Update on earthquake, “la crisis,” and a baptism

Dear Friends: Since the 7.8 earthquake off the Ecuador coast last Saturday, the daily news has only been worse and worse. Initially, many coastal villages were completely cut off and, once reached, found to be entirely destroyed. As of today, 650 are confirmed dead, 130 still missing and 12,000 injured. Beyond that, 26,000 survivors without homes are living in parks and shelters. A series of small aftershocks have kept everyone nervous, though with no new damages. We felt only one, a 4.8 on Friday morning because it was nearer to Guayaquil and thus nearer us. I pulled these photos from today’s Guardianliving on boardwalk wm in street with table

damaged roadThis was the worst disaster in 70 years, coming on top of “la crisis” – a reduction since 2015 in oil prices that has kept the country on a tight leash and borrowing heavily from China. In fact, I was planning to write a blog, “The Price of Oil,”  enumerating the small ways a contracting economy affects everyday life. (The IMF predicts that Ecuador’s economy will shrink 4.5% in 2016, and some say the country is on the brink of bankruptcy; only Venezuela is in worse shape.) Small examples: The music classes my friend Magdalena organized for local kids as part of her job with a municipality cannot afford to buy a third guitar. La crisis. A cultural institution that issued a biannual magazine that a Cañari friend and I wrote for, “Patrimonio Cultural,” has ceased publication. La crisis. Same with the beautiful publication of CIDAP, the artesania and popular arts magazine. La crisis. This doesn’t even touch on the big things: reduction and delay in state salaries; road projects stalled, and so on. Many blame President Correa, who cashed in the previous government’s savings accounts of oil reserves that would have been used in such a disaster.

In spite of this, the response of the general population to the earthquake disaster has been amazing. As one Ecuadorian journalist, Martín Pallares, observed in this New York Times article “The country has become one huge relief center, and in almost every neighborhood, in towns large and small, there are collection points for donations of clothing, food and blankets.” In Cañar, this includes everyone from children in schools bringing in supplies, to our garbage collector who with his work group is gathering food and water. In the photo below, Quilloac community members gather food, water and basic foodstuffs to take to a central distribution point.quilloac donations

* * * * * * *

But of course despite the disaster life goes on, and so the day after the quake Michael and I became godparents to Luis Gabriel, the eight-year son of Mercedes Guamán. She was an early scholarship student and is now a lawyer and alternate to the national assembly. She’s also one of our oldest friends, and I’ve known for many years – since Gabriel was born – that she would ask us to be godparents. Although Michael at first resisted (see comic below), saying he would never take on another godchild, we found ourselves at the chapel of San Jose at the appointed hour.P1130412P1130425And before all the family (second godmother above) and Father Mario, who earlier in the week had requested to see our marriage certificate to prove that we were “married ecclesiastically” – and that after we had attended a two-hour cursillo (little course) to learn about our responsibilities as godparents – we agreed to help raise Gabriel to be a good Catholic.P1130448P1130447Then it was off to the family house for the fiesta. P1130452Where we had a few drinks P1130458 (1)and a bite to eat…P1130471P1130472As godparents, we were served four roasted guinea pigs (each!), three chickens, pounds of roasted pork, potatoes, rice and half a basket of mote (hominy). All to eat or to take home to share with others – a beautiful concept in the indigenous culture known in Quichua as warilla. 

We were home by midnight and very happy to be godparents to Luis Gabriel.Navas new002


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

11 thoughts on “Update on earthquake, “la crisis,” and a baptism

  1. Life indeed goes on….Judy you are a woman of many talents! I’m loving your comic book versions of your Ecuador episodic adventures!

  2. Comic book is hysterical! So sorry to see the earthquake damage. Those roads may never get repaired…..

  3. Love it! In the mean time, back at the ranch…ken is getting an “enhanced” retirement package tomorrow. Stay tuned for the next exciting episode. Maybe I will post it in comic book format. We might not be living in Portland much longer, depending on how the month unfolds. He has until June 2nd to sign his package.

  4. What about the wasipichay?!?!
    The community response to the earthquake really is astounding.
    Feeling lucky to be among such generous souls.

  5. Such a happy family event despite La crisis and the devastating earthquake. And I can see that godparents get very well fed! Your photos really tell the story and of course the comics also contribute to the behind the scene dynamics!

  6. Love this! I suppose that we can do nothing directly to help earthquake victims but should look to UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders, etc.?

  7. Michel, creo que serás un extraordinario padrino, por tu ejemplo de vida y sencillez, pues en ello consiste el ser un padrino, de bautizo en la iglesia católica, un hombre que sea testimonio de vida, sencillo, honorable, cercano y muy amoroso, y eso eres tú, felicitaciones, Luis Gabriel no podría tener un mejor padrino.
    Recordándolos con mucho cariño y morriña un abrazo

  8. Nice job on the cartoon. Gives Michael that GQ gravitas and down home Portlandia glitter.

  9. Thank you for sharing perspective Judy, we are rallying the Global Glimpse community in Ecuador and abroad to support those impacted by the quake. I love reading your stories when I have a free moment and hope I’ll find my way back to Canar one day not too far away.

    Much love,


  10. My dear friend from Porto Alegre Brazil has just arrived to Guyaquil to conduct a school accreditation visit. He was in his hotel room when the quake hit and he ran down 7 flights of stairs in an absolute panic. His photos of what’s left of the hotel are jaw-dropping – and he said it was the scariest moment of his life! Fortunately, the school survived, but many extended family members of the school community have not yet been found. As you know, I was in Quito just last month and I can’t imagine how this wonderful country will deal with this going forward. Sending my love

  11. Thank you for ending on a high note Judy! Yes, life goes on and on and on and you and Michael tell and live this tale so well. I’m grateful to have your perspective on this desperate as well as hopeful situation in Ecuador and I am sending all the good vibes I can muster your way. Big Hug, Julie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *