Posted tagged ‘Quito’

“Never hesitate to go far away, beyond all seas, all frontiers, all countries, all beliefs.”

June 22, 2017

Today is lovely. I woke up to a blue sky and the brightest eye squinting sunshine I’ve seen in a while. My house is comfortably cool. Outside my window, I can see chickadees on the branches munching sunflower seeds. None of the leaves of the oak tree are blowing. It is a still day.

Though Gracie ate on Tuesday, around midnight she started panting and walking from room to room. She’d sit on the couch for a bit then get up and walk some more. Around 12:30 am, I took her to the emergency vet for the third early morning in a row. She was given anti-nausea medication which settled her down. The vet told me that this was treating only a symptom. I already knew that. She suggested a battery of tests, most of which I probably can’t afford.

Last night was different. During the day, she ate two small cans of dog food, not her usual as I was tempting her taste buds. She ate treats, new treats. She napped and last night slept through the night. I had anti-nausea pills for her, but she didn’t need them. She and Maddie, the cat, are having their morning naps now. I’m going to take one later. I am exhausted.

The best part of any summer has always been having empty days to fill.  When I was a kid, it was games and crafts at the local playground. I’d be there all day. During high school, I did little on summer days, but I was never bored. When I was in college, it was a summer job which I didn’t really mind. Working in the post office was easy and paid well. The pace was slow. Europe filled my summers when I was a teacher. My trips generally lasted 4 to 5 weeks. I knew how to travel on little money. I slept in hostels or on night buses. I ate as cheaply as possible sometimes buying bread and sandwich fixings. I found bars where I could get a drink and eat my way through happy hour. I had only a broad itinerary open to change. It was a wonderful way to travel. They were some of my favorite summers.

Posting my Ghana pictures yesterday got me thinking about the faraway places I love. Ghana, of course, is my favorite. The rest are in no order, no preference. Old Quito is on that list. The narrow streets, the old buildings, the colors and the women’s hats still have a prominent place in my memory drawers. I loved Portugal and Morocco and the Roman ruins in Italy. Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso was my second favorite spot in Africa. It was my weekend getaway. The beauty of the Andes took my breath away. On overnight bus rides, stops at roadside restaurants where the menus were in languages I didn’t understand and peeing in a hole in the little house in the back were part of the adventure. In Morocco and in Ghana I found out that thitting the hole is a lifetime skill.

I don’t travel summers anymore, but I keep my passport up to date just in case.

Railway termini are our gates to the glorious and the unknown. Through them we pass out into adventure and sunshine, to them, alas! we return.”

July 29, 2012

Last night it poured. Lightning jigsawed in the sky outside the north window in my den and gave the room sudden bursts of bright light. The rumbles of thunder were like growls. The rain fell in giant drops which thudded against the roof and the eaves. Rivulets of rain water ran down my hilly driveway as if in a race to reach the bottom. I watched  from my backdoor. Today is cloudy and has a chilly breeze magnified by the dampness left by the storm. No movie tonight.

I was going to give you more of my travelog every couple of days, but the response was enough to know I wouldn’t bore you if I continued. It’s fun for me to remember.

We got a bus to Quito over the border when we left Colombia. It resembled a school bus. My friend and I were the only non-Ecuadorians. On that bus I saw Indians for the first time. Women wore colorful clothes and had shawls wrapped around their shoulders. They all wore hats which reminded me of the fedora my father used to wear. The bus was stopped a few times by police doing checks. Each time it was stopped, the people in front of us passed up our passports then passed them back to us. When we arrived in Quito, we decided to stay in the old city. Our hotel, a small one on a side street, was one block from the monastery in the center and a few blocks from La Ronda, the old street with colonial houses, a narrow street with some of the oldest buildings in the city. We wandered all over that part of the city and ate in some of the small restaurants. We took busses to the different markets outside the city. We went to Otavalo Market. Back then it wasn’t the tourist attraction it has become. We wandered all over. I bought a few pieces of hand-stitched Indian patterned cloth and walked all through the donkey market. I stopped to buy food from the women who reminded me of the African women who sat along the sides of the road selling fried plantain or yam. I don’t even know what I ate there. I just know it was good.

When we got back to Quito, it was quite late but we still went out to eat dinner. I tried Guinea pig, a national dish in Ecuador.  I was not going to be put off by eating something small and cuddly. I had gotten pass queasiness a long time before that dinner. The pig came roasted with all its parts though cut into pieces. I’m not big on the head and feet of any animals and was even less enthused by the Guinea pig’s. There wasn’t much meat, but it tasted like chicken. I swear it.

The next day we took a bus to the equator. A small shack was the only indicator we had arrived. Where was that black line I always see on globes? Just kidding! I stood right at the line with one foot in each hemisphere. It was an amazing feeling to be there. The small shack sold postcards which were stamped with 0 degrees latitude and 0 degrees longitude so I bought a few. I sent my family a postcard from each country so they could keep track of where we were, and I thought this was special.

We left Quito to go to Guayaquil on the auto-bus, called that but really a train. It was the most amazing train ride of my life. We had seats in the front, big mistake. Animals that didn’t get off the tracks were hit off the tracks. I stopped watching. The center aisle of the bus-train was filled with standing people who scrunched down whenever we went through a town. The train traveled through tropical areas where I saw banana trees filled with fruit. The train went up Devil’s Nose, a zig-zag section of track where the train goes forward and backward to reach the next town; it was both frightening and wonderful. We rode alongside the snow-capped mountains of the Andes. The train finished its trip in Duran where we took a boat across to Guayaquil. One of the few Americans we met came running up to us just as we were getting on the boat saying he had given his luggage to a taxi driver who disappeared. We commiserated. That was all the help we could give.

Tomorrow we’ll arrive in Guayaquil!

“From coast to coast the railroads roam, yet every inch of rail stays home.”

February 15, 2011

The wind is fierce on this very cold day. I had to go to the dentist this morning, and his office is by a field. The wind came whipping across, and I was freezing as I walked from the car. Today is a day to be home, warm and cozy.

A wind advisory is in effect with winds ranging from 30 to 50 MPH. It’s 24° but, according to the weather channel, it feels like 10°. From my window I can see even the tallest pine trunks swaying to the wind. The backyard will be filled with their dead branches. Pine trees, even the largest, are not hearty. Tomorrow will be in the 40’s, a virtual heat wave will be upon us.

I’m amazed when I think back to my childhood and remember walking to school in every sort of weather. Nothing fazed us. We’d open our arms to the wind and hope to fly. When it snowed, we’d stick out our tongues to catch the flakes and throw snowballs at each other all the way home. Rain was the least popular weather. We would take advantage of any large puddles, but mostly, we just got wet.

I really like traveling by train. My favorite trip was from Quito to Guayaquil, a route no longer available. The train left Quito and my first view was of the volcanoes which lined both sides of the rail. From there we started mountain climbing through to the summit at Urbina. Then the train went down the mountain and continued into the tropical zone where we could see bananas growing on farms on each side of the rail. It was the very first time I had seen bananas in the wild, so to speak. The most exciting part of the ride was the switchback when the train zig zagged up the mountain then switched and rode backwards to the lower line. Okay, that was a bit scary. I admit it. The train ended at Duran where we had to take a boat across to Guayaquil.

I know there are spectacular train rides here and in Canada, but I just haven’t gotten around to taking one. I’ve put it on my to do list, but I’ve always said I want to do my overseas travel when I’m young and save the US for when I’m old, and I’m not there yet.

“All autobiography is self-indulgent.”

October 18, 2010

The day is a bit chilly but beautiful. The sun is brilliant and glints off everything. Tonight is supposed to be in the high 30’s. That’s downright cold. It’s winter nibbling on fall.

It is amazing how blank my mind is right now. I have started about four different paragraphs and none led anywhere. I was going to give a run-down of the week, but tonight and dinner with friends is my only social event. I have to grocery shop, but that doesn’t count. Next, I had an inspiration. I’ll talk about colors and seasons. I got as far as summer and the world bursting with color then I lost interest. I knew winter would be a problem. A flicker was at the feeder, the first one I’ve seen in awhile, but that one sentence said it all. English grammar even reared its ugly head, but I figured I’d lose most people at the mere mention of an objective complement. I have written almost endlessly about my childhood, and there are probably hundreds of amusing anecdotes I haven’t mentioned, but right now nothing comes to mind. I’m spending more time looking out the window than at the keys.

I have no favorite color or lucky number. I have never been superstitious. I believe more in the existence of extraterrestrials than I do in the existence of ghosts. Reading is one of my all time favorite ways to spend time. I like to do crossword puzzles. If I could always dress in my coziest clothes, I would. I’m not one for frou-frou. I don’t like cruises, but I’d go down the Nile, the Amazon or the Chobe if I got the chance. The first time I flew over the Sahara and the flight over the Andes are my two favorite views from a plane. I love trains and have ridden on some wild rides. The train from Quito to Guayaquil was the wildest. I wish I spoke several languages. I can survive in Spanish and just barely in French where I’m best at ordering food. Pomme frites and bifteck with a side of harigots verts were always a fallback. I send postcards when I travel. Christmas shopping is an all year event with me. I hate olives.

Okay, that’s it for today, a thumbnail sketch of me now.