Railway termini are our gates to the glorious and the unknown. Through them we pass out into adventure and sunshine, to them, alas! we return.”
Last night it poured. Lightning jigsawed in the sky outside the north window in my den and gave the room sudden bursts of bright light. The rumbles of thunder were like growls. The rain fell in giant drops which thudded against the roof and the eaves. Rivulets of rain water ran down my hilly driveway as if in a race to reach the bottom. I watched from my backdoor. Today is cloudy and has a chilly breeze magnified by the dampness left by the storm. No movie tonight.
I was going to give you more of my travelog every couple of days, but the response was enough to know I wouldn’t bore you if I continued. It’s fun for me to remember.
We got a bus to Quito over the border when we left Colombia. It resembled a school bus. My friend and I were the only non-Ecuadorians. On that bus I saw Indians for the first time. Women wore colorful clothes and had shawls wrapped around their shoulders. They all wore hats which reminded me of the fedora my father used to wear. The bus was stopped a few times by police doing checks. Each time it was stopped, the people in front of us passed up our passports then passed them back to us. When we arrived in Quito, we decided to stay in the old city. Our hotel, a small one on a side street, was one block from the monastery in the center and a few blocks from La Ronda, the old street with colonial houses, a narrow street with some of the oldest buildings in the city. We wandered all over that part of the city and ate in some of the small restaurants. We took busses to the different markets outside the city. We went to Otavalo Market. Back then it wasn’t the tourist attraction it has become. We wandered all over. I bought a few pieces of hand-stitched Indian patterned cloth and walked all through the donkey market. I stopped to buy food from the women who reminded me of the African women who sat along the sides of the road selling fried plantain or yam. I don’t even know what I ate there. I just know it was good.
When we got back to Quito, it was quite late but we still went out to eat dinner. I tried Guinea pig, a national dish in Ecuador. I was not going to be put off by eating something small and cuddly. I had gotten pass queasiness a long time before that dinner. The pig came roasted with all its parts though cut into pieces. I’m not big on the head and feet of any animals and was even less enthused by the Guinea pig’s. There wasn’t much meat, but it tasted like chicken. I swear it.
The next day we took a bus to the equator. A small shack was the only indicator we had arrived. Where was that black line I always see on globes? Just kidding! I stood right at the line with one foot in each hemisphere. It was an amazing feeling to be there. The small shack sold postcards which were stamped with 0 degrees latitude and 0 degrees longitude so I bought a few. I sent my family a postcard from each country so they could keep track of where we were, and I thought this was special.
We left Quito to go to Guayaquil on the auto-bus, called that but really a train. It was the most amazing train ride of my life. We had seats in the front, big mistake. Animals that didn’t get off the tracks were hit off the tracks. I stopped watching. The center aisle of the bus-train was filled with standing people who scrunched down whenever we went through a town. The train traveled through tropical areas where I saw banana trees filled with fruit. The train went up Devil’s Nose, a zig-zag section of track where the train goes forward and backward to reach the next town; it was both frightening and wonderful. We rode alongside the snow-capped mountains of the Andes. The train finished its trip in Duran where we took a boat across to Guayaquil. One of the few Americans we met came running up to us just as we were getting on the boat saying he had given his luggage to a taxi driver who disappeared. We commiserated. That was all the help we could give.
Tomorrow we’ll arrive in Guayaquil!Explore posts in the same categories: Musings comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.