You wouldn’t think that on the equator one could constantly be cold. This is the rainy season here in the mountains north of Quito, Ecuador. About noon every day the clouds start coming up the valley to cool things down from 60+ degrees to about 50 degrees…and the rain falls. Yesterday I came in the house soaked and cold from working in a Eucalyptus tree. Today I was soaked and cold from hiking with Lewis. I can’t complain though when in Minnesota it has been below zero quite a bit.
The Ecuadorian people we work with have been amazing. Holger (pronounced ‘ol-hair’) is the lead worker who is in charge of the maintenance and construction at El Refugio. Each morning we meet at the shop at 7:30 to talk about how our family can best help. Over the last week plus we have started to figure out how to communicate.
Aurelio is our neighbor and one of the skilled laborers here. His smile each day warms me so much that I cheer his name when I see him. He must think I am crazy. He and I recently moved an armoire up a narrow, outside, stone stair case. We were maxed out and had several near mishaps. The groans and howls through the process were the same in English and Spanish. Just like I would with my own brother we laughed hysterically and high-fived when we finally got it.
Enrique and Jorge are the other two skilled laborers. They are hard working men who have been putting clay tiles on a roof for nearly the entire time we have been here. Their hand shakes and daily greetings are encouraging to us.
I have learned there are different levels of not knowing English. While Holger doesn’t know English, he can pick up a few things in English, and I can do the same in Spanish. Aurelio, Enrique and Jorge are at another level where they can at least understand my poor Spanish, but none of my English.
Pedro is the final laborer I have not mentioned. He cannot even understand my bad Spanish. We are at a complete stand-still with communication…until we pick up tools. Lewis says he speaks Hoe. He is the hardest working 60+ year old man I know. Tara and the kids have been helping him dig water diversion trenches along a steep road where the water would otherwise go straight down the hill. Pedro is the best machete slasher, pick-axe swinger and shovel digger on the planet as far as I am concerned.
I’d be remiss to not mention the other Ecuadorian staff of Daniel, Israel, Jessica, Wilmar and Pablo, as well as the others, Jim, Garrett, Ryan, Andreas, and Grace. We have been blessed by all of these people. They all challenge us in different ways. I am so thankful for them all.