The International Journal of Sport and Leisure
(Some sport. Some leisure. Also, schistosomiasis.)
Galapagos Islands (5)
About Me (1)
Ecuador: Quito (5)
Honduras: Utila (4)
Rio de Janeiro (2)
South Africa (13)
Temporary Update (1)
* South of Durban
* Escape from the Cape
* Skydiving for Bacon
* Rage Against the Machine
* Bite Me
* Africa Cold
* Scum-Dodging on Long Street
* Cable Cars, Lentil Soup and Bart Simpson
* Cape Town
* Cape Drear
* Lows of Travel ("Welcome to Africa")
* High Entertainment
* Paradise or Miami Vice? (Part 2 of 2)
* Paradise or Miami Vice? (Part 1 of 2)
* Don't Make Me Cry, Argentina
* Hago el Vago en Buenos Aires (Part III: Final Week)
* Gloom at the Top
* Its The End Of The World As I Know It
* Perito Moreno Glacier
October 15, 2004
Southbound Invalid (Part II)
Afternoon and Evening of Friday, October 15, 2004:
It isn´t until my flight from Tegucigalpa to San Jose, en route to Quito, that I catch my first ever glimpse of the Pacific Ocean. It looks sort of big.
In San Jose, the plane sits on the tarmac for half an hour as passengers disembark and are replaced with new passengers bound for Panama City. Groggy and bored, I look out the window at the flury of activity on the ground, as a girl who could scarcely be older than 20 pats down arriving members of the runway crew for arms and explosives. I am positively certain that she misses several men and I doubt that its a deliberate (unmistaken) omission.
The Pacific coast of Panama, seen at twilight from 20,000 feet: A lavender and pink horizon, hallucinogenic, with distant clouds indistinguishable from distant mountain islands; hundreds of tankers, freighters, barges and cruise ships queing in ragged formations stretching for miles in every direction. I have an impulse to stay for a long time in Panama.
Then the airport at Panama City, a miniaturized version of London´s Heathrow, chaotic and brimming with high-end luxury shops. A surprise to me. Bally´s, Cartier and Lacoste. Diamonds. Numerous stores selling expensive electronic merchandise. I try to find a charger for my camera, to no avail, vendors at each store directing me on to other shops with grim creo que nos and bored shrugs.
To my relief, I do manage to find two other things I am also looking for: a working ATM with U.S. dollars and a new English novel. A bookstore with a tiny English section profers 2 acceptable options for me; its either Garcia-Marquez´s Love in the Time of Cholera or The Catcher in the Rye. I decide that I really don´t want to read much about cholera right now, even if there is some love thrown in there and all. I really don´t.
The line to board the Quito flight is a mess. Three separate flights are scheduled to depart from the same gate within approximately 35 minutes of each other, first to last. Passengers to San Jose and Cartagena mill around with those bound for Ecuador, nobody quite sure of what is happening. Surprised at my own ambivalence, I step out of line and settle into a chair to read my book. So what if I miss my flight? There´s going to be another one eventually. But I can´t say that the chatty Cartagena-bound missionary standing next to me (from the U.S.) didn´t influence my decision to sit.
Sitting next to me on the plane, I meet Kristen, from New Zealand. She´s on "holiday" for nine months, having spent the first three in various parts of Mexico, Honduras and Guatamala. South America is her destination for the other six months. We trade travel stories for most of the flight.
Then, with no clear place in mind, we team up to find a hostel in Quito´s "New Town." Its nearly 11 PM by the time we make it through customs and immigration, grab our luggage and navigate the hordes of solicitous taxi drivers.
Our driver has trouble finding our desired destination, "Daugi´s" hostel. After circling the same few blocks several times, he claims to have found it. We scurry out of the van with our bags only to find ourselves in front of a decrepit, run-down shack bearing the address for Daugi´s that is listed in our guidebooks. The lights are off and the windows and door are ominously chained. Its looking mucho condemned to us. Our taxi is gone.
We walk around for a while. There are plenty of hostels in this area but the Lonely Planet map doesn´t seem to be accurate and so we can´t find our second and third choices in the places they are supposed to be. We finally settle on Hostel Vamara --- small, clean and cheap, at $4 per night. Our room has 4 beds, 2 of them already occupied by a girl from Canada and another girl from Germany. We tell them our ordeal trying to find Daugi´s. The Canadian tells us the hostel is not only open, but very nice on the inside. All we had to do was go up and ring the bell.
Kristen and I step out to find a soda and bottles of water. At various times, men follow us, persistently begging for change. We wind up at a small cafe with a TV showing Nightmare on Elm Street dubbed in Spanish. The thing is, you don´t really miss anything with the movie being in Spanish. Freddy Krueger´s "argghhhh!!! grrr!!!! grrrr!!!! argghhh!!!!" says it all.
Settling back in at Vamara, I find that somebody (no doubt an airline employee) has stolen 3 shirts from the top compartment of my backpack. I´m 100% certain that the shirts were there before, but at least I didn´t lose any of my warmer clothing. I need it because Quito is cold at night. The hostel doesn´t have heat and the insulation is negligable, but at least the blankets are warm.
The beds creak, the floors creak, the street noise is steady and loud. I sleep through it.
Posted by Joshua on October 15, 2004 11:36 PM
Category: Ecuador: Quito
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