Not The Best of Tuesdays

Today was a difficult day because it is the birthday of our dog Vandal, who died completely out of the blue this February. To remember him, I took my morning walk up the mountain, where he used to run with us and all the other dogs in our neighborhood. This running around was a whole lot easier for him than it is for me. Four paws and powerful muscles do help climbing these steep hills, let me tell you. I barely managed to walk a measly kilometer (< .7 miles), but the 500 meters uphill portion represents a 100-meter gradient – I should’ve worn cleats! On my return hike downhill, I was easily overtaken by a young man, who works as a gardener for one of our neighbors. Compared to my gingerly placed steps, he virtually raced by, seemingly unaware of the incline. While passing me he threw both arms in the air and exclaimed with a big smile ¡Qué bonito mañana! What a beautiful morning! His enthusiasm, on his way to work no less, his appreciation of our breathtaking (in every way!!) surroundings made me smile.
Here is an illustration of both the gorgeousness of our mountainscape, as well as the hard time I had climbing uphill. At two of the switchbacks following the steepest road segments, I had to stop to try to get my heartbeat back under control. I took those pictures to pretend that I had stopped on purpose, rather than of necessity.
Looking W into a tangle of small gorges and canyons

This is actually just ahead of the steep part. I stopped to gather my courage to proceed.


We’re now one switchback segment further up the road. From here one looks ESE in the direction of the central valley.

At the second switchback, I didn’t even have the strength to pull out my phone and take a picture. Simply breathing was hard enough … 

The next two pictures were taken at 850m/2788ft altitude, the highest point of our development, aptly called ‘Lomas del Paraiso’, hills of paradise.
Looking more or less S to the cordilleras across the valley, about 20Km distant
Same position, same view – just looking almost straight downhill to the jungle below
Believe me, these views give me strength at times like this morning. Today it wasn’t only Vandal’s memory, but our other dog, Lil’Otto is very, very sick, rapidly declining daily; then there’s a husband battling a pretty severe gastroenteritis and, to put it over the top, our brand new washing machine wasn’t working! Could be comical, but not quite.
Over the course of the morning, and many phone calls later, the problem of the child-looked (!) electronic control panel of the washer was successfully resolved. Ultimately, over the phone, in Spanish, by said sick husband, while I was at the Farmacia fetching his drugs. The washer problem at least did turn out somewhat farcical. Trying to learn the operations manual and punching buttons with Spanish language labels, I must have inadvertently … oh, well! Ça marche de nouveau!! Even sophisticated French seems easier some days when you try to tackle yet another foreign tongue.
After consuming various drugs, electrolytic fluids and Zwieback, sick husband is resting much more comfortably, awaiting his dinner of plain rice, nothing but plain rice, Ma’am. Last night I cooked a lovely chicken soup from scratch, which his poor system couldn’t tolerate. When a Jewish boy can’t keep down his chicken soup, he’s seriously ill. I’m glad, he’s graduating to rice tonight! Otto will also share in the rice, with a nice soft boiled egg. Easy to swallow and easy to digest, so all the sickly guys in the hills of paradise shall feel better tonight, I hope.

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