Written by Conrad Iwanicki (Creator of Godhand)
I had never been out of the United States so I was mildly excited to go to Quito, Ecuador. It was the first time in a while I had been looking forward to doing anything. I had 2 weeks of vacation and would be able to work remotely for another 2 weeks. 30 days by myself in a Spanish speaking country AND I didn’t know how to speak Spanish... just the adventure I needed.
The Taxi Ride I’ll Never Forget
In typical Conrad fashion I had treated myself to a fifth of Maker’s Mark the night prior to my 8 AM departure… and you guessed it! Slept in. Woke up at 7 AM… I was flying out of Ft. Lauderdale and knew I still had a slim chance of making my flight. Still drunk and cursing the early morning Florida sun, my cab arrived. A jovial man I would later find out was from Cameroon happened to be my driver. We had a 10 minute ride to the airport. I will never forget this man…
“So where are you going?”
“Oh, I know why you’re going to South America”
“Ha, why am I going to South America?”
“You know the prostitutes are great down there.”
All I could do was laugh nervously… I was still too bleary eyed to retort… this led him to believe he was right and he doubled down on his theory.
“Yeah man, you know those prostitutes down there are cheap, and you can get young ones too.”
Ok, now this was getting weird, but my morbid side couldn’t hold back from asking, I wanted to know how perverse this guy really was.
“How young do you think?”
“14, 15… no problems”
“Man, I’m not into little girls.”
“Oh that’s ok, you’ll find an older prostitute then.”
“I’m not into prostitutes either.”
“HAHAHAHA sure you aren’t.”
Thankfully, we finally arrived at the airport. I couldn’t get into that terminal fast enough. I’m still kind of irritated that some taxi driver from Cameroon thinks I’m into prostitutes and potentially underage ones. More importantly, do I look like a dude that’s into hookers? Most importantly, what kind of fucked up world do we live in?
I couldn’t lose myself in these thoughts, I had a flight to make.
I arrived at the ticket counter and after being chastised in broken English for my late arrival, the ticket counter lady gave me my boarding pass and I made my flight with roughly 4 minutes to spare.
A Rough Landing
Quito is nestled in the Andes Mountains at an elevation of 9,350 feet… the approach into the airport is interesting to say the least. A lot of steep banking and sudden altitude drops. As we made our first approach I was white knuckling as the ground kept getting closer and closer and still no runway.
When the runway finally came into view I realized we were WAY too short to make the landing… I had this weird lightning flash of an experience where I thought, “OH MY GOD WE’RE GOING TO DIE”, as the plane simultaneously powered up and started climbing rapidly. I held my breath for what felt like 10 minutes until I realized we were safe.
The 2nd landing was successful and all the passengers started clapping ecstatically. It was a very strange moment, but one that made me feel alive. I hadn’t even set foot on foreign soil and was already being jarred from my depression…
Stay tuned for part 4 on Monday!