Friday, February 18, 2011

Rules of the Road: Ecaudor-style

To say that Guayaco drivers are crazy would be an understatement.  They make up their own rules, communicate with honking and angry looks, and endanger themselves and others on a daily basis.  And now I feel like one of them.

Sitting at red lights back in the U.S., I feel ready to honk as a little "Come on, just run it!  It's going to turn green in 3 seconds!  Come on!"  In fact, I am prepared to honk at pretty much the slightest provocation.  I wish I could say that was the worst of my driving, but it doesn't stop there.  When I check my purse for my car keys, I also find myself making sure I have a twenty to bribe the police, just out of habit.  On the highway I even find myself thinking, "It's just 15 over, and I've got that twenty in case something goes wrong."  Of course, I would never even dream of bribing cops here.  None of these things are things I would normally do.  In fact, I've never even driven in Guayaquil.  I'm too scared to try.  But, being here, I realize that I've obviously picked up a few things, and honestly?  It scares me.  If you see me on the road, watch out.  My GuayaquileƱo-side might have control of the wheel.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Fooks yeah!!

When you're learning a foreign language, you have these moments that I'd call "serendipitous vocab lessons."  These lessons are really more like a sequence of events that result in a feeling of achievement and a bigger vocabulary even when you've done absolutely nothing - huzzah! 

I had one of these incidents last week while shopping with a friend.  My new vocab word first appeared when my friend was asking if a dress came in other colors.  The response?  "Solo Fucsia."  The next week while shopping with the same friend for party gear, we get a list of silly string colors:  "Blanca, Naranja, Fucsia, y Azul."  Okay, sure, it's pretty similar to the word in English, but the pronunciation?  It's kinda like saying "fooks-ya," the way I try to say, "F*ck yeah!" without actually saying it.  In other words, it's fun to use.  A lot of fun.  Unfortunately, there's not a lot of opportunities to use it...except for here on my blog, soooo...fucsia! 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Oh, Ecuador!

Just when I think I'm going to miss you, you go and spit in my face.

Leaving the country for summer break, I start dreaming of the beach and the easy relaxation of walking around the 'hood eating Pinguino snacks, and I begin to think, "Wow, I'm going to miss this."  Then I arrive at the airport for departure.  Normally, I don't find airports and flying all that terrible.  Several bag searches, a few body searches, and an Ecuadorian "line"-waiting session later, and I'm still in a pretty good mood.  I'm sitting on the plane, and judging by the time, I start to think I'll have the whole row of seats to myself.  Things couldn't be going any better.  Then they take a sudden dive.

A stewardess approaches me to ask my name.  She says I've been randomly selected for a bag search.  I line up with a few other women, one of whom is muttering and cursing under her breath in strongly-accented English, and we follow a series of different men who lead us through the airport and out onto the tarmac.  We are asked to find our luggage in the rows next to a large table lined with military police.  They are going through everyone's baggage.  All of the suitcase-owners look a little annoyed, answer questions, and then eventually help the police reload their luggage.

When my turn comes, I step up and give the man permission to open my bag.  He asks me questions while he goes through my things, sniffing everything, undoing all of the folds in my clothes, opening all of the bags, and checking and double-checking all of the compartments.  Everything is emptied and wrinkled on the metal table, but the officer isn't finished.  He's unhappy with my limited-Spanish answers, and I guess he thinks I'm playing a game with him.  He brings out his swiss army knife and proceeds to slice out the lining of my suitcase.  This, to me, is excessive.  It's clear to me that if you feel through the lining of the bag, the only thing that is being covered is the suitcase rollers and the handle. But who knows?  Maybe I was hiding one ounce of cocaine on the interior handle of my suitcase?  I was beginning to think this guy just had a stick up his ass, and I was taking a beating for it.  Of course, he finds nothing and offers no apologies as he "repacks" my suitcase by sweeping everything off the table and into the main compartment, no folding and no patience, unlike the other passengers.  So, the Ecuadorian government ruins my suitcase, and I probably won't be getting reimbursed by anyone for that - thanks!

At this point, I am the only person from my flight who is still on the tarmac.  I go through security all over again, metal detectors, bag checks and all, running through as much of it as possible with my escort, who is being assaulted with pleas over his walkie-talkie to hurry up already because the plane is ready to take off.  I could stop here, but of course, when it rains, it pours.  To sum it all up:  I lose my free aisle and get moved to seemingly the only aisle without a window (but get to sit next to my boyfriend),  get sick from the airplane food (as did my boyfriend and several of the other passengers, judging by the commotion in the bathroom after landing), and then, because the military police removed some of the stickers on my luggage and in a rush, forgot to put them back on, my luggage gets lost in Atlanta (returned 10 hours later).

The long and short of it is that I am beyond happy to be in a country where there are colder temperatures, higher living expenses, crappier public transit systems, and no beach.  I never thought I'd be saying that.  This is what Ecuador does to a person.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


In the midst of the chaos that is Ecuador, sometimes you stumble upon things like this (50 cent notebook, Juan Marcet).  You have to smile, really. 

Multiple Blogs

I set up this page you are viewing here at the same time I set up this tumblr page. Things happened, and this page got lost in the fray for a while.  Anyways, it's up and running now.  It works better for me since I tend to do more text postings, but you can go back and forth between the two now.