Wednesday, April 20th Quito, Ecuador
6:15 Eileen takes a bus to work, and as it passes through Patria, the lingering smell of tear gas is evident.
6:35 Eileen arrives at work. As usual, the TV is turned on right away. Footage from last night’s protests is on the morning news.
7:00 – 9:00 Tim and Eileen both teach pretty full classes. Tim is teaching sicknesses and advice (using should). Once, when his students get sidetracked, talking in Spanish about the previous day’s demonstrations, he gets them back on track by saying, “Ok, so Steve was at the demonstrations yesterday and he was throwing rocks at the police. Now he has a sore arm. What should he do?” It worked.
10:00 After 45 minutes of helping a student translate his resume, Tim leaves for the Plaza to go to the gym and do internet. The bus takes a minor detour around the demonstrations in front of the Radio La Luna (the rabble-rousing leftist radio station in Quito) office. At gym, he text messages Eileen with a warning that the bus will take a detour but don’t worry.
11:20 After having taught her second class, Eileen walks toward Patria, hoping to catch a bus to the gym. She is hoarse from having to speak loudly in class over the incessant sound of cars honking in the streets. As she nears Patria, it becomes clear that traffic is at a standstill. She walks toward Amazonas to see if she can catch a bus there, but there are only protestors stoking tire fires. She makes her way toward America Ave., avoiding chanting protestors.
11:30 Tim finishes his workout. At the gym, the TVs are all broadcasting news. The American Embassador, known as Kristi here, is reported to have gone to the presidential palace. Bus loads of indigenas arrived in Quito yesterday to “show support” for the president. The news reports that, when asked why they’re here, they all respond, I don’t know.
11:40 Tim meets Will outside the gym. His ride has been relatively uneventful. Like Tim, he was on a bus that took a slight detour.
12:00 Eileen finds a bus to the gym. It passes by police roadblock signs, several burning tires, and piles of dirt and construction vehicles parked in the middle of the street, necessitating several detours.
12:30 Eileen arrives at the Plaza. She convinces the guard to let her inside, where she finds all of the businesses closed except for the gym. She meets Tim and Will outside of the gym, which has begun closing early.
12:40 The Storms leave the plaza and get on a bus heading south on America. The trip takes about twice as long as normal; the bus goes down several one-way streets the wrong way. By some lucky turn of fate, it ends up getting detoured to La Gasca and lets the Storms off right in front of Supermaxi, which happens to be as far up La Gasca as it can drive.
1:17 A roll of thunder erupts while our heroes are stocking up on what could be a 24 hour lock-in at home. “What was that?” Will asks. “I don’t know. Could be thunder, could be a car exploding,” Tim replies. Eileen observes a young woman say to her husband, “Dios mío, que pasó?”
1:25 We leave Supermaxi with lots of food and begin walking up La Gasca. Tim walks in the middle of the street because “I can.” We pass by several wood fires. They smell much better than burning tires.
1:40 We arrive home. Will puts away groceries. Tim cranks the emergency radio – not because the power’s out but because the batteries don’t work – and they listen to the reports on Radio La Luna.
1:50 The official report comes that the military has withdrawn its backing of Gutierrez and that he has officially fallen from power.
1:51 Our WorldTeach director Jess calls to make sure we’re staying home. Eileen shouts, “acaba de salir!” but Jess doesn’t hear.
1:52 Tim and Eileen go to the roof. There is no noticeable difference from the rooftop. Someone rings a bell in the distance.
1:57 We turn on the TV and begin watching off and on for the next six hours.
2:00 Tim goes to see the landlords. They’re watching the news. They talk with Tim about the protests, the fall, and their dog Bella, who is now two days past due. Tim promises to help deliver the pups when the time comes.
2:11 The vice president, Alfredo Palacio (sometimes called Alfredo Palacios) is sworn in as the new president.
2:20 We begin making lunch. Calzones.
2:26 Tim starts cutting his hair. Will finishes the job 15 minutes later.
3:00 A helicopter leaves the presidential palace, reportedly with Lucio. It arrives at the airport and is met by protesters blocking the runway. The airplane can’t take off. Lucio gets into the helicopter again and it leaves.
3:30 The news reports that Lucio had asked Panama for political asylum.
4:00 The news shows footage of the police searching the Guayaquil airport for Abdalá Bucarám, the ex-president who had been chased out of the country in a very similar fashion eight years ago and who had just recently re-entered the country thanks to Lucio’s political maneuvering.
4:30 Reports claim that Lucio’s helicopter was heading toward the oriente, and that he had asked for political asylum from Brazil.
4:45 Tim gets restless, wants to go down toward his school to take pictures and see if his school is closed. The TV is showing footage of the Ministerio de Bien-Estar, the most violent site of the protests. The mob, apparently provoked by shots fired by a politico on an upper floor, breaks into the building and starts generally destroying things. They bring out pictures of Gutierrez and impale them on fences. The mob sets fire to the building and loots it. The police arrest several politicians. People start climbing out of windows to escape the fire. A man slips and falls two stories to his death. In the meantime, across town at the Ciespal, demonstrators are not allowing the congress or the President Palacios to leave the building.
4:55 Tim starts fiddling with computer stuff and distracts himself until 6:05. Upstairs, Eileen and Will have both fallen asleep despite the TV blaring speculations about where Lucio might be.
6:30 The rain that has been falling off and on since 2:00 has driven away the protesters at the presidential palace. The protesters at the Ciespal, however, are still at it. They are holding a public forum to decide what to do about congress. Many want to throw them all out and start from scratch.
7:00 At some point, reports circulate that Lucio could possibly be in Quito at the Brazilian Embassy. Tim starts petitioning for Eileen to make cookies.
8:00 We put on Hitch and watch it.
9:17 Eileen goes to bed. No cookies. No puppies.
Wow! That is much more exciting than my day.