Well, I am beginning to settle in a little bit. I still haven´t ventured far from my hostal but I did get to meet up with Coyote finally! Do you remember about Coyote? We met on the AT, hiked together off and on, and kept in touch after that. We had some good bonding adventures like bathing in streams and riding in the back of pick-ups on hitchiking excursions.
Anyways, I had just arrived in Antarctica when I got an e-mail from her about life in the Peace Corps. It turns out that she had recently signed up for a 2 year stint in Ecuador. I had to reply and tell her where in the world I was. Anyways, in the end she invited me to come visit in Ecuador on my travels and realizing that Ecuador is on my seventh continent that settled it as to where I would go after the Ice. It´s also really neat because Coyote oneday wants to come work in Antarctica. During my winter I tried to find connections for her.
I am so excited and relieved to have someone to meet up with here. I just don´t want to have another run-around adventure where I argue over the prices and try to slip away from all the single men. After the Ice I feel very “institutionalized” as Jennifer put it. I´m surprised how affected I still am. I haven´t ventured out to meet anyone or to see anything. Not even shopping.
I arrived Wed. evening, did e-mail till late, Thurs. I had an Americano breakfast consisting of eggs and toast, then went to the airport for a flight to Cuenca. In Cuenca I wandered around enough to find internet. It was the first time that I ever used the internet to look for a hostel. That works really well. I was actually just looking for a popular location to hostel hunt which would be the city center. That´s where I asked to take the bus to. After the well organized bus system of New Zealand I was doubtful that the corner I stood on was a bus stop. There was no sign. I soon found out that where ever a person stood and waved at a bus was a bus “stop” maybe not literally a stop. Sometimes the bus just slowed down and swerved in the direction of the person and then jumped on, they came out between parked cars, between idling cars, by stores or just wherever. Bus rides are 25 cents. Hey, guess what, they use the US dollar here. How nifty is that?
I found a hostal for $4.50 a night and was happy with that. I left numerous messages on Coyotes phone, on her e-mail and what-not, and then wandered just a bit. I wanted to draw and what is absolutely perfect is that my room has charcoal and cray-pas drawings on the walls. They are very colorful and just make me want to go out and do art. That´s what I did on Thursday. Friday I didn´t get up till noon and then I just hung out in the hotel. I was content to stay in the cool walls and listen to the sounds of the streets. I had some food from a little store and got a 5 liter jug of water later that day from the same place. This store is more like a walk-in closet with space only for the merchandise. I don´t even know what they have I just ask or point at something.
The wife of the hotel owner saw my drawings and invited me up on the roof where I could see the whole city. I thought of my time in Moracco and the sanctuary the women had on the roof tops. It was perfect, I was outside and seperate from the world but free to observe it and paint it. It was great. I hope I have enough pages left in my scrapbook, I am on a roll. I think this is recovery.
I wanted to hang around for Coyote. She showed up in the evening like she had just stepped off the Trail. It´s so awesome to see her again. Another thing about worlds. We met on the AT in North Carolina in 2004 and now here we are in Ecuador. She has opened up her home to me for as long as I am here. It sounds like everything is going to work out wonderful. I get to go out to the country to a smaller town, try to learn Spanish, be shown the sites by her and in early October we can both travel up to Quito and go rafting on the Amazon for a day. I´ll have time to draw and paint endlessly and I will be off the tourist track. It might seem a little slow and unadventurous but that is really what I am looking for right now. I hope I will have some crazy stories to tell you but I´m afraid it´s going to be a little disappointing. I think I head out to Jima (Hima) on Monday. She did show me the handcraft market and I will be thinking about all the things I want to buy before I head out. Boots aren´t looking too promising. I don´t think there are any actual shoe makers that Coyote knows about, I don´t think leather workers are the same. We´ll see though.
So far my misconceptions of Ecuador is that “everyone will speak English”. Wow, that´s been a hard one to get over. I didn´t expect English to be spoken in Arabic or Asian countries but to come and expect it and then not have it has been a real adjustment. How little Spanish I know is amazing. It sure would have been nice to have been learning it in Antarctica. The other thing I can´t get over is prices, for one, it´s a little more expensive than I thought but all prices are the same and posted. I can´t get over what a relief that is. I haven´t had to argue yet. The handcrafted market will be differant but Coyote might come along with me for that. We´ll see. That will be later. All right, so, Jima has no internet so I will be cut off from the world. It is only 2hrs out of Cuenca so Coyote and I will be making some trips into town. I´ll write to you then or just before I head out. I might try to get some pictures up but internet here is so slow. I don´t know how well it´ll work. We´ll see. Ta ta. Miss you all.
PS hey, Coyote is back to calling me by my trail name, Roadster. How weird is that? I´ll probably call her Sarita later, while I´m here she will introduce me as Rachalita, I think. I guess all girls get called “little so-and-so” She also refers to me as her “friend from Antarctica” to all her Peace Corps friends. Tee-hee.