Forgive me for skipping a day or two. The M and the N of the blogging challenge conveniently fell on the days we moved into our new house.
Friday April 15 found the Thornton-Vander Plaats out of our temporary abode into our permanent home.
The driver in a flatbed truck arrived at 0830. By 0915 we were aross town and unloaded. We took our time, had some lunch and still had all our suitcases and bags unpacked and put away by 1600. Well, except for Katherine who really took her time and wrapped her room up this Saturday morning bright and early.
Easiest move I’ve had in decades. I highly recommend downsizing for the ease and speed in resettling.
And we love our new place. Susana, our landlady, is one of the nicest people we’ve met in Cuenca. She is quite fluent in English so our conversations go smoothly. I’ve asked her to help me learn Spanish and she has agreed. New words are introduced every sentence.
She and her family have lived in this house for years. Now, her husband and daughter are in Germany and she is here with her elderly parents. This part of the property is too big for her so she moved to the back and we have the run of la planta baja and planta alto (downstairs and upstairs).
Of course I wasn’t in the house ten minutes before I started moving pictures around, switching chairs out in the living room, rolling up rugs and putting some things away. She has an artist’s spirit and has collected some nice paintings and ceramics which we will enjoy viewing for months and (maybe) years to come. But by now we’ve learned to just live one day at a time. Nothing’s permanent.
And last night’s earthquake really drove that home.
I was enjoying the quiet of our living room. Katherine was upstairs in her “crib” as she calls it Skyping away with fellow minecraft players in Atlanta. David was in the kitchen. All of a sudden, I felt the earth move under my feet (not the song, the real thing!) The hanging plants and light started swaying. I sat there with growing awareness that the world was taking action and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.
The movement continued for a few minutes. This was the second earthquak I had experienced, but the first of which I was aware.
In the mid 90s I had the opportunity to travel to Bolivia on a film shoot for Save the Children. As a writer, I was needed to compose and edit scripts for the half-hour show were were developing for the child sponsorship organization. We flew into La Paz and after a couple of days of acclimation, drop up over the Andes to a remote village. Here we spent about a week filming children, the activities they benefited from and the beautiful scenery.
We were all housed in a rustic colonial-style building built around a courtyard. In the evenings, everyone would gather in the center to wind down, study the new heavens and discuss the day.
One night I decided to leave the group early and take a shower. As is common in many rural areas in this part of the world, they have what they call “suicide showers.” Basically, cold water runs through the pipe and is heated by an live electric element as it flows out of the shower head. Though this is safe and has allowed hundreds of thousands of people to bathe without harm, I had it in my crazy little head that I was an exception.
For those of you who know me well, you are aware that I don’t understand science or math. Not one white. At all. Punto. In my feeble yet creative mind, the only thing that would prevent me from getting shocked was to make sure that my feet made as little contact with the concrete floor as possible while I had the water on.
So for the length of my brief shower, I jumped up and down to help prevent any chance of being electrified. I was aware that it was futile. Crazy. Unscientific. But I couldn’t help it. Kind of like jumping up in the air when an elevator drops to prevent an untimely and unpleasant death. It doesn’t help but it’s worth a try.
The shower ended. I was clean. All was right with the world. I figured no one needed to know of my stupidity. Then I exited the bathroom to witness a scene of chaos in the courtyard.
People were shouting “Earthquake!” Guys who had just been laughing a few minutes before wore looks of concern and some fright. All I could think was that my jumping had caused the earth to shake and my co-workers confused my aftershocks for that of an earthquake.
Nonsense, of course. I realized within seconds that a genuine earthquake had occurred while I was grooming. I later learned that the effects of this earthquake were measured from Argentina up into Canada.
That was earthquake #1.
Last night was earthquake #2. And I had nothing to do with this one.
The epicenter was on the coast, about three or four hours away. Fortunately for Cuencanos, we just had the rocking and rolling. In Guayaquil and coastal towns, massive devastation. Lives lost. Power and phone service out. I’ve seen pictures and it looks grim.
When nature moves, the people listen.
President Correa was at the Vatican (he met with Bernie Sanders!) but flew home immediately. 7.8 on the Richter scale–the largest to hit Ecuador in more than a century. David thinks it’s one of the largest earthquakes in the world this year. (Earthquake following is one of his things.)
My heart went out/goes out to those who have lost family and friends and homes. Such loss in such little time. No warning. Nothing to do but endure it. Absolutely nada on this earth is permanent and 100% durable. In the end, Nature trumps.
Resolve: I want to focus all the more on things that are true, things that are real, things that are just and good. I personally find these things in my relationship to God and in my dealings with others.
I’ve had a good wake up call in Ecuador. Keep my eyes on what is lasting and what is sure. Love, faith, hope last forever. And the greatest of these is love.
Love to all. And peace this day.