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Published: April 23rd 2010
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I think my last blog left off in Santiago after the earthquake. Mariette and I had relocated to Concon on the coast. The remainder of Mariette´s stay was uncomfortable in the shadow of the earthquake, and in the frequent aftershocks that kept us on edge. By the second week after the quake, the aftershocks had diminished to one or two a day, but were still disconcerting when they happened. We were always wondering whether they would continue to grow in intensity as the original quake in Santiago had. It didn´t make for the best of vacations; we were unable to really relax with the thought of another strong quake hanging over us.
Mariette flew home on March 17th, we caught a bus into Santiago, then a taxi to the airport. The airport was still in a state of temporary facilities as the damage from the quake was repaired in the main terminal. Mariette and I hung around in the big circus tent which was the temporary location for dropping off or meeting arrivals and departures. After we said goodbye, I caught a bus back to Concon, arriving about 9:30 that evening.
My next task was to figure out how to get Motosan home. I had decided not to ride any further than Chile on my way back. After a bit of investigation and discussion with shipping companies, I chose one in Santiago. With Motosan loaded up, I left Concon on March 23rd and rode into Santiago. The shipping company had found a hotel not too far away from their office, and after dropping Motosan off at their warehouse, I checked into the hotel. I spent two nights at the hotel and commuted by taxi to watch Motosan get crated and ready for shipping. For reasons of logistics, Motosan would travel by boat to New York, then by ground to Vancouver, then on to Edmonton. As I am continuing my trip and not arriving home until May the 18th, they will delay shipping a bit so we will both arrive home about the same time.
About 3 AM on March 26th, I caught a Copa Airline flight from Santiago to Panama, with a connection to Quito Ecuador. I arrived in Quito early afternoon in a rainstorm, and caught a cab to the northern bus terminal, then took a bus to Ibarra. It was the first rain I had seen since leaving Ushuaia in mid-January.
If you have been a reader of my blogs up to this point, you may remember that Ibarra is the home of the only gliding club in Ecuador. I flew with the club last year while staying in Otavalo, and stopped here for a few weeks on my way south last October. I stayed in Ibarra for the next three weeks, connected with my friends there, and did a bit of flying. This time of year is what they call their “winter”. The temperatures are still warm, but they get a bit more rain than the other times of the year. I managed to connect with my Spanish teacher from last year, and as he was available, he came by my hotel every morning to give me three hours of lessons.
The past two winters studying Spanish in Ecuador, my lessons focused mostly on grammar, and of course, speaking and writing, but the endless hours of rote memorization of verb conjugations in presente, futuro, preterito, or imperfecto meant little. It is hard to be spontaneous when speaking when I had to think about: 1) what verb did I need to use to express myself, 2) what tense of the verb was called for? (there are about 14 tenses of verbs in the Spanish language, but fortunately only about 4 in regular use), 3) should this be singular or plural, first, second, or third person? 4) was this an irregular verb, and what form does it take?, 5) what gender of the verb was necessary?, 6) then, based on the subject matter, was a direct or indirect pronoun called for? 7) If two verbs were being used together, which one stayed in the infinitive form, or, as a gerund or past participle? 8) Should the verb be used in the reflexive or possessive form? Arrrrrrrgh! How can anyone possibly carry on a conversation in real time with so much to think about?
The answer is, of course, that you can´t. It just has to roll off your tongue, and that only comes with lots of practice. In my travels thus far, I had settled into the lazy use of only preterito for past tense, but I knew that Imperfecto was used in certain cases, I heard it all the time, but was making no effort to remember how it worked and when to use it. So I asked my teacher to focus mostly on Imperfecto this time around. So now I have to correct my bad grammer, changing my use of preterito to imperfecto when I am describing things in the past, or talking generally about things that happened regularly in the past.
So, my mornings in Ibarra were filled with lessons, and I spent most afternoons just walking around town. A few times a week I would meet friends for supper or some running around. Mauricio took me fly fishing to a local lake one day. The lake is near a snow-capped volcano, Cayambe. Unfortunately the day we were up there was cloudy and rainy, and we weren´t able to see the peak. The fishing didn´t cooperate either, with only one fish caught by Mauricio.
A couple of days before I would leave Ibarra, my friend Ramon´s wife gave birth to a baby daughter. Ramon came by the hotel and picked me up and we went to visit his wife and new daughter in the maternity hospital. It was quite interesting how things worked at this hospital - I don´t know if this is typical of the whole country. It appeared that there was no food service in the hospital, the patients had food delivered by family members. Ramon´s new daughter was beautiful, with a head full of hair. We had a nice visit with a room full of family members before leaving. I bought Ramon and his family supper that night as a bit of a congratulation gift.
The weather in Ibarra didn´t cooperate too much for flying. Being the rainy season, we had a number of potential flying days shut down by rain and cloud. I decided that I wouldn´t stay in Ibarra for the full three weeks I had planned, and left Ibarra for Quito on April 14. I stayed in Quito at the home of Edwin and Vivi Auz. Edwin is the founder of the gliding club, and he works as a helicopter pilot in the oil business in Peru. Vivi runs a printing business on the first floor of her home, and there are apartments on the second and third floors. Vivi´s dad and niece live on the second floor, and she and Edwin and their daughter live on the top floor. Like most homes in Ecuador, it is surrounded by a tall cement wall, and tall locking metal gates for the driveway and sidewalk. In the yard, they have 3 or 4 hens and a rooster that keep them in fresh eggs, and a few beehives produce honey. I was surprised to learn that the three beehives produce about 50 litres of honey every year. The bees have apparently cross-bred with the so called “African Killer” variety and are a little ornery to deal with when extracting the honey.
After three nights in Quito, I caught a 30-minute flight to Manta on the coast, and a taxi up to Bahia Caraquez to meet my friend John Brock in who´s home I would be spending the next week. I met John a couple of years ago when we were both studying Spanish in Cuenca. We´ve stayed in touch, and this is my third visit to his condo on the coast. Like me, John is a retired computer geek, so we find lots to talk about in the good old days of 64K mainframe computers. The relaxed lifestyle out here appeals to us both, it doesn´t take much to keep us entertained. A trip into town to pick up some groceries becomes and all-day task by the time we have lunch and a few cervesas. The cost of living is attractive, a nice supper including drinks may cost $15 for two.
I will be staying with John until the 27th of April. That day, I will be taking a bus to Guayaquil, then catching a flight to Lima Peru where I will be meeting my daughter Megan and her partner Andrew. We are starting a three week adventure in Peru, hitting the highlights such as Machu Pichu.
Perhaps I will get a blog done from Peru while we are there, if not, after we all return together on the 18th of May.
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