Just got a note from one of my favorite people from the Ecuador trip. He was magnetic. Quiet, modest and pleasant (especially for being such a fine specimen of a human being), I liked him right away.
He mentioned being sorry we didn’t have more time together.
“Time – yes there never seems to be enough when things are good. And with you it was great! All over Ecuador, it was amazing. But I don’t worry those moments were too short or too few, because they were just a beginning… and for that I’m filled only with gratitude.”
Ecuador swept me off my feet. Over and over I fell in love, with people, the places, the communities of welcoming faces. Every experience taught me more about who I am; who I want to be.
There was no way to anticipate what happened, so I did little to plan. Before I knew it, three of us were on a 6am plane to Ecuador. Landing briefly to make connecting flights in Texas and Panama, we arrived in Quito around 11pm.
The airport waiting area, where passengers were met by friends and family, was filled with colors. My eyes and ears, stimulated by the array of brightness and sound, popped open, suddenly awake.
Francisco and one of his sons, Jose, picked us up from the airport. It was their family, who’s land we would highlight in the documentary. This gorgeous piece of property towards the north end of the country belonged to the first president of Ecuador. Over time, it’s been chipped away at, into profitable pieces, but the remaining vast expanse of rolling green countryside was passed down through the family.
We also spent some time in Quito. On the first night, we were joined by a good friend of the family, Anna Maria. We badly wanted to go dancing – especially Rene – so we went to a club called La Juliana, where we got to scratch the itch.
It took a while to fill up, but once it did, there were plenty of people shakin’ it on the dance floor. Rene had a great thing going with a couple lovely local ladies. They were fantastic dancers – Rene was in heaven.
The hottest guy around (also one of the few taller than me) decided he would teach me to salsa. When he noticed my abs, he mentioned that he was Mr. Ecuador three years in a row! We had a such a blast dancing, he asked me to marry him.
In Quito, Mariscal is the neighborhood to be in. There is the concentrated center of nightlife. On Sunday, when the whole city fell quiet, apparently due to a recent banning of alcohol sales on Sundays, the party played on in the Mariscal main square, where a protest took place.
Finding the event on my first solo excursion of the trip, I was thoroughly amused. It wasn’t far from our hotel, where the boys were napping, plus we had spent plenty of time crisscrossing the neighborhood on foot, so I knew the way. And daylight would last at least another hour. That’s why, against common advice, I ventured alone.
Around the perimeter of the square, metal trashcans were attached to short poles with metal rain-guards on top. Where I perched, there was just a rain-guard, no can. It was a seat with the most perfect view possible of the protest and surrounding scene. I still had no idea what it was about. But everyone, oddly enough, seemed happy.
A man approached. He was tall and handsome with dark hair and thin, wire-rimmed glasses. I saw him coming.
“Hola,” I said.
Responding in Spanish, he said something completely incomprehensible.
“No hablez Espangol,” I said, laughing. “Do you speak English?”
He did! His name was Gustav. I asked what the excitement was about. With closer inspection, we learned they were protesting the recent ban of alcohol on Sundays.
Noting what day it was, seeing that many places weren’t even open, we found a spot to have some sparkling mineral water and coffee, to observe.
An Argentinian, traveling alone on vacation, Gustav ended up staying with me until well into the night. We talked for a while, then he joined my friends and I for dinner at the square. He walked us back to the hotel and when the boys when inside, we sat out front together for hours.
“Am I ever going to see you again?” I asked.
“I don’t know.” It was our last night in Quito. We said goodbye.
The next morning, our fourth wheel arrived. Andrew! Our gang complete, Thacher, Rene, Andrew and I headed for the coast on what was about to be the longest bus ride EVER!
Somewhere along the fifth or sixth hour, we stopped at a gas station for a bathroom break. Not having to pee, but eager to get off the bus, I hopped off and went to wash my hands. Then, there in the sink, I found the coolest ring!
Solid plastic, it’s clear with a pink tint. Suspended inside, there’s a pink rose blossom and a tiny gold chain. It couldn’t be more perfect for me. My middle name is Rose! And my last name is Goldfarb! How neat!
Excited about my new treasure, to no one in particular I exclaimed, “Awesome ring… Wow, totally fits me!”
Much to my surprise, someone responded. And it was in English! The woman was standing next to me, with an adorable 2-year-old boy on her hip who had a great head of curls. They were also riding our bus.
The mother’s name was Josie. Within a few minutes, we were making on plans to travel along the Ecuador coast together. By the time we got off the bus in Manta, we decided to stick with Josie and her family for as long as possible.
Originally from Ecuador, but currently living in Texas, Josie knows how things work in her home country, especially when it comes to getting a deal. No matter where we went, she had our prices significantly reduced. The next day, we shared a van with her family, going south along the beach from Manta to Montañita, stopping anywhere we felt the need to eat or stretch our legs on the way.