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Lesson in Humility

   Strolling down the streets of Cotacachi is an experience to remember. Leather shops, too numerous to count and windows filled with displays of beautiful handwork created by the  indigenous people.  Mom, dad and children are all involved in this amazing leather work.  Beautiful colors and fresh leather smells excite your senses and you are eager to enter.  Gracious people greet you, no pressure, just want to show you their extraordinary handwork.  Purses, wallets, brief cases, backpacks, jackets, belts, ponchos, sweaters with leather trim, jewelry and whatever else can be made from leather.

    As I was walking along this fabulous street in August, a little boy about 9 approached me with a penny in the palm of his hand and trying to tell me that he needed gym shoes for school.  Of course, he was speaking Spanish, but I understood by the looks of his shoes and was aware that school would soon be starting.  Now Cotacachi is not a village to find gym shoes. My skepticism rose as he followed me along with a pitiful look and asking for money to buy shoes.  Was he a well trained little beggar on this well maintained street of leather shops?  He followed me for blocks and I finally made a deal with him not knowing if he understood me.  I said “…. if you want shoes come to El Meson” and I walked away somewhat annoyed by this persistent little character.

   I sat down for dinner at El Meson, musicians were playing, the atmosphere was perfect and it was the beginning of a delightful evening.  All of a sudden, one of the staff took me by the arm and said there is someone looking for you.  Low and behold it was my little friend with the penny in his hand and the tattered shoes.

As luck would have it, when I go to Cotacachi I travel with donations of clothing, shoes, etc to help the children in a nearby village.  I had new gym shoes in my bedroom.  One of the staff and guests traveling with me took him up to my bedroom. He sat on a chair, and was very quiet as he was fitted with brand new gym shoes. I think he was amazed and so were we. They were a little big but the staff person, speaking in Spanish, put a little paper in the toes of the shoes.  I made sure he left with some used clothing, coloring books and crayons. He graciously said thankyou and left for home as it was already dark.

   I learned a very big lesson that day. Do not judge and make conclusions.  Keep a loving gracious heart open to the infinite – as sometimes you receive gifts in small packages.  I will never forget his persistence and the look of gratitude in his eyes as he went his way.  It was hard to hold back a tear and to realize my ego and impatience were put aside for a little while humility surfaced as I gazed into the face of my little persistent character.