Saturday, August 14, 2010

Pescado, Pescado y Más Pescado

I’m finally going to tell you about the fish in Manta. But I don’t want to give you the punch line before I’ve told the joke so you’re going to have to wait while I give you all kinds of other facts and tidbits and ramble on and on about anything I feel is worthy of rambling on and on about before I tell you about fish. I don’t much like fish, alive or dead, fresh on the hoof (or gill if you want to be picky) or battered and deep fried, so I’m not in a big hurry to get to them anyway.

When I last left you I’d met Jorge’s family and had amazed and awed them with my nearly fluent Spanish spoken with a flawless accent. Since I’d reached the mountain-top I felt I deserved to rest on my laurels, and for the next couple of days I kicked back and rested so much at Abby & Jorge’s house that I lost track of not only what day it was, but even what time it was. Jorge would walk in the door after work, I’d say, “Hi, Jorge, are you home early?” thinking it was around 3:30 or 4:00 p.m. or so and he’d say, “no…’s 6 p.m.” If only every day could be like that….

Don’t let me mislead you. I did DO things during those couple of days. I watched Abby do laundry, I ate what Abby cooked for breakfast and I ate what she cooked for lunch and I ate what she cooked for dinner. I admired the plants in their yard, I played with Maggie, I pet Luna,…. but the time finally came when resting ended and we had to leave for Manta. So Thursday morning we got up early, said goodbye to Quevedo, and hit the road for Manta because Abby and Jorge needed to discuss wedding arrangements with the hotel people, the bakery people, the florist people, the photographer and generally just take care of a hundred-billion wedding details.

When we weren’t taking care of wedding details we went here to a kite-surfing beach about 45 minutes from Manta. Sadly, I had neglected to pack my surfing gear so I wasn’t able to dangle up in the air on a string and then come crashing down into the surf. Maybe next time. I suspect the nun I saw talking on her cell phone

was regretting forgetting hers also. “Sister Mary, this is Sister Agnes. Father Paul is here surfing and now I wish I would have brought my gear. Can you bring it to me?”

And we saw………yes, here it comes … the topic you’ve been waiting for … try not to get too excited ... yes, there are tons of photos ... we also saw………………F I S H. Lots and lots of F I S H in the morning, at the fish market, on the beach, in Manta. It was fish-heaven for the seagulls. We watched men in boats off-shore shovel fish into baskets which were heaved up onto other men’s shoulders and those men would frantically run (as fast as you can run through water) to the beach while seagulls swooped down and picked out a delectable fish for their breakfast.

I guess they didn’t think they lost enough fish to make it worth the time it would take to cover their basket with some kind of net. Or maybe they’re just altruistic fishermen. Or………maybe in a previous life they were a seagull and they came back as fishermen so they know how those seagulls feel. Of course if they used to be a fish….and now they’re a fisherman….they probably just need some therapy.

We were walking around the fish market looking at all the fish when this guy decided to be our own private "fish market guide."  He led us from table to table and would pull up a fish, smile broadly and wait for me to take his picture. 

After a few photos Jorge gave him a little money and we left.  Abby told me later the other people selling fish in the market weren't really happy with him grabbing their fish and holding them up for a gringa. 

As I said earlier I don’t like fish. I don’t like it cooked or raw or swimming in a bowl. But while I was in Ecuador I tried sushi and ceviche. I had imagined ceviche to be a plate containing a pile of raw, slimy fish but as it turned out it was a pretty tasty soup. I think I might even have liked it enough to order some for myself if I hadn’t recently seen a pile of fish guts on the sand. The sushi I can do without—even if it isn’t prefaced with a tour of the fish market.

There was a lot of wedding planning, meetings, and coordinating while we were in Manta and I know you are dying for details but I’m not spilling the beans. Nope. Nuh uh. No details from me. Nada. My lips are sealed. Not even if you bribe me with licorice. Nice, black, savory, ummmmm licorice …. Sorry.

Eight days later my first trip to Ecuador was coming to an end. Saturday we headed back to Guayaquil. We stretched my last day out as long as we could. We stretched it so long that between getting to bed in the wee hours of the morning, and checking my alarm clock every 15 minutes for the few hours I was actually in bed, by the time I was sitting at the Guayaquil airport on Sunday morning at 5:30 a.m., I'd had about one hour of sleep. I planned to lean my head against the side of the airplane and sleep during the flight between Guayaquil and Panama City but the guy in the seat in front of me decided HE was going to sleep—and snore very loudly. So I leaned, but instead of sleeping I listened to his snoring and snorting. I was just glad I wasn’t the person next to him he was probably drooling on.

I had a nice five hour layover in the Panama City airport where I watched a girl sprawled out over some very uncomfortable airport chairs. I admired her ability to sleep like a baby and wished I knew her technique but I could not duplicate it. I don’t know why I couldn’t mimic her. I guess airports are such exciting and stimulating environments I’m afraid I’ll miss something--like how many different colors of flip flops there are, or long women will wait in a bathroom line before they search out a different one.

I knew when I reached Houston I would only have 56 minutes to get through customs, get my bag, check my bag again, go through security and get to my gate. Yes, you read that correctly. Fifty-six minutes to do something that probably normally takes about an hour and a half. I was ready. I knew it was going to be close but I had every confidence that I’d make it. It didn’t matter that I was sitting at the back of the plane. I didn’t have to worry about a carry-on because I didn’t have to guard a wedding dress this time. When the plane landed and taxied to the gate I was going to jump up and shamelessly push myself through to the front. I wouldn’t even have to dig for my boarding pass to check the gate number.

We landed. And then we sat. And we sat. And we sat. We sat for fifteen solid minutes before we taxied to the gate and finally stopped. That meant I was down to 41 minutes.  I jumped up, I pushed through, and I weaseled my way ahead of people in the customs line. I was shameless. I got my bag, went through security, handed my boarding pass to the airport guy and waited. He looked at it and said, “You’re not going to make it.” My heart sank. Then he looked at the gate number on my ticket, looked me in the eye, and said, “Run!”   I took off.

I hadn’t even taken the time to put my shoes back on after the last security check and I ran as fast as you can run a serpentine pattern, barefoot, holding onto your shoes, across a dirty tile floor, with a big purse bouncing up and down against your hip.  If there was an “airport dash” record I'm positive I beat it. But I had not beaten the plane. It was gone. My plane was gone.

At least this time I didn’t have to spend the night and I caught a later flight. Finally, at 9 p.m., two hours later than planned, after 41 hours without sleep, I arrived in Denver.  41 minutes to get to my plane.  41 hours without sleep.  Maybe there's some kind of supernatural significance going on I didn't even realize at the time.  Maybe I narrowly escaped ending up here?  That's shivers down my back spooky.

The next day we drove home to Casper. There was no time to play in Denver. I had to get home you see, because I had another trip to plan. For a wedding. In October. In Manta. Near a beach. But not near a fish market.


1 comment:

Amber said...

I'm very impressed that you tried sushi! Did you try sushi in a roll? Or just straight raw fish? I can't believe that when you went to Ecuador and left Ecuador you had plane issues. That sucks. I'm glad you made it back alive and escaped the Twilight Zone.