Sunday, October 31, 2010

If Wishes Were Hammocks ... I Would Be Swinging

My “tour group” all agreed to share photos with each other once we got back home from our trip to Ecuador. I’ve been looking at mine, trying to get them ready to upload to everybody. I’ve been sorting out the bad ones, the blurry ones, and the ones I suspect have an insect somewhere in the photo but it’s so camouflaged I can’t find it. It has only been two weeks since we left Ecuador and it seems so far away now. Two weeks ago the crepe paper wrinkles in my skin were filled out -- more like seersucker -- and I didn’t leave a trail of skin flakes whenever I moved.  Two weeks ago I woke up to the weaver birds making their nests in the tree just outside our cabin.  I still didn't get to sleep in because they began their "singing" at 6:00 a.m., but at least it wasn't an alarm clock.  Two weeks ago I didn't want the trip to end, which is not the norm for me.  Normally, on day three or four of a trip I’m ready to go home. But this time … I wish I was still there. I wish I was lying on a hammock, sweating, after a walk in the rain forest.

I wish I was eating plantain chips and drinking Club beer at a restaurant on the beach.

I wish I walking on the beach (even though I didn't get to see any of the cool creatures in the tidal pools because I lived in the beauty salon and when I wasn't in the beauty salon I couldn't walk on the beach because my toenails had been painted for the wedding.)

I wish I was so far away from my normal routine that I had no choice but to relax and unwind and absorb. And I wish I was still with all my tour group buddies, hanging out, laughing, visiting, teasing, and reconnecting.

Since I’m not there, I am now going to relive my trip through multiple blog posts. I’m going to ramble on and on and on and reminisce and long for past events. However, one thing I will not do (right now anyway) is talk about the wedding – other than to say this. I have seen a few (far too few so far) wedding photos and I have seen smiles. I have no memory of smiles until I was at the reception but there are actual post-wedding/pre-reception photos with real smiles. I promise to show you those smiles later. And I will tell wedding stories. Happy ones. But for now I’ll begin with “Adventures in Manta”. Otherwise known as “How I Spent the Few Moments I Was Not in the Beauty Salon.” So settle in. Pour a glass of wine (or whiskey). Put your feet up. Place the laptop in your lap and get comfortable.  And if you're brave and choose not to click that little “X” up in the right hand corner of your screen, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Dean’s sisters and husbands (Debbie & Bill, Dianna & Dave) and my sister (Shelly) wanted to attend Abby’s wedding and stay after for a vacation in Ecuador but they weren’t quite sure how to go about making the arrangements. Dean stepped forward and said, “Ask my wife. She’s an obsessive-compulsive, crazy, controlling woman. She’ll help you.” And that’s how I became a tour director.  Jonathan and Christie (Gen-Yers) planned to attend the wedding and, bless their souls, decided to travel to the Amazon with us.  Maybe they thought hanging out with people born before computers, who think a text is something written on paper, and who could barely operate the brand new cameras they had purchased for the trip, would provide them with stories they could laugh about with their friends for years to come.  

Making all the arrangements for the trip involved alot of communication with hotels, hostels, the lodge and airlines.  No question was too small for me and every time I had a question I fired off an e-mail. I have a feeling there was alot of cringing going on when my name popped up in the official Contact Us "In Box”. Dean should have warned "the group" that I am a compulsive, addicted e-mailer. E-mails are like food to me. I need to send them and I need to get them. And more than that, if I ask a question, I need a response. And I need it quickly. Honestly, doesn't everybody check their e-mail 50 times/day?  If I don’t get a quick response I am sometimes forced to send a follow-up “did you get my e-mail?” message. And of course, each time I received a response from the hotel, the airline, the lodge, the hostel, I felt obligated to share that with my group.

After lots of planning and approximately 639 e-mails, we all met at the Houston airport.
Together we flew to Ecuador ...

and arrived at the Guayaquil airport at 11:30 p.m. When we finally arrived at our hostel and drug our travel-worn bodies in through the front door at nearly 12:30 a.m., our only thought was to crawl into bed  ... until we discovered the outdoor patio on the roof and beer in the office for $1.25/bottle.

After barely closing our eyes we woke up the next morning, loaded into a van ...

and were driven to Manta.

Abby had told me ahead of time she was going to meet us at the hostel and ride along with us. It was supposed to be a secret. But I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. I started by just telling one person, “Don’t tell Leslie, but Abby’s coming.” Then I whispered to somebody else, “don’t tell Leslie, but Abby’s coming” and somebody else….until I’d pretty much told them all. So when Abby walked in to the hostel that morning as we were waiting for the van, expecting excited exclamations, what she got was ten people sitting quietly waiting for Leslie to jump up and scream in surprise. Which she did. Because at least I didn’t tell her. But one person jumping up, alone, in excitement, wasn’t quite what Abby was expecting. In my defense…….well, there is no defense.

Once we arrived in Manta, Shelly, Leslie, Abby and I spent most of our time sitting in a chair in the beauty salon.

I wish I was exaggerating but I think the total time was about seven or eight hours over two days. We were there so long the chairs had permanent impressions of our butts on them when we left. Not only were the beauticians at this salon very, very, very, very slow, they didn’t like it when Shelly tried to change their plan once they’d decided how they wanted to do her hair. In mid-hairdo Shelly asked her beautician if she would bring down a bit of hair on the side of her face. The girl looked at her and said, “No.” Shelly asked again thinking maybe she hadn’t used the correct sign language. “No!” And that was that.

When I wasn't getting manicured, pedicured, and hairdo’d I was on the beach with everybody else, eating.  At one restaurant Ryan tried to break the language barrier to find out the secret recipe of the green salsa that was served everywhere. He made a valiant effort using creative body language but all he managed to do was entertain the waitress.

When I wasn't eating, I was drinking.

And when I wasn’t on the beach eating or in the hotel drinking or in the beauty salon, I was at a wedding which I will tell you happy stories about another day.  



Art Elser said...


How could you think I'd fall face first int my keyboard with one of your great adventure tales? Is it the vast quantities of beer you consume on these trips or the escape from wedding stories that make this story so funny. BTW, is that Abby's secret service body guard standing behind her as she gets her hair done? Needs more beer, me thinks. ;-)

Amber said...

Great post! It was strange coming to work the day you and Dean got back to the land of the cubes. You had been on a grand adventure, and when you came back it was like you hadn't left. Thanks for sharing! I've been wondering what it looks like to hang out in Ecuador and enjoy a beer.