No, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth, at least not yet. Nor have I fallen off my surf board. I’ve still riding the crest of the wave. No wipe outs yet, despite the literal and metaphorical tsunami warnings, but I will be plenty exhausted once I surf on in to shore and arrive in Quito this evening. I am writing this email to you, while on my flight from Houston to Quito, so I can’t be sure when I will have Internet access to post it. I get into Quito at 9:00 p.m. I anticipate in Quito a two hour ordeal of getting luggage and passing through customs like when I went through customs at the Guayaquil Airport last July, so it may be almost midnight when I get settled into a hotel room. (However, much to my surprise, unlike entering Guayaquil, I received my baggage and completed customs in less than half an hour.)
The past month has, as you expats all well know from your own experiences when you moved to Cuenca, been extremely nuts. The past week began Monday with the Salvation Army picking up everything I had not sold or stored. It's nice to be free of all that stuff. I am a firm believer in what you own owns you. I feel like I’ve been on an eating marathon all week as I’ve put away two Italian meals, and dinners at two Indian restaurants, and one Middle Eastern restaurant; as food so often becomes the way to celebrate occasions like “going away” parties. I said goodbye to various friends and relatives just about each night of the week. I’m ready to slow down the dining dramatically in Quito. I know all the good eating will pick up again in Cuenca.
I enjoyed my weekend with my son, Marc and his friends, in the Baltimore area. I had spent a number of days going through family photo albums earlier, and finally came to the realization that there was no way I could take all of these albums with me. Thanks to Lenny, I decided to have all the photos scanned by a professional company. It took quite a while for me to put all the photos in some kind of chronological order; matching clothes and Christmas packages, etc. to determine which photos were from the same time-frame and identical events. The company, which was out of Arizona, did a beautiful job with cropping, clarity, detail, and color. I could not be more pleased. They took the photos in the order I sent them, and put them into a video slide show with music. The family enjoyed them, and my son, Marc, was very appreciative of viewing and receiving his copy. Marc thought it would have made a perfect Christmas gift from me. However, I never know when I will see either of my sons again, so it seemed to me like a good time to present him with the video. Young people today no longer keep physical photo albums, and now after I watched these photos on big screen television and experienced what digitalization can do, why would anyone? It was a great viewing experience, and makes all the sense in the world to process photos this way.
Viewing the photos with my son which covered from my marriage in 1980 and watching as my kids grew up was the only time I gave in to emotion. Until then I had been way too busy to even consider what I was leaving behind, which included not only friends and family; but also those events of our lives that could never be relived again except vicariously though the snapshots of isolated memories that meld how we come to perceive our pasts.
I have been blessed with good friends and a great family. I was fortunate to be blessed with wonderful parents, and two fine brothers who were a real help to me as I prepared my move. Needless to say, my sons have never given me a reason not to be proud of them. The three of us have been through so many incredible changes over the last three years, with a great deal more of change on the horizon.
My trip had been uneventful, except for the fact that I stupidly parted with my bathroom scale before I packed. One bag was seventeen pounds overweight. While the other bag was seven pounds overweight. I dumped quite a few things before I was going to pay the overcharges, and I am still bringing too much. I have to admit six weeks ago, I couldn’t wait to get to Cuenca, find an unfurnished apartment, and get settled. Now, after just getting rid of everything, I’m in no hurry to start shopping for household goods again. Right now, I just want rest and vacation. Maybe, I’ll feel differently in a week or two. Now, I just want to take my time, and get back into what retirement is suppose to be all about—a slower pace of life, and I won’t sign a lease until I find exactly what I’m looking for. I sure am glad I have Bob and Roxanne’s condo to return to—no household shopping there, and nice and relaxing diggs. I can't wait!
Mary, thanks for the safe travel post. Gil and Deborah, I'll have a better idea how long I’ll be in Quito after I speak with Gabriela tomorrow. I am not staying at the Radisson, but am staying at Hotel Boutique, which I will have more to share with all of you later. It’s a small hotel in the historical section of Quito. If I stay long enough, and get beyond the point of just wanting to crash (not literally in the plane), but just pull a twenty-four hour sleep, I may look up Marco at the Radisson. Otherwise, I am looking forward to getting to Cuenca and seeing everyone. As soon as I know, I’ll post what day this week I’ll be arriving in Cuenca. I’m sorry, Barry, I haven’t had time to read your emails in the past week. Sorry, Clarke, I was going to surprise you with a jar of JIFFY SMOOTH PEANUT BUTTER, but that was one of first items to get tossed at O’Hare as I attempted to get my luggage weight down. I suppose some homeless guy hanging out at O’Hare, or the custodial staff member, who emptied my plastic bag of discarded items came into a virtual gold mine of stuff. I read someone is sending you a case of peanut butter anyway, so I guess my one jar won’t make a difference to your delight.
Hasta luego, It's 1:00 a.m.,Lunes. I’m going to bed. Jim