Missing Home

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We’ve been gone for just over 3 weeks. We’re set to fly out to Lima, Peru later this evening.

And I’m experiencing my first longing for home.

As all those close to us know, we are currently void of anything we would call “home”. Our home for the past 6 years has been Kingston, Ontario. It was a modest 1 bedroom apartment, filled with old furniture donated from my parents, an old, bulky television with no cable, and a few shelves overflowing with books that we obsessively kept buying.

Despite these limitations, it was our home, and I loved coming back to it after being away – particularly when away on conference. That is when I missed our tiny apartment most.

We certainly had our share of negative experiences in that space – I can easily recall the thousands of hours we spent hunched over our respective laptops while sitting across from one another at the dining room table (on which we never dined) working on yet another pressing and all-important project.

Both of us experienced too many sleepless nights to count. The stress of graduate school can be overwhelming – my cornucopia of meds for sleep disturbance and anxiety can attest to that.

But we also had many good times in our little apartment.

Sunday mornings, cuddling up on our ripping-at-the-seams leather couch while watching mindless reality television I remember fondly (despite not having cable, we got MuchMusic and all the terrible shows it hosts). I also recall Saturday mornings, when Marina always stayed in bed longer than I could handle. On these occasions, if the weather was good, I would make some tea, grab a book and spend the morning on our balcony half reading half observing the drama that unfolded between the numerous pigeons across the parking lot behind our building.

But now our home is just a memory.

We sold off most of our belongings, with the exception of books, my guitars, and our laptops. Then we moved out of Kingston at the end of April, when our lease was up.

Here I am, sitting at the Traveller’s Inn in Quito, Ecuador, typing these words while Marina watches some Robin Williams movie in Spanish. Despite being on our way to yet another exciting country, all I want in this moment is to be back in our tiny, poorly furnished apartment watching Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab.

More than the physical space of our apartment, I miss the few but great friends we left behind.

When we first left, I swore we would not be coming back to Kingston, and had strong doubts about settling down in Ontario, or Canada for that matter. Now, only 3 weeks into our adventure, and already I am starting to see things differently.

I hope all our friends and family back home are doing well.

We miss you all.

Peter

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The vampire child and Latacunga market

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Sitting on a filthy butcher’s table with legs spread open, a toddler drinks fresh cow blood out of a plastic cup. Our eyes meet, as he finishes a gulp, and his face breaks into a grin while blood dribbles out of the corners of his mouth and adds to the Pollock-like splatter of drying blood on his shirt.

“That is the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen”, I tell Marina.

The vampire boy was just one of the interesting sites we witnessed at the Latacunga market, which we crossed on the way to Lake Quilotoa after sleeping among volcanoes the night before. Although the large produce market, containing a myriad of colourful fruit from the coast along with vegetables from the mainland was interesting, it was the meat market that we found particularly alluring.

In North America, we’re used to seeing our meat completely separated from the animal to which it belongs. For all I know, chicken breasts, salmon steaks, and pork chops were grown on a tree. It is certainly easier on the conscience to separate the grilled chicken breast on my plate from the fuzzy, sometimes obnoxious and funny looking animal which looks absolutely ridiculous whilst running.

Not so in Ecuador.

If you want to purchase some pork, you better have the guts to stare into the eyes of one of the decapitated pig heads on the counter. Not only are these pig heads massive, many of them exhibit disturbing expressions; mouths open in a grin, tongues sticking out through the crooked teeth, almost mocking you.

 

Me and the three little pigs (their heads, anyways)

 

Also, while much of the animal goes to waste in North America (or otherwise ends up in a hot dog), every single tissue is consumed or at least sold in Ecuador. Apparently, soup can be made with the most random of animal parts. Also, you can eat deep fried pig skin. 

The beef section was equally interesting.

Of course there were a few cow heads hanging around to see how their remains are sold off.

There were also a few calf fetuses on sale.

These are sort of like the fetuses you saw in high-school science class. Unfortunately, these were not in a jar of formaldehyde, but simply laid across a cold metal table right beside the uterus which once contained them.

One calf fetus goes for $15, and makes an excellent soup, according to the woman at the counter.

Butcher’s Special: $5 discount when you purchase fetus and uterus

Right after posing for the picture with the calf fetuses, I noticed the sound of flesh and bones being decimated at the butchering station in the corner of the market. Three individuals worked in tandem, almost like an assembly line, smashing open the heads of cows and then separating the contents therein.

And off to lunch we went!

Peter

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