If this past week is any indications of what my time in Ecuador will be like then brace yourselves, I’ll have lots to share. I arrived in Quito on Wednesday morning after flying from Los Angeles to Panama. In Panama, I had the good fortune of meeting my Peace Corps friend Akul. He had been in the states for a few weeks so we swapped stories and pictures during our comfortable two-hour flight to Quito. Arriving to Quito during the day is an amazing site, verdant emerald mountains sprawl in the plane’s windows and as you descend into the city. The airport is located in the middle of the city and we were able to point out several parks and building we recognized. Upon landing, we hauled our stuff over to Ryan’s house (also a Peace Corps Volunteer), at Ryan’s we had a nice welcome party with several other friends and we went out to eat really nice Mexican food. Thursday day was spent running errands, buying a phone and working on some logistics for my job. Thursday evening we headed out to a Halloween party in Quito. I went dressed as a “turista tipico” complete with a Hawaiian shirt and goofy bucket hat. I think my costume went over well even though me, Ryan, Akul and the girls we were with were some of the only people dressed up. Friday was another lazy afternoon as we prepared for our trip into the Oriente region of Ecuador. The Oriente is on the cusp of the Amazon rainforest and also the site of Peace Corps annual Halloween Bash and rafting competition. To get the bus terminal, we had allowed ourselves one hour to go from one end of Quito to the other. Thinking that would have been more than sufficient we were on our way but one of the cabs got pulled over by the police halfway into the trip. I guess the driver didn’t have the proper signage and was fined. This set cab number two back about fifteen minutes. My cab arrived on time and we sent Andrea up to the bus to try to stall its departure until the other guys arrived. We succeeded in stalling the bus for about ten minutes but ultimately took off amidst frantic phone calls from the guys held up by the traffic stop. Incredibly, they were able to catch up and were waiting on the side of the road ahead of the bus to try to get on. As the bus approached them, I was thinking we had averted our mini disaster but the bus blew right by them! The sheer desperation on their faces as the bus passed and the ensuing profanity laced phone calls were epic. As it turned out, there are designated places along the freeway where you can board the bus and they were not standing in one of them. We figured out that one of the “designated stops” was about 800 meters ahead and relayed that info to the guys. With nothing more then a shred of a chance to reach us they started running. The whole bus had taken interest in this spectacle and started to cheer on the guys chasing after the bus. After 400 meters or so we hit a bit of traffic and the guys eventually caught up. The bus erupted in applause as they climbed aboard and the collapsed their sweaty selves down into the seats. That’s it for now; soon to come stories from the rafting competition…. Here are some pictures to tide you over. Enjoy!
Just about to make it as the bus pulled away for the second time.
Me and the queen of El Chaco, where the rafting comp was held.
Racing down the river.
Hitting the rapids head on.