Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Staying Inside

Morning Clouds on Pichincha

Quito is cold and wet and less inviting than when the sun is out and the sky is clear. I could hear the rain as I was waking up, and I purposefully did not look outside while I got Maya ready for school. Eric took her downstairs, so I crawled back into bed for a few more hours and when I finally woke up, the sky was clearing although it was very cold.

It was a perfect day to get organized for our eventual departure. It may be months away, but the weeks will pass by quickly, and a rainy day offered me a perfect opportunity to pack two bags full. My inlaws will transport one, and my friend Emily, who arrives on Thursday for a week, will carry the second one. I hope that with two bags less, I will not feel so overwhelmed about packing up and leaving in July. It is a surprise that we have accumulated anything at all; we have been careful not to buy anything unnecessary, but we certainly have more now than when we arrived. Books are a big problem; they are heavy and difficult to part with, and there are piles of books on every surface in the apartment.

I spent some time trying to decide where to take Emily when she visits. Originally I was planning a night in Papallacta and another night at San Isidro, but today I decided that Mindo is so popular, and a place I had never seen, so I looked at lodges in the area around Mindo. Emily is interested in archeology, so we could visit Tulipe as well. I asked Eric what he would recommend for a five day stay, and he felt anywhere I take Emily in Ecuador will be wonderful. Maya suggested Papallacta and San Isidro as well. So many choices!

My inlaws are interested in visiting Macchu Picchu with us in May, when Maya has a weeklong break, so I spent hours on the internet looking at flights and tours and possibilities. I found myself sucked into the computer for far too long. I guess with the grey skies and intermittent rain, I did not feel compelled to leave the apartment, other than to visit LAN and TACA and explore flight options. We are lucky to live across the street from TACA and LAN is in Quicentro which is a couple of blocks away. I learned that buying a ticket from Lima to Cuzco in Peru was a third of the price of what it would cost out of the country. Thankfully with internet, I was able to access websites in Peru and take advantage of the bargain deals.

The skies cleared briefly, and the sun was brilliant for the 20 minutes or so it took to get from home to Maya's school, and it was wonderful to feel the warmth of the sun through the windows in the taxi. But the clouds descended again and it was raining by late afternoon.

The city has instituted a new policy to try to reduce the congestion and traffic during peak hours. It is called 'Pico y Placa'. There are restrictions during the morning and afternoon traffic nightmares, whereby cars with license plate numbers ending in 1 and 2 were not able to drive during the peak hours yesterday, those ending in 3 and 4 were restricted today, and those with 5 and 6 tomorrow and so on. When I took a taxi at 5 yesterday, the taxiste asserted that the new rules had changed everything in just one day, but it is difficult to see that. Maya's bus came to the house at the same time as usual, and it took too long to get anywhere in the afternoon. I read in 'El Comercio' that the police gave out 50 tickets in the first half hour yesterday! Another taxi driver told me that Ecuadorian drivers will not cooperate, that they do not follow the rules anyway and will find a way around the rules. Most people appear to object to the government imposing restrictions on the roads, and do not expect much change.

I have decided that Ecuadorians are good drivers; they are quick and attentive and there are not too many accidents. There are rules of the road, but most drivers pay no attention to them, and do what they want, which works reasonably well. Eric loves driving like an Ecuadorian, so I wonder how he will adjust to the very staid and rules-oriented driving in Baltimore. I like not driving and enjoy taking public transportation; it will be an adjustment being behind the wheel again.

The day ended with clouds descending on Pichincha, and more rain falling, and getting back into bed to feel warm.

Afternoon Clouds