Chapter 14: Ruca, Maté, and Guests

“Would you two like to stay for dinner? I was expecting guests, but I have more than enough food made to include a couple youngsters.” Quidel asked as he poured the maté for Rich and Milly. “YES PLEASE! Rich and I are starving!” Milly exclaimed. Just as Quidel finished filling a couple of bowls and gave them to Rich and Milly, Milly’s father entered the hut and with him was Richard’s father, Joe. Quidel welcomed them. “Richard?” Joe said with a pleasantly surprised tone in his voice. “Hi Dad!” “Well, you seem to have ventured a little further than usual. And if you’re hanging out in the ruca of the Flaming Torch, you must have had some day!” “Yeah! This day has been a crazy one. I still feel like I’m dreaming.” Joe took a knee in front of his son to speak to him on his level. Meanwhile, Milly ran over to hug her father and tell him about her day. Joe said to Rich, “Yes this place is very different from the home we know, and these people are a wealth of hospitality. They have created a beautiful community in these hills. People don’t visit this village very often because their town is falling apart. Most people where we are from believe that this place is a slum, and avoid this area. One thing I’ve come to learn is that they may be short on change, but they are tall in spirit. Their commitment to each other has overcome great challenges that I hope you and I will never have to go through.”

Quidel said to Rich, “while you all eat, I will work on these stones for you. I can extract a piece from each one that is more manageable to carry around, and I’ll polish them up for you too.” “Wow, that would be great!” Rich said. “Thank you, Quidel.” said Joe.

Chapter 10: Millaray’s Melody

“That was Izzy, my chipmunk friend. I’m Milly. What’s your name?” He struggles to speak a response, still terrified of saying something that would scare her away. “What’s wrong? Don’t you talk?” He thought about shaking his head. At least then he could be freed from having to say anything to her all together, but then he quickly remembered why he was on this journey: to be worthy of his dream girl. He was afraid of talking to girls, but what better opportunity to conquer fear than when fear presented itself? He wanted to be courageous, and he knew that courage cannot exist with fear. “My name is Rich.” “I thought your name might be Rich! Only rich people wear money on their necks. Hahaha!” She teased. He grabbed the coin as he stared at it reconciling the truth in that observation. At this moment he realized he was shirtless, and he felt embarrassment for his affluence. “That is a very pretty necklace; I like it.” “Thanks, it’s a lucky coin that I got from my dad. He says it has a story of friendship behind it.”

“Wanna be friends?” Milly asked her new friend. “Okay.” “Awesome! Well, I came up here to look for some rocks to add to my collection. Will you help me find some?” Rich followed her to the riverbanks away from the falls where the river was only ankle deep. She placed her bag on the shore to keep it dry. Milly gave Rich an example of how to hunt for the prettiest rocks, showing him that they shine brightest when the sun pokes out from behind the clouds. He gave it a shot and began collecting. For Rich, the bigger rocks were much more appealing. He wanted to find the huge shiny stones, but Milly found much more detail and aesthetics in the smaller stones. Milly had to instruct him to stop picking out such huge rocks; they only had enough room in the bag for little ones.