28 February 2008

Quito to Banos to Guayaquil.

(This post is a work in progress)

Wake-up time came early the next day. After a quick breakfast, we lugged our bags downstairs to the spacious Swiss Hotel lobby filled to over-flowing with Young Living distributors and their paraphernalia. I met up with a young woman named Kirsten that I connected with on the cruise last year and we wheeled our suitcases out to the bus. We deposited our baggage by the storage compartment where several swarthy men were loading suitcases. Ours were next in line, so we boarded the bus (without watching to make sure the suitcases were properly stowed). Big mistake.

Kirsten and I found a couple of seats, placed our things in the overhead compartment and settled in for the meandering drive to Guayaquil. According to the schedule, this was to take about eight hours through the verdant and volcanic Andean countryside.

In the Blue Eucalyptus

Musicians at the Samari
in Banos

Musicians and dancers at Banos

26 February 2008

Flight To Quito:

We had a little hiccup on the tarmac while pulling away from the gate in Miami. Our plane backed up, turned left to taxi out to the runway and everything electrical suddenly shut down: no air conditioning, no lights, and the TV display, that had just begun the emergency procedures film, went blank. The plane stopped dead. Oh oh, I thought. Not another repeat of the flight to London last time. Emergency number 2.

Thankfully, after about five minutes of inactivity and dead-silence in the plane (no one uttered a word, not even the captain), all the equipment just as suddenly re-energized and the aero-bus headed back out to the runway again.

As we were boarding, I noticed a group of women threading their way down the aisle with bottles of essential oils in their hands. Several had Aussie accents. The American women plopped down in the three seats in front of me, one Aussie in the window seat of my row, and three other Aussies in the row behind. Next to me, in the middle seat sat a young woman (probably in her early twenties). I turned to the ladies from downundah and asked if they were from Young Living. Sure enough, they were, so we talked about the oils for a bit before we strapped ourselves in.

"What are oils?" whispered the pony-tailed colleen next to me. Thus, she opened herself up to a stereoscopic dissertation on essential oils and the reason for our trip. When stuck-in-the-middle-girl finally got a word in edgewise, she explained that she was a military policewoman in the air force traveling from a base in Germany to a base in Ecuador (I didn't even know we HAD a US base in Ecuador!) We chatted back and forth about her nine month stay in Kuwait, and her expectations of what to see and do in Ecuador while she is here for the next nine months.

"Um... did you actually sign up to be in the military after 9/11?" I wondered out loud.

Certainly. She came from a military family and they were busting their seams in pride at her service.

Well, OK then. Wouldn't be my choice, but she seemed to be happy. At the very least, she will have her college education paid for and, no, she didn't have any intention of staying in law-enforcement (at this moment, I can't recall what her field will be).

No more excitement that day. After clearing customs in Quito airport, we Young Living people were met by a large, excursion bus (that took forever to load) and we made our way to our first night's lodging: the elegant and well-appointed Swiss Hotel. I hit the jackpot there. My lodging was on a corner and turned out to be a two room suite: one anteroom containing a full-size bed, and one with the widest king-size bed I'd ever seen. To give you an idea of just how wide it was, two rows of standard size pillows were leaning against the headboard, three pillows across. Being first in the suite, and rationalizing that my roommate might not come in for a couple of hours yet, I naturally chose the cushy big bed in the back with the fluffy, European comforter :-)

Early up (5AM) and late to bed (12:30AM) previously, I reluctantly rose again at 5:30AM to accommodate the pre-set, 8AM departure time. Little did I know that I was to be even more sleep-deprived by that day's end...

23 February 2008


Here I am in the Miami International Airport. A lady just strolled by, jabbering on her cellphone about how lost she was.

MIA. Very appropriate.

This airport is worse than O'Hare, if you can believe it. Signage is non-existent or inadequate and it's almost impossible to find your way around without a map. I guess that's why American Airlines provides you with one in their on-board magazine. I gave up and asked directions. I should get used to it. In a few short hours, all signs will probably be in Spanish.

Boarding should begin in about an hour for the flight to Quito. Here we go.

See you all in about ten days...

Si, se puede!

20 February 2008

72 Hour countdown...

It's less than 72 hours before take-off on the journey to Ecuador.
What was to be an adventure of a lifetime, will be somewhat of a
non-adventure, thanks to Tungurahua. Initially, we were to fly into Quito on January 23rd and leave the next day for Baños. This quaint town in the Andes is the jumping off point for trips to the Amazon area. The highlight was to be a river trip out into the Amazon jungle, carrying portable distillers, to distill essential oils from the native amazon plants. Our guide was to be a shaman from a local village who would have explained the medicinal properties of the amazon plants. This man will still talk to us about the plants, but it will be in a five star hotel in Guayaquil instead of in his local village. Loses something, don't you think? The river-rafting trip that was also planned from the Baños area won't be happening either.

Tungurahua is the rumbling giant who cradles Baños in its foothills. Apparently, the volcano has been sputtering and erupting periodically for at least six months, but it began belching violently a few weeks ago. The organizers of our trip decided to cancel this portion of the itinerary when the road to Baños was closed. I guess they didn't want any injured or dead adventurers on their hands! Lightweights...!

According to the new itinerary, we will now leave Quito immediately and early on Sunday morning and drive the eight hours to Guayaquil in a bus. The journey should take around eight hours and is reported to be a beautiful drive. We will stop along the way for "Kodak moments". Yippee. During our stay in Guayaquil, we will experience essential oil trainings, for which we have received a shipment of oils. We will also go out to the Young Living farm to see the fields, help them do some distilling at the new distillery, check out the
archeological site that was discovered on the property and generally slog around in the mud (thunder storms are expected).

It should be hot and rainy - typical weather for the ecuator.

Hopefully, we will have opportunities to explore in our spare time. With any luck there will be unexpected events and unanticipated pleasures.

Where's Indiana when you need him?

14 February 2008