Donkey Crossing

Welcome to Donkey Crossing! Donkey Crossing is an on-line account of one Limey and one Yank living one Dream. From September 2006 until the end of 2007, we plan to visit friends and family on five continents and immerse ourselves into various cultures, natural phenomena and ways of life. We hope you enjoy our tales and visit often! Cheers, Jason and Rachel Napoli

Monday, September 25, 2006

New experiences; old haunts.
It's day five of our round-the-world trip, and we're just about acclimatized to Quito's 2,850m altitude. We've enjoyed getting reacquainted with the city we called home seven years ago. It's been a real treat to remember fun times with fantastic people, and to notice the norms and quirks of Ecua life that have been 'out of sight, out of mind' since we moved to Chicago.

There's an easygoing vibe here that even the police buy into. At a rock concert for the national "Dia Sin Autos" (Day Without Cars) we mingled with Ecua youth, including high schoolers who were knocking back Aguardiente (hard liquor) like cherry pop. Three police officers stood close by. One watched unfazed while the other two focused their attention and their thumbs on their cell phones, in an all-consuming texting frenzy. During a lively funeral procession we found ourselves observing a man and his kindergarden aged assistants launching bottle rockets to honor the deceased. An interesting tribute, especially in a busy public place in the middle of the afternoon, causing blasts loud enough to wake the dead (and scare the living to death). The police, like us, sat back and observed. Then there's the Chivas - a purely Latin American phenomenon involving a moving bus, live musicians, plenty of booze and a roof crammed with people out for a good time. It's without a doubt a precarious way to party with nothing keeping the revellers on the roof except a good sense of balance and a strong grip (did I mention the abundance of alcohol?). Veering dangerously off the side is 'all part of the fun' as the driver negotiates steep hills and sharp turns. Chivas would be illegal, uninsurable and unthinkable back home. It's refreshing to see them here though, especially as we're waving at the party goers as we enjoy our 'Pilseners' on solid ground.

As we walk around town, everything we're carrying is stuffed in secret pockets for safety, and we're careful where we tread; one false move on this urban obstacle course of potholes and protruding lumps of concrete could easily end in tears, and a broken ankle. Hazards aside, it feels good to acknowledge and be acknowledged by passersby, which is the Ecua way.

It's still an effort to remember to use bottled water for brushing teeth, and to dispose of toilet paper properly. Flushing it is a no-no due to inadequate plumbing. We take these minor adjustments in our stride as part of this rich experience.

The feeling of reconnecting with Quito is profound, and difficult to capture in words. The views or the surrounding mountains are breathtaking from every angle and in every varying degree of sunlight and cloud cover. The mountains are an energizing and awe inspiring presence, as are the good friends we're catching up with here. We've slipped seamlessly back into a community of travelers who welcome all transients, encourage adventures and inspire us with travel stories and dreams.

Quito, we love you and all your magic. It's good to be back.



Blogger AndyM said...

Hi Guys,

This is Andy from Harmon Hall, now living in England. Great to know that you're travelling again, I see you're having a brilliant time.

Funny you should mention the tooth-brushing and the loo-paper-flushing: those were the two things that got me when I returned from Mexico. I had heard about reverse culture shock and I was intrigued and quite excited about this amazing clarity and perspective I was going to experience. Imagine my disgust when the only things that struck me as odd were being able to use tap water and being allowed to flush the paper!

I look forward to reading more - more photos would be good too...

A. x

6:52 AM  

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