Finally, I’ve made it safely to Quito, if not a bit late, and I’m on my way to the Savoy Inn Hostel. This story starts a little less than a week ago.
It’s Tuesday before I leave to Ecuador. Only five days until I’m on my way. Just for good measure, I decide to call up the Ecuadorian Consulate to make sure that they have sent my passport with the student visa that I applied for two Fridays ago. That was a bit of a serendipitous common sense because the lady at the consulate tells me that my passport not only hasn’t been returned, but also, low-and-behold, I’m missing two documents and I sent them the wrong application! Did I mention that they also needed to send me some documents that I needed to sign and return before they could finish processing the visa and return my passport? Plus, I hadn’t sent a large enough return envelope, so that lost me even more brownie points with el consulado.
Thus began a frantic week of calling the consulate, my program advisors and practically anyone I could think of who could help get my passport on time. After about three days of repeated calling, I was pretty close with Beatriz over in the Ecuadorian consulate. By some miracle, she decided to let me fax in the paperwork so that she could start processing the visa before I returned all those signed documents. Somehow, the consulate, postal service, Fed-Ex, my parents, and my passport all synchronized for a few harmonious moments, and my visafied passport arrived in the mail on Saturday, less than 24 hours before departure.
This was not the part of the story that caused my delay, but it definitely marked the first lesson that I learned from Ecuador (via the Consulate). I’m not sure how to put it into words, but I would be something like trust in others. My aunt told me last week that I have a huge guardian angel energy. If so, I’m fairly certain that Beatriz at the consulate was working in cahoots with my angel through the whole visa situation. Maybe this trip will be more “spiritual” or whatever you can to call it, than I thought.
Once I got my passport, I everything went smoothly, including the wedding of my good friend, until I got to the Boise airport. Well, I guess you could say it was when I got to the gate, where we were delayed 20 minutes for the flight to San Francisco. Then we got delayed 20 minutes again as we hovered over SF. Our final arrival time was one hour later than scheduled, which was the exact time of my layover before my flight to Houston. So I missed the flight to Houston along with about 10 other people on my flight and 10 other flights in the SF airport. And we all stood in the customer service line for a good 2 hours, meaning that I missed the second flight to Houston. Finally I got to Houston a few hours later, but that meant that I missed my 5pm flight to Quito. My airline did not send me on another airline or even find accommodations for me in Houston, because the delay was caused by weather… which they can’t control. : [
That delay was definitely a bummer, but there was a bright side. I met a lovely lady at the customer service desk in Houston named Betty who made sure my luggage was still going to Quito and gave me a United Airlines overnight packet. I ended up staying the night in the Houston International Hostel and meeting a lot of pretty cool people, and one rather egocentric rapper. Also, I got to visit the Houston Holocaust Museum and Fine Arts Museum.
It took me all week to get around to writing the blog post and now I’m on the plane to Quito. For some reason, it still hasn’t hit me that I’m going to be in Ecuador and I’m not coming back. I’m excited and a little bit nervous to meet my first host family, which consists of three young men (ages 19, 19, and 23) and a single mother. They are picking me up from the hostel tomorrow at 8 am. I’m done for now, but stay tuned for more later!