Whenever I first arrived to Cuenca, I was beyond intimidated by the open-air market scene, to the point where I didn't go at all the first three months. Everything moves fast. It's huge. Everyone's in your face trying to sell produce. My Spanish would have to be on steroids. I simply didn't understand the inner workings. Finally, I mustered up the courage to visit one of the local markets with my close Colombian friend here. Man, by the end, we were both ready to throw a peach at someone. Just rude. However, my experience since November 2013, has been a night-and-day difference.
There is another open-air market close to my apartment, and I forced myself to give it a round two. The friendly, helpful vendors there have officially won me over. In the past nine months, I have developed some really unique relationships with the ladies here that I will always treasure as part of my experience here in Ecuador.
I just got back from Chile about a month ago, and I brought a few special chocolates back for my friends at the market. There is one lady in particular (Norma) and her 8-year-old daughter (Raquel) who have stolen a piece of my heart, and rightfully so. The majority of my time is with Norma because Raquel is obviously in school during the day. Honestly, between almost two hour conversations with Norma & her always giving me free potatoes, haba beans, peas & inviting me to have some juice with her -- she is one of the most generous, open-hearted people I know here in Ecuador. Today's trip to the market was no exception.
I arrived and was greeted with hugs. I mean, come on, that's enough right there. Afterwards, I was told that Raquel wanted to tell me something. And this is how it went: "Isa, thank you so much for the chocolates. The white chocolate was by far my favorite. You are so sweet for thinking of me and my mom." That right there melted my heart. She had obviously practiced this "thank you" based on her little hands folded in front of her and her sweet but rehearsed tone of voice. She continued with, "I would like next week to invite you and your friends to some ice cream and a walk along the river." The mom followed up with explaining to me that she wanted to use her allowance that she gets on a weekly basis to treat us to a delicious afternoon of ice cream. I didn't know how to respond verbally to the generosity of this amazing 8-year-old. All I could do was hug her and say that we would love to.
I am definitely taking some notes about sincere generosity from this beautiful child.
I feel most days that I am more blessed than being a blessing.
"You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give."