Well, this is Peter, the sole writer of Hecktic Travels, for now at least. Dalene has left big shoes to fill based on all the warm compliments from our readers, but I will do my best to keep you in the loop of my solo adventures here in South America.
It was 9 days ago today that I said a difficult, tearful, emotional "hasta pronto" to Dalene in Quito. Life is very quiet without her around. I am often talking to myself (at least way more than usual) and our small apartment, which now is just my apartment, feels incredibly larger and empty. But thanks to technology, I am able to talk with her daily, and today I got to see her and the family back in Canada.
Life in South America is different. I should be used to it by now right? Wrong. I tolerate it, but unfortunately I still don't accept it. As you heard in the last post from Dalene she was left stranded at the airport because of a mess up by Santa Barbara Airlines. You can imagine my surprise when I returned to Baños after saying goodbye to her, thinking that she was safely on a flight. WRONG. I was not happy she had to spend a night alone in Quito, and run around the city by herself to figure out how the hell to get to Miami. But fortunately all worked out for the best and she was on a plane the next morning.
In order for me to stay until August, my tourist visa required renewal. On the first trip to Quito, the immigration officers told us that it would be almost $200 cheaper to return when there was 8 days or less for my current visa to expire. I was at 10 days, grrrr. So I decided to return the following Tuesday for a day trip (4 hours each way on bus). When I finished with all the paper work, they told me I had to come back Friday. Huh? This isn't done yet? Wow, so now I return to Quito for my 7th time to hopefully get my Visa finished. If they reject it for some reason, I am in a world of trouble because Friday is my last day left on my Visa. Everything will fine.... Won't it?
So after my visit to the immigration office, I decided to take a little trip over to the SBA Airlines office to find out what was going on with our flights - specifically, why Dalene's got cancelled and if she'll get a refund, plus to confirm my flight in August. Well I found out that my flight is voided too. What a great company to deal with! They take our money and have given us nothing but a headache. Anyway, fortunately they have said they we "should" get a refund, but none-the-less this is a real pain that needs to be taken care of.
Finally, this one is my fault, but I was hit with a(nother) bout of food poisoning. Pretty lucky that this was the only the 2nd time in the whole trip, but the stupid thing is that it is the 2nd time in Baños, and from the same restaurant!! Casa Hood, you will not get me a third time... Oh well, that came and went and I am feeling back at par.
On last Sunday La BIB's volunteer crew embarked on a trip out to nearby Viscaya to visit the weekend home of Veronica and Ricardo (brother and sister who come to La BIB). Situated next to a trout farm in the middle of the mountains, it was meant to be a great day of rest and relaxation. The weather did not disappoint either. The sun was shining for the first time in a long rainy season and gave us an incredible view of Mama-T.
So much for her being asleep. A huge ash and CO2 plume was released by her all day and allowed us to capture some spectacular photos.
When we arrived at the trout farm to catch our lunch, this was the day my food poisoning set in. Veronica kept pleading me to come over here and look at this or that, come on the swing, come to the river, but all I could think about was not being ill. I found a nice bed rock and lied down to try and feel a little better. The others played on the swing, went down to the river, and of course caught our lunch
After a 1.5 hour nap, we had to leave to go to the house to eat, but that was the last thing on my mind. Pobre Pedrocito (Poor Petey) Veronica kept saying, and her Mother was kind enough to make me a home remedy of onion water which is supposed to help the stomach. Not so much, but bless her for trying to help me out. Lunch looked amazing, full plates of trout and rice and salad, how I WISH I could have taken part, instead the bed was the best thing for me. I think everybody else was jealous of my relaxing time, so everyone partook in a siesta after lunch. After the group lunch and siesta, we had to make our way back to town to catch our ride back. All in all a beautiful day marred a little by food poisoning. Another example how the community has opened their doors to us to really make me feel like family.
We finally are going to have a full house at La BIB this week, after being low on volunteers. We get a new volunteer today and one tomorrow. And with the return of two others, we are not being pulled in so many directions when the kids are in session (although I kind of miss it a little). Jessi, our librarian, can finally feel like things are under control, and we can do a lot more fun activities with the kids because we have more creative minds to think of new ideas. I am actually putting together a yoga lesson for the kids and as well for the volunteers, we'll see how that works out!
I am starting to believe that teaching is my thing. I have been told that my teaching techniques are really instinctive and I work really well with people. It might be going to my head, but I think that maybe I should pursue this. I would love to keep up my Spanish, and possibly there is a need for Spanish or ESL teaching wherever I end up. I can now understand the satisfaction that teachers get from their work. What I am receiving from these students learning, I have never received in the form of a paycheque or bonus. Back to school for me? I never thought I would say it, but maybe.....