Note: Rachel and I have just returned to Archidona (where there is internet) from a church camp in Latas (where there was not). I originally planned this post for Sunday night; my apologies for the delay.
I had almost persuaded myself to name this post, “Bed and Breakfast.” That phrase sums up the post’s contents accurately, but I couldn’t deny that the term also implies a type of business that has yet to entertain us here in Ecuador. So I abandoned that idea in favor of identifying some thread that linked every highlight of our first full day overseas.
The connecting theme found its first link a few miles down the road from the airport at the hostel where Kevin, our host, had reserved us rooms. Given that we exited the airport close to midnight (Ecuador runs on Central time, by the way), he had elected for us to spend the night outside Quito. The next day we planned to rise at 7am to trek back to the missionaries’ home in Archidona.
As Kevin warned us, highway noises roared outside our windows, but the room charmed me nonetheless. Perhaps I succumbed to the cheery lemon walls enclosing the jungle of a courtyard outside. Inside, two water bottles labeled, “Dale una vuelta!” greeted us (‘Give it a spin!’ Rachel and I surmised). On our first night in South America, not even the lack of hot water could faze me.
Two minor disappointments did beset me there. The first centered on the pocket-sized camera my parents very thoughtfully purchased for me as a substitute for lugging my heavy and attention-grabbing DSLR around. I did my best to give it a fair trial.
The result: I probably expected too much of a compact, but can you see from these two shots why I relegated my point-and-shoot to the bottom of my backpack?
At least I can retrieve the baby camera if need arises.
As for the second disappointment, I’ll just say that my college’s president would agree that our pillows were not, strictly speaking, good. Their being more closely approximated that of logs. (Update from Wednesday: All the pillows in Ecuador are about half the size of what we use in the U.S., apparently. I find this disconcerting.)
We slept nonetheless, and rose the next morning to splendid, sunlit peaks on the horizon line. I never managed to snap a picture, in the bustle to load up Kevin’s van, so I contented myself with photographing the lovely, flaxen-haired Tessa, third child and eldest daughter of Kevin and Beka.
I must thank her for requesting that we eat before we departed. At her behest, we trundled across the street to the restaurant pictured above (unaffiliated with the hostel, hence my reluctance to imply otherwise in the title).
Kevin later compared the place to a medieval mead hall. We slid onto benches at a long, central table; in the doorway, two or three dogs lounged. Around the edges of the room, warriors — er, strangers — sat huddled over their mugs. I almost pressed Kevin for a recommendation on what to order, but then I remembered my goal to practice observing.
I waited. After we chatted a few minutes more, our breakfast arrived — no menu involved. A lady served us bread with queso fresco: a thick blond slice of dairy goodness that beat out even the fresh mozzarella I devour at home. She also brought us a bowls of buttercup eggs, which I flavored with a dribble of salsa, and mugs of warm milk.
I abstain from coffee (and spicy foods, too, generally), but I had decided in advance to try anything healthy, so I bowed to custom here and mixed a dusting of coffee into my drink. The concoction took the edge off the extreme dryness that had pervaded my mouth, eyes, and nose since before we hit the runway. Bread, cheese, eggs, and coffee: How much did this feast cost us? About $2 per person.
Thus satisfied, we loaded back into the van, which seats at least fifteen. The front row doesn’t offer much leg room, but it suits Kevin’s work with youth sports teams in Ecuador. This worthy vehicle would carry us to see these youth in action, at a soccer (“futbol”) game in Chaco, before we concluded our journey in Archidona. So, my theme continued, on the goldenrod-edged highways of Ecuador.