Arrangements are being made. A flight is booked. The countdown is on.
22 sleeps from today, I will be departing the city of Quito, the country of Ecuador, the continent of South America. 14 hours overnight on 3 different flights will land me in Calgary, and into the loving arms of the family and friends I have missed so much.
For previously unforeseen reasons, I will be home earlier then originally planned, and I will be alone. Pete will be sticking it out in Baños and at La Bib for an additional month to see out the projects that we both started. After having been almost inseparable for nearly 11 months, it will be a difficult time for both of us to be apart, and it is a decision that was not made lightly. But we are confident that in the end, this decision benefits the greatest number of people possible besides ourselves. All I ask of all my friends and family who are reading this - you're going to have to work a little overtime in keeping me busy and feeling loved until Pete returns. I hope you are up for it!
As you can expect, the range of emotions I feel after having made this decision is quite vast. I am nervous, excited, sad, and every feeling in between. I can't quite begin to articulate yet what my time on this continent has meant - what changes it has inflicted on my being, and what it will mean for our future. And I don't expect it will all suddenly become apparent - only time and life's challenges will call to the surface those parts of my personality that have changed by what I've seen, heard, smelled, tasted, touched, and experienced in this year of living free in distant lands. All I know is that I am not the same person, we are not the same couple, and our future is blown wide open. As this exciting chapter of our life starts to come to a close, I have never been more thrilled to face our future, wherever it may be played out.
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller
Tastes of Home!
O blessed be the grand heart of my Mom, who sent the most tantalizing, abundant care package that ever was sent to these wary travelers.
And yes, the bags of a few things were opened before I took the picture. I have very little willpower when it comes to Old Dutch. And Mini-Eggs.
All wonderful things do come at a price, however, and I'm not just talking about the postage Mom paid (YOWZA, but that was a lot of money! We will be treasuring each expensive chip, that is for sure!) Today Pete and I made the pilgrimage to Ambato, a larger city about an hour from Baños, where the package was held up for mysterious reasons.
And this was not our first trip. On some bad advice, I had made the trip last Monday, only to find out that the office for retrieving parcels is only open on Thursday mornings. We didn't go last Thursday (fearful of road closures due to the volcano), and so finally made the trip again today. I came away with the package, a few dollars poorer, and still without any explanation as to why the package didn't make it all the way to Baños.
Throughout South America we have marveled at the peculiarities and inefficiencies of some of the simplest operations - like having to watch our traveler's cheque move through seven people before finally seeing any money in Bolivia, or Pete having to leave his inked fingerprint just to be able to send a postcard from Colombia. Ecuador is no different.
In Ambato, I visited three different counters in the small post office for various reasons. One counter I visited twice. All of us numerous post patrons also had to wait an additional ten minutes while the entire staff dropped everything they were doing to head outside for a spontaneous group picture. Finally, I sat down to be grilled by a customs official, who only laughed when he opened the box and saw that the contents were almost solely "chicles y papas fritas" - gum and potato chips! I had to explain that the package was from my Mom, and it contained some of the food we were missing from home. Luckily, he let me go with a nominal fee (this office is known to extort funds from wealthy looking gringos - I'm guessing my sob story and the ragged state of my clothes and shoes saved me a few extra dollars).
Oh, but it was all worth it. It tastes soooo good. (Thanks Mom!)
That pesky volcano
Remember when I said that Mama T was done all her erupting nonsense? Wasn't that FUNNY? Aren't I a FUNNY person?
Um, yeah. Who was I kidding? She ain't done. Mama is still at it - even a little more frequently in the last 24 hours then She had been in the last week. Mama's internet diary said She is exploding 3-4 times an hour on average.
She's just...quieter. There are very few "cannon-shot" eruptions (the window shakers), but that doesn't mean that she isn't still constantly churning internally, and regularly spewing ash to reach as high as 5km above the crater.
We just can't see the crater in Baños, thanks to the constant cloud that hangs over Her. And now that we also can't hear Her - it's out of sight/sound, out of mind.
Well, at least now we can sleep without the constant noise disturbing us. This is better. I guess?
(Will keep you posted...again)