Dear Friends: Thanks to all who sent recipes for quinoa following my last post (“Tumbleweeds of my youth, back as quinoa in Cañar”). I have read them out to Michael, who listens seriously and promises to try some. He claims, however, to have a secret quinoa recipe of his own up his sleeve, which he will reveal after a trial run in the kitchen. Meanwhile, while we are waiting for our harvest, and counting down the days until we leave Ecuador on June 24, I came across some photos I’d taken years ago (circa 2000?) when I barely knew what quinoa was.
Antonio Guamán (in photo #1) was one of my first photography students, when he was a bright 20-year old, married to Edelina, with two darling girls. After that, with more children, the tragic death of Edelina, a second marriage and yet more children, Antonio lived and died as a subsistence farmer, alternately poisoned by alcohol and herbicides. Before he died in 2012, we became godparents to his son, Nicolas (second photo), at the behest of Antonio’s sister, Mercedes (third photo). But I’m afraid we have failed to benefit Nicolas in any way. Last I heard, he is now 14 and has left school to work at the coast. The two “darling girls” are grown young women, both living in the U.S. with their husband as undocumented migrants, one working in a nail salon in New Jersey. They’ve left behind in Cañar a total of three or four children to be raised by grandmothers. Another family fractured by poverty and migration.
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