"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."

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A week of kids

There is a kid on my roof.

She's running back and forth looking excitedly down on the road below. With the rain and all, I'm not sure why the perch is so attractive, aside from my place being one of the higher buildings in the community. I feel bad because I'm actually hoping it rains harder so maybe she goes home. See, my host is gone for the night and tonight I'm planning on attempting to make garlic naan, my first time in Ecuador. Not that I don't want to share it with her or share the inevitably amusing experience of getting bread dough to rise in 50 degree weather, but sometimes I really, really just need my alone time...especially while cooking.

Oh! There she goes. Honestly I really like the kid, she's one of my favorites in town. But the times when my host goes out of town are cherished alone times for me, meaning time for experimenting in the kitchen (reproducing my Americanized dishes without an oven and without the usual ingredients), time to watch movies or knit, time to read. Also she loves to visit Moo but Moo is much less tolerant of kids than the typical family golden retriever. She sits unhappily in the reveler's arms, ears back and eyes wide while a local kid pets (pats) her head...hard. But I'm lucky - she doesn't bite. When she's irritated, she just kicks at you with her hind claws, or murmors a really pathetic whimper if times are really rough and you've got her captive.

The next day I followed my host down a mud alley to a locked field where she cuts grass for her rabbits and cuyes. She mentioned the house nearby is the kid's home. I was sort of stunned. The house is a really small cement-block one story with a tin roof, guarded by an emaciated black dog. The yard is patchy grass and mud, littered with cement blocks, wire, and knicknacks. Next door is a two story painted house in stark contrast.

She left for Riobamba and I stayed. When school let out for the day, around 12 p.m., I heard a lot of commotion. Kids ran en masse down the road and up an alley, and came back carrying someone in a sheet. I thought it was a kid, until they dropped the sheet and an arm, head, and exposed belly tumbled out. I gasped - I thought for a second it was a body of a dead man. I slid on my boots and went out to investigate.

Turns out, the man is their teacher and he wasn't dead, he was extremely drunk. So much so that he certainly couldn't walk, and neither could he talk. He had to have dangerously drunk. When the kids saw me coming, they all ran up to me and gave me tons of hugs. Some never let go, too, and I had to walk around with a kid clinging to either side of me. They spent over an hour dragging him back and forth with no clear destination in mind. I kept asking what they were going to do with him, and saying that he probably needs to see a doctor - also, telling them to keep him rested on his side. I was in no mood to clear vomit from someone's mouth because he was on his back. Eventually he regained some form of consciousness and began giggling airily every now and then. Everyone, the kids and the passersby, thought this was hilarious. But I wasn't laughing. My dad got the point when I told him the story: any teacher who would do that in the U.S. would be arrested immediately.

So later, I was sitting here in my room again knitting and the girl came back making the same sort of rukus in the storage room next to my place. This time I didn't wish her away. If she wanted to play here, that's fine by me. She clanged and thumped for an hour until she ran off again. I peeked in to see what she'd been doing. An old lime green political banner was strung out from the room and on to the railing, and inside she'd set up a metal plank on a cardboard box, and on top were several pots - some containing mud. On the ground lay an ancient dirty doll swaddled in cloth. Maybe she'd been playing house? It was really adorable. I got this picture before she tore it all down later that night:

And later that night she did come back, this time with her older sister. My host asked me to give her lunch and dinner whenever she stops by, so I heated up the leftover soup, beans, and rice. Wow, can that girl eat. Much more than me. After we'd all finished, and after they spent 30 minutes or so terrifying Moo, the girls asked me for matches to light a "candela." I was really confused. Light what?! Finally I got that they intended to light a fire meetinghouse pit, and, shrugging, handed over my matches.

As they did that, I went off to shower since I had to leave at 6 a.m. the next morning for Riobamba. Of course, the minute I step into the shower and lather up my hair, the power goes out. Which means I was standing in ice cold water (it's an electric shower), in pitch blackness behind a locked door, in ambient temperatures of about 40 degrees, with goop in my hair. I managed to get out, shivering, just wanting to go to bed but the kids were still here. I was confused again - when the power came back on, both the kids jumped into the shower themselves. Turned out they lit the fire to warm up by after showering.

Kids confuse me.

Also, it snowed:

Also, Moo may or may not be saying hello (probably not):

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