Today’s post is dedicated to two people. The first is whoever typed this phrase into a search engine and wound up on my blog;
“what is the traditional tattoo for your fifth murder”
I know…stunning, right? I appreciate the thoughtfulness that went into trying to get just the right tattoo to …ah…commemorate…ah…the accomplishment? And I think I know what that correct tattoo is – get “I have murdered five people” tattooed on your forehead. It’s a conversation starter and you will NEVER have to wait in line at Starbucks again…EVER.
And this post is also dedicated to RedDog – he knows why. (and it’s NOT because he murdered five people. Right RedDog? You didn’t murder five people? Right?!)
So maybe you are wondering if I have run out of stupid missteps from my South American journey? I mean getting followed by a mob through dark streets to meet a Witch Doctor – that was my LAST dumb act, right? I smartened up after that, Yes? Oh no…hell no. So let the stupidity continue…
After our brush with the “local law” we all stumbled to our hostel and passed an uneasy night listening to our roommates shift uncomfortably in their beds. Dawn found us packed and ready to bolt to a friendlier local. We boarded a small boat that took us out along the border where we grabbed a bus and passed a grueling 6 hours along bumpy roads under blistering sun. My one salient memory is paying 10 cents to a kid who hacked the top of off a green coconut and put a straw into it for me to drink. It was heaven.
Finally we landed in the seaside town of Esmerelda, a tourist outpost on the shore of Ecuador. We had made some more friends along the way and were now in with a small group of fellow travelers and looking forward to a few non-traumatic days by the beach. Esmerelda was an interesting spot that was far flung and humble but still catered to tourists willing to make the journey . It was a little rough and tumble with modest buildings and stilt houses – a far cry from the luxury high rises and wealthy enclaves that exist there today. There were “sugar shacks” all along the beach where you could buy rum drinks for about 2 dollars. The rum was so strong and so rough it would have been a great time to learn fire-breathing.
There were also many cafes with names like “Hard Rock American Bistro Restaurant”. In one such place I saw an actual coffee maker – a Mr. Coffee to be exact – and almost died with pleasure. The complete lack of a viable cup of Joe throughout S.A. continued to baffle and amaze me. A lot of the cafes had live parrots and monkeys installed as part of the décor and it always shocked me when I saw they were chained in place as a living decoration.
The few days we spent here were uneventful (at last). I caught up on sleep, bought trinkets, drank too much rum and tried to improve my Spanish. I took a lot of walks on the beach with Paul and fretted about what was waiting for me when I got back home. Paul tried to convince me I would be returning to my old relationship with Tom completely renewed and ready for the next stage. I was so weary and worn out from all the mishaps and the mislaid crushes I was apt to believe him. Fatefully Paul and I decided to travel to Quito next to learn some Spanish.
So imagine this space in my travels as the intermission. Our fractured heroine has stumbled through a series of misadventures – most small and a few truly alarming. Through her own inability to appreciate how fragile her ongoing luck truly is she has come through unscathed. Mostly. The only real wounds she is carrying are ones to the heart. Lost love, new love, crushes and daydreams. Everything you would expect from a somewhat clueless and relatively inexperienced young woman from a semi-sheltered middle class background. But there is a tremor beneath the water line. All this travel, all the tribulations, the experiences, the people, the culture…something important is beginning to shift inside. Some part of her is strengthening and expanding. But it is subtle and she is far from being done with being foolish.
In the next few weeks you can see her have her heart-broken yet again by the same man but for the last time. She will meet her “the one that got away” (we all have one) and experience infatuation and yes…lust…on a scale previously unknown to her. That mad crazy crush will be the leash that leads her to; almost sink on a river on a balsa raft, hike many hours into the jungle and be menaced by a local indian tribe, get hopelessly lost in another jungle and almost get shot at and then covered in cow shit, visit one of the most violent cities in South America and roll around like a damn local, visit Galapagos islands and see Blue Footed Boobies and pet a baby fur seal. She…I… will lose my heart one more time before I am truly found and I will spend every last dime I have in the process and eventually have to go home. I will have the time of my life and meet some of the most amazing people I have ever shared a laugh with. I will create memories to last a lifetime. Stay tuned – it gets better…