The thing you have to understand is that the taxi drivers get paid by how many trips they make back and forth. This means that they drive pretty fast. Tire squealing is a normal occurrence. As is passing any vehicle that is going 1 kilometer slower than you are. Passing lanes and straight a-ways are not required. Any piece of road will do, corner, narrow, people walking on the edge of the road - no problem. But that's for another blog supported by some video.
When we arrived our lawyer was busy finishing up with some other clients. Actually, two other clients. And, as it turned out, we knew both of them. We chatted while we waited, but Declan was in a rather foul mood as he wasn't really interested in the trip to Loja in the first place. But, he had to come as he had to fill out the census form as well. He eventually had enough adult talk and decided to go outside and people watch.
He wasn't out there for five minutes when he saw Susan, another friend of ours from Vilcabamba, who we'd known for about 2 weeks. He waived her over and she crossed the street along with two of her friends to say hello. We saw them talking and went out to say hello. She introduced us to her two friends. One of them was Tina. Tina pretty much ignored us and started talking with Declan. I think she could sense he was in a bad mood.
"Do you like horses", she asked.
"Yes", Declan replied.
"Good. Walter (Susan's husband) is coming up tomorrow and you should come with him. I have a really good horse who has never thrown anyone and I'll teach you how to ride him."
Nani said "I think we have lunch planned with some friends tomorrow."
Tina said "That's fine, I'm not inviting you guys anyway!"
We all got a good chuckle out of Tina's directness. I like people like that.
The next morning Walter came by at 9 AM sharp and picked up Declan for the 1 hour drive to Tina's farm. We packed him a water bottle, a lunch, and some extra clothes. Walter said they'd be back around 3 PM unless the roads are a mess in which case it might be as late as 5 PM. And, we shouldn't be alarmed if it's even later than that. And off they drove.
We stared at each other and laughed. Declan is going with Walter, a guy we met 2 weeks before, to drive an hour to a farm we've never been to, to spend the day with a lady we've known for about 5 minutes! Neither of us felt an once of reservation about him going. We both felt it was a great opportunity for him.
Declan & Walter returned about 4 PM. Declan had one of those experiences that changes you on the inside forever. He had a smile on his face that wouldn't go away. He got to ride a horse, make some home made pizza, and do some farm work. But more importantly, he got to build some self confidence.
This is Declan a few days ago at his friend Joshua's birthday party (not on Tina's farm)