People are complaining about the weather. The sun spends the day tucked away behind a smoky gray sky. Somedays we are just spritzed with a cool spray of mist coming down throughout the day. The sky is too lazy to rain, and instead gives us one long continuous sneeze. The tourists are grumpy. I love it. They weren’t here a few months ago. The air used to be heavy with moisture; the sun bore down on the back of your neck like a damp towel that’s been thrown in the microwave before being draped over your shoulders. I eventually adjusted to the heat, allowing it to wash over me and sink into my skin. People pay to sit in little wooden rooms like this, so really it’s a pretty good deal. It was all-torrential rains that would cause floods in the house, punctuated the sunny days that would then soak all that water back into the air the following morning when the sun would return and morph the ether into a giant sponge. Now the days are in the 70ºs as oppose to the 80ºs to 90ºs, and I have greeted the change gleefully by dusting off my knitting needles.

My quest for yarn has become an obsession. While in the States I would splurge on beautiful hand spun alpaca from Ecuador and Peru (sometimes more than $20 for one skein), it turns out that like coffee and chocolate, just because this country exports the raw high quality material does not mean that I can find a decent cup, a decent chocolate bar, or a skein or two. All the llamas, goats, and sheep are hiding up in the Sierras, far from my tropical coastal paradise, and keeping their fur to themselves.

I am skulking through the streets of La Libertad. All I find is cotton. Fine, it’s probably too hot for animal fibers anyways, but the colors are shocking. Pepto pink, electric neon oranges, greens that make me think of nuclear power plants or energy drinks. If my plan was to knit bicycle jerseys, or decorations for a warehouse rave I would be right at home. Every store has the same cotton acid rainbow, and I spend hours digging through bins, and annoying store clerks. After several hours of searching, I find a few acceptable shades, make my purchases and hop back on the bus to Manglaralto.

This bus trip has become a standard weekly/monthly expedition. Among the things that I either cannot find or that are ridiculously over priced in my village: razors, shampoo, make-up, clothes, shoes, bathing suits, towels, lotion, real butter, pasta, any cheese other than queso fresco, books, furniture, post offices, movie theaters, libraries, yarn, buttons, etc…

Though I do not live on an island, the coast is like a blanket, enveloping its inhabitants in a mental, physical, and economic insulating wall from the world. I cannot buy a ball of yarn without taking an hour long bus ride, I cannot learn about Amy Winehouse’s death or know what Michelle Bachmann is up to without a 30 min walk and then trying to infer on facebook. I haven’t seen any of the latest movies, or know what albums my favorite artists have released. I’m sure Apple has come out with some new amazing and magical tool of distraction for me to covet that I do not know about, but honestly, I’m okay with it. I’ll take the blanket. In fact, I’ll help knit it.

Knitting for an Ecuadorian winter means lace patterns, cotton yarn, and slochy berets!

Original published July 25, 2011, on tumblr as “Lana”.


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