18 June 2005 | Vol. 5, No. 2

Echolalia One: Gathering in South America

[Introducing Echolalia]

Kidnap Me Gently

Bright pink churches in paintings by the Indigenistas. A strange confrontation—my childhood's Catholicism with South American Catholicism. Did I ever tell you the names of my schools and churches? St. Margaret Mary St. Joseph St. Francis Xavier St. Anthony St. Ignatius Loyola Sacred Heart Holy Family. My grandmother, Cecilia, is named for the patron saint of music. Sarah was the childless wife of Abraham, "given" her maid's, Hagar's, child to raise. Children and pregnancy all around us. Our poems, too, filled with them—carnal and maternal.

Policia Nacional Del Ecuador. A sign in front that says "Muchas mas que un buen amigo." (Much more than a good friend...).

Remember my three year old niece, Claire, say to me "I'm happy"—she and Todd and my nephew Brian and I were cuddling up to watch The Lion King last month when she came to Arizona, with the rest of our family, for my graduation reading. We were snuggling, and she turned to me and said I'm happy. That's all. That's how I have felt. Every now and then I turn to Todd and say I'm happy.

I'm remembering this orchard ladder we found on the property—reaching & wobbling. Shirt untucked. Dropping Gravensteins to my sister. Mya was too little to climb or drag a full bucket, so I'd climb down if we moved to the Kings, or the Yellow Transparencies by the chicken hutch. And dad would be at the press, up near the broken up sidewalk we'd uncovered, hair sweating to his forehead, grinding, pulp falling into a wooden-ribbed basket lined with cheesecloth...

(But to do justice—)

And we kept horses in the pasture—June's horses. The Avon lady with the crooked arm, who gave us our calico from a barn stray's litter. Mouser. Nursed her sister's kittens.

At our hotel in Montañita, a surfing competition... we leave Guayaquil the evening of our first day. In front of our little cabana right on the water. Cinqo, quatro, tres, dos, uno—{horn}. All day long, for two days, horrifically loud play-by-play of the surfing. This in contrast to the ocean lull. Seems like the perfect transition from our Arizona lives to our Ecuador lives, watching from the hammock.

Hermit crabs eat a cob of thrown away corn on the beach.

Festival in Montañita...featuring perhaps a Miss-Montañita with a crown in the front row.

Fall asleep each night on the hammock in front of the water, then move inside the cabana when the mosquitoes wake us.

Breakfast: Papaya juice, piña juice, cafe con leche, pancakes with fruit and chocolate sauce, Doxycyclene.

Yoga on a platform raised about twelve feet, overlooking the ocean. Watching the sunset and luna at the tops of my sun salutations, watching a twelve-ish year old boy pee below the platform at the bottom of my sun salutations.

Melon juice. Banana rice.

Trying to remember left (izcuarda?) and right (dereche?). (We were warned before we left that we'd be kidnapped. Gently please.)

I always want to speak in Italian and Todd has been speaking French.

Another festival in Montañita...one half of the town for tourists, the other half for locals. We wander to the local side... two huge cages that look like dance competitions. Three, four, five older couples calmly and semi-formally dancing while a deejay on stage vociferously and enthusiastically... encourages them? gives play by play? Children's school desks line either side of the long cage, and on each side of the deejay—a grinding bikini-clad dancer.

Staring and staring and staring at newly shaven Todd. From a full beard to his skin and visible mouth. He sat up in the middle of the night, sheets soggy and our clothes and hair and skin soggy from the humidity—and said happiness in his sleep then lay back down.

One little girl playing on the sidewalk with a bright white doll as big as she is, and her sweetheart friend with a little bear. They care for them very well... combing and thoroughly hugging them while we eat.

Made an angel in the sand with my flip-flops while doing a stretch.

Thank You for the Evacuation Insurance

mom and dad. we are off that machine and now on this one. we found the coolest

beach village—the weekend we got here we went to montañita with amy,

a town that was like the surfing village at disneyland broke off and

floated south, perfectly cute, amazing restaurants (vegetarian!),

like the kids from swiss family robinson grew up, discovered Heineken,

and magical plants and made an industry. mya would love

this place. she and tim could move here and sell marbles—it's like

the hawaii we wish for, dirt streets and bamboo hotels. but the real

cool beach was further up the road, amy'd never been; we rented a car

and drove through the greenery, roadside villages

on sliding hillsides, the paved road up bluffs, then back down to sealevel, and

there was this village called ayampe. we just turned left and there

it was, with one family that rented cabanas and served beer and fish.

little thatch shades stretched along the beach, a fishing boat, tar still drying,

endless beach...five surfers. The perfect corona commercial.

thinking we will head up to quito and a town

with the biggest market (especially textiles) in south america, otovalo,

wed-sun. i hope all is good. I Love You,


Dear Mom and Dad. We fly to Lima, Peru on Tues. Everyone says the airport there is the worst in the world and guarantees we'll get robbed. So, we're keeping our passports in our undies. In Todd's undies, actually.

We teach again today. They're adorable! And so worldly. These wee ones who speak many languages and have lived all over the world. Their English is perfect, but they struggle with words we know culturally, like, how to spell Arizona, or pronounce mushroom. We're going to type up their poems and send them back to the poetry journal for kids that we help edit, 22Across, which is part of the outreach teaching we do at ASU.

Eating lots of fried plantains, shrimp, and fresh juice. Drinking lots of Colombian coffee and coca cola light. Breathing in lots of fumes.

The idea of planting flowers, Mom, and eating pizza with friends, and being in Montana during the summer sounds wonderful to me. It was so nice to be there last year for a few days with you and dad to myself...

Quito is amazing... a beautiful city smack in the mountains. It's very high. We are dizzy all the time, and walk slowly, and bump into each other, and can't really focus—we might be slurring. We leave in a few hours for Otavalo. I think we'll get all of our Christmas shopping done there, from the sounds of their Saturday textile market.

I love that you and Todd's mom are sharing updates. Our bus ride from Guayaquil to Quito yesterday was very long, and took us through a long stretch in the middle of Ecuador—villages and tiny homes on stilts and pigs tied to the porch, and a street carnival in a little town we passed, and pickup beds full of standing schoolchildren in uniforms (their schoolbuses? or transportation to and from the carnival? they all had ice cream...). We arrived in the evening, and are slowly piecing together our "travel-Spanish." The difference between the air in Guayaquil and Quito was amazing...heavy wet and warm to cool and thin thin.

I love you,


Dear Norman.

You have some packages coming. Don't open them. There

should be four small bundles from Ecuador. They're

"christmas presents" that Todd bought at a "market."

No, seriously, they are. Between the two of us, at the

counter of the shipping company where we spent a whole

day, you were the single person in Phoenix whose phone

number AND mailing address we knew.

Our trip has been amazing so far. The beach, a couple

of cities, some long bus rides, wee towns, rice

fields, Dole banana plantations (todd says "fuckers"),

lots of former rain forest, fumes, altitude delirium,

volcanoes covered with snow, arid scrub, papayas,

piña, tamales verde, cafe con leche, cafe con leche, y

cafe con leche..., our waiter catching a crow in his

hand, then throwing it out up, then serving us

ceviche; the internet, surfing competitions, chicken foot soup, llama

dinners, and rescheduled plane tickets. (We

accidentally booked our ticket to Lima for June 24

instead of May 24. Spanish is hard. But Todd managed

to tell the woman who helped us mail our packages—a sweetheart—

to keep the extra dollar "para descansar", "for a coffee or a shower cap."

Our Spanish phrase book is something the lost

generation might have used—we can send a telegram,

ask for a chambermaid, and order vermouth or a priest

who speaks English.

We love you endlessly.

Sarah & Todd

I'm counting the number of times I make you laugh aloud. Today—when I sexed up the toothpaste. At the lemon-meringue caf� the tea came out my nose when I laughed at you. Finally you laughed out loud when tea came out my nostrils. (What did you say? We were actively complimenting each other...oh � your caucus. You have a big caucus, with lots of votes. I'd see.)

Yeah... what comes out of your nose, my mouth. We kill each other with subtlety, don't we. How to disguise joy. Those snow-covered volcanoes. Raw-parts-with-a-hair-soup, waning vegetarianism—yeah, if you count making it look like a tube of toothpaste is coming out of your breast as sexy...

It's not waning...it's still how I feel. Restaurants, resentments, presentiments...food has always been difficult and emotional for me—& joyful of course. I love eating. I notice how some foods make me feel. You know this, you do it too. Not sure how I should, can, could, will eat on this trip. What a good way for me to eat is... And maybe I do think that's sexy.

Seems like what we're really doing (this summer)

your deafness breaks my routine,               is chronicling ourselves as we fall in love. Give

ourselves more and more context. Your pace, then mine. My decision, then yours. And, of course, our origins.

The identical bodies of the women, their walks, their jeans and shirts

The streets' uneven contours

                                                Your skin feels different

The sun is let through in layers

I compare everything to Africa, those few years in the Ivory Coast—the lull of the village, the fumes of the city, the shit canals, trash; proximity to war, to other lifetimes. I'm drawn to chaos, levels of intimacy, thresholds around violence

—at rest, I wink at you 62 times a minute.

These cities, in "developing" countries—the sense of family/ courtyard/ village resides, is residual, resinous—not yet not incorporating. There is a different use of space, a way of making spaces work—functionality without class bravado...put whatever you need where you need it. (Italicize).

Getting our visas in Guayaquil, the Brazilian embassy was on the ground floor of the building where Amy's apartment is, behind a window display of toilets, faux walls with sinks and mirrors. We ran up and down the stairs, getting what we needed, what we didn't know, forgot.

Three mini markets on a block, you must point through the grate to buy.

The driving scares me and is loud. Changing lanes, pulling out into traffic—the bus voceadores calling routes out the door—honking to mark all movements vehicular, honking an invitation to every person walking instead of in a taxi. Retaliatory noises. (I said, "we're ruining everything!" You said, "we're starting over," today in the museum—collection of lives, artifacting)... We're living together, now, you know. Parrots on long leashes. In fancy restaurants, like this, I miss my parents—who would know how to be here, and be glad to have brought me here & given me special treatment. Always generous with food, with the specialness of eating—

—waiting, grateful—first rains, chaff of elephant grass, dead stalks have been burned clear ,cotton soil turned. Now we raise mounds. Clear of the Harmattan winds, the dry season. God! Clear again. De Nuevo. Encore. Of the dry season, the dust, uninvited fasting. Every night: boiled yams with oil. Jesus, to even be near a fire... and I'd bring a cube of bouillon, mutton-flavor, chicken, bushrat. After thirty-five years my dad calls war a holy experience. Come face-to-face...

The elephants have left the Ivory Coast. They like peacefulness, Reuters reports. Bolivia seems to have just avoided a coup, so we'll still go next week.

Smaller and more abundant (not destinations, like Toys-R-Us), a million small enterprises. Or, dozens in the middle of the street during rush hour holding their wares up to the traffic's windows...one man with a package of batteries, a plastic container of a dozen ear swabs, and four packs of mints. A boy with strawberry candies...squares of sweet wax—we buy two for way too much. Todd buys a sticker for thirty centimos from an old woman, for 'poor children.' It says "Abre tu coraz�n a Cristo."

The way the concrete is broken and the sidewalk slopes into the street, nothing gradual,

The way the airport escalator...

No repairs. Just a constant attention to where you are going without excessive looking ahead, you can't or you'll trip—crossing the street in fragments, like hopping from star to star.

Awnings with huge numbers or letters, rebar protects the third story kitchen windows. (clutching)


Make no mistake:

that endeared and enormous

sojourner of jungles is nobody's clown;

he is patriarch,

father of emerald lights,

the ancient

and innocent

sire of the universe.

All the fruits of the earth,

and the longings

of Tantalus,

the multitudinous


and the ways of

the rain

have encompassed

the kingdom of


with brine


with blood

they accomplished the war

of their species in silence.

The scale-bearing kind,

the lizards-turned-lion,

the fish in the mountains

and gargantuan ground sloth


and decayed:


leavened the green of the bog,

a prize

for the sweltering fly

and the scarab's barbarity.

But the elephant rose

on the wreck of his fears—

almost a vegetable, a shadowy pylon

in his emerald heaven,

to suckle his young

on the sweet of the leaves, and the water

and honey of stone....

Pablo Neruda

(Giggle Away)

dream: first, everything is a measurement—where to place the hands—at any port of entry—any point of out-take, any ripple of source, chakras, pressure points—when you are asleep next to me, pulled to my chest, my thighs, my knees—

the ambivalence of the sea (shown to hold you),

a great time of eradication. Put anything into the ocean so it's not lost.

dream: floating down the river, a patch of tall river grass on the bank. A veil of light, no middle canopy; the darkness comes from above. Like no trespassing, a sign, like Don't Piss Here—Private Property, says, "Does anyone have a story I can live from?" In the tall grass, the idea of a man. The grass overhead...

The idea of protection            apparently


We're both learning how to tell a story in South America. You, your details. Me, to forget the details and find a plot. A big-picture. My mom has been sending the sweetest emails. She's travelling all over Montana this summer, landscaping, my brother and his family have bronchitis, she's thinking about me, about how I'm feeling, what we're doing. My dad sends tiny one-line emails. He loves me. He's thinking of me.

Maybe okay with fucking up, slipping into addictions; a hand to extend. Pull towards

request. Finding out while away that dreams work best—nothing more than is required. Provide a slender thread of intent—the thread's end is a pixel. A tunnel for those looking for a new direction, new interest. Otherwise harmless, part of the image; one of the million underlings—what we are seeing, us coming out of ourselves. I expect an invitation to wonder.

A vast lawn of picnickers, everyone is eating, feeding themselves, what and how much.

What else?

Out on the dock, father is looking down and does not notice the girl on the neighbor's dock, the next walk over. She is throwing stones toward us, and these stones are places I was seeking to touch, to be sure that you are there and alive, Sarah—that her body has its cover, coves, ports—the stones touch water and turn to turtles, swimming toward me and my father. It is not enough to say goodbye to fathers, we must give them a reason to go.

From the lawn I look back. A mother turtle is loading herself at the tideline, little turtles crawling on her shell, stacked on, her neck out where more can rest. I run for the first time in months. I have not even dreamed myself into a sprint for a year and a half. And here I am, running for a way to remember—my camera is close.

And of course, off the coast, the Galapagos.

We had such confidence to choose these lives, such faith in each other to allow, to not interfere—ghastly proponents—to be so free and together.

I love a house under construction, something for the children to finish.

The chicken tied under a bush.

Burro tied in the sun.

3 kids on a bike ride back and forth to show off.

Dad checking his daughter's loose teeth. Then she eats half a watermelon with a spoon, its shell her huge bowl—there are only so many ways to disguise wisdom.

Living in, not on—a vacillation of debt.

I love that you don't recoil, but dive into me, lips waking.

The Saints Which Have No Title

2nd grade: Saint Margaret Mary's

Saint Margaret Mary, childhood ascetic, bitty self-punisher—secret severe mortifications at age nine that paralyzed her for four years. She went bleeding to a dance at seventeen, after which Jesus personally berated her—not for making herself bleed, but for enjoying herself. For the rest of her life she regretted once wearing unnecessary ornamentation, and once wearing a mask at carnival for her brothers. Died pronouncing the Holy Name of Jesus.

3rd - 8th grade: St. Joseph's

Carpenter. Old man who married wee Mary. Father of James, of many, by a previous marriage. Virgin Marriage then the Angel of the Lord in a dream tells him his wife is the Mother of God. He goes along with this. Sweetheart dad-type...little cuddle-bump of a man.

9th - 12th: Loyola-Sacred Heart

St. Ignatius Loyola, the boys' high school, merged, I think, with Sacred Heart, the girls' high school, years before I arrived.

Ignatius always had trouble restraining himself with the ladies—the good times, before he repented, benefactresses after. The mascot for the girls' teams was "Breakers." We were the Loyola Sacred Heart Breakers. As a teenaged feminist, that always pissed me off.

St. Anthony's (church attached to Loyala Sacred Heart High School).

Miracles associated with Anthony (Catholic Encyclopedia, online):

"The first is that of a horse, which, kept fasting for three days, refused the oats placed before him, till he had knelt down and adored the Blessed Sacrament, which St. Anthony held in his hands." There was apparently also that "famous sermon to the fishes on the bank of the river Brenta."

Another favorite of his miracles...he "preserved from the rain the maid-servant of a benefactress who was bringing some vegetables to the brethren for their meagre repast."

Holy Family: the church we attended every Sunday from 2nd grade through whenever we go home now to visit.

Holy. Family. The.

Guayaquil Cemetary

The cemetario runs down into the city. On the hill, overgrown crosses, white steps to heaven. At street level, vaults rise six chambers high and plastic flowers hang near the black letters. Names and dates, white plaster cracking beneath them. Or, there is a plastic low relief of Jesus, and a name. Or, visages of the deceased, fancy; iron molds protected by glass, or by the hard plastic that is advertised as unbreakable.

Out from the central rows of vaults, tombs become individual and round the hillside. Sculptures of angels in mourning, versions of the Virgin, marble busts of the deceased. The sun passes afternoon and moves into the leaves and vines. The sky blue, but for a few wisps, and the moon developing between them.

Buses pass outside the mammoth black, iron-gate, where vendors tuck their flowers into carts and push them inside the entrance. A funeral group breaks up near the white cross, magnificent against the hillside, between the central row of vaults. The group descends the long flat stretches that plane out, then drop, plane out, then drop...toward security guards at the entrance. The loafers on the street begin waving over taxis.

Amy assures us that her Spanish is hardly better than when she got here, horrible, then negotiates a cab back to her house, a frente de parque kennedy, dos dollares—y media.

Poems...6th Graders at Inter-American Academy, Guayaquil, Ecuador.

(Todd broke the ice, so to speak, or I could say, opened the poo-box, by telling his story of 'neuticles'—dog owners who neuter their boys can now surgically implant fake-testicles to make their dogs look more expensive, like breeders. The writing exercise, which included telling each other things we know that they probably don't...was so joyful, so funny. They know so much about peeing, and pooing, and goo in general. And they know so much about love, and peace, and the world throughout which many of them have lived. We had a wonderful time with these beautiful poets.)

You Probably Didn't Know...

If something stings or poisons you then suck the poison out instead of running in a panic

If Mary is a virgin, then Jesus is adopted

The word in Hindi for water is pani

In Arabic Salaam olea cum means peace be with you

In Arabic, Olea cum salaam means peace be with you as well

Alexander the Great was bisexual

The reason that today's humans grow taller is because they eat better food and that helps your growth

To live, you need to breathe

If you break a branch you will make two pieces

To heal a broken heart suck the poison out of it





Fast food





How many pizzas does it take for a human to eat before they puke or go to the bathroom?

Deepak Chhugani

You Probably Didn't Know...

A tree moves one centimeter a year if the sun hits it

A kind of bee and ant work together to protect themselves

Flies are the yuckiest insects in the world

Everyone knows that bacteria are the smallest living things in the world

If I break a branch two people can roast marshmallows

To heal a broken heart you should not go to school





Anything that I can see




Who was the first person to pee?

Jose Ramirez

Mustard heals a burn

Coke whitens things,

Horses legs are not made for them,


It takes two years to desintoxicate from a glass of coke.

Everyone knows what trees are.

If you break a branch you'll die and go to hell or heaven.

To heal a broken heart you have to have surgery and tape it.


Strong life.




Good life.

What is a good life?

Ivanna Dahik

You probably didn't know

The whales come in September or July

There is a fruit that is called the noni, it smells bad but if you drink this fruit (and it has to be juice for you to drink it) it protects you from cancer

There is a tea called Manzanilla with honey, if you drink it patiently.

Everyone knows

About iguanas

I would heal a broken heart by drinking alcohol

My favorite word is red

You can live

This word red can mean love

Words in red being Ed, Redo and blood

Can blood turn black?

Can a rat eat a bird?

Can a bird crash a tree when they're flying around it???

Carol Huang

You Probably Didn't Know...

Sweat is related to urine

If you pee on a bee sting it would heal

Coca Cola contains a small amount of cocaine

Dogs eat their vomit

Fleas are the highest jumping animal

Everyone knows the sky is blue

If you break a branch, I'll break your neck

To heal a broken heart you should buy some superglue and start sticking the pieces together

French fries

Burger king



French people



Who was the first person to go to the bathroom?

Gino Kronfle

Ecuador has the fastest condor

Ecuador has different types of flowers in different kinds of colors

At the other side of the equator Africa is located

Something every one knows is how to add

If you break a branch from a tree, the tree will cry

okis: ok,is,kiss

Maria Jose Junco

You Probably Didn't Know

Panama Canal is super important and big

Hens don't fly.

Camels can live without drinking water for months

My second name is Marlenis

An ostrich eye is bigger than its brain

My name is Darlyn

I have a lot of friends

If you break a branch it will break in many pieces

Love= friends




Darlyn Lopez

[Echolalia Two: Peru]

[Echolalia Three: Colombia]

[Echolalia Four: Brazil]

About the author:

Todd: "Sarah reads a lot. Is a very fast reader (and walker). Sarah likes watching adorable children, innocent creatures, really. She leaves cupboards and drawers open--this refusal of closure is a form of delicacy. Which she also practices very early in the morning, via Ashtonga yoga. Failed handstands often disturb the neighbor downstairs. Her cat, Iris, however, is strangely attracted to the borderline recklessness and settles in on the mat where sarah's feet must inevitably land. Sarah shares a gift-ledge between apartments with Mary Kay Zeeb, a middle-ground for unseen kindnesses, the sort of objective tenderness Sarah learned playing faux team sports as a child (relay swimming and showing/riding horses)."

Sarah: "Todd Alan Fredson is both massive and precise. As a child he dreamed of playing soccer in the Olympics, and watching a Mike Tyson fight live. He would tell you he's sixth generation from Mason County, Washington. Todd thinks about his family, and Mason County, always--and they're present to him though he's not there right now. He served in the Peace Corps in west Africa--the Ivory Coast. He is currently at Arizona State University in the M.F.A. program for poetry--though this summer he is traveling around South America with me. (Sarah.) He has won many prizes, and published many beautiful poems... but that's only a small part of his greater wonderfulness.

"Todd's an enthusiastic actor, a voracious eater, a complicated dancer, and is magnetic... he is approached by anyone everywhere about god knows what. In the past few hours he has given a man an apple, been asked to buy Valentine's Day cards, drugs, and some mysterious proposition including Playa Blanca (White Beach). Also, Todd notices things. For example, driving past the amusement park north of Bogota, he pointed out an enormous statue of a naked man, green like The Hulk, with a crown and a torch... the Colombian naked-man statue of liberty.

"Todd's a host of angels, a gam of whales, a mob of daffodils and a covey of thoughts. He's titillation, kindness, and magic."

For further reading:

See the complete list of work by Todd Fredson & Sarah Vap at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 5, No. 2, where "Echolalia One: Gathering in South America" ran on June 18, 2005. List other work with these same labels: nonfiction, travel writing, collaboration.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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