Vilcabamba Ecuador imagined

Corona Sketch Book

With March madness (not the sports, the CV) I had to wonder if my departure from southern Ecuador last year wasn’t extra fortuitous. I had lived half the year for six years in the little village of Vilcabamba. The rest of the time on the coast of Maine. The flying, the back and forth had gotten to me so I sold out. Took me six months, from the end of 2018 til June of 2019, to loose the pile. But, with shopping conditioned gringos and other foreigners as a market, I got rid of everything. Pent up consumerism when given its head will do amazing things. The matriarch of an Ecuadorian family sifting thru the items on my table at Jose Pablo’s flea market asks, “Que es?”, what is this. Its a “Grid Dip Meter” I answer. I try to translate but falter. “Una cosa por proeba electronica, un intrumento de labratorio”. This is blinding someone with sience and bad Spanish. She gives me a critical look and moves on. But, soon she is back. She wants that thing whatever it is called…its different…it will add style to the shelf in her house already burdened with bric-a-brac. Now we are in the dickering mode. What I can’t convert to money, even a little money, will go to the dump. When I offer to add more junk to the deal we settle on a number. By the end of May 2019 I was down to one 50 lb suitcase and ready to fly out of Quito. I see in my imagination this lady walking thru the house and yard with the GDO hunting for resonance in the high frequencies. If only I could have found the right UFO (or in Spanish OVNI) believer, I could have sold it as a saucer detector. Obviously a device to flush out the aliens would be invaluable to a UFO hunter and command a higher price. If I had it to do again I wouldn’t want to do it again. In this life I am confident I will not. Sadly, I don’t expect to see Ecuador again. The borders are sealed. They are sort of sealed in the USA. Was it fortuitous that this CV musical chairs found me up north when the music stopped? Time may tell.

One of the advertising flyers I created and circulated in the expat community in Vilcabamba

I thought this first winter in ten years would be more social for me. I had discovered a local artists group that seemed right. That was in February 2020. I started with a series of figure drawing sessions. Sketching live models in the group’s studio on Main street. After two sessions I was encouraged. The group was well organized. It had the right balance of professional and wannabee. Mid coast Maine is home to many graphic artists and some excellent painters were available as tutors. But with the hand writing on the wall getting clearer and clearer, I decided to skip the third session. The fourth was canceled by the coordinator. The penny had dropped for all by the middle of the month. From the 15th of March I was in self isolation. I give that line of demarcation in the flow of time the reference, BCV and ACV. Before and after the Corona virus.

Its absolutly true that I made the cover of Newsweek

The people of Ecuador and the village of Vilcabamba in particular are welcomming of visitors and residents from elsewhere. That said, its also true that some of the borish behavior and ignorance of expats elicits the response it deserves. Not just gringos but others. I define “gringo” as citizen of the USA. It is not a derrogitory term. My nationality isn’t American. America is a hemisphere, it is two continents….but it is not a country. Its citizens are not “Americans” The money says, “United States of America” The placard in front of the US rep in the UN says, “United States”. The passport says “United States” You might imagine how this went over with the other gringos on the sidewalk in Vilcabamba. The locals didn’t call us gringos, we were Estado Unidenses, “United Statesians”, the name doesn’t trip off the tongue does it? The USA’s founding fathers considered christening their new country “Columbia” the name was available at that time. Always good to run a new name past a focus group. Or, you can just re invent reality, make it more to you liking. There is a lot of that going on isn’t there.

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