It is good to be home. Left Ecuador around 7 am eastern time and arrived Des Moines 2300 Central Time. It’s a long trip by air but a blink of the eye if you consider how long it would take traveling northbound on the Pan-Am highway. Because I had only precious minutes of internet time, I used the “note” portion of my IPAD to keep notes because I knew I would forget little details…and I did not want to forget one little iota.
The first thing I must say is how incredibly wonderful the Andrade family is! I first met Veronica Andrade Breon several years ago as she was then the wife of a fellow I worked with. I reacquainted with her a couple of years ago when we happened into Greenburgs Jewelers at Valley West Mall in Des Moines…was it fate??? I had mentioned to Veronica that my brother-in-law and girlfriend had taken a trip to Ecuador and they were going back taking “He” and I with them…I asked to get together for lunch or dinner so she could give us travel tips. During this meal, she not only brought her husband and adorable daughter, Emily, but her parents, Fabian and Elvia Andrade. This was our first experience with the gentle Ecuadorian culture. They not only gave us a look at their country using words, they offered us their apartment for lodging during our stay in the capital city of Quito. When I say apartment, I mean full size house on the 3rd floor of a building in a gated community. Did I mention 4 bedroom – 3 bathrooms or did you pick up on the 3rd floor detail 🙂 Then had us met at the airport by Fabian’s sister, Susan and her husband Paco and their grandson, Xavier, as our interpretor. I immediately adored these wonderful, loving people as soon as I looked into their eyes! Because of the luggage and number of guests issue, they also rented a car and driver to make our short trip to the “apartment” more comfortable. I love that Paco loved my name and it rolled off his tongue like honey. Susan and I tried to work thru our total lack of spanish/english understanding using lots of sign language and feeble attempts at finding familiar words…nothing really worked other than hugs of love and appreciation….
I learned right off the bat that they call the United States – OO-SA – (USA). My first understanding of the language. Isn’t that just funny…
Elvia set us up with a driver who charged us $40 – $60 a day to drive us where ever we wanted to go. Keep in mind, Germone spoke no english.
The first little detail that quickly came to my attention was the fact that street markings ie. street lines are only suggestions – it is a crazy, crazy place to drive. I’m not sure there is any way for me to explain to you how unprepared I was. Let me start off by saying that it is not unusual for 2 lane streets to become 3. Weaving in and out of traffic within inches of bumpers is the rule, honking, honking is not an American road rage experience, it is a courtesy for the most part. Hey…I’m here, Hey, I’m going thru, Hey just to let you know….HonkHonk. I didn’t even find myself stressed out as we passed slower moving vehicles on 2 way mountain highways as the vehicle behind always allowed us back into the traffic flow. The best way to make my point is to think about driving on a two lane highway…we learn with experience how far ahead the oncoming traffic must be in order to safely make a complete pass and be able to get far enough ahead of the “passed” vehicle to safely merge back into the lane. In Ecuador this must be a few car lengths – if it doesn’t appear you have enough time, the car behind you slows to allow a safe merge for you…rather than honking and speeding up and destroying everyone’s peace of mind with road rage. Interestingly enough, I can count on 1 hand the number of accidents we saw along the road. I’m not sure what the reason is for the safety amongst the chaos but I did not fear. Did I mentioned stop lights and stop signs..ya…just suggestions 🙂
This is where I will end for now. I am home – things need to be done.
Until next time….