Tuesday, September 17, 2013 - Arrival

We traveled to Morochos, Ecuador for the baptism of our dear friend Aida's second child, Yupanqui. We are already godparents to his 5-year-old sister Sisa, and this was our first visit since April of 2012.

The entire family traveled two hours to the brand spanking new Quito airport to pick us up late at night on September 17. The new airport is only 11 miles outside of Quito, but that makes all the difference. You no longer have to deal with Quito city traffic to get in or out of the airport.

Our flight arrived after 11 p.m., and we needed to go through immigration, pick up checked luggage, etc. We emerged from the airport at around midnight, and the whole family was waiting for us: grandfather and family patriarch Antonio, step-grandmother Rosa, mother Aida, and her three kids: Sisa, Yupanqui, and baby Shina Tayanta. Sisa was dressed in traditional Otavalan clothes and greeted us with a big hug and kiss while squealing "Achi Taita! Achi Mama!" ("Godfather" and "Godmother" in their native Kichwa language). She couldn't get enough hugs, and nearly bowled us over. She was now the older sister of two younger siblings, and seems to have grown into the role quite well.

We weren't sure whether little Yupanqui, about to turn 3 in the next week, would recognize us after a year and a half. But the family had prepared him with photographs and he also ran right into our arms with no hesitation.

And then there was precious baby Shina Tayanta. Her name means "Warrior Princess." She is 14 months old, and had been completely blind for the first 6 months of her life due to congenital cataracts. At 6 months, she had surgery in Quito and is now able to see out of both eyes. Her eyes are a bit crossed and she needs to hold things very close to her face in order to see them clearly. She has a pair of glasses which she always pulls off. Antonio told us that when she is 2 or 3 years old, she will need an additional operation to replace the lenses in her eyes. It was wonderful to meet her for the first time. She is an adorable baby with a wonderfully sweet temperament. She crawls very fast and can stand up on her own. She walks when she can hold someone's hand or hold onto furniture. Much like Yupanqui on a previous visit, her only word is a very quiet "hola".

On previous visits, we had traveled to and from the airport in a small van which belonged to a villager in Quiroga. This time, with an additional baby in the family, we were in a very large comfortable van owned by Runa Tupari, the Otavalan tourism company that employs Antonio and family as guides and hosts for homestays. The larger van was nice because the family could spread out and nap more easily on the drive home.

Despite taking motion sickness medication before we arrived, Craig was feeling a little bit dizzy and nauseous as the van hurried through curvy mountainous roads. In fact, even in the Boston and Houston airports Craig had felt a little "off", as if he was coming down with an ear infection which was affecting his balance. (Though if it had been an ear infection, we would have expected him to have some discomfort on the flight. Fortunately that was not the case.) He had joked that he needed an alignment as he was "pulling to the right" when walking down the long airport corridors.

We arrived at their Morochos homestead at around 2 a.m. Antonio's mom (the kids' great-grandmother) and her dog Max met us in the street in front of the house to welcome us.

Between April 2012 and now, the family has constructed a house just for us on their property, so that we can visit any time we like, or potentially even retire down there if and when the time is right. We were so humbled by their generosity. The house was gorgeous! A small brick building with a tile roof, it was built with eucalyptus beam construction. The ceiling was made out of bamboo shoots split lengthwise and flattened. The bedroom was painted a cheerful green (my favorite color) and had two brand new comfortable beds (one single and one double). There was a nightstand between the beds, on top of which was a framed photo of Sisa's smiling face (Aida would later tell us that Sisa herself insisted that it be placed there). The floors were tiled, and we had our very own bathroom. There was even a gas water heater (the family doesn't even have one in their own house!) We were practically speechless. It was more than we ever could have imagined.

We hugged the family goodnight and thanked them for the beautiful home. After our long journey, we settled in for a comfortable night's sleep by around 2:30 a.m.
Sisa meets us at the airport

Sisa meets us at the airport

Aida and Yupanqui at the airport

Aida and Yupanqui at the airport

Sisa and Rosa nap on the drive home

Sisa and Rosa nap on the drive home

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