All right all RIGHT Mum Revised I’ll write my post like a good girl. My neglected; dishes, carpet, animals, children and personal appearance are on YOU. And to the over 1,700 (!!!) new followers I received on facebook in the last two weeks ;
Time to lower those expectations
This post has NOTHING to do with tattoos but you can get caught up here
So I decided to part ways with my travelling companion Paul and instead move into a house in downtown Quito with a ragtag band of travelers. According to the journal I kept at the time my decision was sealed after seeing Richard in a towel. I was 23…what do you expect? And no. I don’t have a picture of Richard in a towel – it’s just burned on my retinas.
The first night I hung out with this crowd we stayed out til 5am on the streets of Quito- bar hopping and having a god damned blast. Our favorite spot? The Ghoz Bar (known to us as the Swiss Bar) run – not surprisingly – by a Swiss expatriate and featuring all the creature comforts of a dodgy pub. It was heaven. We finished the night aimlessly wandering back to our house while eating french fries covered in mayonnaise and singing loudly in the streets. It was the first time I felt part of a group in a long time and I loved it.
I quickly realized that Richard was not for me – he treated me like a kid sister and although I would have gladly contemplated incest he didn’t see me that way. Luckily there were others and I decided instead to focus my Eye of Sauron-like gaze of affection on another. Assaf. Dark and broody, careless and moody, unkempt and unconcerned with the world. If he had been wearing eyeliner I probably would have shackled myself to him but instead I embarked on a (in retrospect) comical attempt at nuanced seduction. My journal entries from this time – which I only re-read this morning after more than 20 years – are sobering. Could I truly have been that clueless and needy and insecure? Apparently yes. Of course it’s always easy to Monday morning quarterback your life with a couple of decades perspective but geesh – was I an awkward little thing.
The house I stayed at was owned by a local lawyer and he lived downstairs with his wife and daughter. The building itself was several stories high in the middle of the city and the roof had a small courtyard ringed by 5 small apartment type rooms.
I rented my room – meals included – for about 12 dollars a day. We had our own keys and could come and go but we would all convene for dinner with our host family every night and usually hit the bars soon after. In the mornings I would join the matron of the house Teresa – a kind and quiet woman who spoke very little English – in the kitchen for a cup of Nescafe with milk and a little bit of Spanish soap operas and halting conversation.
The first week flew by and my crush on Assaf intensified at an alarming rate even for me. There were other people there of course. The lovely Richard from Dublin, Adrian – another Irish guy, Roger from Switzerland, and Chris – a dour German girl who rarely smiled and largely kept to herself. She would turn out to be my nemesis in my relentless attempt to win Assaf over.
Our first adventure as a group started out as a small trip to the mountains. Our host Mr. Guerero was originally from a very rural mountain village and maintained a sprawling ranchette there still. We all loaded up in the back of their pick up truck bundled with blankets and headed out to the mountains for the weekend. All except Chris who couldn’t make it til the next day. The race was on.
Hours of bumping along in the back of a truck didn’t allow for a lot of conversation but I managed to sit next to Assaf and exude neediness. I’m sure he was impressed. The ranchette was a series of small cabins and low buildings set up to house field hands and cowboys. This was no rich man’s hideaway – it was an actual ranch. The accommodations were simple, the lights came from oil lanterns, the food was basic. It was utterly magic. We spent the day exploring and helping where we could and spent the night under a string of lanterns playing cards and drinking rum and cokes with each other and some of the ranch workers and the Guerero family. Here I got a chance to really talk to Assaf and feel the thrill of mutual attraction.
The night wore on and the card games settled down to the serious drunks. Assaf and I wandered off towards my cabin and settled into a large hammock strung in front of my door. The moon was high, the night velvet black and the stars…well you get the picture. We both spoke hammock by this point in our travels and neatly fitted ourselves into the fabric embrace, gently swinging under the indifferent moon. We talked. We kissed. We connected. I can reach back through time and still feel that heady buzz even today – when young love and new love are still novel and a life’s worth of experience hasn’t seasoned you or wizened you at all. When you were still raw.
After hours of talking and canoodling the sky was lightening and it was time to go to bed. In a touching display of decorum Assaf didn’t take the obvious bait I was laying down and retired to his own cabin leaving me with a delicious sense of anticipation for the next night which I planned to make the night. Little did I know a tighty whitey wearing kraut named Chris would arrive to spoil all my best laid plans.