There´s this family I teach every afternoon. I visited their farm yesterday after class to milk a cow. Jennifer, the younger one, brings me a noisy piglet, telling me to hold him tightly like a baby. I do. The cow I am to milk doesn´t have any milk after all. They invite me back this weekend, they invite me to the river, to eat soup, to sit by the fire. I do, but not until Jennifer, Kevin and I bring fat, fluffy sheep up to the farm, pound wooden poles into the ground, and leave them in the dark field. We all sit by the fire, talking and laughing. We talk about life in the United States, life in Ecuador; they tell me their brother, Fabian Freddy, is working in Italy. He is a good person, they say, with a degree in Engineering. We could get married and I could live in this house, sitting by the fire and milking the cows. I could take care of their parents; they have a house down the road that only needs windows and doors. Can he cook? I ask. Rice, Jennifer tells me. I am not sure this will work out. Jennifer brings me his University ID so I can see his photo although it is outdated. ¨Do you like this bracelet?¨ Marta asks. Yes, it is beautiful, I say, a bracelet made of thin orange thread. She tenderly ties it on my wrist. Comprometido! she cackles. Engaged, ooops!
The people are strong here in Salasaca, they tell me. Yes, I agree. The women. We laugh, but it´s true. Mamitas and Abuelitas carry heavy bundles of hierba and plant on their aching backs, bare feet padding down dusty roads.
My students teach me Quichua. It is their turn to write on the whiteboard, to give me vocabulary and correct my pronunciation. Small hands show me how to move my mouth. I can say small words; good morning, thank you, you´re welcome. I can´t seem to remember ¨hello¨ but I haven´t yet given up hope.
There is a hammock on the porch and when the sky is clear I can see the volcano. Dan plays fiddle when the stars are out and Jose is lending me his guitar. I was sick this weekend and the crew who went to Baños brought me back a small ukelele I named Patito. Sim and I have started Singing Club. Our reportie includes Lauren Hill and the Beach Boys. There is talk of a barbershop quartet. Look out, Salasaca! Here we come.