I spent two months in Quito in 1993, visiting my aunt and uncle (and baby cousins!) who were stationed there with the State Department. My aunt is a painter, and she took me around to her friends’ homes, who were also artists. I remember Dolores’s home, in particular, because it was elegant, but bohemian, with potted geraniums everywhere and a huge painting of a mermaid hanging in the dining room. We only stayed for lunch, but I could have stayed forever. There were roses growing all over mountainous Quito and the Quechua woman wore piles and piles of beads around their necks, and their children wore the same. The soft Ecuadorian accent, the way ‘r’ sounds like ‘zh’ – que zhrico es! (or something like that), was the first melody of Spanish I ever studied. I spent days walking around the city, taking Spanish lessons with gracious Carmencita from the embassy, watching American movies overdubbed in Spanish, and sketching everything I saw. I couldn’t get enough of the jewelry and embroidery, tiles and architecture, woodwork and ironwork. Inspired by the colors and the details, I tried to study and absorb it all by drawing it in my journal. Unpracticed as my sketches might be, I remember how they filled this trip with many hours of joyful inspiration.