P1330421 map of mid ecuador

Ecuador – About a week ago I drove to Guayaquil for what turned out to be a five-minute meeting and then returned with an extra passenger – the lady who worked at the check-point/security desk at the meeting!

After hearing me state, “Yo soy Manaba!” to a couple who stated they were from the same area, she casually stated that she was going to Santa Ana for the weekend.

“Today? Hoy?” I asked.

“Yes,” she smiled.  It was a Friday afternoon, and I wondered if she commuted that long distance to work.

“Do you live in Santa Ana?”

“No, I live in Guayaquil, but I’ll be visiting family.”

“Are you going by bus?”


P1350010 poza honda bus

Yes. Remember: First time visit – Go by bus!

A bus trip would surely represent six or more hours of travel for her, vs. three with me, especially if we took the route less traveled.

“Ride with me,” I suggested, as it was almost 4 in the afternoon.

She did not need to go home, was ready to travel, and shortly before 5 we joined the congested arteries of end of a work week in Guayaquil and headed north out of the city. Somewhere between my asking if we were on the right road – or if I should be in the right lane or left lane or center lane, she mentioned that Santa Ana was not actually her destination – but she was going to Ayacucho.

“Ayacucho!” I laughed, “I can drive that with my eyes closed! It’s no problem for me to drive you all the way to Ayacucho. I can drive that road with my eyes closed. I used the internet each week in Ayachucho! I shopped at the market next door to the cyber.”

Once we were out of the city, the almost due-north route and four-lane driving gave us opportunities for easy conversation. Her reasons for going to Ayacucho were somber ones; her beloved aunt had died the month before, and a misa/rosary service would be held in Ayacucho.

Judging the lingering sunlight, I predicted that we would be off the major highway before dark –  and the worst part of the drive would be behind us.  The pastoral east-west route wound through a rural section, one that had only two areas of bad highway. We would get through the first/worst section before dark. Good. I kept that information to myself, but realized that an ominous cloud at ‘ten o’clock’ might provide a glitch in our travels. Dark blackish-purple in color, it towered vertically and reminded me of storm-dodging days in the USA.
“Do you see that dark cloud ahead? It looks ugly; in Mississippi, that might bring a tornado or hail – but a very bad storm… Let’s try to imagine that storm moving to the left and out of our way. We’ll be turning(left) not far after Palestina.  Let’s nudge it over to the coast!”
With a lighthearted attitude, we collectively pushed the clouds with our hands, much like pushing aside a curtain, and then we talked about tornadoes — and I told her about a double rainbow long ago in Louisiana – when the left end went into my driver’s window, and when I turned an S-curve, the right side of the rainbow came through the passenger window…
When that story was over, we were on the rural highway with a tiny bit of lingering daylight, and rain straight ahead. The highway was already shiny with rain, and we slowed and prepared for the bad section of highway. Thankfully the other (few) autos drove with care, and in slow mode, we dodged potholes or eased through them – always easier when the driver in front obviously knew the hazards of that stretch of road. Slow to an almost halt was a sure signal that a giant hole lurked beneath the rain-flooded highway! We called those holes ‘piscinas’ – the Spanish word for pools.

P2600131 detail crazy drops

Sometimes at Poza Honda I took flash photos of the rain and drizzle. The rain drops always turned out ‘backwards’ from how I have always drawn them!

With a talent for spotting piscinas and speed bumps through a curtain of rain, my copilota earned her free fare through the towns of Colimes and Olmedo and finally to Santa Ana and Ayacucho. An hour’s drive stretched into two hours, and even in small towns/communities, the streets had turned into little streams, and the rivers were swollen and threatening to jump the banks.

Half an hour from Santa Ana, the cloud burst was barely a drizzle, and the streets and highways were dry for the last part of the journey.

P1630114 ayacucho church and park

Ayacucho in the daytime.

“Muro!” we exclaimed surely 100 times – even after we emerged from the rain! I laughed and said that if we had a dollar for every muro, we could have a really nice dinner!
We reached the Ayacucho church about five minutes before the misa ended, but it was nice to transfer into that serene setting, observe the priests, witness the greeting from family members, and send thanks for the safe journey – including thanks to my own army of angels! (Surely it takes an army to sometimes keep me safe?)

An hour after saying ‘Goodbye’ to my new friends, I unloaded the truck and then parked in the private parking lot, walked the few blocks ‘home’ but first peeked into the Chinese restaurant about 50 steps from the apartment. Ten o’clock exactly.

“Is the kitchen still open?” I asked.


I ordered food to go, but they nudged me to sit at a table, ‘We don’t close for half an hour.”

And now, one week later, I am here in an almost-empty setting (everyone is dodging the virus and surely not dodging the owner?) to dine, check the world news, check on the virus stats, and share this story!


The gist of this post is not about safety or being protected by an army of angels or even a slight wonder about one’s ability to coax a storm to move to the coast (because it did and left behind a lot of damage!) — but it’s about being totally present – in the moment.

The mind does not wander when one is driving through a storm on a rural highway in the night, as safety depends on intense focus and concentration. Sometimes when drawing or painting, I find myself with that same focus. With watercolor, one can make a huge mistake with one tiny jiggle in one important area. Painting a bird’s beak – especially the point – is a great example, or leaving the white splotch of reflection on an eye.

As more people are coaxed or ordered to ‘stay home’ – there are many fun exercises that also give the brain a good workout. Recently I drew a few square designs for ‘repeating’ textile patterns, and I marveled at what a good brain workout it provided. I could almost feel a new section of my brain getting exercised that normally stays in sleep mode.



(This might make a fun repeat design.)

I challenge you to do a simple drawing ‘repeat’ pattern – similar to a very basic design for wallpaper or fabrics or floor tiles. Before computer programs, how did artists draw those beautiful designs? Ha, I’m not sure, but instead of my own tutorial, I’ll point you to the artists with more experience!   Start with something simple, like circles and triangles – just have fun. For me the brain challenge is when cutting the paper into four pieces — after the first attempt, I remembered to label the paper  with A,B,C,D before using the scissors!

Get a few sheets of paper, scissors, tape, a pencil and have fun! Even taping the four pieces together and then putting them back in original form – is a discipline in attention! If you do this, please share your feedback!

For a very nice detailed instruction, this site breaks it down into easy photos.  Go here: REPEAT PATTERN BY HAND

Seriously, though, stay well everyone and pay attention to what the doctors, scientists and specialists advise.

Until next time on line,