Ketut lay on the sofa bed that his Abuelo had set up in the studio in the back of the house. It was the room closest to the malecón, the street that ran along the cliff over the beach. The dim orange sunlight came in through the curtains as it rose over the sandy mountains to the east. The house was silent, everyone was asleep but Ketut could hear the chanting coming closer, the rhythmic singing accompanied by boot steps on the asphalt.
The family had been in Enrique’s parents’ house in Peru for a week and Ketut had heard the thumping and singing every two mornings at dawn. The first day he had been confused, in Bali he was used to hearing the call to prayers at 5 and the Gamelan music to start the day at 6. This was a totally different sound and it kept coming closer and closer, after a couple of minutes Ketut got up to look out the window and saw a perfectly organized group of men and women in green fatigues running in unison along the malecón.
|Artwork thanks to olasperu.com|
After a few mornings of the jogging troops waking up Ketut, he decided to get up and go out and see them running past the house. As soon as he heard them in the distance he wrapped a sarong around his waist and walked stealthily through the kitchen and the living room where the girls had set up their little campsite. He didn’t sleep with them because they took forever to sleep with all their chatter!
Eating a banana with one hand and holding jacket with the other, Ketut slipped out the back door and through the little alley that separated his abuelo’s house from the neighbor. Stepping down from the curb and onto the black and white tiled malecón he instantly saw his abuelo sitting on one of the mosaic benches overlooking the cliff and the beach underneath. His longish white hair was whispy in the wind and he didn’t seem to notice the loud runners coming closer, he seemed to be looking at his lap and that’s when Ketut realized that his abuelo was sketching, something he did at any moment of the day, no matter what was happening around him.
Ketut waited until the troop ran by with their rhythmic harmony, a couple of the women soldiers smiled at him and the guy in the front of the group saluted him. He tried to salute and smile back but felt clumsy, and ended up laughing and saying “Buen Día”, some of the soldiers nodded back without pausing their song and perfect unison jogging.
Sitting down on the cold bench he realized how crisp it was in the early morning, the ocean breeze hit him straight in the face and he squinted at the orange clouds drifting by. His abuelo was sketching the lady that was sitting down the road a bit with a basket half full of papas con huevo.
“She has been selling papas con huevo for twenty years. She sells them all before 8 am, her name is Señora Paulina.” Felipe stops sketching for a minute to look at his grandson and smiles at his unruly morning hair and his colorful sarong, he had gotten used to seeing his grandson in the skirt like garment, but it still made him smile every time.
“Do you get up this early every day abuelo? The soldiers are kind of loud, but my sisters don’t seem to notice. I sure can hear them though late at night talking about all the surfer guys they meet down at the beach.”
“Your sisters are having a great time here in Peru, are you Ketut? You seem to not like going to the beach with them so much, why is that?”
“I just don’t enjoy it. I like looking at it from up here though, the sound of the waves is really beautiful and the pelicans over by the muelle are pretty funny. Being on the beach is uncomfortable, it’s sandy and hot and sticky.”
“You are so amusing nieto, you were born on an island and do not like the beach!”
“Yes abuelo, that´s exactly right.” Ketut answered laughing, “I love the mountains, and they are really my favorite place to be.”
“Your mother and abuela will be in Cusco for one more week with the weavers, maybe you should go and join them. The mountains are really very beautiful there, I will talk with your father about it later.” Felipe looked back down at his notebook and added, “I get up every day at 5 am and come out here, sometimes I sketch, other times I read, I always eat papa con huevo and it tastes exactly the same after twenty years.”
The waves kept crashing against the shore like they always have since the beginning of time. Making that crushing noise against the sand and covering the little crab holes over and over and over. Ketut could see the troop still running on the far end of the malecón and called the lady over to eat his own serving of papa con huevo for early morning breakfast.