The river is low, a mere creek in the center of its wide rocky bed. It’s been unseasonably hot and dry here and the farmers have been wearing grave faces in the Mercados. The forecasters had threatened us with deluges due to el Niño, but so far, the opposite has occurred. I’ve been living here over six months. It’s been a liminal, unstructured time of sleeping and eating and walking. It’s been a time of connecting phones and lights and learning the language, the bus lines, the stores, and the manners and courtesies of my new home.
Now, though, I’ve connected with a group that can use my time and talents doing something that will bring me joy: volunteering with young children in a daycare at an adult literacy center. I’ve also found a language exchange group which will put me face-to-face with high-school students learning English, in exchange for intensive Spanish lessons. The greatest blessing is that I’ve made some worthy friends who want to meet at times for concerts or lunch. In addition, the book I’ve been editing for the brilliant author and entrepreneur Michael Strong was nearing completion, when it became plain that a major revision was needed. For the first time in a while, my calendar is looking full.
Yesterday, my landlord’s maid was supposed to come and clean the apartment; she does this when she has free time, and we pay her a little more than the going rate. We made plans to be away for the afternoon so she could do her thing, but when we came home, the house was dirty and there was no sign she’d been there. This was the fourth time she’s done this to us, and the next morning she came by and rang the doorbell to come and clean, and I said, “No. No es conveniente, hacemos planes para salir, y cuando volvemos, el departamento esta sucio.” (No, it’s not convenient when we make plans to go out, and when we return, the apartment is dirty.) So, today we cleaned house. We got all the spots in the corners and behind the furniture, the baseboards, underneath the cabinets and the toilets, which she’d been missing. The whole apartment was shining and smelled like lavender.
At that moment, a tremendously loud crack of thunder sliced through the air. The cat jumped and cowered, trying to hide where there was no cover. The terrace began to spot with rain…and then it flooded. The Cajas mountains in the distance vanished in the torrent, then the outskirts of the city disappeared. Finally, the roofs of el Centro vanished and we were without a city, suspended in midair, just us and the shimmering silver blanket of blessed, blessed rain.