Saturday, August 21, 2010

My Story: Ecuador Year, Part 1

**This is the next installment of His Story:My Life. To catch up on the first portions of the story, feel free to jump over here.**

Just Getting There Was an Adventure

I have avoided writing this chapter. If you could have seen the skillful procrastination techniques that have gone into the avoidance, they might have impressed you, or saddened you. To put into words all that happened in that one pivotal year is, to some degree, to have to walk through it, yet again. It no longer shatters me, as many, many years have passed since this one pivotal year in my life, but to spell it out is vulnerable and slightly scary. I had a counselor, for a short time, who asked me to write about what happened down there in that small South American country. She knew my love of writing and thought that it might be helpful for me to express, through my love of words, what took place. Oh how I hated her for that. She tainted my gift with ugly words, and I hated the words that spilled out, evil that oozed, and I wrote it for her, forming into creation on paper the sin that took place, but then stopped going to sit in her office and allow her to pick open my heart; and then I stopped writing. For years. It was all just too ugly, seemed unredeemable. 

But the year that I lived in Ecuador wasn’t all bad, and it’s important to remember that there were some very beautiful things that happened there, some wonderful friends were made there, who, thanks to the power of facebook, have recently reconnected with. Some very fun times were had while I lived there. I’ll start there.

I spoke a small amount of Spanish, four years worth of Spanish class in junior high and high school, only to realize that I hadn’t the foggiest idea of how to put together a full sentence in Spanish, but could recall a few vocabulary words, which weren’t really that helpful. But when the day arrived to leave, my folks had driven my to New Orleans to pick up the flight, and gave tearful, fearful goodbyes right up until I boarded the plane. We had a layover in San Jose, which turned out to be about 8 hours longer than the scheduled one-hour layover, and I remember sitting on the blue short carpet that was full of dirt and smelled of old cheese. I sat in this small, foreign airport, kicking myself for packing my fat, little pocket dictionary in my suitcase rather than carrying it on with me, searching frantically for a white face, someone who might speak the same language as me and yet have a clue as to what was going on and why we weren’t boarding the plane at the scheduled time.

I found a large group of people who appeared to be waiting for the same flight, and so casually slipped into their group and followed them in line, right up until I realized that they were actually leaving the airport and getting on a bus. Panic ensued and I began barking at anyone I could about whether this was the group waiting for the flight to Guayaquil. Everyone I saw said yes and I was sure that it was a communication error, but was herded onto the tourist bus nonetheless.

To this day, I do not know if the tour was arranged by the airline or airport or the city or who, but the whole lot of us who were waiting for the flight to Ecuador were given a wonderful tour of the exotic city of San Jose, Puerto Rico, winding down narrow streets laced with enchanting flowers the size of my head. We stopped at a hotel where we were served an amazing lunch, and I didn’t understand what was happening or what was being said, but just went with the herd and hoped beyond hope that we would eventually land back at the airport. We did, eventually, land back at the airport and before I knew it, the plane was in the air and we were on our way to Ecuador.

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