A morning shoot (rather uneventful), lunch at 11, and then back to Quito, a three hour drive. Home and all the comforts are starting to look very good indeed.
Carlos made one stop at an overlook for all to stretch their legs and take a photo if they so desired. Once again we pass over the Continental Divide. Someone points out a shrine with a religious figure in silhouette. Someone else asked if it was Darth Vader and there was a resemblance. Sacrilegious maybe, but funny.
By three o’clock, we had our room assignment at the Holiday Inn Express where we dropped off our bags and climbed back into the van for a one-way ride to the market place, or Gringo Land as it was called by our driver. Visualize a state fair, with booths side by side, filled with trinkets, blankets, colorful table cloths, refrigerator magnets, souvenirs of every description including replicas of shrunken heads. Now, mentally shrink the size of those booths to no more than six feet by four feet, merchandize piled from floor to ceiling with barely enough room for the proprietor to sit and you get the idea of what Gringo Land looks like. Row after row, aisle after narrow aisle, the sellers hawked their wares as shoppers must turn sideways to pass.
As my suitcase was already packed beyond full capacity, I settled for a tee shirt and a cloth patch for my collection of places I have visited. On the mile or so walk back to the motel, we stopped at a book store to peruse the bird books for future identification of the birds we had photographed. I opted not to buy one deciding that the names of such birds was not all that important to me and I would never remember them for very long anyway. It’s an old folks thing.
Directly across the street from our hotel was a Burger King, home of the Whopper. Guess where my roomie and I ate that night. The Ecuadorian food was great, quite tasty and interesting, but the lure of some good old, down-home, greasy French fries and hamburgers was too much to overcome.
With a wakeup call for 4:00 a.m., we turned in early, ready to go home.
With a 6:30 flight, the customs line was unbelievably long. I was further held up when the x-ray attendant had a problem with something in my camera bag. A man dug through every crevice and pocket until he found the objects of concern; two skinny three inch metal screwdrivers I keep in there for emergency repair. Once found, he was satisfied and waved me on.
Houston was another story. Late out of Quito we landed with only thirty five minutes before our next departure. Naturally we had to take a tram to the gate but arrived with ten minutes to spare only to discover the airlines had changed gates on us, one that was quite some distance from where we now stood. I looked at my watch. No way. That was when an airport lady came up in a golf cart and offered us a lift. I could have kissed her. She even radioed ahead that she had three for Tulsa that were on the way.
The stewardess slammed the aircraft door behind us and we lifted off, our final leg of the journey to Ecuador and back. Back to ice water, hot showers, TV in English, an evening spooker, and maybe the most appreciated of all, putting the toilet paper in the toilet.
Oh, almost forgot. I did not see one single cat in all of Ecuador, not in the city, not in the country, not at the farm houses, not a single doorway, or trotting down the road. Maybe that’s why the people there smile so much and the hummingbirds live in peace and harmony.
Many thanks to all those who followed the journal.