"Every planet has its own weird customs. About a year before we met, I spent six weeks on a moon where the principal form of recreation was juggling geese. My hand to God. Baby geese - goslings! They were juggled."

Monday, May 9, 2011

Wait for a bit, you´ll get cake

Let me share a story with you, a classic Peace Corps tale.

The other day, I was locked in my house. Yes, in. And I was also locked out of the kitchen. And my host left for three days. And all volunteers in Ecuador were in standfast for those exact three days (not allowed to leave site).

I crawled out of bed at the all-too-early hour of 5:30 a.m. to find my host before she left for Riobamba, but I was too late. She left just before I woke up, and put the padlock on the outer gate. Well, that sucks. Guess I'm not going for any walks until Sunday. I turn to the kitchen to go make breakfast and there too is a padlock. Uh oh.

I waited a little while to call my host because she was probably in a dead cell phone area, but when I did, she could still barely hear me and me her. I said anyway that I was locked inside and locked out of the kitchen, I didn't have the keys, but I didn't know if it got through. I went back downstairs and searched for the keys, but confunded, I just stood there staring at the kitchen door longingly when her cousin walked up and unlocked the outer gate. Horray! I'm free! Oh, but he doesn't have the kitchen key. I handed him the phone to call my host, and she said she gave me the keys last night. Which she most definitely didn't. It was unclear what would happen.

But by that time, normal human waking hours, my program manager got in contact with me to help and called my host. My host said the same thing, but she'd send her son to give me the keys.

So I kicked back, relaxed, tried not to think about eating. My supplies were:

-1 liter carbonated water plus water disinfectant tablets for the outhouse tap
-2 half full (or half empty?) peanut butters
-an orange sucker
-2 packets of 2 crackers each
-1 packet of mora jelly
-1 container of nutrional yeast (it's a vegan thing)
-1 tub of honey
-Lots of spices. Yuumm, spices
-1 bottle of orange Pedialyte
-Tub of powdered soy milk
-2 packets of 2 cookies each

So I'd be ok. Not exactly happy or satiated for three days, but ok. Maybe a neighbor would feed me too? I munched on peanut butter and nutrional yeast and honey and waited. Breakfast was long over, lunch passed, and by 2 p.m. I was getting worried. I started imaging how I'd find some food... I knew where some mora berry bushes were, that sounded kind of nice. There's always the cuyes and rooster and rabbits... hmmm. Not nearly that desperate.

I texted my program manager again, but just then, my host arrived by bus and thrust one of those oh-so Ecuadorian gray garbage can-looking fast food pails full of rice, salad, and fries, still a little warm, into my hands. I gobbled it up. And in her very motherly way, she presented her typical overabundance of food (coffee, juice, toasted bread with butter, choclo on the cob, etc.). I kid you not, as I write these lines, my host just brought me up a huge piece of cake for Mother's Day. Being motherly on Mother's Day, well done.

My host maintained I had the keys and I'm 100% certain I never got them. She went to look for them while I ate, and called me out. There was the kitchen key, under the outside stairs and under a bag, looking like they were very deliberately placed there on a pedestal. She asked the Spanish equivilant of "What exactly do you make of that??" and I responded that the rooster must have done it. It seems plausible enough if both of us believe the other had the key.

It's a lesson in one of the best pieces of Peace Corps advice I ever received: If things are crappy, like you're fully convinced you want to ET and go home tomorrow, just wait a day. Even just a few hours; things will be fine. A great big double rainbow will stretch across the valley, children will surround you and oo and ah at your fantastic knitting project and your host will make you french fries. And that actually happened.

But then the next day, a party across the street will keep you awake the entire night (it ended at 7:30 a.m.). At least there's cake. See? Just wait.


  1. Wow! At least there's cake!

  2. Well, isn't that a slice! I'm surprised that didn't get more of a rise out of you. You ended up having all you would knead!

    The rooster line cracked me up.