It finally hit me on Friday when I dropped off my dog Josie with my friend, Ferrell. When I went to leave, I stooped down to hug my dog goodbye and started crying! I realized I wouldn’t see her for 2 1-2 months! Poor Ferrell, he wasn’t sure what to do with a sobbing girl. He hugged me and assured me he would take good care of my dog. I collected myself and said goodbye and went to pack. Yes, I was leaving for 2 1-2 months in less than 3 hours and I still needed to pack! It was just the distraction I needed to take my mind off the fact I was leaving for 2 1-2 months.
Somehow, I managed to figure out what to take and get it packed in my little suitcase. My friends Karen and Laura abandoned me at the airport in San Francisco at 11pm; I was left to think about my journey ahead. Second thoughts started to creep in, but only for a second. I strolled over to the Taca check in line and was greeted by the gate Nazi.
Nazi: I need to see your tickets
I showed her my e-ticket itinerary.
Nazi: You don’t have a return ticket?
Me: No, I don’t know where I’m going after Ecuador
Nazi: You need a return ticket; otherwise, you will be deported
Me: But I don’t where I’m going.
Nazi: You need a return ticket
Me: Blank stare
Nazi: Do you have money to buy a return ticket when you get there?
Me: I have a credit card
Nazi: OK, they will make you buy a ticket
The Nazi let me through and I checked in, wondering if I would really be deported. I thought about this and finally came up with a plan. I would buy a really expensive refundable ticket at the Quito customs and when I got through, IÂ´d immediately cancel it! IÂ´m SO clever!
The flights were late, but somehow I managed to make all my connections. Going through immigration and customs, I was ready for the deportation questions. They, of course, never came. They let me through without any problems!
That night, I stayed in a section of Quito called La Mariscal. I strolled around that night taking in the nightlife. It was very busy, filled with many
Soccer Game in the Park
I didn´t know it when I took this picture, but later that day, the boy in front (no shirt) tried to pick me up!
cafes, bad karaoke bars and people strolling around. I passed a couple of chicos doing something that would be considered illegal in the US, averted my eyes, and walked on. If I hadn’t been so tired, I would have had a beer in one of the outdoor cafes and listened to the bad karaoke, but, I had been up for over 24 hours and was very tired. So, I returned to my room.
The next day, I opted to skip the tourist thing - going to the Equator Museum where you can straddle the equator. Personally, I would want to check the toilets on either side to see if the water swirls one way on the North side of the equator and the other way on the South side. I skipped this must see attraction and instead, decided to walk a few blocks to a big park where there was an art exhibit going on. Lots of beautiful art by local artisans was on display. There was also a market selling typical items - flutes, blankets, jewellery, panama hats (did you know the panama hat originated in Ecuador?). And, many families picnicking and playing. Boys playing soccer. People napping.
It was very bucolic. There were a couple of men performing some impromptu skit that I watched for awhile. Unfortunately, I couldn’t understand much of what was going on. One man was tearing his shirt off and flexing his muscles saying ‘Yo soy Jon Claud von Damm’ and then doing a Bruce Lee imitation. It was very funny to watch. But, eventually I moved on to watch the cute, fit boys playing soccer!
Pretty soon, I had to leave to catch my plane to Cuenca. As I was walking to find lunch, some cute chico stopped and asked my name. I looked away and started to move on (yes, girlfriends, I really did ignore him), but, he persisted. He asked me if I liked soccer because he was playing soccer in the parque and he noticed me watching the game. ‘Si’, I said. (Really, I don’t know anything about it but I just like watching the cute, fit, men. But, I didn’t say that). We started up a conversation and he joined me for lunch. Turns out, he's a salsa instructor! It was a nice conversation all in Spanish! I gave him my e-mail address and we said goodbye. I had to go catch my plane to Cuenca.
On the plane to Cuenca, I met some fellow Californians who were also going to the same language school! Emily and John are from San Francisco. I told them about my trip so far. They were aghast when I mentioned I had walked around La Mariscal late at night by myself. It is supposedly a very dangerous place with a lot of bandits. It didn’t feel anymore dangerous to me than, say, Fisherman’s Wharf at night. Oh, well …. Ignorance is bliss!
I am now in Cuenca, struggling with my Spanish lessons (the teacher only speaks to me in Spanish), overwhelmed with the volunteer work with the kids, and trying to figure out the bus system to get my directionally challenged self around the City. But, this will be another entry.
For now, know that I am safe, finding food, have a nice (but noisy) hotel in a great central location, and am wondering what I am doing here ....
Ciao for now!
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