Mural 27 in Cuenca, Ecuador

I was in the Galapagos Islands during the tsunami caused by the earthquake in Japan.  At six thirty in the morning, someone from the Charles Darwin Foundation pounded on my window and told me to flee to the highlands because of the oncoming wave.  That was all the help I got from CDF.  With my very limited Spanish, I fled for my life to escape the wave -- that arrived about twelve hours later.

I ended up in a gymnasium / community center in a very small town in the highlands.  Fortunately for me, I met Carlos and Lucy almost as soon as I walked in the door.  They were from Spain but worked in community development in Ecuador.  Most importantly, Carlos spoke very good English.  As soon as he met me, he exclaimed, "We're saved!  An American is with us!  If we need to be evacuated, the marines will come for you."  I liked him immediately.  And, they took care of me the rest of the day.  (To read the entire story, look for my adventures with Mural 14.)

Perhaps you might have missed two important words in the previous paragraph - "community development".  As soon as I heard that, I knew a trip to Cuenca, Ecuador, could very well be in my future.  Those two words didn't adequately describe the work that Carlos did.  His job ranged from overseeing a local youth home to protecting Ecuador's finest examples of Inca ruins to helping flood victims.  There was a lot of activity in between those tasks and Carlos has his hands in an awful lot of that too.  In everything he does, he strives to help people.  I know he is on the "top ten most interesting people I've ever met" list, but I can't think of who the other nine would be.

It was decided the mural would be at Centro Municipal de Desarrollo Infantil Totoracocha.  That is a big mouthful of Spanish that basically is a city-run day care for children five and under.  Cuenca currently ran nine centers and more were planned.  I could keep busy doing a lot of murals.

I like "muraling" at schools. Five-year-olds get excited about everything.  Walking to the next room is reason to skip for joy!   So, you can imagine what color on a wall can do for them.  This mural, a number chart, had a bit of an Ecuadorian feel.  Kids and teachers alike thought it was "muy bueno".  (That's "very good" for the Spanish challenged, like me.)