My contact with llamas has been extremely limited.
Years ago, on a trip to Bolivia, I ran into a very impressive Lama glama at Lake Titicaca. The camelidae was tied to a post near the water, no owner in sight. I approached it cautiously, using my most soothing voice, only to be greeted with an explosive spit to my face.
My attempt at establishing a human/cameloid connection ended.
Llamas are related to camels. Dromedaries without the hump. As pack animals, they can go long distances with very little water. They’re also quirky, even stubborn. The llama is also a very gentle animal. But when overloaded or maltreated or in a bad mood (my conjecture here) it will lie down, hiss, spit, kick, and refuse to move.
The llama is an animal that knows its mind. Knows how much it can take. And makes it known. I appreciate that.
Reminds me of me.
This past Tuesday was a huge festival here, commemorating the Cuenca’s founding in 1577. Schools were out, families were celebrating, the parks, sidewalks, streets were packed. We decided to go out to see some of the activities, but first, grab some lunch.
That phrase takes on a whole new meaning when you are without a car, you are going to a part of town that has few buses running, and the sun is blazing overhead. Oh, and you hate heat.
We left the apartment around 12:30 with the sun close to its zenith, the least shady part of the day. Although the temperature was only about 20° C (close to 70F) it felt much, much hotter. To Katherine and me. I am married to a man who feels no heat.
We set out for a new restaurant (to us) that promised to satisfy our cravings for Mexican food. We walked. And walked. And walked. David springing lightly on his happy feet. Me trudging not so silently about three yards behind him. Katherine lagging behind me, silently marching along like a dutiful but bored daughter. As the blocks passed, the silence lessened as, I admit, my grousing grew louder as my knees ached more and more.
With the restaurant in sight, however, our strides quickened as we anticipated tacos, chips, cheese and bottles of aqua fría.
The establishment was closed. Holiday. Fiesta. Of course.
At this point, Katherine and I went into llama mode. Not so much spitting and hissing and kicking as griping and complaining.
We turned and headed back, stopping in at the second restaurant we saw (the first looked far too hot) and dined al fresco at a seafood restaurant in the Andes Mountains. Why were we surprised that the food was disappointing?
Katherine saw nothing on the menu she liked, so she ordered water and went to play on a swing in the courtyard. Within minutes, she had fallen off and bruised her back. Cries of pain disturbed the tranquil setting. We calmed her down, then David was served a dish of cold black bean soup with conch and tons of onions that he didn’t remember ordering. For one of the first times in the 13 years I’ve known him, David had met some food he couldn’t eat.
Heat, fatigue, hunger, pain and embarrassment makes for poor dining companions. We exited the restaurant and turned in different directions. Poor David, he was eager for more walking. He wanted to push further on to visit an iron works place for patio furniture. “It’s just a few more blocks,” he said trying to sell us on the idea of additional footwork.
We weren’t buying.
On seeing that he had lost his traveling companions for the day, he headed one way, Katherine and I the other. Back to civilization. Back to the apartment. Back to bed.
And we didn’t move for the rest of the day.
Kind of like a couple of disgruntled llamas.