Written by Conrad Iwanicki (Creator of Godhand)
It took about 40 minutes to get to the hostel from the airport. It was a long ride, but in hindsight that ride served as a decompression chamber of sorts that prevented me from getting a case of the “cultural bends”.
I was able to adjust slowly and surely to all the little things that were massively different… the filthy streets and sidewalks, the 10 foot walls with barbed wire that surrounded every home, the endless parade of street vendors, the unruly drivers in four cylinder pieces of shit, the odd mix of people dressed in modern “American” clothes and people dressed in much more traditional Incan garb… as jarring as it all seemed, I noticed one thing as we crept through traffic on the narrow Quito streets… people seemed very happy.
Maybe I have a chance...
It was a glimmer of hope for me really. Happiness, it wasn’t some pie in the sky fantasy… it was attainable and I knew I could get back to my old self eventually. This child-like wonderment began to wash over me, I was in a foreign land and no one knew a fucking thing about me. No one to say they were sorry to hear about my mom, no one to tell me I should stop drinking so much, no one to pretend they had a single clue about what I had been through. This is exactly what I needed, anonymity reinforced by a language barrier. I felt a huge release in this moment and held back tears. Anyway, we had arrived and my experience was set to begin.
I promptly tipped my driver $10 on a $10 fare… yeah 40 minutes and it was $10… I could get used to this. My host who spoke some English, would later find out about this gross over tipping and chastise me. I tried to hold back my laughter as I didn’t want to be condescending, but I was more than happy to pay that for such a long ride…. The ironic part is as this trip would progress I began to adjust to how cheap everything was and soon enough would start thinking a $4 lunch was a bit pricey. Funny how the mind and relativity works.
I do what, with what?
I spent a few minutes getting to know my hostel host and after she showed me to my room she told me that I couldn’t flush toilet paper in the toilet…. I laughed, but she was very serious. Their plumbing couldn’t handle toilet paper. Not only that, but the trash can where I was to dispose of said toilet paper, was a satisfied looking frog licking his lips. Now I know why Kermit and Miss Piggy were a thing… it appears both pigs and frogs are happy in shit…
I unpacked my shit… ok, poorly chosen phrase... I unpacked my bags and then set out to get something to eat. An obese alcoholic at the time, I knew I needed two things, food and alcohol.
I found a two table restaurant around the corner, I say restaurant, but it was a stall. I read the menu/dry erase board. One thing on it… Shrimp Ceviche… or Ceviche de Camaron. Thankfully Mexican restaurants had taught me some basic Spanish or I would have been totally lost reading menus.
I asked for a cerveza too… they served me a massive bowl of ceviche that was THICK with shrimp and a liter of Club beer. They told me the total about 10 times before they figured out that they should just write it down. $3.75… I’ve died and gone to heaven. Ecuador… we’re going to get along just fine.
Please note...I took mostly photos of nice things. So don't give me some rant about what high standards I have for cleanliness.
Stay tuned for part 6 tomorrow!