I made a friend today. We were soaking up the sun on a bench in front of the sparkling white cathedral in Quito, when a little old lady in a New York Yankees baseball cap sat down beside me. It was crowded in the plaza, so I scooted over a bit for her, smiled and said, “Hola!” And… she was off.
Oh, did she just love us. We spoke for 15 or 20 minutes as tourists roamed about, locals sold ice cream cones and the sun streamed down. Actually, it’s a bit of an exaggeration to say that we “talked.” My new friend spoke no English at all and I speak fairly basic Spanish.
She spoke rapidly and I caught about 25% of what she was saying. But, that was actually enough. I knew that she was asking whether I liked the cathedral and she was telling me that there was an even more beautiful church around the corner (she was right!) I knew that she was telling me about the tourists that come to town and how the President of Ecuador has made a lot of changes so that tourists can feel safer. I knew that she was concerned that I might get sunburned because I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. When I told her that I was “muy blanco” and could use some sun so I stopped looking like such a tourist she laughed out loud and told me I was right!
Before we moved on, Andy asked if he could take our picture. My new amiga was so excited! She took off her baseball cap and smoothed down her rough wool cardigan. She grabbed my hand and giggled like a school-girl.
As we stood to leave, she grabbed my hand and Andy’s hand and told us she hoped we had a happy, peaceful and tranquil life. Standing in the sunshine in front of the bleached white cathedral, I felt like she gave us a blessing. It was magical.