I'm sitting in a coffee shop in downtown mariscal, the area of the city where all the cheap hostals, divvy bars, hipster nightclubs are located and, by dint of these, all the hippified foreign backpackers hang out. It doesn't take a rock scientist to realize that this is a great place to set down your internet enabled, open all night coffee shop, 'cause the only thing all these foreigners need more than their steady dose caffeine and 2 for 1 happy hour drink specials is access to their gmail accounts and mindless chatting with their friends back home. But, if that's the no-brainer, then what's the rationale for only playing music made before 1990? Did something happen to music over the last 20 years that I'm not aware of? I've got nothing against Bon Jovi, Depeche Mode, REM, or even Def Leppard, for pete's sake, as generic background music, but what's with the exclusivity? It's not like you can't get newer music on the cheap at the stalls around town. Is it a nostalgia thing? Are we trying to resurrect the spirit of an easier time of yore somehow? To tell the truth, it might actually be working for me, personally. After my fifth espresso in fewer hours, I'm getting that uneasy feeling that I've forgotten to do my homework, or else I'm horribly past my curfew and have to get home soon.
And get home I would, if it wasn't raining so much. It was a deluge this afternoon, much like yesterday. Yesterday, I made a major miscalculation and tried to get home before the rain, and ended up wading through water running fast and furious, at least a foot deep in the streets. It was coming down in buckets, and being plowed up in sheets by passing cars and buses. So, today, I thought, in all my cleverness, that I'd wait it out before venturing home, and it just doesn't stop. It pours, then it drizzles. Then it pours again. So much for the dry and crisp autumnal Quito that we've all come to love and expect.
So, what, you may ask, am I doing in an internet cafe when I have a fat data pipe just waiting to help me connect to the interweb at home? Fancy you should ask. I discovered late Friday afternoon that our internet connection had been disconnected because someone had "forgotten" to pay the cable bill. Originally, I chalked up the connection problems to the weather, figuring that some cable or satelite had been deep sixed in the monsoon we've been experiencing. But then, I was finally able to talk to a support tech, who related, in as near a translation as I can manage, that I was experiencing a common ID-10T issue. Gotta love those. I love the fact that they turn off the connection on a Friday afternoon when, to reconnect, one has to go to the office, in person, which is only open Monday through Friday from 9 to 5 (with an hour and a half siesta). Hence me, sitting here, downloading my emails and uploading my comments and generally being a dirty, hippified foreigner. I would have been finished ages ago if the rain hadn't started. At least I can watch the 99 red balloons go by while I wait.
Despite the rain yesterday, we still had our first big dinner party in our new apartment. Lots of people came over to enjoy A's wonderful cooking (my one comment: those organic chickens are not only small, they are damn hard to "carve" what with their lack of fat, or breast meat) and a friendly game of Settlers of Catan. Aside from the cooking planning and prepartion, A's been busy redecorating the house with her rather psychadelic lilies - pictures she's modified in photoshop or picasa or something to supersaturate the images with all kinds of colors that didn't exist in the original. Turns out that she'd contacted a former classmate of mine to print the images for her. Since I was already soaked from my walk home, I was delegated with the task of going to pick up the prints from Lorena's house. Typical of Ecuadorean customs, Lorena lives in an apartment building that houses most of her extended family. Her brother, Sebastian, lives downstairs, his movie posters covering the hallway. Her mom's upstairs. I had these weird flashbacks of random parties held in the building 20 years ago as I was walking up the stairs to see her again for the first time in as many years. And then, in passing, a vivid memory of the terrorizing effect of watching the movie "Gothic" all by my lonesome way up in the penthouse aparment one night so long ago.
But I digress. The memories do come at the most unexpected times, but the focus is on the present, and our current activities. We have our first guest staying at the house for a few days. An ex-colleague of A's is in town for a conference later this week and came down early to see the sights. I'm not counting him as a true visitor, since he didn't necessarily come down because we're here, so Nass's status remains unchanged, for now.
Speaking of travel, it looks like I'll be back in the DC area at least 2 more times before the end of the month. The travel is getting a little crazy, especially when the fact that I didn't have more than two or three work meetings during the previous year is factored in. I'm hoping the travel requirements tail off in the summer so I can enjoy being here some more and flying in coach for 5 or more hours at a time a little less.
We still don't have a car. That's pretty high on our to do list so we can start traveling around the countryside over all those as yet nonexistant free weekends. We're still on the fence about moving to an unfurnished apartment, but we're getting used to the place we're living in now. Plus, A's been pretty good about filling up our previously furnished place with additional "must haves" of our own which, in some sort of twisted irony, will make moving that much more difficult in the near future.
Not much else to report of note. California was work; work that was made more frustrating, if possible, by someone's brilliant decision to hold the meetings in a hotel right on the beach. The conference room had a panoramic view of the ocean, with its surf and occasional dolphin sightings, and the beach, with its unique mix of sun, sand, bikinis, and volleyball. What am I saying? It was a great place to have a meeting, just not very productive.
The flight back, leaving LAX at 2 am, was not fun. I still haven't learned how to sleep sitting up, a skill that I will probably hone over the many flights that seem to be cropping up. The 3 rowdy drunken surfer dudes heading down to panama made the waiting area entertaining. They were far less entertaining when they were sitting next to me on the flight, however. I was a little nervous about being on the aisle, stuck between the groaning and moaning and head holding on one side and the beckoning port-a-potty down the aisle on the other, but the flight went without incident, thank the munificent lord.
Anyhoo - the rain is abating, for the nonce, and I'm off, 'cause I'm a cowboy, and on a steel horse I ride, and I'm wanted... somewhere else.