Well just another convoluted day in my life in Ecuador. I leave for Brazil in two weeks for a month and then on to Buenos Aries for one week before returning to Ecuador. I am in another one of those stages were little is going right, or filled with hurdles to get anything accomplished. I'll skip the myriad of small things that have occupied untold aimless hours, and just mention the two major things.
My insurance agent stood me up four times. She is notorious in the Gringo community for not keeping appointments. I accessed Miami to deal with Bupa Health Insurance directly, and renew my policy. I followed the rep's instructions, and when I called later they claimed they never got my scan, which provided them with my credit card number to pay my premium. My policy expired, and they said I would have to deal with my local agent to renew the policy. Great, that response is called going into the deepest depths of hell, and replay karma one more time. I hope the same won't also be true with the credit card number floating around out there somewhere. I've just been through that scenario the last three months and all the fall-out that goes with it.
Then I was told through a Spanish-speaking interpreter who talked to the Brazilian embassy on the telephone, that I had to go to Quito to get my visa at the Brazilian Embassy. I then discovered a few days later that there were listed two consulates at totally different addresses on Google for a Brazilian consulate in Cuenca. The phone numbers did not work at either one of them. I assumed, therefore, that is why I was told I had to go to Quito, because they must have closed the consulate in Cuneca. After all, the economy in Brazil isn't exactly humming right now, and the closure may have been part of an economic austerity program. I arrived in Quito yesterday. Thirty-five minutes to fly from Cuenca to Quito and then ninety minutes to take a bus from the new airport to downtown Quito.
Today I went to the embassy, had to run around to a bank a few blocks from the embassy to pay my fee for the visa. Sounded easy enough, but the bank consisted of two windows in a small enclosure stuck between two tiendas (stores). After asking about six people and walking in circles, the last person I asked was able to point it out to me. I'm looking for a bank among all these skyscrapers--something large with its name emblazoned on it. The check-loaning places back home were larger. I returned to the embassy with my receipt, only to be told I would have to come back on Monday to pickup my visa for Brazil and have my passport returned to me. What! I said I'm from Cuenca. The Internet page says if I show up in person with all the documentation, I could receive my visa within three days. The two ladies exclaimed, "Cuenca"! Why didn't you get your visa at the consulate in Cuenca? Grrr... Of course, neither knew who told my translator that I would have to procure my visa in Quito. Much discussion pursued among the three of us, attempting understanding between our mixed Spanish and English as to how my Passport would be sent to me. Finally, we determined that I would have to pickup the passport and my visa at the consulate in Cuenca on Monday or Tuesday of next week. My main concern was that my passport and visa was not going through the Ecuadorian mail delivery system, or I would never see my passport again. I would be stranded in Ecuador for the rest of my life, which wouldn't be a bad thing, but I do want to do some traveling. Yea, I'm also concerned when I go to the address for the consulate that the ladies gave me, that the consulate will in fact be there.
So I am actually in a very good mood, even after getting up yesterday at 6:00 a.m. to get my yellow fever shot before traveling to Quito, and 7:30 a.m. today to arrive at the Brazilian embassy by 9:00 a.m. I've had only ten hours of sleep over the last two nights. My blood, however, has been replaced with gallons of coffee. Of course, the Internet address for the embassy was wrong, and I was going in the opposite direction. The security guard at the building gave me the new address. I could ask some stupid question like why don't embassy officials update
their Google web sites, and remove the old ones that no longer apply?
In Ecuador, I'm just suppose to know those things by osmosis. It was a long ride to the other end of Avenida Amazonas, but the cab fare was half of what the first cabbie charged me and three times further. Taxis in Quito are suppose to have meters, but half of the taxis I rode did not have meters. The cabbies without meters were very fair except for this one and before I had an idea of what was a reasonable rate in Quito.
So here I am at the airport waiting for five hours--three more to go--to catch my flight back to Cuenca. What lesson was I suppose to learn from the last two days experience? Is there any lesson involved? Is it just one of those things that happens? Whatever, I am sitting here with only nine minutes left before my battery runs out, and there are no plug-ins for my laptop. Lots of money spent needlessly that could have gone toward my trip to Brazil, but at least the Ecuadorian economy prospers. I'm in good humor, actually kind of enjoying it all. Can't say once my computer shuts down, and I have nothing to do but study Spanish, if I'll feel the same way. Needless to say, the plane will be at least an half an hour late from take off. They always are. Just though they don't cancel the flight, which can easily happen. I managed to bounce emails back-and-forth with my daughter-in-law, Maria, and razz her a little about the weather and more snow back in South Bend. Now let me sign off and send this before the computer power shuts down. Come to think of it, some of you just got a preview to my next blog post. Chao for now.
The new Quito Airport is nice. I was not in the International wing. The food court is very nice. However, the prices are outrageous like all airports. The waiting areas to catch intra-country flights could have been made larger. When my power dissipated, I thought I found Nirvana on a sweeping terrace aligning the food court where one could sit and eat and enjoy the mountains lying pass the parking areas. There were plug-ins! The problem was none of them were connected. No juice, if you know what I mean.
The most surreal part of the day was ahead of me--exquisitely Ecuatoriano. The departure flight, of course, was fifty minutes late. One does not go down an enclosed flank that leads into the air plane. Instead we walk out to a bus shuttle, which then takes us to where the airplane is located. It was packed for the short ride. As we escaped from the packed shuttle, made our way up the stairs, and boarded the plane; suddenly one of the first passengers to board shouted, "No Cuenca--Guayaquil". We were boarding the wrong plane. We had to turn around and inform everyone down the line to reverse themselves and get back on the shuttle-bus.
Once aboard the bus again, I didn't know if the driver was going to take us to another plane, or return us to the departure concourse. Surprisingly, and this is one of the many things I genuinely love about the Ecuatoriano people. No one got upset, no one shouted, no one appeared angry, no one immediately got on their cell phones to contact their attorney to see how they could sue the airlines. Instead the passengers were in a humorous mood. People were laughing at various comments and jokes passengers were making in Spanish. I only understood two of the comments. One fellow said, "Do they know were our plane is?" Another said, "I hope they take us to Miami instead of Guayaquil", which got a big laugh. Ecuadorians love shopping in Miami. Finally, the bus driver located the correct plane. We boarded, were all seated, and sat on the tarmac for fifteen minutes more before clearance and eventual take-off.
From the point of departure, nothing out of the ordinary happened. I arrived home at 8:30 p.m. Unpacked. Read my Facebook site and discovered to my horror that I had written and posted the above before the postscript on a friend's site I happened to be reading at the time I was in the airport instead of on my site. When I saw what I had done, I posted the following comment:
"Good God, Lori, I've been home an hour, unpacked, and then looked for my post, and couldn't find it anywhere until I saw your comment. I had no idea I posted it while I was on your Facebook site. Is there any hope for me?!? Don't answer that, PLEASE!"
Tomorrow, Bupa with which to deal. I have no idea of an alternative health insurance that offers me what this policy does. I also need to find someone that can fix my Canon printer, which conveniently broke down two days before I left for Quito. Whatever the problem; it requires, according to the manual, due to the alternating green and orange lights flashing, outside intervention. There is no way the printer will get shipped back to the manufacturer. I may be doing crazy, but I'm not completely over the edge yet.