have just a few pages, but about 6 or 7. And they're stapled. Now, I'm feeling bad because it's not really the way I presented it to them, and finally they say, no. We're actually closed now. At that moment, it was as if time stood still. It was over. It was time to stop the pursuit. It was over. I kindly and slowly thanked them, and then with my head slumped down, ever so slowly, one-by-one, put my papers back into my envelope, and then my enveloped back into my bag, and walked away. I wasn't doing it to pressure them or make them feel bad, I don't blame them at all, and they were generous enough to offer to help when their own time was crunched. I was going so slow because that's what you do when the game is over.
But do you think that was the end of the Tragedies? Not yet.
I know I've gone on a bit here, but please bear with me until the end of the day. After leaving the Transito, we had a tough time getting a taxi, but finally made it back to the shopping center where the bus station is located. After completing some shopping, we made it in time for the 6:15 bus. The only problem was that, as soon as the bus pulled up, a mechanic hopped under it and went to work. All the passengers piled on, and after about 5 or 10 minutes, the driver got on and said that the bus was broken and that they're waiting for a part to be delivered. It should be soon, he said. There's also another bus coming as well. And then a movie was put on for everyone to watch: The Vow. So everyone sat back and watched the movie for a while. And a while. And a while. It was the movie, The Vow, about a wife who is in a car accident with her husband and has amnesia to the point where she can remember everything before she met husband but not after. Now, I tell you, everyone was enthralled with this movie. I mean everyone. I was too. In fact, I had a soda and a bag of chips, and others would go to the local store and come back. Our bus had turned into a little movie theater (with a family of cockroaches to boot). And then, with about a half hour left in the movie - at most. It turned off. About a half hour later, another bus arrived, and we set out. We got back at about 11pm at night.
That, my friends, was the end of the Tragedies.
Now, I wrote all that to give you not only a sense of what life can be like here in Ecuador, but also I hope it gives you some perspective on the culture that immigrants from Latin America - your neighbors there in the States - come from. Imagine if you lived in that reality every day, how it would shape the way you approach the course of life. So, I hope it helps to understand latino immigrants and why they may do things that don't quite fit into our system in the States….
********** And Yes, I am still working on that new blog!! It's close to "release", and I'm hoping it will be a better way to stay updated and keep in touch. Until then, God bless and stay in touch!