Dear Lala

Elizabeth Ollila - Ecuador


October 5, 2017

A month before I left on my Ecuador adventure, my incredible grandma Frances LaFontaine (Lala) passed away pretty unexpectedly. I cannot help but think of her daily, so I wrote her a letter that I wanted to share.

 

An open letter to my Lala,

I miss you and your beautiful soul more than you can imagine, Lala. I think about you constantly–you would be surprised at how many reminders of you there are in a place nearly completely opposite of your home at Creekside Ln.

First, and most obviously, you would love the colors. If nothing else, Ecuador is beautiful–an artist’s dream. The colors of the different foods that I have never before seen; the bright orange and red roofs that encroach upon incredible cathedrals making the city look like a painting; the view from a mountain top as you gaze down on a city in the middle of green and blue mountains surrounded by the fluffiest clouds you have ever seen. Gaze only a little further up to see more shades of blue surrounding the strongest sun I've ever come in contact with. The mountains are evenly cut into what looks like giant paint swatches of different greens that only remind me that there are so many different shades of green than I ever knew. Animals litter the fields, along with corn, and houses of every color. Lala, it is beautiful, and only one of your paintings could ever give it the justice it deserves. I wish I could send you a picture and get a creation of it covered in your style that somehow depicts exactly how this place makes me feel (even if I am still unsure).

Secondly, the kids I work with have brought my thoughts to you more than once. The other day a girl took a permanent marker and drew on the whiteboard. I was bothered and annoyed until I had a WWLD (what would Lala do) moment and realized it was art! And suddenly I loved the fat snowman people with 6 arms that would now permanently sit in the front of the classroom.

This would not be a proper letter without the mention of food because, Lala, you and I speak the same language when it comes to that. Let me tell you, the people in Ecuador do a lot of sucking when it comes to chicken, lamb, cow paw (oh, especially cow paw), etc. You're world renowned lobster gutt sucking would be respected so much here! I have also never seen someone not finish their food–another thing right up both of our alleys:). Though, I do have to report that you would call an Ecuadorian breakfast pathetic. When I am given coffee and a piece of bread for breakfast I think of you and can hear you saying "breakfast is my favorite meal and I will never get tired of it" and my mouth salivates thinking of some fried eggs, jam, and grapefruit or melon accompanying my lonely coffee and bread. The second I touch down on American soil I am making myself a good ole breakfast that you would be proud of.

Also, nearly every car here is a Lala car. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don't, and who would ever get rid of a car for a reason like that? Sometimes you just gotta try again with crossed fingers, and sometimes a door won't open so you just have to climb though.

Lastly, I think of you when I am sad because I have found more comfort in art than anything else. Ecuador has introduced me to my new favorite artist–Guayasamin–but beyond that I have found myself drawing or creating or painting when life is toughest. Nothing soothes homesickness or feeling out of place like pulling out my paints or colored pencils, and, Lala, I know that that is your genes talking.

I wish so much you were reading this, and that you were going to be sitting in your red chair with your glasses and magazines and coupons and the kangaroo sitting next to you when I come home in April. I so badly want to tell you of these amazing things and people that have become a part of my life, and I want to hear your travel stories again and again (and to realize just how lame mine are:)). However, I am thankful every time that I think of you because I am so lucky for every lesson you taught me and the many many events you supported me though (including the decision of this adventure). Your picture sits right next to my bed, and a picture of one of your paintings has been viewed by anyone who will listen to me brag about you. I love you more than you will ever know, and I miss you more every day.

 

As you always so wisely said, “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad.”

 

Love,

your Elizabeta

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Elizabeth Ollila