“Suffering is part of our training program for becoming wise.” Ram Dass
(Jama Ecuador) After traveling for 5 or more hours, I recently reached Jama in the late afternoon. Palo Santo Cafe was closed, but someone was inside – preparing for the night. I knocked on the door and asked if I could use the internet – to send a smoke signal that I’d reached my destination for the day. “Of course,” lovely Karen smiled as she opened the door and invited me inside. “Stay as long as you’d like…”
I sat at a table and quickly vanished into cyberworld while they worked in the kitchen. Just as I was packing my things to leave, young Jesus – Luchy’s nephew, motioned for me to stay. He pointed to three coffee cups on the counter and whispered, “Shhhhh…” Smiling, I unpacked the computer and played my role in the coffee break surprise.. Yet ten minutes later, the cups of not-so steaming coffee were still sitting there, and I thought perhaps I misunderstood. About that time Luchy and Karen emerged from the kitchen with hot ham and cheese sandwiches for everyone!
I camped at their hostal this past trip and enjoyed more quality time not only with the family, but with many of the locals as well. One night when I was walking from their restaurant to the hostal (2 blocks) someone called my name. It was a friend I’d not seen in over a year. She and her four precious children are living in one of the tent communities. She looked great and seemed happy, and we both enjoyed the 10-pm exchange on the almost-deserted street.
“When someone feels particularly isolated or in pain, we don’t need a great deal of information in order to come to his or her aid.” Ram Dass
Although each person has his or her unique story of the night of the earthquake, they are all moving forward with esperanza/hope for what can be done with each day.
(He refused my money and insisted that he prepares food each Saturday for his friends.)
Nieve and I drove ten minutes ‘upriver’ to see their farm. I was rewarded with a lovely new bird – an Ecuadorian Trogon!
One day I noted a new face at the hostal, and I asked Nieve about the precious boy that was quietly observing from the doorway.
That’s Luis,” she said and then added, “his mother died in the earthquake.” He watched me with a neutral stance as if wondering what I might say. “Lo siento,” I said… I am so sorry…”
I learned that his mother died, his aunt died and his grandmother died in that April 16th earthquake. My heart all but burst… But there was more to the story.
The second-story concrete balcony broke, and part of it fell on Luis. Big nails stuck into his arms, and he was pinned down by the debris and nails. No details were given, but his father took him to Quito for medical help.
Many hours later I asked to see where the nails injured his arm. Like a warrior, he lifted his arm and gave me permission to photograph the scars.
When I returned to the cloud forest, that long journey provided ample time to ponder how people in other parts of the world are approaching Christmas and the New Year – in sobering contrast with these beautiful survivors. One might say, “Poor people,” but on a deeper level, they will emerge stronger and more resilient to future challenges…
By knowing them, I am a better person.
Feliz Navidad to all,