Yesterday afternoon I was walking home from Supermaxi up the hill. The weather has been nice here the last few days so it was a pleasant walk. I was deep in thought about what to do this weekend when a loud crash jolted me awake. A car turning onto a side street had rammed into another car, pushing it onto the median, taking out a tree and smashing a few car windows. It all happened literally across the street from me. The car at fault immediately took off and the people in the badly damaged car started to get out. It didnï¿½t look like anyone was hurt. When the people got out the car the started yelling up the street “follow them” I followed the direction of their shouts and saw about 3 police men just standing there. After enough prodding one of them hopped in a cab (not his police motorcycle) apparently to try and intersect the other car at the bottom of the hill. I have to say I wonï¿½t miss the crazy dangerous drivers here.
I left Ecuador at 9:40 am, Wednesday. I got home at 5:30 am, Thursday. My plane was delayed out of Miami, then we sat on the runway for an hour and a half, then we were in a holding pattern before entering Chicago. I got into Chicago at 11:00, too late for a plane, bus, or rental car (which were sold out).
On the plane, I was sitting next to the only other person to travel from Ecuador to Milwaukee. We teamed up, using her cell phone, to call American Airlines, rental places, etc. After learning that we would be stuck in Chicago until a 1:00 flight the following day, we got an offer from Will to come come pick us up. We accepted.
He got to O’Hare at 3:30. We got to Mom’s house at 5:30. I called Eileen and then slept.
Total time it took to get to Ecuador and back through American Airlines, including delays, layovers, and flight time: 7 days.
And they call this the “developed world.”
Tim and Will both headed out yesterday morning. I got a call from Tim this morning at about 6am saying that he got home safe. But flights were apparently a headache and he literally just got home. He couldnï¿½t get from Chicago to Milwaukee last night because his flight from Miami to Chicago was delayed. So I think he said one of Willï¿½s friends drove him home. So anyway now itï¿½s just me holding down the fort in Ecuador. I leave next week Saturday and I really donï¿½t have that many classes left. I have to teach Friday and then Monday through Wednesday, but Thursday and Friday of next week we just have exams. So I imagine it will be going fast.
All of you in WI should give Tim a big welcome home hug!
I can’t do justice — sitting in this airport, watching some music video featuring Sugar Ray and Shania Twain, slightly disturbed by the amount of English I’m hearing and seeing — I can’t do justice to the emotions I felt at 6:06 when I was sitting in the apartment, eating cereal, looking at Eileen and thinking about how I had 15 more minutes left with her in Ecuador. I can’t do justice to the quiet descent of the SECAP stairs last night at 8:03, when, in my somewhat emotional state, I started cataloguing lasts: last time in the office; last time locking the broken door; last time on the 3rd floor; last time passing my classroom; and so on. When I walked by my classroom, incidentally, I saw a strong reflection of a woman who I think was in the classroom next door — the one separated from mine only by a couple of thin walls with many windows. The thing is, I passed by quickly and thought maybe it was a ghost, the ghost of the gringa teacher who haunts SECAP.
I walked with a couple students to the bottom of LaGasca and waited for my last bus up. Soon, though, a small minivan came by, a woman shouting, “La Comuna, La Gasca.” I got in the shotgun seat with a box of teacups (a gift from Byron), and some white roses (a gift for Eileen I purchased before class). I asked the driver what street he would turn on: “La Domingo Espinar,” he said. And I said, “ya.” He dropped me off right in front of my door.
But I can’t do justice, even now on the plane, to the series of poignant moments, like the one occurring right now: seeing four of my students just outside the gates of the airport, jumping up and down with an Ecuadorian flag. I can’t do just to these poignant moments, made so only by the awareness that they are fleeting, final, and unique. We have such moments every day of our lives; we just can’t live in that state of acute awareness all the time.
As I sat waiting to board the plane I’m now on, there was a tour group who was talking about how, “dude, when we get back, we just can’t describe to people how cool this trip has been. I mean we were in the birthplace of our theory of evolution! And then that lake, man. That lake was sick. It was wicked peaceful.”
I can describe why those kids were a little ridiculous. But just like them, I can’t begin to explain the impact of the final moments of this year, much less the year itself.
Selling the phone, toaster, books, blender.
10 students came to class today. 8 were absent.
Itï¿½s so easy to not say goodbye.