I thought I was a seasoned traveler. At least eight years ago maybe. I found upon my arrival that the bucket's a little rusty!
I had a great flight into Ecuador, I sat next to an ecuadorian lady and her ten year old grandson. It turns out that she lives on Catalina Island and teaches Spanish to rich kids on the island. She had traveled to Ohio to pick up her really cool ten year old grandson. Obviously, her daughter had been married to a Gringo, you could tell instantly from the looks of the boy. After the divorce, daughter moved back hom to Quito. Anyway, Grandma flew to Ohio to pick up the boy and take him back to Ecuador where he was going to live and go to school. Both the kid and grandma provided great conversation that made the 5.5 hour flight fly by.
We landed at Quito's Mariscal airport. Immigration and Customs was very trouble free and quick. The US could get a few pointers from the polite an respectful agents, not to mention the expeditious process involved.
I'm officially in South America I thought as I passed through the large glass doors that led to Quito, Ecuador. I was stoked!
I suppose that being that stoked for a 51 year old man has a diminutive effect on said man's brain as I was soon to learn...
After exiting the airport, I was greeted by 723 bright yellow taxi cabs all beckoning me into their lair. Before addressing the cabbies and facing the realization of my diminished Spanish, I thought I'd gather and stow all my various customs documents, passport, etc., before entering the fray.
As I looked up from my stooped position I saw a pleasant enough looking man, who in Spanish, asked if he could take me to my destination. I showed him the address and asked how much it would cost. Upon hearing $4.00, and while being very tired from my journey, and not wanting to play "who gets the taxi?" along with my fellow passengers, I said to the man "you're my cabbie, sir".
As he led me to his car, I noticed it sat outside the pool of all the bright yellow taxis everyone was fighting to hire.
Normally, this would have fired off some warning flares. Tonight however, I was so tired, I probably wouldn't have noticed the flares anyway. Anyway we loaded up the small car and headed toward our destination, "Hostal Marsella", located across town. It was about 12:00a.
We finally arrived at my Hostal. As I looked through the window, it looked deserted. I asked the cabbie what he thought. He looked and said I'll see if anyone is there. He rang the doorbell several times to no avail. I decided to get out and ring that damn bell myself. By the time I got to the door, the owner answered the door.
I guess in my own self centered, ragged, tired, hungry state of being, I hadn't considered we might be yanking someone out of their slumber.
Once he saw that the owner had answered the phone, the cabbie went to the car to get my baggage and brought them in. ( for $4.00! )
Okay, here's where it goes bad. One thing I forgot to mention was, as we approached the hostel, I retrieved my wallet and remove the cash I needed for the cabbie. I had the wallet on the seat along with his fare. Well, I think you can guess where the mistake was made.
The inkeeper said there not to worry about registering until tomorrow an gave me my towel, key and a roll of toilet paper. I was especially grateful for not having to pull Spanish out of my tired brain and thanked him. I entered a room with two, slightly larger than twin beds and a beautiful view of Quito out a wall of windows.
I laid out my suitcase, took my evening medicine and prepared for bed. That's when I realized that my wallet was sitting in the back seat of the cabby's car. That's when I realized I only had 72 cents on my being. 45 minutes had passed since I was dropped off the cabbie obviously was not still outside. I ended up realizing that there was nothing I could do tonight so I figured that I should just get some much needed sleep so that could effectively tackle this monster tomorrow. As tired as I was, it still took some effort to finally enter that starlight bliss under the open window and Quito lights below.
...to be continued
I hear the family that's cooking my dinner singing spanish songs in the kitchen.