The night before I left for Ecuador I actually slept rather well. This surprised me a little since I’m the type of guy who still has trouble sleeping on Christmas Eve. But doing laundry and packing took from evening to morning and I didn’t get to bed until about 1AM. I woke up in plenty of time to be ready for my 6:30AM rendevous. I even had time to run by McD’s for a little breakfast. The problem was that my 6:30AM rendevous was now a 6AM rendevous, a detail I managed to overlook. As Jen and I were pulling up to the church she said, “Wow, looks like the Bauer’s are actually going to be a little early.” We have something of a reputaion. So, I missed the send-off prayer and started everyone’s trip off with a memory.
There were about 45 people and about 75 to-be-checked bags that all had to make the trip from SFO to Houston to Quito. We would be doing construction, a five day program for about 300 kids, and dentistry, we had to take most of the necessary gear down with us. Everyone was responsible for a bag of gear in addition to their own luggage. The fact that we successfully and relatively uneventfully got everything checked in at SFO and out in Quito was no minor miracle.
After two crummy in-flight movies, two bad microwaved airline meals, and about 10 hours, we finally arrived in Quito, Ecuador, 9000 feet high in the Andes Mountains. We breezed through customs and were greeted by pastor Ramiro Baez just outside the aeropuerto. That means airport in Spanish. The next leg of our trip would be an hour and a half bus ride to Pifo. When I heard that we would be riding buses I envisioned something out of a Bollywood movie. A bus packed to the gills, people hanging out of windows and on the roof, chickens wandering the aisle, etc. They were in fact very nice tour buses reserved for just our group. The very nice tour buses without chickens took us on a white knuckle ride to Pifo that was like nothing I’d ever experienced, though I would experience it many more times on this trip. Apparently, in Ecuador, lines on the road and signs on the street are merely meant to be suggestions. You haven’t truly lived until you’ve ridden in a bus that’s passing a second bus on a semi-obscured corner, with a third bus bearing down hard in your direction in the lane you currently occupy. Truly harrowing. Good times.
We arrived at our destination, the Hosteleria Nevada, somewhere north of 12AM. The hostel was actually quite nice. All the rooms were very clean and the grounds were very well maintained. My room didn’t have it’s own bathroom, but many of them did. As J Crew (Josh), RJ-77 (Rhett), and I were unpacking, Rhett and I noticed Josh doing some strange convulsions and laughing a laugh thats only laughed when something has gone terribly wrong and there’s nothing else to do but laugh.
“Do you know what’s supposed to be in this pocket?”, Josh asked, pointing to an empty pocket of his carry-on bag.
“Your underwear?”, I said sympathetically.
“My Greek homework!”
Josh is currently a seminary student and is taking ancient Greek, which, apparently, is very hard. Josh had spent the entire 10 hour plane ride working on Greek homework and he had left it on the plane. It was a fitting end to a long day for all of us.