Visualize a path leading from Ecuador to California. Belinda and I do, as we anticipate our return to Monterey. The nature of our travel will be both personal and business. Belinda has shipped Ecuadorian “artesanias” to family and friends to sell to boutiques handling indigenous handcrafts.
It’s true that life opens another door when you have closed one behind you which happened to us two and a half years ago. Moving from a familiar culture in North America to an unfamiliar one in South America took a leap of faith. We followed many developments with blind faith over a year to prepare for our successful transition to Cuenca from the shining city on sun-splashed Monterey Bay. I give my beautiful wife most of the credit to Belinda for keeping us focused to reach our goal of retirement from our jobs at Royal Oak Apartments.
Recently, we treated ourselves to a festive New Years Eve party on December 31, 2015, at Ali Baba Kabab Bar and Grill house owned by our friend Reza from Tehran. We enjoyed the belly dancing performances of delightful Sussy Shabana and gorgeous Jouvana. Belly dancing originated in ancient Egypt. People danced in temples worshiping gods and celebrating human fertility and the earth’s bounty.
The crowd-pleasing style and warm smiles from Sussy and Jouvana reminded me of our Monterey friend Christina Herrera. Christina taught Zumba exercise classes and danced with The Sambahemians, a Brazilian-influenced samba group of dancers and drummers which she founded after vacations spent soaking up the music and rhythms of Rio de Janeiro.
Belinda and I had become fast friends of Christina over a couple of years when we managed apartments. Middle-aged and petite with flowing brown tresses, she had responded to our apartment-for-rent ad in the Monterey Herald classifieds. She dressed professionally for her appointment in a long, elegant dress which ocean breezes would gently lift while we chatted with her outside on our apartment complex wrap- around interior deck.
“Well, we’ll see,” she laughed as we concluded the interview. “If it’s meant to be, I’d love to live here, so close to the beach. I’ll let you know.” Afternoon sunshine warmed us at the intersection of Sixth and Ocean. Flowers in deck boxes emitted a fragrant odor.
“We’d love to have you in the vacant apartment, Christina,” my wife told her. With so many younger tenants attending the U. S. Naval Post-Graduate School one block away, her presence would offer maturity to offset their and their friends youthful exuberance, particularly when the weekend rolled around.
A month later, she returned and took an inside one-bedroom unit. Christina had two vehicles: a classic Mercedes convertible, and a VW camper bus. Restricted to one parking spot, she kept the convertible under cover in the complex; the bus sat on the street in view of her balcony.
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