Today, I felt like I was in a city thousands of feet above Earth’s surface. As I stepped out of Plan’s office around 5:30, in the fading light, all I could see were clouds. They had moved so low as to obscure all the surrounding hills and snow-capped volcanoes. On my way home, one street lead to nothing as it sloped upward, seemingly into the clouds. The city was oddly quiet. Fewer car horns blared. The rain had ceased its constant patter. The dogs, roosters, and cows didn’t utter a peep. It seemed the only things I heard were the quiet voices coming from the radio and the murmured questions my taxi driver was asking about my life. In a way, Riobamba, this is my love letter to you. Even with the car horns blaring, the rain pattering on the tin roof outside my bedroom window, and the chorus of neighborhood dogs (with the occasional out of tune note from the neighbor’s rooster), Riobamba, I love you. Riding the bus in the morning, on the 10 minute walk to work, and in the center of town, I feel peaceful. The stares of the people are only curiosity, never mean-spiritedness. The taxi drivers who haggle for 25 cents more are only trying to make a living, not swindle the unsuspecting gringa. The daily power outages are simply giving me a chance to reflect on the day with nothing to intrude my thoughts.
While I have only been in Riobamba for about a month, I feel as if this city in the clouds has lived in my soul my whole life. My soul already know its sounds, its gentle reminders, and the slow, deep breaths it takes. Now, my brain is playing catch-up, and oh how much my Riobamba, my soul, has taught it.