Saturday, September 21, 2013 - Yupanqui's baptism

At 2 a.m., Craig woke up very dizzy and vomiting. He could barely walk and he couldn't hold down food or water. He got a fitful sleep, and I got up at 7:30 and informed the family. They assumed that the chicha hadn't agreed with him. Aida immediately made him some medicinal teas to settle his stomach - one for vomiting and one for diarrhea. She gathered the ingredients from various plants on the property. Craig wasn't sure that it was something as simple as something he had eaten. He felt that something much bigger was wrong with his vision and balance.

We were hoping that he would recover in time for the baptism. Antonio said that the baptism was at 4 p.m. in Cotacachi, and that we would be leaving the house at around 3.

I played with the kids a bit while Craig rested. He tried eating some bread and cookies, but he couldn't even keep water down. Dehydration was a big concern. You tend to become more dehydrated at high altitudes, and he wasn't able to replenish any of the water that he lost.

I was trying not to panic, doing what needed to be done. I got our traditional Otavalo clothing together. Soon it was 11 o'clock, and then noon. Antonio asked if we wanted to go to the hospital in Cotacachi. At first we thought that there was no way that we could possibly do that and still make it to the church on time. Also, how would we manage without a translator?

As time went on and his condition wasn't improving, he thought that he would at least give it a try; it would be his last ditch attempt. If it didn't work, then at least he would know that he had tried everything possible to get better.

I told Antonio we would like to go to the hospital, and he called a car. I helped Craig to get to the shower and he could hardly walk. We had a hard time getting the water the proper temperature, and Craig started shivering uncontrollably.

Antonio came to tell us that the car was here, so I hurried Craig out of the shower. I packed a bag with Craig's MS medication, our passports, money to pay for the hospital, etc. We were becoming connoisseurs of foreign hospitals, having had to hospitalize Craig in Vietnam earlier in the year, so I knew just what to pack.

"We don't even have a translator this time!" Craig was obviously worried. "We'll get by somehow," I reassured him, though I was also worried myself. I had been studying up on Spanish, but it is always difficult to explain the nuances of MS in a country where it is not endemic (for some reason there is no MS in tropical latitudes) with my limited grammar and vocabulary.

I opened the door to our cottage and looked outside to see the car waiting for us in the driveway. Then I saw a second car, and Felipe! He was our guide who originally came with us to Antonio's house 3 years ago, and he had come to Sisa's baptism as well. We had known that we would be seeing him at some time today, but the fact that he arrived just now, when we needed a translator, was a miracle. (Due to bureaucratic changes in cell phone laws in Ecuador, everyone's number now had an extra digit, and Antonio and Felipe had been unable to contact each other by phone.) We had last corresponded with Felipe before we left home. Felipe and his lovely wife Maria Jose had driven 3 or 4 hours from their home without knowing the exact timing of the baptism. Suffice it to say, their timing was more than perfect!

When I saw Felipe, I was so relieved that I started to tear up. Everything would be alright, and he would know what to do. He took one look at Craig and asked what was the matter. We explained the situation to him briefly and he helped Craig into his car. He and Maria Jose would take us to the hospital themselves. Antonio accompanied us as well.

The tourist woman arrived at the house at about this time. I said a quick hello and explained what was happening as I hopped into the car.

When we got to the hospital, they brought Craig into a triage room and got him settled in a bed. They gave him an IV immediately, assuming that he was dehydrated. He started to vomit again. They said that he was on the verge of hypothermia, so Felipe covered him with his survival jacket in addition to the hospital blankets.

Only one person was allowed to stay with him, so Felipe stayed to translate. I waited in the waiting area and Maria Jose waited in the car (expecting a baby, she wisely chose to avoid exposure to hospital germs). Antonio left to go to back to the house to get things set up for his band. He and Felipe made sure they had one another's updated phone numbers.

Felipe filled out the paperwork for me. Time was passing too quickly, and I was keenly aware of it. But there was nothing that I could do to speed the process. Felipe suggested that he, Maria Jose, and I go out for lunch while Craig rehydrates.

We went to a restaurant where he often takes clients, El Leñador. We had a nice light lunch and it was nice to get to catch up with them since we hadn't seen them in two years. It also helped to distract and de-stress my mind somewhat.

After lunch, Felipe and Maria Jose dropped me back at the hospital while they did some errands. They finished up Craig's second IV and then they discharged him. I asked what we owed for treatment, and they said nothing. It turns out that it was a public hospital. They gave him rehydration salts, prescribed bed rest, and sent us on our way.

We walked out to the waiting area. Craig almost fell over when trying to walk to a chair. Despite the fact that he was now hydrated, he still was not well. Felipe and Maria Jose arrived and picked us up. It was now 3:30 p.m. We could go straight to the church (and arrange for someone to bring our special clothes) or we could drive back to the house and risk being very late.

Craig and I didn't know what to do. Felipe's honest opinion was that Craig was in no shape to attend the baptism (though he said that if Craig wanted to try it, he could drive him home in case of trouble). Craig really didn't feel in any shape to attend, but he was afraid that the baptism wouldn't be allowed to go forward if he was absent. Felipe said that it could still happen without him, as long as I attended. As much as we didn't want to go forward without Craig, we needed to. We had come down here specifically for the baptism, and there was no way we could postpone it. So Felipe drove us back to the house to drop Craig off and to pick up my clothes.

When we pulled up in front of the house at 3:50 p.m., Aida, Tayanta, and other family members were waiting at the road for a ride to town. The American tourist was with them as well.

Felipe got Craig settled in bed. Craig got sick again, so we were glad he had opted not to go to the church. Meanwhile, I grabbed my clothes and ran into the house where Rosa and her friend dressed me. Yupanqui kept stealing my belt, bracelets, etc. to play with them. It is a complicated outfit. They wrapped me in the various layers of long wool skirts ("anakos"), securing them with two layers of woven belts ("mama chumbi" and "wawa chumbi"). Rosa had embroidered me a gorgeous white blouse. She had planned to do a final fitting earlier today, but I had been at the hospital. So she made her best guess. It was a bit big in the shoulders, but otherwise it fit fine. The detailed embroidered flowers were very bright and cheerful. Rosa had made a matching blouse for Sisa. They tied a sash ("fachalina") over my shoulder. They wrapped my hair in a woven tie ("cinta") and put on my necklace ("walca"). Then they wrapped my wrists in the coral bracelets ("maki watana"). They tied a kerchief ("uma watarina") around my head, put my shoes on, and I was ready to go. I couldn't believe how quickly they had managed to dress me!

At 4 o'clock, Sisa, Yupanqui, Rosa, and I rode with Felipe and Maria Jose (Abuelita and the other woman who dressed me sat in the back of Felipe's pickup). Rosa directed Felipe through some short cuts to get to the church quickly. Mass was already starting as we left the house. We came upon some kind of game being played in one of the streets, so we had to take a quick detour.

As we pulled up to Iglesia de la Matriz, we saw Antonio holding a plastic bag filled with Yupanqui's clothes. They stripped him down to his undies on the front steps of the church, and dressed him in his white pants, white button down shirt, and white shoes. They needed to do this last minute so that he wouldn't get them dirty. They put the small gray hat on his head. He looked like a little man! Aida came over and handed me a baptism candle and a rosary for me to hang around Yupanqui's neck.

We rushed into the church and we got settled near the front, off to the right side, behind a pole. I got a tear in my eye as I thought of Craig, who was missing this whole event. I gave my camera to Maria Jose, and she and Felipe stood off to the side taking pictures. We would at least see to it that Craig would be able to see it after the fact.

I sat between Aida and Antonio, with Yupanqui on my lap. He wouldn't wear his hat. I was holding the rosary and he fidgeted with it, making one end come apart. Aida somehow managed to put it back together, though it was now one bead shy. She was definitely a master at multitasking.

The Mass drew to a close, and the priest called up anyone who would be celebrating a sacrament. There were marriages, baptisms, first Communions, and Confirmations. When it was our turn, I picked up Yupanqui and Aida and I stood before the priest at the baptismal font. The priest anointed Yupanqui with the sign of the cross. I held him over the font and the priest poured holy water on his forehead. Yupanqui cried, but quickly got over it. The priest also blessed the baptismal candle and Yupanqui's hat.

After everyone was done with their sacraments, each party got a chance to take photos in front of the altar. A woman took a sleeping baby off of her back. It turned out to be Tayanta, who was dressed in a tiny blouse and traditional skirts. The woman handed her to Aida. The church was very beautiful. We took some photos with Aida, Rosa, Antonio, the kids, and myself. Then Antonio called Abuela and the American tourist into the picture. I couldn't help but wish that Craig was there with us.

Sisa had been extremely well behaved during the whole Mass and baptism. She blew off a little extra energy by rolling around on the red carpet behind the altar. Barefooted great-grandmother Abuelita then dropped to the rug and started rolling around with a huge smile on her face and a gleam in her eye. Craig would never believe this!

We exited the church and sat out front to wait for the bus that would take the guests to the party. The American woman introduced herself as Gina. She and I started to chat. She used to live in Ecuador 23 years ago, and was now visiting again. When I got onto the bus, everyone waved me to the front. I tried to sit on the bulkhead, but they ushered me to a seat right next to the driver. Antonio passed Yupanqui to me. They all directed Gina to sit in the front next to me. She and I started to chat. Natalie and some other little girls kept tapping me from behind and giggling. Before I knew it, Yupanqui was fast asleep on my lap. The bus stopped in Quiroga for a few minutes. As we approached Morochos, the driver blared the horn to alert the people at the house that we had returned.

The whole family came in to our cottage to see Craig. Sisa and Yupanqui each gave him a bouquet of white and red carnations and gave him a big hug. The rest of the family gave him hugs, and we all remarked on how sorry we were that he was unable to attend the ceremony and the party. Aida wanted to rub the baptism candle along Craig's body. Since it had been blessed by the priest, Aida hoped that it could contribute to his healing.

Felipe and Maria Jose couldn't stay for the party; they had a multi-hour drive home. But they had arrived at the best possible time - to help us at the hospital, and to take photos at the church since I couldn't take any myself. They hated to leave with Craig still sick, but we were so grateful for everything they had done. We said our goodbyes.

The family went outside to host the party, and I stayed with Craig for a few more minutes. I gave him a rundown of everything that had happened so far. He said he was glad he hadn't tried to go to the church, because he still felt quite unwell. He didn't even feel like he could muster up the energy to go outside and sit at the party.

Craig was happy to hear that Gina was there, so I would have someone with whom I could speak English. He said he wanted to meet her, so I brought her into our little house. Craig introduced himself and asked her to be his surrogate at the party. She joked that we didn't have to be her friend just because she was the only other gringo there. We had a nice little chat, and then she and I went out to join the party.

There were amps placed around the yard, and Antonio's band, Chasqui √Ďan, had set up their instruments right on the porch of our little house. Craig would certainly be able to enjoy the live music from his bed.

The dining room table was against the main house on the patio. Gina and I sat there and were surrounded by little girls. Sisa and her posse of friends were drawing pictures on napkins, dancing around, and just generally having a good time. People were sitting on white plastic chairs (rented specially for the occasion) eating fresh pork, mote, and potatoes. Antonio brought me corn soup.

Chasqui Ñan played lively Andean traditional music. Gina danced with Natalie. I went in and out of Craig's room to check on him and give him updates. Each time I had to squeeze past the musicians while not tripping on their electrical cords. The family had gotten me a plate of pork, mote, and potatoes. Gina told me that it had gotten cold while I was inside, and that the family had said that eating it cold wasn't healthy. So I brought it inside and zapped it in the microwave. The pork was so juicy and delicious - it was a shame that Craig's stomach was upset. He had been looking forward to this extremely fresh delicacy.

The little girls kept posing for photos. Men started circulating with alcohol. They each had a bottle and a plastic cup. Some had beer, some had "passionfruit" (a spicy liquor served warm), and some had other liquors. They would come to each person and offer them a drink. The person may in turn ask them to take a drink too. And of course there was the obligatory splash on the ground, an offering for Pachamama.

After Chasqui Ñan finished their set, the second band started. They were called Generation Tropical, and they played dance music with a Latin flair. Each song was infinite. I would be so tired after dancing to one song that I would then go in and visit Craig for the duration of the next song. This meant that I went in to see him approximately every half hour.

Antonio, Sisa, and I danced together holding hands in a circle. Then Yupanqui and some of the other little kids stood in the middle as we danced encircling them. Everyone was enjoying drinking and dancing. The emcee seemed to think we were from New York City, as he randomly interjected the city's name throughout the course of the evening.

People were asking me how Craig was doing. They were all very kind. Gina was a very good companion, though she went to bed at around 11:30, leaving me on my own. Sisa, Yupanqui, and Tayanta all melted down at once, screaming and crying in their overtiredness. Rosa and Aida put them to bed. Soon Antonio joined them.

The party was still going strong outside. I danced with various people, including Rosa's brother Juan. By 2 o'clock in the morning, dancing consisted of holding your partner up so that they don't take a faceplant on the dance floor. I decided that it was time to go to bed. The live music continued full volume until around 5:45 a.m. There was a glorious 15 minutes of silence, followed by full volume CD's being played. So suffice it to say, neither one of us got much sleep.

I was sad that Craig had missed out on the fun. By this time Craig himself was totally at peace with the fact that he had missed the baptism and party. There was no way that he could have participated, feeling as badly as he still did. He was just happy that everything had been allowed to proceed without him, and that we were still Yupanqui's godparents.
Felipe and Maria Jose

Felipe and Maria Jose

Yupanqui's baptism

Yupanqui's baptism (photo courtesy of Felipe)

Yupanqui's baptism

Yupanqui's baptism (photo courtesy of Felipe)

Baptismal candle

Baptismal candle (photo courtesy of Felipe)

Yupanqui's baptism

Yupanqui's baptism (photo courtesy of Maria Jose)

Shina Tayanta, Aida, Rosa, Sisa, Steph, Yupanqui, Antonio

Shina Tayanta, Aida, Rosa, Sisa, Steph, Yupanqui, Antonio

Sisa and Achi Mama

Sisa and Achi Mama

Achi Mama and Yupanqui

Achi Mama and Yupanqui

Yupanqui and Sisa present flowers to an under the weather Achi Taita

Yupanqui and Sisa present flowers to an under the weather Achi Taita

Antonio and Gina

Antonio and Gina

Chasqui Ñan

Chasqui Ñan

Community members cooking in the outdoor kitchen

Community members cooking in the outdoor kitchen

Abuelita splashes an offering to Pachamama

Abuelita splashes an offering to Pachamama

See all photos from this day



Previous Day Trip Overview



Back to Craig and Steph's Vacations
Next day

Read our guest book   Guest book Sign our guest book
Please send any questions or comments to steph@craigandstephsvacations.com
All photographs and text copyright 1996-Present www.craigandstephsvacations.com except where noted.