The first part of the title refers to meeting up with my Ecuadorian friend that I first met last year on my trip down the Napo river. He was on the boat that I took from Nuevo Rocafuerte (the Napo river, Ecuadorian border town).
We had not been in contact since bidding one another farewell after visiting a jungle village and sharing a canoe ride through the poorest part of Iquitos, Peru: Belem.
I went to the Saturday morning market in Vilcabamaba (two weeks ago). Spotted a man with a young lady while I was doing my usual thing of ‘observing’ people from a peripheral vantage point. I couldn’t believe my eyes, at first. I looked and I looked and I finally convinced myself that it was indeed Guillermo, my Napo river/Iquitos, Peru traveling companion from last year.
I approached him from behind and spoke softly. His companion saw me. I said: “Hey, William, don’t look now, but it is Rik from your last year’s Napo river adventure”. He was as surprised as I was.
His companion could only listen to our talk and observe our mutual surprise (and delight). Guillermo was born and raised in Ecuador. He had lived and worked in New Jersey and New York for thirty years of his working life. He sold his condo in New York and had bought a small apartment in Quito after his wife passed away. He had only recently begun to see his ‘home country’. As it happened, this was his very first visit to Vilcabamba.
It was my pleasure to play the role of guide for Guillermo and his companion, who happened to be a female English/Canadian professional biologist who was in Ecuador on ‘assignment’ to write field notes and make photos of birds. She spoke of wanting to create a ‘coffee table book’ of Ecuadorian birdlife.
I spent five or six hours with them, showing them the highlights of Vilcabamba and introducing Debbie to the Argentinian man, Orlando, who owns Rumi Wilco lodge. I knew he and Debbie would speak ‘the same language’… biology. Orlando had studied biology in his youth in Argentina and went on to become a guide and had moved to Vilcabamba thirty years ago with the intention of hosting biologists at his lodge… on the edge of the Podocarpus national park.
I visited them both in Zamora before Guillermo headed North and while Debbie was taking photographs of birds in the Podocarpus national park.
Here is an audio file taken at a restaurant in Zamora: 150107_002
The general meaning for ‘bodega’ in Spanish is, a storage area, cellar, or warehouse.
Have been coming to S. America for five consecutive years. Every time I come, I bring more than I will use on my journey. I’ve been bringing things (including tools and extra clothing) with the idea that I may one day find a more permanent place near here that will become my future ‘home’.
My dream of that has always been a small piece of property that has a year round waterfall on it. It is a plausible reality. The problem is… to locate and ‘settle on’ such a spot. It must also fulfill other of my criteria… within forty-five minutes of a small to medium sized community… and no more than fifteen minutes from a good road surface. I know of, and have seen, a few such locations. The other criteria is that the land itself be affordable… because then I would have to construct a small dwelling, with limited time, and resources.
Back to the bodega: Because I have been steadily bringing more things than I use or that I can carry around with me while traveling, I created a small problem.
Where can I keep all my excess ‘stuff’ securely? I solved that problem thus far, by having two different ‘piles’ in two different locations, with two different people. It’s worked OK. But, I have wanted to consolidate the piles into one place where I can better inventory what stuff I have and have the opportunity to to go through it and reduce my ‘traveling gear’ to a minimum… and have the remainder in a secure location for when I return.
I had thought of a long term lease on a small piece of property… but that would require me to build a building and front all the costs for that… at the end of the long term lease, all time, money, and effort I might expend, would eventually revert to the ‘owner’ of the land.
So… I have negotiated a temporary/interim solution. I met a man from NH who has lived here since 1998. I first met Kent on my motorcycle journey… a few years ago. He has an Ecuadorian wife. She and Kent have a child. He manages various landscaping and construction projects in the area for expats. He is looking for a larger track of land further away from the expat nexus. The family of his wife has local land and they rely on him to help maintain it. Through his wife, Kent has many local ‘contacts’.
Have negotiated a deal (monthy rental, renewable by the year and paid yearly) for a part of a room in a house where Kent has a three year lease.
The building is a regular ‘house’, directly on a paved road. Kent uses the place to keep many of his tools as well as storing other items belonging to other of his friends/acquaintances. The place has a kitchen. He sleeps there and stands guard over the place and his own tools. His wife and child sometimes stay with him in this house. She has many family members in town and thus has many housing options.
I negotiated that I would construct a very small, floor to ceiling ‘cage’ made of thin steel framing, covered with 5×5 inch steel mesh. The cage has a door made in the same manner, with welded hinges and a hasp that I can lock when I am gone. This arrangement makes it possible for Kent (that is the NH man’s name) to continue to store his tools in the (larger portion) of the room and have my stuff completely segregated… so if he needs to send a worker to get one of his tools, my things will be locked up in their own separate ‘cage’ space.
Made a simple contract with Kent. Our signatures were witnessed by a mutual friend, as was me paying in cash for the yearly sublease. I have little recourse if anything goes awry. It is really a ‘handshake’ deal. I believe Kent is an honorable man. The ‘stuff’ I have isn’t all that valuable… a few tools, older clothing, a tent, sleeping bag, miscellaneous items.
I bought and hauled the materials to the place on Monday. Kent works during the day and I only had access to the place after his work schedule… after 4PM. It rained every day for three weeks, often beginning in late afternoon. The room had very poor lighting. It made ‘progress’ more difficult than it might have been.
Moved my two piles of stuff into the newly self-constructed bodega a few days ago. Went through it all. There is a padlock through the hasp welded to the door now. All my gear is as secure as it can be now and it is all in one place.
My face got ‘sunburned’ from the arc light of the welder. I only had ‘goggle’ style eye protection. And I got a tiny bit of slag or grit in my eye and got some goop from a pharmacy that fixed the problem after two nights. I’m all good now.
Need to move on to Peru by February 7th… giving me 9 days remaining on my Ec. visa to return to Quito for my return flight. Such is the plight of the ‘extranjero’ (foreigner) and such is the plight of an itinerant ‘viajero’ (traveler).
When people ask me ‘Where do you live ?’ I tell them: “I seem to live in many places. It seems like I am a ‘planet’, and a few places happen to be on my orbit.” This is a fairly accurate description of my life the past five years or so.
Will I ever ‘settle down’ again? I don’t know. That depends more upon my potential attachment(s) to people than upon a desire to call a particular piece of geography ‘home’.
‘Home’ has begun to feel more like a particular person these days, the future is uncertain.
I miss feeling ‘connected’. During the course of my Life I have found the highest degree of ‘personal freedom’ to run co-existent with the minimal amount of so called ‘interpersonal connectedness’. A real conundrum.
Some people would describe my way of life in terms of a set of behaviors as outlined and/or described in the DSM – IV or V.
Those handful of people who ever read any of my words are left with ‘judging’ me in the courtroom or psychological facility of their own mind(s).
Next up: My imminent visit to Peru… more Natural hot springs, more incredible fresh air markets, and more grand waterfall hikes.