To start my time in Ecuador, both my suitcases were left in the Mexico City airport.
The Short End of The Stick Has a Silver Lining
So logically the next step was to go straight from Quito to the Finca, no passing go, and then double back and pass go by buying some underwear in Pacto, the closest town to the Finca. In the modest town of Pacto, I had lunch and the first of many $0.25 ice cream cones and cheap sweet coconut drinks, and came back to explore the farm with my fellow volunteer, Laura. She showed me the mountains, and the orange, coffee, and cacao trees, each with it’s own quirks. I finished the first day by being bitten by copious red ants. Brings me back to the stinging pain when I was seven and sat on an ant hill. The half hour ride back home was excruciating, but luckily this time a cold shower was just a five minute run away.
My first day of work, I sweated my ass off picking coffee, and then chilled on the farm as the weather cooled. The second morning, we went and cut down some palm-like trees and then dragged them to the small nursery we were building. These leaves would shield the cacao seedlings whose bags we had just filled with fresh dirt & cacao tree branchlings.
Next I made lunch and then went on a long taxi ride back to Quito. There, I had supper with my new friend Ray at the cafe I’ll be working at… where I became the unexpected and inexperienced bartender during a sudden dinner rush. So that was fun. Then I was led to the apartment I’ll be living in while working, where I finally took a hot shower and then got to know my roommates a bit as I fell asleep.
A Smelly Age-Old Dilemma: Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Upon waking up, I was confronted with the dilemma of needing to go out and eat something and run errands (like buying a Claro phone chip), but smelling funky in my 4-day-old clothes, and not wanting to force that upon others. That situation quickly worsened with what I have deemed the Horrid Airport Adventure, which involved having to stay overnight in a hotel, only to return on time for work and have had my shift changed.
My boss is not the most welcoming part of my job. So I spent the rest of Thursday Trolley-hopping, ending up at El Ejido, a huge park in central Quito, where I finished up a book and people-watched for a few hours. Returning to my accommodations, I started to read a book online, and I finished around 3am! I read a romance novel trilogy, which was very well written and left me with no regrets. NO REGRETS. Remember this for the next part.
Early Friday morning, I rode the Trolley north for what felt like forever. With everyone packed like corn in a can, I kept a drowsy eye on my stuff. I was headed to confirm the reservation for 2 rooms in a hotel in mid-town, from Sunday to Sunday. My parents are headed south, finally. I ended up stopping by the Kallari Café, the permanent store of the Kallari cooperative which collects cacao from (for the most part) Kichwa farmers around Ecuador and makes chocolate from it. The Café has very delicious chocolate bars and smoothies, so I had to try some of both. Afterwards, I went to the hotel and confirmed everything, continuing on to the cafe, where I work to get a meal before my first shift.
Updates on Work & Leaving the Cafe Bubble
The shift passed without event, and by the end of it I had earned over $4 in tips. Woohoo! I gave it all to Beatriz, the woman who works in the café nearly every day. She is very patient with me, and very kind in general. The next morning we worked together again, and then I had 9 hours to kill before my second short shift. I wandered through my neighborhood, the Historic Center, and ate a bit before I met the other volunteer for this coming week. She was very gregarious, and I trained her at the café during my night shift.
It was relatively easy, because unlike the night before, we had very few customers. Thus, we finished the night by going out dancing, though we didn’t have much luck in terms of finding a place and only ended up dancing for an hour. Either way it was fun, and Alison (the other volunteer) met the man, a friend of the café owner, with whom we had Sunday brunch. He cooked up a traditional Spanish tortilla, and taught us about a type of mushroom-infused coffee which he absolutely loves. Incidentally, he also sells it. We weren’t buying.
At this moment, I am relaxing in my hotel room while I wait for the time at which we will leave to collect my parents from the airport. I can’t wait to see them! Until next time…
Canción de la semana: Yandel— Déjate Amar