Jama Ecuador – Each week oversees the repair or slow destruction of earthquake-damaged buildings in the area. A few buildings worthy of saving now have stronger spines and will preside over the newbies. Some city blocks are almost empty, and one adjusts to seeing open skies where two-story buildings once stood. Some might see an empty lot, but many ‘ghost buildings’ still reside in the memories of many.
The old park in the center of town was razed, and a new ‘historic’ one will replace it. Less than two blocks away, a second much-larger park will have areas for strolling, sitting, exercise, skateboards, as well as providing public bathrooms and a little sandwich shop. Progress throughout town is slow, and the incoming and outgoing streets serve as dump sites for construction materials like gravel or sand or are littered with debris waiting to be hauled to a landfill.
One friend pointed to a well-built two-story house that appeared to have few structural problems. “See that little house in the back?” She pointed and then added, “They live there because they are too scared to live in the big house.”
Construction on the new bridge continues, and even at night the sound of heavy equipment reminds us that people are working even when we are sleeping.
The little village of Monopoly houses continues to grow behind Hostal Palo Santo. At times one hears the lovely music of cement mixers, electric saws, grinders and drills. Sometimes, like right now as I type, the hollow echo of a hammer and chisel announces that someone is altering/fine-tuning one of the just-finished casitas. Those sounds are replaced on weekends by full-volume music – some of the most popular tunes played on repeat, while the growing population of street dogs fight over the alpha-male title.
Most every evening one ‘out-of-sight’ child chimes in with his/her repetitive fits of nonstop screaming. Trauma, I deduct; possibly a gun-shy little one – stuck in a fear that seized control on the night of April 16, 2016 and has yet to be exorcised. How can one grow irritated at the various changes in personalities, triggered by private memories that haunt each and every person that experienced that quake?
While incubating and waiting on ‘tramites’ for the past few months, I watched one of my favorite houses slowly vanish, board by board… It anchored a corner on Jama’s primary outgoing street, but this past month it faded out of sight; going, going and then gone.
For those of you wanting to grasp a few more words of Spanish, enjoy this version of Jack Johnson’s Gone: