Week two in Latacunga brought many events. By now I was on a first name basis with the Tia’s, had learned the routine of the house, dealt with a round of sickness, and rode the local buses like a pro and felt fully comfortable navigating the city of Latacunga. I also accomplished two things I never thought I would be able to do, get my ear pierced, and jump off of a 400 ft bridge. Yes, week two was full of adventure. The ear piercing happened as I was doing my shopping in my favorite local produce market. This thought floated in about getting my ear pierced and I set off to find a place. I soon came upon a little stand at the top of a market building and a group of ladies gathered around to watch the spectacle that was me getting my ear pierced. It cost $2 and didn’t involve sanitizing my ear prior but it happened fast and pretty painlessly. I had always wanted to pierce my ear just to experience it but always stopped myself because others told me not too. Its amazing how clearly you can think when there is no one around to tell you “no”. The following day brought the weekend and I decided I wanted to cross off another fear and jump off a bridge. I always thought people that did this were crazy but that was because I was so scared at the thought of it. I was tired however of having a fear rule my mind and set off for Banos early Saturday morning to meet my fear. I enjoy traveling solo without other gringos because it gives me the chance to practice my Spanish and meet new people. After two buses, one taxi ride. and $2.50 later, I stepped onto the bridge. Walking onto the bridge, a part of me wanted to walk away because all of a sudden this experience was becoming very real. I went to the bathroom before and got myself strapped into what I deemed to be a very safe harness. I decided I would jump right away without hesitation because I didn’t want to be one of the people who stood there scared for 5 minutes. I climbed onto the platform and looked out over the misty river below and life suddenly slowed down. I heard the guide on the bridge count 1,2,3… With each number my wit started to fail me and by 3, I had no desire left to jump, yet I leaned forward and dove off. The seconds of free fall were utter confusion and a little cursing, but the moment the rope pulled tight and I swung under the bridge, I realized two things, I was alive, and that the worst part of doing something “scary” is the time leading up to it. The actual moment wasn’t scary at all. After jumping I ate a celebratory snack of chocolate, banana, and raisins, then headed back to the kids in Latacunga.
The highlights of my week however came from the kids of course. I watched Wilma, a sweet heart of a girl, pull out a stash of crackers one night as the kids were being put to bed. Wilma is 12 and unable to walk or talk. She can make noises however and point with her arms and is incredibly smart. She motioned for me to unwrap the crackers which I did, then quickly returned to her. She struggled to pull them out but then proceeded to hand them to Jofre and Javi (two boys who share the same condition as Wilma) who happily accepted the crackers and munched them down. Wilma then shared her crackers with Daniela, Karina, myself, and finally she ate the last one. Touching. I also got to witness the true life romance of Daniela and Maycol, each age 5. They had been in the home together the past 2 years and were best friends. They laughed together, played together, and even would run away from school together in order to play on the playground together (this resulted in no t.v. for a few weeks). One night when all the kids and I were watching a movie together downstairs before bed I glanced over and realized they were holding hands. They were smitten for each other but were also the others life line in the world. It was a really sweet moment.