Saying goodbye…

Well, I’d no sooner published my last post on the contradictory relationship between President Correa’s new media law, cracking down on press freedoms while continuing to host Wikileaks’Julian Assange in Ecuador’s London embassy, when Edward Snowden popped up in Moscow, reportedly heading for Ecuador via Cuba. My favorite story of what happened next appeared in the Guardian, describing the two dozen journalists who bought seats on the Aeroflot flight to Havana, having heard that Snowden and his traveling companion, Sarah Harrison of WikiLeaks, had checked into seats 17A and 17 B. I love imagining how the media folks anticipated the long hours they’d have with a cornered Snowden as he was compelled to answer all their questions. But as the plane taxied away from the gate, the journalists discovered that Snowden was not onboard. Instead, they found themselves stuck with one another on the 12-hour flight to Cuba – on which no alcohol was served, “much to the chagrin of the reporters, many of whom aren’t used to going half a day without a stiff drink.”


Latest news from Ecuador is that Correa is cooling off on the idea of granting Snowden asylum, party because he’s pissed off at Assange for “trying to run the show” from the London embassy. (Two (too) big personalities on the same stage?) At a press conference on Friday, the president declared that Ecuador would not consider an asylum request unless Snowden reached Ecuadorian territory, highly unlikely given that he apparently remains in transit hell in the Moscow airport.

*  *  *  *  *

OK, enough of politics. Life moves by very fast when it’s lived in six-month segments. When I tell folks here I’m leaving Cañar in a week they say, “No es posible! You just got here!” When I let friends in Portland know we’re coming home, they say, “Really? It seems you just left!” I feel the same. In the end, our lives might go by in a flash but the landscape changes very little. Here is a lovely photo taken by a Peace Corps volunteer in 1970. In the background is Tayta Bueran, the flattop mountain that marks the continental divide. For the Canari it is a “cerro sacrado,” a sacred mountain.


And one of the same I took recently…

arando con bueren

This is our eighth year of living in Cañar from January to July; and in Portland from July to December. Once here, I barely think about our Portland life until we get close to leaving; then I begin to anticipate with great pleasure everything that awaits in the north – friends, family, food, movies, home, garden, summer weather…. (It also usually begins to get very cold and windy here in June.) The same happens in Portland – I feel totally disconnected from our life in Canar. We don’t check in or want any news of problems (the house was broken into a few years ago, in September, and there was nothing we could do until we got here in January). But when it gets close to coming back to Ecuador, I get excited – the house, the views, climate, friends and projects, the no-car, no-TV, no-phone-calls life – and I can’t wait to get back.

Michael has his own emotional response to change, based on a profoundly domestic streak that binds him to place and routine wherever he is. “I don’t want to leave,” he said the other night to José María our compadre and caretaker. But then I hear him say the same in Portland, come December: “Let’s just stay here!”

One big difference in our two lives in how we take leave of our houses. In Portland we prepare it as if a guesthouse for a wonderful tenant who has come back at least five years now, clearing shelves, closets and personal tchotchkes, and giving our old Volvo a Cristo wrap in the driveway. In return, our tenant meticulously takes care of the house, replacing every broken cup, and leaving it just as we left it, with fresh linens on the beds.


In Cañar, we virtually strip the house of all belongings except furniture – wall art, rugs, linens, clothes, bedding, and pack everything away in two locked storerooms. I cover the bookcases, kitchen shelves and some of the better furniture with old sheets. On the last day, Michael shutters the windows and doors, leaving the house dark and closed up like a big box. Since the break-in, we have a 700-pound safe for my large camera and gear, and Michael has created an ingenious system for hiding his tools that I can’t divulge. José María and his family come once a week or so to water the plants in the patio. They also tend the surrounding yard of alfalfa and plant the field behind, so they are a consistent presence while we’re gone. We tell them they are not responsible if anything goes wrong, but of course they do feel responsible.

putting up shutters living room coveredclosed up back closed up front

We leave Cañar next Wednesday, July 3, and I haven’t decided what to do about this blog for the next six months. Shall I suspend and take it up again next January, when we return to Ecuador? Or should I keep posting from Portland? Please let me know what you think.





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18 thoughts on “Saying goodbye…

  1. I’m at Cannon Beach this hot weekend…too hot for us “weather wimps” in Portland..and at 6:15 am the beach was clear, low tide, blue sky and light early morning white tendrils of ocean fog hugging the lower flanks of Haystack. I’m here with 2 girlfriends and your book..lovely companions indeed! They’re late sleepers, and I’ll have had coffee and my first walk on the beach before they brush their teeth! Today I’ll introduce them to Hug Point and the hike to Oswald Beach thru the woods from the highway. Pinot Grigio and Dungeness crab will be our dinner…and I’m sure you’ll be enjoying much the same in barely a week!
    Can’t wait to see you and chat about all things in both your world…bien venidos amigos…

  2. Hello,
    Want to thank you for all the information on Ecuador. We had a wonderful time and drove through Canar. Unfortunately, you were in Spain. Loved being in Cuenca. In fact, we thought Ecuador was one of the most beautiful countries and the people were absolutely terrific. I can see why you return each year. Your last email sounds just like us. We are in Santa Barbara from January until May and Toronto until January. We are leaving Monday and I feel really sad each time and when we are in Toronto we have strange feeling about leaving. How lucky we are to be able to do this.
    I liked the info about Snowden.
    Have a good trip back to Portland.
    Best regards,
    Rufus and John

  3. Hi Judy and Michael,

    Thanks for your news from Ecuador. Always a pleasure to read and see photos.
    We hope to “blog” in person in Portland. We’ll be staying at Donald’s July 3-7.
    Safe travels, Scott and Pat

  4. Hi Judy. We are always glad when you and Mike are back in the neighborhood and of course we always say, it can’t be “6 months already” both in January and July! I love your blog and think you should keep it going. I always enjoy reading your insights and seeing your photos. Save travels neighbor!

  5. I’d be happy to have your blog go year-round –maybe you would weave the thread of your life there with some of your impressions here, so it’s wouldn’t feel tp you like there are two separate compartments with “never the twain shall meet!” Safe trip home!

  6. Jon and I are looking forward to your return. I would enjoy reading a Portland Blog. There is an artist’s reception at 12×16 July 14, 2 to 4, with Eunice and Rex Amos which should be fun. Jon and I shall be there. It is warm today but there is a nice breeze in the back where I am hanging out.

  7. Judy – all the best to you & Michael on your return to 2020 SE Ash! By all means, I say continue the blog! Your thoughts and observations on life in Portland, OR will be equally compelling, in my view! Kind regards, Mel

  8. Keep posting, Judy. You have a lot to say about Portland life…and always, gorgeous photos! Buen viaje….

  9. Judy,
    Sería justo saber de ti cuando estas allá. Me interesa mucho la vida en EE UU. en el siglo XXI.
    I liked your home there.

  10. Me encanta leer tu blog July! Disfruto ver las fotos que pones, es verdaderamente como estar de viaje contigo. Incluso en esos días de lluvia :). Me encantaría seguir leyendo de ti desde Portland también! Un abrazo grandote para ti y Mike, Guido.

  11. I think you should keep posting. Make the mundane mundial. I have been working on a the beginnings of a blog of my own. I will be eager to talk to you about it so that you can inspire me to move on with the project in all of my “free” time. My mom is here in Portland for the whole month of July, so we are making progress in getting her to move here 🙂 See you soon. We will be in Yoncalla for an old fashioned 4th of July with our new friends who have a Canadian horse farm down there.

  12. Yes, please~, love your writing and your photos. we will need to plan a kayak adventure!

  13. I agree with Anne McClard, Judy, and encourage you to keep blogging, for Portland is as worthy for a fine blogger as Cañar, no? Regina and Toto and I will spend the 4th of July at the Brainard Lake Campground, at the foot of Mount Audobon, just 30 miles from Boulder. I wish you and Michael a happy and uneventful return trip.

    The Snowden story is interesting, and it cries out for concerted action to reclaim our democracy in the US from the assertions of a Unitary President that the government can snoop and spy on us at will, from the Congress that is not keeping a proper check on the the President (the last reauthorization of the Patriot Act that authorizes snooping passed in a December vote without a single vote in opposition), and a Supreme Court that has vested large corporations with the right to inject their huge resources into pushing election results their way.

  14. Keep on blogging – I know this neighborhood will offers interesting stories – along with your life here
    we always look forward to your return
    carole g

  15. Hi Judy,

    Lovely to see the photo of your house in Portland. Let me add to the numbers of people who said keep on blogging!

    Un abrazo fuerte,


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