un abrazote

I think I stayed in Cuenca for too long. But things became complicated, with my camera breaking (and the subsequent hours spent in the repair man’s damp, cold office), the momentary infatuation and photo shoot with the strange boy Esteban, the arrival of Lucy and hope for something exciting to unravel. That hope was diminished in the back seat of a crappy car, sandwiched between boys making poor attempts at sex appeal and their bottles of sprite and vodka. Esteban disappeared into the night, and I never heard from him again. Instead, we were stuck with his obnoxious older brother and his friend who served in the Israeli military and talked maniacally about how Israel was the best place on Earth. Earlier that day, some middle-aged, leathery man somehow snuck his fat, dirty fingers in between my legs while on the bus to Sig Sig. I don’t know how I didn’t notice, but when I made the discovery, and swatted at his hand, I wanted to die and vomit at the same time.

Sig Sig was a bit of a disappointment, but I hate that word. I try not to have expectations, but rather just allow things to be themselves. It was OK. I enjoyed watching all the kids run around the town after getting out of school, and felt saddened by all of their cheap backpacks with characters liken Sponge Bob and Hannah Montana and Disney Princesses plastered across them. I sat in the park with the copper angel statues, and listened to a few drunks under a tree mumble in Spanish while I ate my stale rolls. I walked down to the river, sad that the playa mentioned in my book was nowhere to be seen. I listened to the wind rustle through the Eucalyptus trees, watched it stretch the long trunks of the palms this way and that. It wasn’t so bad, and anyways, I shouldn’t waltz around expecting beauty to reveal itself. Sometimes beauty can be strange.

I felt so lonely on the bus ride to Quito. I was in the very front row, my long legs crammed in the tight space between the seat and the wall. The man next to me was my age, and when I sat down next to him, he was reading some small, pocket-sized version of the bible. He had a sparse mustache, and a silver lip ring, I watched his reflection in the glass in front of our seat. I wanted to ask him if I could hold his hand, or rest my head on his shoulder—I don’t know why, but he seemed like the kind of person who would be very comforting, and I felt a little bit like I needed some comfort. I entertained myself with fantasies of ending up in his arms, and then parting ways in Quito, never having even known his name. That was all I wanted, just to be held, for a little while. I know it sounds pathetic, so forgive me, but this past week I’ve felt so lonely. Anyways, these fantasies never materialized, so I settled for our arms and legs slightly resting on each other’s as we both slept (he more than I) on the curvy, bumpy 10-hour drive from Cuenca to Quito. Sometimes I’m certain touch is the most important sensation.

I’m in Quito, now, at Jeanette’s. I haven’t seen her in over two years, and she looks so pretty! Breathing at 9,200 feet isn’t so bad, but I think the week in Baños and Cuenca helped me to acclimate. I just ate the most delicious granola in the world, and some extremely strong coffee, but I think sleep is still needed. I never can sleep on those overnight busses. I’m excited to explore Quito, to meet her friends, research possible job opportunities, and of course, for my Spanish and Salsa classes (the accent in the Andes is beautiful). I’d love to stay in Latin America indefinitely, but if it’s not financially possible, then it’s very likely I’m off to Asia for a year to save up money, and then I’ll return to South or Central America. My father will probably disown me, but I’ve got to do what makes me happy, and for the first time in three years, I feel happy…that’s enough indication for me that this is a path I should continue on, at least for a little while.

as long as i’m able to teach and travel, i’ll be happy. because i can write, draw/paint, and practice spanish (some places more than others) anywhere.

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