Clank. Brown gate cold. Chicken wire snags fingerless gloves. Knit hat soft as I adjust it over ears.
Dogs to the left play fighting in exact spot where a dead dog lay for a full day last weekend. Big one is winning even though his back leg is lame. No collars. Little one doesn’t realize his matted hair will only get worse.
Gas truck stirs up dirt on dry road, shoots black exhaust my direction. Constant blaring honks. Smell is acrid, dusty. Hold breath ’til breeze thins ick from air. Next inhale full of glorious bread smells from bakery across street.
Pothole filled with jagged, red brick. Look both ways on una via ’cause dirt-bikes are immune to signs. Dog poo on cracked concrete. Little doggie behind gate charges at me with ferocious bark. Pink bows on ears are new. So is her haircut.
Empty styrofoam bowl in middle of sidewalk, little red plastic pitchfork (used for eating) stuck in the middle. Car alarm. Whoo-ee whoo-ee whoo-ee whoooooooop whoooooooop ack ack ack ack…
Young woman across street with baby strapped to her back. Short, yellow sleeves. Yells to boy a block away. No coat. He jumps over pile of trash street sweeper is collecting, blue city scarf pulled up over her mouth and nose. She works with an old branch, pushing garbage from here to there. Dented trash can missing a wheel and scrapes uneven pavement as she pulls it along, reminiscent of fingernails across a chalkboard when we had chalkboards but who has chalkboards anymore?
More dog poo.
Green rubber band on crumbling half wall. Hardened red mud and rocks fill hole in sidewalk. White rose petals cover three feet and only three feet of sidewalk. Old truck with nearly flat tires passes as garbled monotone words blare out of speakers on top of cab na-ran-jas-man-zan-as-co-co-pa-pa-ya-na-ran-jas-man-zan-as-co-co-pa-pa-ya-na-ran-jas…
New graffiti on side wall of high school. Not as artistic as last new graffiti on side wall of high school. Yellow hatchback taxi honks, scours for next occupant. Teenage boy with tight peg-leg jeans and wavy pompadour rushes past me with full bag of bread.
Chickens cluck behind rusty gate. Fig tree is gone but pink rose bush flourishes and bi-colored lantana makes a bright, pretty hedge. Right shoe loose, stop and tighten laces.
Invisible baby cries. Plump woman at little tienda already grilling chicken, smoke and happy, loud Latin music spill into street. How nice I understand some words.
Little wienie dog with blue sweater sleeps by uneven curb. Barely an ear twitch to my salutation. Dodge dangling wires. Cat slinks under gate into cinderblock yard. Tall grass creeps between putty colored brick.
Paper ads on post torn and bleeding from previous rain. Indigenous woman approaches with big woven basket secured on her back, white straw hat frayed and dirty. No, I do not want a lottery ticket this morning. Pleated blue skirt swishes as she walks away, two long braids trail behind.
Short man in orange monkey-suit unlocks gate at lumberyard. Old car for sale in lot near stop light. Huge gap in sidewalk filled with trash. Man in suit smiles, voice deeper than expected, “Buenos Días.”
Narrowly avoid chalky, petrified dog poo.
Short, plump woman in tight fuchsia pants and platform shoes crosses street with me, baby at breast. Hope she has strong ankles. Traffic cop checks phone by motorcycle. Women at plantain hut have morning customers. Solitary ray of sunshine pierces thick grayness, then retreats.
Shy little girl stares, ella es muy linda. They all stare at gringos. She smiles then pushes tiny head into mama’s skirt, embarrassed. Play peek-a-boo until bus comes.
Red #100 bus charges past, refuses to stop. Then #2. #7 is for little girl and mama. #25. #18 stops. My bus. Climb steep steps. One of my last rides in Ecuador.
K. Kris Loomis is the author of the humorous travel memoir, Thirty Days In Quito: Two Gringos and a Three-Legged Cat Move to Ecuador. She also writes adult parables and short stories as well as books about yoga and meditation. Kris is a determined chess player, an origami enthusiast, a classically trained pianist, and a playwright. She lives in South Carolina with her husband and two cats.
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