We take a bus south – Saoirse's first journey. She sleeps most of the way – when she wakes up, she looks ardently at the shapes of the trees and the light coming through the jungle. We get to Guayaquil late and the heat envelops up like a warm glove – Saoirse is tired and too hot and it's the first time we hear her properly scream.
The next morning, we're on our way to our little fishing village. Again Saoirse sleeps in my arms on the bus, and I feel like I am reliving a scene I already know – I must have dreamt it so many times this past year. Traveling with my daughter, her little head cradled in the fold of my arm, her hand grabbing my top. Her warmth through the clothes, and the weight of her, and the pull in my shoulder as I hold her for hours on end – it all feels known. I look at the sea unfolding at the end of the road and feel like we're going home.
The last time we were in Ayampe I was six months pregnant, and I remember my body felt like it was expanding, blossoming, stretching its limits and becoming more powerful each day. Now it's like my body is this shell I don't really know how to handle – I'm either too soft or too demanding with it. I wake up in the morning with aches in my lower back and hips, memories of carrying her body inside mine. My hair is still long and thick, but sometimes in the shower it starts to fall in light strands that look like ropes. I look at my naked skin in the mirror and there are no marks, no scars, just a dark line down my stomach that doesn't fade – like a ladder she used to climb down into the world. Her skin is still the softest thing I've ever felt – I trace the surface of her limbs and I think – I created this body, I made this little person. Who can say that is not magical ?
The weather is Ayampe is cold and stormy. We wrap Saoirse in an alpaca vest way too big for her, and we take long walks on the beach. A crowd of small red crabs scatter as we walk close by and disappear in their holes. They are as red as the hibiscus flowers fallen on the ground everywhere. In the evening the house and the village are full of birdsongs, and the waves crashing can be heard from our bed, lulling us to sleep. There is something completely unique about the openness of the Pacific Ocean – all concerns and worries are lost in the sand. We find an italian restaurant on the beach and laugh at the randomness, coming all this way to eat pizza, but this too is magical.
These are our last days in South America. We arrived two and will leave three, and it just feels right. I never want to forget this place, for all it gave us. Maybe one day we'll come back with a little girl, and she will sleep in a bamboo house and run on the beach and know the magic of this place, too.