TERESA RUIZ ROSAS
I have been working in this monastery full-time since they restored it, and all my life centers around it. I know every corner, every nook, and I can tell the age of the various plants of honeysuckle. At times I lovingly caress its rough walls, which I fancy are full of secrets, a silent chronicle of centuries. I could find my way without hesitation in any part of this labyrinth of narrow streets, small squares, and cells, even with my eyes shut. Far from being bored, I am wondering what it will be like to live without them after the first of May when I shall leave for a permanent vacation. Nobody knows yet, of course, and they will believe that I am coming back until I don’t show up on the first of June.
This convent is more familiar to me than the little house of my childhood in a poor village on the Cordillera, or the two rooms I rent in Cortaderas, now my own home since I successfully repaid all my debts and wrenched myself free from my godmother, free as the wind.
I know by heart how many jars of water were used by the servants for the nuns’ laundry and how, during the course of the day, the shade of these walls changes – right up to five in the evening when the light here in Arequipa takes on a blue tinge, which is exhilarating, a great contrast to the whiteness of the porous volcanic stone. The locals stop to admire the light, wherever they happen to be. They congratulate themselves – even those accustomed to grumble at the start of the day about the frequent showers of sleet – delighted by their extraordinary luck in living here. And the