ACCEPTANCE IS A BLESSED THING:
I left early, to get my horse back to his pasture after the 5 hour ride along the mountain ridges above the Tarqui valley, up up and down down, trailing mostly a small girl on a painted horse, she with the same trepidation I had about the rigors of the ride and the sharp fall-offs. And there was my great friend ponying his 5 year old son on a docile mare, his wife on a confident Arab stallion.
It was my Cuencano friend’s 45th birthday ride, 20 vaqueros on a trek with family and trusted horses, the stallions and the gelded and the sweet mares.
But back to the short story – we arrived back at the trailers and the festivities, those wives and children that missed the paseo, with food cooking and cocktails brimming. But I felt the need to leave because I was in a cautious state of mind – my trailer was without turning lights and I had left my license and registration in my briefcase at the ranch, and the new laws regarding a drink and a drive are draconian.
So I bid my farewell to these uniformly Ecuarorian friends, I am the lone gringo, known affectionately as the “gringo loco.”. And what I got in return? To a one, a heartfelt look of disappointment and repeated welcomes to return, promptly, after I had ditched my horse.
To be so roundly welcomed into these strong folds of family is to feel wrapped in a blanket of acceptance. It is a treasure that speaks not of my specialness but of the sweet loving kindness of my Ecuadorian friends. That is why I choose to call this country my home.
A nice short story (In this time of stupid news):
I live half way up an 8 km dead-end dirt road that winds into the mountains on the south side of Victoria del Portete, just south of Cuenca. I routinely give rides in my pickup truck to my neighbor campesinos walking up with stretched bags of groceries or huge grain bags filled with grass. This afternoon I picked up a mature woman in traditional garb, she with the grass. She hefted her load with a broad smile, recognizing me from our regular community meetings. I pondered with a touch of sadness that I might be seeing, in this generation, the end of the velvet skirts and straw top hats.
I stopped a second time to pick up an elderly gentleman walking slowly with his cane. He piled in. I listened for the customary “Gracias” that denotes their disembarkation point. It came. They climbed out and asked me “How much?” I was again struck by the innate politeness in this closely knit community of 60 families, to which I am blessed to be a part. I replied as I always do, “It is a Christmas present.”