Revisiting the Past — Some Things Forgotten in Quito — Travel Tales

Rereading my travel notes, I’ve noticed some exclusions or now have a different take on previous observations. So it’s time to start revisiting the past and correcting a few mistakes.

For example, my very first post from Ecuador describes two men in Quito who may or may not have been laughing at my short hair. Naively, I assumed that friendly South Americans wouldn’t laugh at me to my face. How very wrong.

Recall my bus ride from Loja, Ecuador to Piura, Peru. I’d met two German travellers, Pia and Jakob. Jakob had an afro — a pretty funny cut for a blond white guy. Pia told me that people he passed on the street would point at him and laugh. I didn’t quite believe her until I experienced it for myself — several times — in Piura as we walked the streets together.

And now I know it’s happened to me. Last weekend in Puerto, twice men pointed at me, laughing, within minutes of emerging from the hairdresser’s after getting my inadvertent buzz cut.

Revisiting the past to this night on Calle Rocafuerte in Quito Ecuador.

In the same post about Quito, I refer to the extent to which police and military forces are armed in Ecuador. (There isn’t such an overwhelming presence of uniforms in Peru.)

In Baños, the security guard at my hostel carried a rifle, but when he entered our dorm room with it to break up our after-hours party carrying his weapon, Brandon objected. In self-defense, the guard showed us that the gun was empty.

I learned from someone, I think Brandon, that law enforcement officers are often in the same situation. Bullets are expensive and hardly ever necessary. The guns are an intimidation tactic for the most part (although I suspect military men to be properly equipped).

What more, many policemen in Quito are tourist police; they’re just there to provide assistance, nothing more.

The first time I used the internet, back in Quito, I was online for three hours and thought it was the hugest waste of time. Well, I’m used to it now. It’s pretty hard to spend less time at the computer when there are a bunch of emails to answer, notes to type, Facebook to deal with, photos to upload…

Sitting at a Coffeenet computer in Shell, Ecuador.

It’s going to be the worst when I get back to Puerto. Two weeks without going online!