It is early in the morning. Sometimes when I wake up I am thinking about my mother. She died at my birth. 10 years now.
My mother's brother, José and his wife, Arianna, from America are coming. I am cooking yaguarloco, a potato soup sprinkled with blood, seco de chivo, a stew made from goat, fried potato balls, and coconut candy special for Arianna.
I am shy when they come through the door but José swings me up in his arms, shouting and dancing. They hug me between them. Arianna calls me her pajarito, little bird, kissing both my cheeks.
She has a present for me. It is a picture of us in a frame made of small pink seashells.
She brought it all the way from America for me.
I cannot speak for happiness.
There is much praise to me from José and Arianna about the many dishes I have made,
and everyone eats a lot of food.
José has come for the colorful woolen rugs, ponchos and wall hangings we have made from our llamas' wool. José says he can sell our goods all over America. My brothers are doing much arguing at Papa to buy a treadle foot-powered loom so we can make more, easier and faster. Papa has always used the hand loom and is slow to change.
Arianna helps me to do the washing up. Her hands are pretty and smooth, I know she does not do this work often. Standing side by side at the sink, she hugs me close to her. She is warm and soft. She strokes my hair over and over. I close my eyes and pretend she is my mother.
I did not know you could cry from being so happy.
Today is big market day in our town - Otavalo, Ecuador. Papa is very proud. Weaving can be counted back hundreds of years in his family. It will always be our way of life, Papa says.
People come to the market from many countries to see the crafts of the Otavalo Indian people, and to see the mountains, waterfalls and beautiful scenes surrounding us here.
Arianna has braided my long hair with silver ribbons she brought from America and she holds my hand as we walk through the market. She is very excited, there is always much to see.
Birds, clothing, jeweleries, many foods being cooked, filling up the air with heat and smells. People everywhere and much loud bargaining and talk all around us.
Arianna wants to buy the custom Otavalo Indian dress, like I am wearing. An embroidered white blouse and black skirt. But I do not want her to buy it. She does not know I have been working many hours on a Otavalian blouse to present to her. So I pull her along to where an old Quito Indian woman is playing the pan pipes. There is a man with a parrot on his shoulder also watching.
Arianna puts praying hands to her mouth, closes her eyes and stands very still, listening. I do this too. I feel the music go right through me. After some minutes I open my eyes. She is looking at me, laughing and kissing both my cheeks and I feel that sting of happiness again.
José has told us to meet him at the big restaurant in the center of Otavalo.
Even Papa has been persuaded to come! Josés' eyes are full of Arianna as he watches her in the new silk dress and beaded sash we bought.
We order many good things to eat, spicy fish and pineapple empanadas but José tells the waiter that they do not cook as well as I do! The waiter comes over and makes a big bow to me, making everyone laugh.
It is time for them to go. I give Arianna my present to her and though the sleeves need putting up, she is very pleased with the embroidered blouse I have made for her.
She kneels down and looks straight into my face. “El dios le bendice, palomita.” God bless you, little dove. I can see that she has tears, too. I am holding on tight to her now, leaning hard, I do not want to let her go.
Papa talks sharply at me to come.
“I will be here again soon,” she whispers.
I kiss her hand one more time before running to Papa.
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