On the Matter of Neighbors

I am not sure if we were destined to be in Ecuador, or living on the coast or for that matter making San Clemente our permanent home. All I know is that I love this country, this little town and our barrio. And, especially, its people.

The past several weeks have found me almost continually under the weather. I will not go into detail here about my issues but if I spoke to you at some point in the past three weeks don’t count on me remembering everything so if I promised you that I would do something for you I would suggest that you remind me of my promise.  I have been in a brain fog. Also, for those visiting, I honestly have not felt well, have not left the house unless going to see a doctor and now for the past three days in walking every morning and some afternoons as prescribed by my doctor and just trying to smile.

During all this, the most amazing thing happened. I found out just how wonderful my neighbors and friends are. Always knew they were great but in times of stress you do see who walks the walk.

First, Eva must be made entirely of heart – compassion, kindness and profound gentleness. She did not hesitate – when I spoke to her about not feeling well – on two separate occasions found doctors, made appointments, arranged transportation and accompanied me like family holding my hand. Through the entire process from translated questions, instructions and reading paperwork, checking blood pressure and blood count, to keeping it real by keeping me calm. She is a strong woman with a gentle heart and I am proud to call her my dear friend.

Thank you Patricia for taking my frantic call in the middle of the night and contacting the local doctor and following through with numerous telephone calls concerned for my well being. It is very special to have someone like you in our community. You have helped many expats when help was needed and there was nowhere else to turn.

Earlier this week, I felt well enough to go outdoors. Almost to a neighbor they came to the gate and gave me “what for”. There was Pilli and Paola, David and Helena, Sonia and Nellie, Erika and Mariuxi ALL caught me over the past two days and made it clear whatever time day or night just come to their door they have cars and trucks and will take us anywhere. Each told me over and over that if I ever needed anything, I was to speak to one of them. They would make arrangements to take me to doctors or hospitals or whatever I needed. Honestly it was done forcefully to make their point but with the most kindness I have witnessed, it was the most beautiful show of acceptance that I have come across.

Moreover, they seemed hurt I had not gone to them first. Our neighbors are not intrusive, they do not show up at your gate without you asking them or making arrangements in advance and they would never get in your business unless you asked. They smile and say hello as they go by. We share food and fruit over the fence. They will stop to chat if you want them to but otherwise respect your space. Yet I know that if I was in need I can just walk across the street and knock on a door, any door, and someone would drop whatever they were doing to help. This is a wondrous concept.  Joe and I have lived in probably a dozen neighborhoods over our 40 years together and have never had neighbors that honestly concerned for our well-being.

I am profoundly grateful for all the wonderful people we have met, appreciate their concern and their genuine compassion for “the new kids on the block”.

Each and every day we are blessed.