The post was originally written as an email on March 21, 2012.
Whew! Carnivale is over and I have finally completed all of the exams and final touches for the course I was writing. Our friends, Bob and Glenda, came and visited for a week and I have been busy getting our garden plot prepared. Glenda brought us a bunch of seeds that we had ordered and Mary has been busy getting those started and she also has been working on her art projects. I will try to bring you all up to date on our adventures and I hope to have more time now with the course completed to be a bit better at writing regularly.
I mentioned last update that I would talk about Carnivale and what it was like here in San Clemente. I will do that, but first I wanted to jot down a few observations regarding the spirit of life I see every day here in Ecuador. First animal, then plant, then human…
I was walking home from town one afternoon, early evening when I observed a small crab crossing the roadway. Mary and I love to watch the sand crabs on the beach as they pop up from their small holes and scurry about putting sand they have removed from the holes in small little balls sometimes several feet from the holes and then rush back to the safety of the hole only to continue digging and moving sand about. The funny thing is that the vigorous continual work of moving sand seems to be for naught as the next tide cycle comes in and out and the work begins anew.
It is common to see these small crabs on the beach and on the rocks near the shore, but the little crab I saw that evening was two blocks away from the ocean crossing a black top roadway. The little guy was heading for the safety of the ditch on the far side of the road as our paths intersected and it became clear that he would not make it to the ditch before I got up to his location. Rather than keep running, the crab turned toward me, reared back on his legs and raised his claws preparing to do battle!
Now I am not talking about some kind of king crab here. This was just a soft-shelled crab perhaps one and a half inches wide with little claws the size of eyebrow tweezers. Yet, he was ready to fight a two hundred pound man right there on the road! I was impressed. I walked up to the crab, got down on one knee and looked him in the eye and said, “I like your spirit, little guy!” He stared at me and did not budge from his spot until I had walked away down the block.
I told you that we had moved into the rainy season in mid-January and how the local farmers were excited to see the rain. Well, the rains have come and come and come and now we are setting new records for San Clemente and all of Manabi province with each new storm. I read a headline a few weeks ago where it said that 90% of the city of Chone (a large city inland next to the Chone River) was flooded. This area is coastal and is generally great at drainage, but some of the storms have been record setters themselves with lightning and heavy rain and our little side streets are more mud than roadway most mornings. We had two nights in a row with storms of over 4 inches of rain and our pool overflowed!
Every available plot of arable land now is covered with crops.
The land does not need to be very flat or accessible, as long as some worker can get to it with a hand tool and seeds, the area has plants of some kind growing. There is corn growing next to the roadway here in town that is over nine feet tall!
I was riding my bike on the roadway to Bahia for some exercise the other afternoon and was driving by a recently planted field of corn. The owner had erected a wire fence and it was apparent from the shining wire that the fence was new, probably built in January of this year. For fence poles the owner had chopped down small trees about three inches in diameter and tamped them directly into the ground.
I was marveling at how tall the corn was when I noticed that about two thirds of the fence poles were sprouting new growth leaves! Even the trees in Ecuador never say die!
I am generally a glass is half full sort of guy and rarely do I let the weather or outside circumstances get me down. But, enough is enough! Mary and I both are getting to where we will welcome the dry, sub-tropical climate San Clemente boasts most of the year. The rain and growth in the area has taxed the infrastructure of our little city to the maximum and, especially during Carnivale when so many extra people were in town, our electricity seemed to go out two or three times a week.
One morning the electricity went out, so Mary and I went for a walk on the beach and into town. We visited with some friends and were gone for quite a while, so I was a bit surprised to see that the electricity was still not working when we returned. Giovanni, the care taker of our little apartment was outside in the common yard area and I commented to him that it was too bad the lights were still out. (It was daylight, but that is how everyone says that the electricity is out. – “No luz.”) Giovanni quickly responded, “Si, pero el sol es lindo.” (Yes, but the sun is pretty.) Who needs electricity when one has a beautiful sun shining down on San Clemente!
That is the spirit of life in Ecuador exhibited by defiant crabs, living – dead trees, and happy optimistic people!
The sun is shining and life is good in San Clemente, Ecuador!