This would have to be a summer to remember! Forty plus years has to be a long time to do anything consistently. Especially if it happens to be an affair! Time alone would show affairs have a short lived lifespan once the novelty or infatuation have worn off. So one that has lasted four decades with increasing commitment for the future deserves some attention.
So it is with my affair and Ecuador. Within hours of my arrival in 1970 for our wedding, I was newly captive for the second time. Right down to the aroma of Eucalyptus trees wafting in crisp morning air, accompanied by a chill in the mountain breeze causing me to protect my neck with the collar of my jacket.
Other unidentifiable fragrances mingled with the sounds of a city full of life. Voices calling, vehicle mufflers backfiring, streets of cobblestone jarring teeth in transit to everyplace. Indigenous women with their felt hats, braided hair, ponchos, heavy wool sweaters, flowing black skirts with aparagatos hawking their goods in a musical language yet foreign to me.
Traffic that blared with horns and complete disregard for order, plunging into any space for the chance to hurriedly arrive where most did not really want to go. Traffic lights, of which there were few, barely visible with red or green and the absence of yellow. Not that there was any consideration given to such things in what appeared as mass chaos.
Houses mostly rectangular in shape with roofs of red or green barrel tiles, surrounded by walls sprouting glass shards around postage stamp yards to discourage intruders. Mongrel dogs running loose and an absence of cats. Small stores stuck in walls, filled to the ceiling where the 25 watt bulb barely gave enough light to see the contents.
The aroma of bread baking from neighborhood panaderias busily bagging up warm selections hot from the oven to be consumed as breakfast with freshly squeezed fruits juices and dark liquid called “essencia” for coffee.
Fast forward 40 years and the streets are paved with traffic lights brightly showing red, yellow and green, yet still unsynchronized with traffic flow. As many people as cars, on trolleys, express shuttles, with the addition of motorcycles now ignoring any traffic regulations darting in and out of every space.
More tall buildings poking holes into space once reserved for trees, and now shopping centers and plazas where pastures once roamed. The often used phrase about the more things change, the more they remain the same. Even though 4 decades have passed, computers are in ever increasing use in public offices, lines are more orderly, and many other things like public bathrooms are in use, the inefficiency is ever present.
Careless mistakes made on documents causing more time for completion. Even though more orderly, the lines still exist. Although computers are in use, systems are often down stifling processing of any documents, sometimes for days not just hours.
Some of the very things we thought might have improved, have not. Traffic is abominable, streets are the worse for repair, prices for goods strain to approach those we left behind.
So you might ask the question, is the affair still exciting enough to draw me/us back? We visited 14 cities and 10 attractions the summer of 2013. We’ll be living here in 2014. Guess that means “yes!” It WAS a summer to remember.