Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Bus Ride From Hell

The plane left three hours late, but amazingly arrived on time. (We were supposed to stop in Panama, but we skipped that. But what if you wanted to get out in Panama???) We spent an interminable amount of time in the customs line behind Ecuadorians returning to Ecuador -- again with some of the largest suitcases I have ever seen in my life, before an official realizes that we are not Ecuadorian and whisked us out of the line, because we don't have to be inspected. The customs officials were opening and going through almost all of the big packages and big suitcases, so we could have been in line for a long time.

Two men put our bags onto a cart, wheeled it out through a throng of people, and tried to put us in a taxi! Fortunately, Al, his lovely wife Lupe, and his equally lovely teen age daughter Lupita found us and rescued us from the certain nightmare that we would have had in that taxi. Al put about 8 or 9 of us in a van and told the driver where to take us. Well, the first address was Ciudad F.A.E., Manzana (manzana means apple, but here it means a city block) 31, Villa 7. We had no street addresses, just a block number and villa number. We'd ask directions, drive a bit, get lost, ask directions, get lost again, etc. One time we asked two women who were together where the block was, and they pointed in opposite directions! It took us one hour to find the first house -- and our driver was FROM Guayaquil! (note, I later found out he was from Chile. . . but he had been in Guayaquil for a long time.)

After we dropped off the third person I said, "I'm going to get sick!" So, Eduardo (our driver) stopped the bus and I tried to vomit. This was a futile exercise, because I had very little in my stomach, and the last thing I had to drink was some orange juice around sun-up. Eduardo bought me a Guitlig (brand of bottled water) and that helped until we started the stopping to ask directions, driving slowly to avoid the bumps in the road, stopping again, etc. This time I fell out of the van into the gutter (at least it was a dry gutter -- the first dry one seen all day) and scraped my knee and shin. Then I really threw up. I had a horrible headache and was tired from having no sleep in 30+ hours, and it was hot and I was apologizing for being sick.

Finally they took me to the American School where they tried to see if I needed medicine, but I said that all I needed was some water and a nap. So they let me take a nap and they fixed my leg. Al and Lupe came by and I threw up for them! They said that the reason my host family wasn't home (I was so out of it that I didn't even know that we'd gone to her home) was because Esperanza was out making her rounds for the school. They said she'd come to get me soon. Well, she did -- and she led me to her auto which was a VW van filled with at least 10 children! I was going on another bus ride from hell!!! What if she couldn't find their homes either?! Fortunately, she knew where everyone lived and I was feeling better, so it wasn't too bad. She welcomed me to her home, 'Mi casa es su casa," and I took another nap and she woke me up about 9 pm and took me to get gas and we drove around and she showed me a few things and told me important things like don't go in the big park downtown -- it's dangerous and someone may steal your watch. More about Esperanza & familia later.


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