Washin’ Stuff

Quito, Ecuador

So I’ve made it through Colombia, the so-called capital of drug smuggling and kidnapping. That just goes to show that you shouldn’t listen to what anybody (even me) tells you about a place. Just go there and form you’re own damn opinion. However, Colombia was pretty amazing, and I’m sure anybody whose been there will concur.

All right, so I’ve mostly been “resting” for the past few days. I’ll elaborate momentarily…

After the cops insisted that I give them their computer back (for work, apparently) I just chilled at the police checkpoint for several more hours. Eventually, the same lady who had been trying so hard to learn all about the world in her little reader dragged out an old motheaten mattress and told me I was welcome to slep on it if I liked. I figured that would be just dandy, so I collapsed in a heap on the old thing, causing dust to fly crazily in all directions.

I awoke the next morning before dawn, and started walking early. I left a note on the mattress that said simply “gracies por la cama” and took off.

I walked in the remotest of remote part Colombia for a long time. Not a single car passed me for nearly two hours. I didn’t mind, however, and enjoyed immensly the fresh air and beautiful sunrise.

Finally, a medium sized truck passed, and I managed to sucessfully flag him down. Inside were two guys headed to Pastor, Colombia. Pastor is a pretty good haul from where I was, and we rode for roughly two hours through a dry, mountinous countryside. The guy sitting next to me kept craning his neck out the window and pointing out the numerous coca plants that were suprisingly prolific in the area. Planted, of course, and highly illegal, but I don’t think the police really care.

We arrived in Pastor after eating a nice breakfast. I noticed with some suprise that Pastor was…well…cold! The wind was blowing, it was raining a little bit, and it was kind of miserable. Plus, I was out of cigarettes.

I eventually was able to flag a ride to a few towns over, where I scored $2000 pesos and got a pack of stogies. One more ride brought me all the way to the town of Impiales, where the border crossing of Ecuador was a mere 5 kilometers away. I hitched onto a carfull of ladies from Bogotà and arrived to Ecuador around two o’clock.

I encountered no problems passing the border, and even met a fellow American from Richmond who was going to Colombia with his Ecuadorian girlfriend. As soon as I got into Ecuador, I got a lift about 3 kilometers into Tulcàn. From there, I made my way to San Gabriel in a short period.

Upon arrival to San Gabriel, I noticed a large sign that said “Hostel Garbiella” and decided to go check it out and see if I could do some work in exchange for a warm bed, as it was even colder here than in Pastor. Who would have though that a country bisected by the Equator would be so damn chilly? Must be the Andes again…

I was turned down by the hostel…no suprise there. I’ve figured out that most hostel owners see backbackers like me as a dime a dozen, and aren’t usually too keen to help out.

So I was just randomly wandering around when this guy asked me in English if I was lost. I told him “Sort of…” and explained to him what I was looking for. He told me that there was a small residential in the park that would probably take me. So I went to investigate.

I found the place; it was medium-sized, and consisted of the actual residential, a small resturaunt, and a convience store. I asked the Señora and she told me that I could stay and work for as long as I pleased. Nice…

So the next day, I woke up and cleaned a bunch of toilets. Then, I mopped the floor, cut up some strange-smelling fruits in the kitchen, and washed a seemingly endless supply of dirty dishes. There was only women working there, and while I was mopping the floor I noticed them peaking at me from behind the dirty window and then dissapering quickly, giggleing loudly.

I was here for awhile…the next day I pretty much just washed dishes and chopped up more fruits (and some yucca roots, which are, by the way, delicious.) I got to know the people who lived and worked ther pretty well. There was Daisy, who gave me all the work I needed, and Dylan, a twelve year old who served as a waiter. We got along great, me and Dylan, and I showed him all of my outdoor survival techniques from the U.S. Army Survival Manual.

I stayed here for five days, doing odd jobs that were mostly washing dishes and chopping more fruit (which included pineapples…I felt like a was a demolitionist in Bikini Bottom…) I was very well-fed, and got three hearty meals a day, which always consisted of one meat, a soup, and a shit load of rice. I ate so much that on the second day I had some really horrible gas and burps that tasted inexplicably like boiled eggs. Honestly, I couldn’t figure out why, as I hadn’t eaten eggs since Panamà. I think it was because my stomach had gotten used to going for periods without food; the sudden influx of grub must have thrown it off.

I left the hotel this morning, ready to travel. I got a lift in short notice all the way the Quito, though it was just to the the northern outskirts. I spent pretty much the entire day walking from one side of the city to the other, the old-style colonial buildings mixed with skyscrapers with a Latin flavour streching for what seemed like a hundred miles into the distance.

I managed to get a few taxi cabs to give me free rides, and I made it to the outskirts. One taxi guy was really cool, and took me to his home and gave me soup, much to the delight of his entire family. One small girl of about one year of age apparently wanted soup, too, and showed that she did by gnawing on my leg with her two tiny teeth.

So now I’m here…this family has adopted me for the night, and I have a nice, warm bed for the evening. tomorrow, I head for Perù…I guess that it will take approximently three days or less. I’ll post again once I cross the border…

The Modern Nomad

EDIT SEPT 2011: Working at the hotel was a great experience for me, as it opened up a new road-survival trick for me: work for food. I wouldn’t figure out how to use it properly for another few months, but at least the idea had been planted. It felt truly wonderful to have earned my victuals for once.


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