Day 13: Maria Blount aka “la Chihuahua”


(Note: One of the great fortunes I’ve experienced in traveling is the tendency to develop “sister relationships” in different places. It’s probably the result of being an only child. Maria Blount was my first such “sister.” She’s another of those I’d put in the category of my “favorite people on the planet,” and spends most of her time tending a beautiful organic farm in Puerto Cayo, Ecuador.)

Dear Maria,

We would’ve never made it without you.

Five years ago when we latched on to the far-fetched notion of spending a few months each year in a far-away place, I suppose we imagined it as some romantic experience where tanned staff would bring umbrella drinks to tables with freshly appointed linens each evening around sunset. Pacific breezes would blow softly through our hair as we’d recount stories about dismal winter weather back home and we’d laugh as civilized people do watching the sun slip past an infinite horizon.

Well the joke was on us, wasn’t it? Never was reality more real the scalding day the electricity was out for eight hours the third day in a row, and septic tank sewage was oozing slowly onto the back porch. Ah, life in Ecuador. Such a dream!

Dana and Maria catching a beautiful sunset at Casa Azul, latitude 1 South.

Dana and Maria catching a beautiful sunset at Casa Azul, latitude 1 South.

But you recognized two gringos who didn’t know their head from a crab hole on the beach, and you took us under your wing. I’m not sure why you adopted us, but you surely did. When you came around we knew everything was gonna be alright. What a wonderful host you’ve always been to everyone with whom you come in contact.

Puerto Cayo’s Goodwill Ambassador. That’s what you are.

I remember the day we met at your construction site. We sat right down on that stump and talked about the things we could do together. I noted the construction crew was especially attentive when you were on the property. La Jefa was in the house.

Thank you for all the fabulous meals you’ve served us at your home. So many good memories. I’ve never seen anyone laugh the way you did when Mesfin’s chair broke that night. It’s one of my favorite memories.

I supposed I’ll never forget the wild ride we took to Guayaquil that evening and you showed me what it was like to “go ethnic” on someone. What a fiasco. That poor driver didn’t stand a chance up against “la chihuahua.” Ha!

But I will tell you my favorite memory. When we came in 2012, everything was an unknown for us. We didn’t know what tomorrow would bring, much less next year. We could have just as easily stayed in Ecuador as we could’ve returned home. The day we stood in the driveway about to make our way back home was one of the most uncertain moments of my life. Sad doesn’t even touch what I felt. Empty comes much closer.

But you put me in your arms and prayed for me and you just kept praying and praying. We pulled out of the driveway and headed north and you were still praying. I could see you. I will never, never, forget your compassion in that moment.

Thank you for being my South American sister. We love you so much.

Get the passion fruit juice ready. See you in a few hours.

Muy agradecido y su hermano,





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