As the old idiom goes, “One man’s loss is another man’s gain.” So it was with many after Ecuador’s devastating earthquake last April. Many lost lives and family members and many more lost homes and businesses. But, those who were in the business of building or repairing homes and businesses could not keep up with the boom.
Such was the case for our friend, David Fernando Zambrano. David is a contractor and maestro (especially in the area of plumbing and water lines) and following the earthquake he was called upon by many for needed repair work. For several weeks he was busy throughout the area working on homes.
But, David (the plumber and handyman extraordinaire) has much more to him than meets the surface.
Almost two years ago we published a post of David supervising the painting project on a fishing boat. We learned that David had come up with the artful design on the boat and his nephew showed me a book full of David’s drawings. You can see the fruits of David’s artistry here: https://johnandmarylivingitupinecuador.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/pintura-del-barca/
David either completed or oversaw much of the work done on our friend’s Joe and Nancy’s home. They used to live across the street from David. But even they were surprised to learn that David was a closet artist. See:
When we moved into our new home after the earthquake we called upon David to come and repair the toilets in the unused bedrooms. He was very busy, but showed up the next morning and worked for several hours fixing and replacing parts on four malfunctioning toilets. He charged me the exorbitant price of $20.00 for his half-day’s work!
So. we were all devastated to hear a week later that, while working on a home in San Alejo, David had fallen through the roof and broken his back. As soon as he got released from the hospital we went to his home and expressed our grief and concern for his injuries.
Now, as Paul Harvey used to say, “the rest of the story…” and I like to call, “The Slice of Life!”
David’s wife, Martha Elena Zambrano set up a bed in his front room so that he could receive visitors. He was so immobilized at first that he could not even work on the Sudoku books that we brought to him. For many weeks it looked doubtful that he would ever be able to walk or even sit up again. Elena had to take a job as a server at the cafeteria of a school in Charapotó and left David to himself for several hours each day.
One day I was out with another ex-pat named Rick delivering some items to earthquake victims. On the way home Rick asked me if I knew of place in town that made photo-copies. I went with him to Victor’s Cyber Cafe and Rick made several color copies of fairy houses he and his wife, Leigh had copied from the internet or from magazines. Rick told me that he and Leigh had come up with the idea of giving the pictures to David to see if he could make similar fairy houses at his home. (Sure seemed like a better idea than Sudoku books!)
And so it was!
A month or two later Rick and Leigh posted on Facebook that David was selling Fairy houses that he had created from wood, melons, pine cones, coconut parts, beads and berries! I went over and bought some and began the collection that now adorns the top shelf of our television stand.
A closer look shows the work of a true artist working with what is at hand!
David was confined to his bed for three months, but began getting up (with limited movement) after that and was still pretty much disabled for the next three months. But David (and his sweet supportive wife Elena – together with their teen-aged daughter) kept working on fairy houses and even expanded into other artful crafts.
Yesterday, Leigh announced that David was conducting a showing of some of his latest artwork. I went by and got some pictures!
David has recently started making and painting fish from rocks and shells. Some of his work adorns his walls.
Some of these he has mounted in bowls and on stands.
Many of these are hand painted, while others a left to show the colors and shapes of the natural shells.
I particularly like this little guy!
He has many more in the works!
In addition he has begun creating owls and other birds from melons and other natural material.
His original oil painting hangs on the wall behind his collection of birds and turtles.
And David has continued on the path shown by Rick and Leigh making many more fairy homes!
Elena proudly showed me these little houses that are designed to be mounted near the door with hooks for car and house keys.
All of these are for sale! David told me he sells things for less than five dollars (for the small fish) on up to thirty-five to forty dollars for the fairy houses.
But do not fall in love with the long beaked hummingbird (about the size of the owls) in the picture.
I bought that for Mary and it now sits on the bookshelf between our two desks.
David and Elena are friends and they spoke freely with us. When asked if they had insurance coverage, they said, “No.” When asked if the government had helped, they said, “No.” When asked if family helped during David’s recovery, they said, “Of course, but most of them had even bigger problems and were living in tents.” Elena did not complain about having to go to work and David did not complain about having to change his profession.
Both Elena and David praised and thanked God for David’s life, for family, and for friends.
They also told me that they were very grateful for all of the help that so many expats had given to them.
If you know of a way to help market David’s art or want to help we have the contact information.
It is really such an honor to live amongst such loving, positive, God-fearing, salt of the earth people here in San Clemente where…
Life is good in Ecuador.