Chapter 16::Table of Contents::Chapter 18

Chapter 17
Quito

TUES DEC 19.

Awoke late to another day of relaxation.

Joined N after his shower for a breakfast here at the hotel. Then he went off to play red-tape roulette with the Aduana. I spent the morn. writing a letter to Hec. and a card to Ed & Doc. After that I relaxed and read Centennial for a while. A very boring book. Around 1:30 N got back with the film. Only took 2 days this time. He also got some bread, cheese, fresh cookies, and with our Arrope de Mora we had a fine lunch.

Spent the afternoon planning how and what to mail back to the U.S. I loaded all the exposed ASA 64 back into a metal can. It fit. We relaxed for a while. N. had gone over to see Eve & Ann on his way to the P.O. They told him that Collin & Gazella sat here in the Gringo drinking beer waiting for N & I. Well N. was over talking to E&A and I was sitting right here. So they missed us. They were heading for Baños today.

N made a date to go to dinner with E & A. They came by at 6 and we went off to the Perla Oriental. My foot is healing up fast. N - on the other hand - aggravated a blister on his heel by covering it with moleskin. When he pulled the moleskin off - off came the blister. He was limping worse than me.

We ate a leisurely dinner followed by a few beers and good talk. When they closed the outside door (the big metal sliding kind that come down from the ceiling) we decided it was time to head back. We took the bus back to the square and went with E & A to the Guayaquil. We sat in their room eating bread and cheese, and drinking coffee they made on their nifty little alcohol burner.

Eve is about 51 but acts like your average 26 yr old gringa. At dinner we decided to write a drinkers guide to S.A. to supplement their 1 burner stove cookbook. The drinks are to include cheap local liquor and easily available mixes. Like trigo with coconut milk and a twist of lomotil. Back at the Guayaquil Eve discussed starting a class for rehabilitating returning Gringos. It would concentrate on teaching them not to talk about shitting, not to burp or fart publicly, not to stub cigs. on the floor, not to spit anywhere, not to put T.P. in the wastebasket, and not to say “fuck” every other word.

Ben’s scatological bent even rubbed off on them. We were sitting around the dinner table discussing the quality of turds (good little turds-oooh gooood little turds!) sinkers versus floaters, the squirts versus long, hard ones, etc.

Ann is a buxom, attractive 32 yr old very British lady. Her idea of a winter day is to lie in bed with a hot scotch. Both these women like to talk. We sat around ’til about 12 just shooting the shit. Came back to the hotel & retired.

WED DEC 20:

Got up and took a shower. Joined N. for breakfast.

We went downtown to find out about shipping our package to Hector. We gathered up all our dirty clothes and loaded on to the bus. After dropping off our clothes at the coin-op we went our different ways, N went to the Air Freight office and I went to the U.S. embassy. I wanted to get info about mailing stuff back. All I got was a pamphlet about the U.S. Customs. There I was reading about all the “good” things the Customs has done for me lately, namely stopping tons & tons of pot from coming into the U.S. I got little info about parcels. It looks as tho Hector may have to play Customs Roulette in order to claim the package.

I met N. at the Fuente. He found out that we had to take the package over to the airport to ship it out. We rode the bus back to the old city. On the way to the hotel we stopped at the supermarket and bought some salami and bread. We also tried to get a box. The fellow told us there were some at the front of the store. Just as we were about to walk off with a good one, another fellow stopped us and told us we couldn’t take it because they needed it themselves. So we walked down the street and pulled into another place. There we got a nice cigarette carton just the right size for our stuff.

At the hotel [1] we had a good lunch of salami, bread, cheese & coke. After lunch we relaxed for a while. Then N called the Mayas. They told us they’d come by about 3:30 and take us for a tour of the city. When the P.O. opened I walked up and mailed the letters to Hector & Ed. On the way back I stopped at several papelarias to get some tape and wrapping paper for our parcel A roll of tape costs from 3 - 7 dollars! Needless to say I didn’t buy any.

Sitting by the front door of the hotel, awaiting the Maya’s arrival, we talked to a couple fellows from Colo. who were trying to sell something to raise the $10 each they needed to pay the exit tax to get out of Ec. They had their tickets but otherwise were broke. The Mayas arrived and took us for a ride in their big Travelall. We toured the city and they took us to collect our laundry. They took us to the Hotel Quito high above the city and were very friendly folks.

Upon our return the hotel (we were going to go to Mitad del Mundo but didn’t have time) N called Eve & Ann. They invited us to come over for dinner. Just as we were about to leave, the power went out. We walked down to the store to buy eggs for omelettes. Just before we walked out of the store the power came back on. Then N. noticed that 2 of the eggs were cracked. We protested but, since they were fresh, we bought them anyway.

The power outage was due to a tremendous thunderstorm. On our walk to Eve & Ann’s we had to dodge big puddles. On the bridge over La Ronda, every time a car went by it sent a wall of water cascading onto the street below. We had to dodge the waterfall but made it OK.

At the Guayaquil #1 Ann made us omelettes with bread and salami on the side. We sat around and listened to E & A talk about themselves. Eve is Jewish and immigrated to England from S. Africa for “political reasons”. They told about working in a factory in London. Eve was in the process of breaking up with her husband and had to take a couple days off for business. Ann told the factory workers that she was sick. So they all took up a collection for her - bought flowers - candy - scotch. Eve was so embarrassed that she couldn’t go back to work there. She’s an experienced industrial analyst and had thought about restructuring the whole factory. Ann is a mural painter. Both are well connected in English social circles.

After a long night’s talk we retired.

Thurs Dec 21,

Awoke late.

Our first order of business was to go out and buy wrapping paper and tape. We settled on the kind of tape that needs to be activated by water. On the way back to the hotel I got started shooting pictures from the hip. I strolled down the streets taking photos of shops , cargadors , colorful plastic tubs , and bums .

Once the film was gone I came back to the hotel. N. had been back and had dropped off the paper & tape, then he'd headed out to photo with the telephoto . I loaded all the 200 (-N’s roll) into a can and was writing a letter to Hector to enclose with the parcel when N. returned. As I loaded his roll into the can he told me he’d run into Jacquelin & Christine, the two beautiful French ladies we met our last day on the Gala. They made a date for 7 for dinner.

We spent the next couple hours loading all the stuff into the carton, making up packing slips, and wrapping the thing all up. Once it was ready to go we headed down to the square and loaded it onto a bus. They charged us 1.40 S each on the bus but the box cost 2 S.

At the airport we were directed to the TAME air freight office. We waited in line and finally got the package weighed (11k) and the paper work filled out. Just as we were about to leave I noticed on our copy of the shipping receipt that the destination was listed as Guayaquil. N. told the guy of the mistake. We got our money and package back with instructions to go to Brannif.

All this running around because we couldn’t find the Andes office. N went out and called their office down town. After several busy lines - he got thru. They said they had an office there at the ’port. So we followed their directions and wound up at an air freight warehouse a half block down the road. That wasn’t it either.

Finally after asking for numerous directions, we were successfully directed to the office. It was just a couple doors down from the TAME office where we’d started, but in his search, N hadn’t seen the sign. We got our paperwork filled out and left the package there. Back on the bus and back to the downtown office to pay the bill. It came to $34 but I didn’t have that much in cash so I had to walk back down to the Casa de Cambio across from AmEx.

Once the bill was payed, N. & I were starving, not having eaten since breakfast. So, with 2 hours to kill before our dinner date with the French ladies, we decided to have a snack at Mc Donalds. Burger and fries later, we took the slow bus back to the old city. The bus was so slow we walked the last mile and beat it to the square.

At the hotel we slipped into some clean duds and walked over to the Guayaquil to meet J & C. They were waiting, as beautiful as ever. We decided to go to the Italia for dinner. It was just down the street from the Chaulafan place on Olmedo. Just as our food arrived who should walk in but E & A. Ann was upset because she’d not heard from her mother in several mos. so she’d sent a telegram to check up on her. No answer yet. They didn’t eat dinner with us. They left before we’d finished talking.

J & C & N & I walked around looking for a bar. All the bars in the old city are particularly sleezy. We opted for a liquor store. There we bought a qt. of Vodka and some grape fruit juice. Our next thought was where to go. No visitors allowed at the Casino and J & C had a 3rd girl in their room whom we didn’t want to disturb. I suggested going to E & A’s. No objections. We woke them up but they invited us in. They’d already finished a small bottle of Scotch but joined us none the less. Ann was quite sloshed. We finished the one bottle and then N. took up a collection and went out for another. All the cig. smoke (she said) got to J. so she left.

Eve told about wiring to her bank manager in London for some money due to an “unexpected emergency”. The emergency was the necessity of showing cash in order to cross into Guat & Mex. To her great satisfaction and surprise she received $1,000. But she didn’t have that much money in the bank and she’d already received her allotted maximum. Evidently the mgr. pulled some strings somewhere.

They told about their adventures getting their visas renewed in Huaras (or was it Trujillo?) In Lima they said it’d be no problem, but in Trujillo they were forced to find another British subject to vouch for them. Finally they found some business official to sign their papers. Back at the immigration after days of running around and frustration with the red tape, they handed over their passports and the paperwork. The man stamped their passports without looking at the papers. “Who ever told you you needed these?” asks the official. “He obviously didn’t know anything. Renewal is automatic in Peru.”

Every day in S.A. is like an April Fools Joke.

They also told about the magic man who wanted them to strip and be cleansed of evil spirits with some cheap cologne, only because he had a bad dream about them traveling in Col. As the night wore on Ann passed out and N. got very drunk. E, C, N & I finished off the 2nd bottle. C retired and about 4 AM I guided N back to the hotel.


[1] We got a note from Eve&Ann, they’d missed us by about 5min. They said to call and have dinner with them.

Chapter 16::Table of Contents::Chapter 18