Magdalena, our friend and gifted writer, shares another adventure.
Be sure to do a search on this blog for more of her writings and her bio. She and husband, Daniel, live here in Cuenca.
It’s the day after Carnival, a sheet of partitioned silk raindrops shades me from the hot chili pepper valley of my new home. The last fluttering wings of a long-tailed hummingbird disappear into the languid bottle brush tree. A gnarled willow next to the creek groans at the black-eyed Susans, bright orange flowers on a vine that overtakes our ugly cyclone fence.
I recall the pecking, at dawn, the day before Carnival, at the windows of our Cuenca house. A rather large dark brown bird jumps up from the ground, wings out as far as he can go and taps every window, first the bathroom window, next the guest bedroom window, and last the square wooden windows of our bedroom door. He pecked when we first moved in a year ago and then left. But we are moving out; the house now belongs to him. The bird is insane, but I do not report him.
Between the sheeted raindrops the day after Carnival, I float in black sequins tight as a skirt with hummingbirds and long tails until I spy a crimson flycatcher in a field of cows where dung splatters carelessly. The smell transports me back to my porch, like the loco pecking bird, hopefully no one reports me.
On Carnival day In Anejo-Sisid near Canar, last year’s princess with jewels crisp on her white embroidered blouse wears her white felted hat like a cloud, two white fluffy balls on the brim bubble in front. The dangling balls in-front signifies she is single. She watches us gringos drink smooth canalazos. The drink flows into my belly. I feel like una vieja, siempre una vieja. Como las ancianas del Andes. I join the elders on a dust covered stone bench in front of the restored yellow Sisid church.
We too watch, two feet in front, one back. as the mud cakes grey on young girls’ MaryJanes, tapping their dainty shoes and bright pink or white wool stockings with shocking USA black letters sewn just below the knees.
Carnival night the music blares late through the Sisid hosteria, we form a spooning wave under wool blankets trying not to think of the taste of small cuy feet, tomorrow's promised meal, but nevertheless we can hear the cuys’ whispers, not unlike the soft repeated hymns of the shy Sunday churchgoers when the young priest raises his voice: Todos repete.
Entangled with paraffin smoke, fruit and admonishments men and women sit encrusted with lines and wrinkles inside and out; colorful ponchos and scarves gently float between aisles, young women catch the eyes of young men and children slip from pew to pew. A young boy snuggles close to my friend, on the last hard wooden pew where we sit quietly near the church door. She talks to him in muted tones and shares photos on her Nikon camera. At last he mumbles, his dark eyes pleading: platinos por favor,
coins. The priest once again raises his voice: Todos repete, the sound of singing voices dampening the boy’s request. Hopefully no one reports him.