While Norte Americanos and the rest of humankind throughout the Northern Hemisphere celebrate the first day of Spring, we who populate the Southern part of this terrestial ball welcome Fall. Our weather will remain the same, however. Still colder in the mornings, hot at noon, dropping to cool in the evenings, then back to cold at dawn.
Same ole, same ole year round. I love it. Even when it gets hot, I know I simply need to wait a couple of hours and I’ll be back to my comfort zone.
This past Friday, a woman sitting at the table next to us at The Vegetable Bar — after learning we are newbies to the city — toasted us with a bottle of Pilsener and introduced herself as a retired lawyer and liberal from the state of Texas. (The drawl gave her away.)
“There’s nothing like having four seasons in a day,” Linda said. She’s so right.
Our short conversation about the wonderful weather was followed by her descriptions of everyday life and the goings-on of the vibrant expat society. Linda, a seasoned expat, hosts a weekly Trivia night at a popular restaurant. She told us of the active local theater, excellent jazz music (as well as blues), art classes, coffee clubs for learning Spanish, opportunities for volunteering, best places to eat and descriptions of some of the community’s more colorful characters.
The Vegetable Bar opened a few months ago just a few blocks down 3 de Noviembre from our place. We opted to eat under the awning which served us well when the afternoon downpour began. The rains dampened the surroundings but not our spirits. We watched the rushing Tomebombe River rise while we dined on creamy potato soup, Cuban panini and salad. And our very healthy, organic lunch gave us the opportunity to expand our circle of acquaintances in Ecuador by one.
Linda, David and I talked politics, religion, community life and life in general. Before parting ways, she advised us in the ways of negotiating prices and avoiding possible sticky situations.
Great lunch. Good time.
So this is how starting over begins. One casual conversation at a time in restaurants, in the park, at church and, luckily for me, at the recent 2016 Cuenca International Writer’s Conference.
I spent three days rubbing shoulders with dozens of word lovers and gaining input from creative, thought-provoking writers. Hours of workshops, panel discussions and classes kept my mind spinning. Andra Watkins, New York Times best-selling author, challenged us to make memories, not excuses. She should know. She walked us through a few of the transformative experiences that kept her pushing through the heat, pain, and frustration of her 440-mile sojourn on foot along the Natchez Trace. Truly inspirational. And no, I don’t feel the need to trek the roads of the Deep South alone, but I do heed her words to do something now that I’m passionate about. No “wish I had”. I’m pushing for “glad I did.”
The conference wound down and motivated writers from all over Ecuador packed up their computers and notepads and returned home. I walked the few blocks to the apartment, arriving in the “summer” part of the day. My notebook full of insights, tips, and great writing ideas. My mind jumping with next steps. My hand holding the names of a few more soon-to-be friends.
This is how it’s done. Creating a new world.
It feels good.