Victoria is incredible. Her life is simple, humble, hard work and I have a difficult time keeping up her. This morning Xylia and I went with her to milk the cows and just hoofing it up the hill gets me huffing and puffing. The vacas were right next to Dolores' house and she breaks a sweat just doing the milking. Once that was done we collect the cows and move them up the mountain to another pasture. Once we get up to the top...about another 1-2 miles she cuts a small sapling with her machete and we steer the cows to the pasture. She whacks the sapling into 5 stakes and positions them with the cows throughout the pasture. This pasture is so far and so high up....and she has to milk the cows twice a day, so she will be back up here later tonight! We head back down to Dolores' house each taking 2 downed saplings to carry home. She carries the milk home on her back in the way everyone here carries a heavy load. She's small, strong, swift and can wield a machete like no one else I've seen. I can only hope to be as strong, capable and agile as her one day.
Our time here in Pijal is coming to a close. I get sad just thinking about it. We've all gotten so comfortable together in these last couple weeks, sharing meals, laughter, cooking together. I likee it when Victoria lets me help her, or gives us a supply list for Otavalo. Micheal definitely has an extra skip in his step when he has a task at hand.
It's Monday and Thursday night is our last night. I suppose that's bound to happen while we are on this trip and maybe I'm just being premature, but I'm still sad. There is such heart and love here. It does help to know we will be back at the end before we return to the states.....but i can't help feeling that I have left a piece of my heart in Pijal.....the sisters, Jairo, the generosity, the green, Cotacatchi and Imbabura in the distance, the smell of the fire when lunch is ready, Victoria's sing song voice and Dolores' laughter. They've both repeated over and over how they don't want us to go. Victoria even tried the idea of saying, how about you two go and Xylia can stay here. She says she lonely, solita otherwise, Elias is gone working all day so it's just her and Jack, her beloved perrito. It's nice to know we are always welcome to return....and we will, in a little less than a year...maybe in time for the harvest.