Tuesday, December 06, 2005

In Ecuador

It's Monday morning and I say good bye to the girls before they leave. Then I say good bye to Terry and Julian drives me to the airport. The car gives us a few nervous moments on the way to the airport. Thankfully I check in before time and even get to have a drink with Julian. We say good bye and I enter the departure gate. My wife was at the departure gate having arrived from Santiago. It's our first time on TACA, the national airline of Costa Rica. We catch up on the over 2 hour flight.

The scenery at the Quito airport is spectacular. We clear customs and there waiting for us is Joshua, Hannah and Sharon. We give them the Latino kiss. They say Quito is 2,850 metres above sea level so to expect possible altitude sickness. We take taxis to their very bright and nice apartment. They have a glass cabinet with picture books of Singapore. Each bedroom has an attached bathroom. Later Gerard comes home. We keep catching up and forget to unpack. As Gerard and Hannah go shopping, Dinah chats with Sharon and I with Joshua. They serve us coca tea and we freshen up. Dinah is going to bunk with Sharon and I in Gerard's room.

The fish soup dinner is healthy. Wee Leng's brinjal dish is commendable. We have a long catch up session about Singapore and Ecuador. Later Dinah and I call the kids.

As I prepare to sleep, there is loud music and partying outside. There are 2 lorries with revellers. This party lorry is called a chiva. The chiva has a small 'band' with whistles, trumpets and drums and serve alcohol. Tomorrow is the 'Foundation of Quito'. The night is cold but the revellers are dancing and drinking. The tiredness helps me sleep despite the all-night noise.

It's Tuesday and I awake with adequate sleep. After some stretching, I read the Bible. Gerard is up early and we check emails. The rest get up and we have breakfast.

The team is not working today so we take the electric tram to Quito colonial town. The team take us to the historic town square. Being a public holiday, the town square's crowded with people. I was advised to conceal my wrist watch and beware of pickpockets.

We enter the San Francisco cathedral, the oldest church in Ecuador. Then we go up to Panecillo ('little bun' in Spanish). This is the Virgin of Quito on a hill overlooking Quito. Next is our tea appointment with Vinicio and Maria Soledad with their beautiful daughters. They have just started coming to our service. We have a great time together. Then we come home and then have dinner at a nearby Chinese place. We discuss the next day's plan. It's challenging to do mid or longer term plans here.

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