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“I thought it was the end of the world,”  – Marcos Cevallos

Jama, Ecuador – When people  share their stories of the 7.8 earthquake that struck 10 months ago, many use the same description as Marcos: “I thought it was the end of the world.”

With no electricity, there were few options for connecting the desecrated zones with the outside world.   Many kept cyber vigils in hopes of gleaning tidbits of information and passing that information to others.   News reports illustrated the devastation and provided interviews with people who survived the terremoto.   Many people from around the world met Marcos via the following news clip, beginning at minute 2:20:

The lady offering him comforting assurance is his sister Iris, proprietor of the very-popular tienda at the opposite corner.  The violent earthquake caught everyone by surprise. Buildings collapsed; timbers and cement crashed down; few could walk or run to safety.

“I crawled like a turtle,’ Marcos said, ‘and I pulled a chair over me like this:’   Ten months after the  earthquake, he illustrated his quick-thinking skills by contorting his stiff body to the ground and reenacting the posture that most likely saved his life.  His wife and three children died; a fourth son was in another area of town and survived as well.

Marcos mentioned ten stitches in his scalp and twenty for his leg and lots of blood.  He then asked if I’d like to see his back.

(His back?)

Without modesty, he rolled his shirt to reveal the scars from injuries he had not mentioned.  It looked like a jaguar had swiped its claws across his back.

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His mother listened from the nearby doorway, where she sat in neutral silence.  An unspoken sadness surrounded her, one she probably carried ever since their world crashed around them.

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Marcos sells ice cream from a portable freezer and averages between eight and ten dollars a day.  His back and leg hurt, sometime in obvious agony. He cannot justify using that money to buy medicine for pain.   His main concern is his  11-year old son; to provide basic needs like food and clothing.  Shoes?  Yes, his son, also named Marcos, probably wears a size 38.

I asked about his own shoes, and he lifted his foot (which hurt his back) to illustrate the condition of his shoes.    He would greatly appreciate a new pair of shoes.  I asked what type.   He looked at his present pair and said he’d like to get something similar.  He then added, “Deportivo.” (Sports shoes)   Size 40/41.


These shoes have taken him through some difficult times.


Marcos' always-present smile vanished after the earthquake. Every so often a glint of his inner sparkle comes back to life.

Marcos’ always-present smile vanished after the earthquake. Every so often a glint of his inner sparkle comes back to life.  His sweet son definitely brightens his days.


Marcos invited me to go to the cemetery the next morning.  We agreed on a time and place, and I left him busy selling his dwindling supply of ice cream.

Many people buy ice cream when the bus stops at that corner.

Many people buy ice cream when the bus stops at that corner.



There is more than ‘Ice Cream’ to this man’s facets.  What I witnessed the next day at the cemetery humbled me greatly.

Next post: the cemetery.