I wrote the beginning of a second book, even though I am still attempting to publish my first: Daughter of Corn: Coming of Age in the Americas. The event of las lluvias was so conducive to the solitary act of writing, and the advantage of having a gas fireplace close to my nose spurred me into a creative frenzy. In the fall of 1985 I wandered throughout Ecuador, staying with Peace Corps workers and searching for a way to visit the Canelos Quichua tribe in the Amazon jungle. I ended up returning in December to finalize a visa to teach at the Colegio Americano in Quito. The real story, however, began at Easter when I flew to Peru to visit the infamous Inca Ruins outside of Cuzco. And it wasn't just a story, it was a gothic tale, sunk into the mists of an ancient city poised at over 9000 feet. This is just the beginning of:
CAFÉ CON LECHE
The Alchemy of a Creative Woman
Corinne J. Stanley
I was sitting in the Dolce Vita, a tiny Italian Café with two rows of round metal tables set under a glassed-in room. The long, drooping bougainvillea burst into a fuchsia sonata just outside my window, and the midday sun sent glances of light upon the coppery tables. I am back to paradise, I thought. Back to the cobblestone streets of San Miguel, far from the rattlings of Ecuador and the puzzlement of Iowa. Still on a search. And this time, I thought, I have just got to get it right. This time, those lessons from Ecuador are going to sink in. I looked down into my café con leche, foamy milk swirling at the top of the golden brown liquid, and then added a small spoonful of light-brown, unprocessed sugar. The steaming coffee became transformed into a new brew, one that tasted nutty and sweet,
Transformed. That’s what I yearned for. To be made into something new, to unleash the creative part of my soul, with full force. But that’s what Ecuador was supposed to be about, I recalled pensively.
My friend, Meche, had just entered the café, with her cousin Yolanda. Their smiling faces drew me away from my writing, and I looked at them with pleasant surprise.
“¡Qué milagro!” I called out, gesturing toward two empty chairs tucked under my table.
“¿Qué pasó, Corina? “ asked Meche.
Still ensconced in my previous thoughts, I realized how much I wanted to talk about Ecuador, and what had happened during that tumultuous year.
“Oyen—no se si les he platicado sobre mis experiencias en Quito. ¿Quieren que les cuente mis historias?” I asked. They nodded their heads with interest, and so I began to tell them what had happened when I returned to Quito two years ago on a cold January day in 1986, straight into a military coup de etat.