Friday, August 20, 2010

Hiatus: Iliniza, por favor.


Day 1.

Behind us, across the chilling valley, the frozen glacier of Cotopaxi glowed orange. In front, the blue day set behind the Northern Iliniza peak as we climbed out of the quaint mountain town of El Chaupi with its few stores and little fame. The only reason tourists know the town is because of the snowy Iliniza peaks that sit in a cold blowing mist boldly behind it.

We decided to climb the Northern Iliniza peak, opposed to the more popular peaks like Cotopaxi and Chimbarazu, because we needed to kill time on a very low budget and we didn´t have the expert mountaineering skills required to climb the big glaciated peaks guideless (or on a budget) . Guide companies own the monopoly on Ecuadorian mountains, charging fees that our weary pockets couldn´t afford.

We heard about the Ilinizas from the website of a guide company and decided not to hire them. We didn´t need them to drive us out there; we could take a two dollar bus; we didn´t need them to put our tents up for us; we have arms and fingers; and we didn´t need them to let us use their unnecessary mountain climbing harnesses, helmets and boots. Aleana had a pair of twelve-dollar shoes with the word Sport written in blue letters across the tongue. Obviously, we had all the equipment we needed.

We had our canned tuna, our bread, our granola, and our cookies, all necessary food for a three day hiking trip without a camping stove.

Our plan was to enter the park under the cover of darkness to avoid paying the exorbitant five dollar entrance fee into the Iliniza reserve. We figured the guards would be playing cards or fast asleep as we passed their little headquarters.

We marched up the dusty farm road like American soldiers in France during the Great War, me motioning with a strong fist held high in the air to quiet down the troops. Alex, Aleana, and our demolition expert, monkey, approached the guard station.

There was a freshly warm truck sitting in the drive with its door open. We´re fucked, I thought.

We had another problem that could have compromised the entire operation. Monkey made friends with a loud, especially aggressive, long haired, dirty, white-eyed, black dog with a single white spot who had three giant dred-locks hanging from his asshole. We called him Spot.

Spot and Monkey ran ahead of us through the cow fields that surrounded the guard house, arousing the barks of the vicious dogs that guarded the park. Bark. Bark. Bark. Piercing canine bellows hurt the drums of my ears.

We passed the rangers in the house quietly and with purposeful heedlessness. We looked forward and kept walking. They didn´t say a word. They just went along with their business and we went along with ours. We had won the battle.

We found a field higher up in the mountains that night and I slept restlessly due to the lack of a proper sleeping bag and the frigid temperature.

Day 2

I awoke to Spot and Monkey barking at the local farmers and their dogs. I poked my head out of my tent and waved at the Quechuas as they began their day planting wheat. Breakfast was dry granola and raisins. We packed and walked the rest of the sixteen kilometers to El Virgen, the campsite near the base of the mountain.

The trek to El Virgen was less than what we anticipated. We walked so much the night before that we didnt realize we were half way there.

The campsite was green and sat on the edge of a small gorge with a little stream trickling through the bottom. There was only one other tent when we arrived, but by the early evening, after a brief hike and a lot of personal reading inside my tent, there were enough tents for an entire legion of the Roman army.

However, the people staying in the tents were not the steel-chested gladiator types of yore, but guided middle aged tourists with yurt-like tents, hot meals, fast drying north face pants, harnesses and dual walking sticks.

We ate our plain tuna sandwiches and went to bed early, hoping we could beat all the others up the mountain the following morning.

Day 3

My alarm rang at 5:40, but I slept until six. I heard Alex from the other tent.

“Zach, wake up. We have to climb a big ass mountain.”

I arose from my tent after another sleepless night in the frigid mountain air.

During the night, I repositioned Monkey all over my feet and legs trying to achieve optimal body heat from the freezing animal. She shivered all night even when I covered her with the blanket.

We dressed. We looked more like three homeless people and their dog, than four who were about to summit a peak. Monkey wore a dirty maroon hanky around its collar. Alex had on his baggy rainbow gypsy pants, a pizza carlo shirt, and his bright turquoise rain jacket. I was in my tight maroon corduroys, my brown striped wool coat, and a dark green north face rain jacket. I wore socks on my hands because it was cold and I had no gloves. Aleana, with her subtle wit and dubious personality, wins with a light blue ski bib that she probably had since she was a child, her twelve dollar shoes with sport written on the tongue, and an eight dollar poncho that waved in the wind, the entire time, like a flag during a hurricane.

We began our ascent during the morning sunlight through the shrub forest across the mini gorges made of sand. Alex and I jumped across the six foot gap like Indian Jones while Aleana and the animal walked down and up to the other side. We wandered over mini streams and passed cliffs and over trails. The altitude didn´t get to me, but there were times when Aleana was stopping to catch her breath, and then we would all fall in line and go slower to catch our breath. In the meantime, the dog was, literally, running around in circles, not even stopping once even to get a drink from one of the many streams we passed.

As we climbed higher into the thin air, the clouds moved faster and faster. As the clouds consumed, the minutes passed. The minutes were met solemnly with gracious mountain dew-rich clouds, and the next minutes with blue cloudless requiems.

The trouble came when we entered the Great Golden Gulch of Sand. We had taken a wrong turn. We meant to take the easy way up passed the refuge and up the saddle, but there was a fork and we took what looked to be the less traveled route.

Alex and I just went.

Our feet sunk in the cold sand, each step, almost to our ankles. We crawled slowly on all fours and searched with our naked eyes for some semblance of a trail, but nothing was clear. Eventually, I made it to some rocks on the right side of the sand and began scrambling over them while Aleana and Alex fell behind.

I screamed for them to come to the rocks, and they did, but by the time they made it, Aleana just plopped down in the sand as Alex made it over to me.

I thought Aleana was done. The way she sat in the sand and huffed for air. But, it wasn´t long before the three of us were all scrambling to the heavens. The peak exposed itself in front of our blue and brown eyes as intermittently as the white clouds would allow.

We could see tiny specks, walking with sticks, trekking easily to the rocky peak as we struggled on the rocks and sand.

We finally saw the trail, and it took us up a skinny golden ridge that sat to the right of the Golden Gulch of Sand. We walked up the hairline ridge. At the end of our gasps for the thin air, an opening of grey and black rocks opened and in between were crevasses of snowy ice.

There was a group of fifteen or so, middle-aged French tourists descending with tour guides. They had harnesses and were repelling down the flat rocks with the help of their guides. We walked passed them with the dog and Aleana´s sport shoes.

We all climbed up the rocks following the dirty foot prints in the snow and to the tiny peak, with only enough room for the three of us. The dog yelped from twenty meters below as Aleana took Alex and I ´s picture, in our Pizza Carlo's shirts, in the white haze, of our 16,728 foot summit. We were happy.

Day 4

Monkey made another summit with strangers. She left before we woke up and didn´t return for five hours. We were stuck waiting for her. But we loved her. The tiny children asked,

"Son gringos?"

And we replied, yes, "Somos Gringos."

¿Donde esta nuestro perro?

"En la montaƱa," they answered.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Border Bribery

By Alex

We hardly noticed the sun setting as we entered the taxi. I was tired and unenthused with our mission at hand.

Once you have seen and successfully crossed a border you never want to do it again, but here we were looking across the cement bridge that acted as some magical barrier between Colombia and Ecuador.

There was a time when I would have held my rucksack tight, keeping my eyes on the ground, afraid to make eye contact with any of the conniving currency traders that littered the bridge, but our three months in Ecuador changed all that.

All I could think was which tree we would be spending the rest of the night under. My eyes skimmed the river basin while Alaena explained our situation.

¨Okay, we need to get entry and exit stamps from the Colombian border guard.¨ She cracked a smile, ¨the Ecuadorian guard also explained that we should not under any circumstance give any money to the Colombians. If they ask we are suppose to say we were robbed or make something up.¨

The guard station is nothing more then an outdoor concrete structure equipped with hand rails for people to line up and a roof made of steel and glass. Surrounding it are taxi parking spaces, a few street vendors and a hand full of shops.

In line ahead of us were 20 or so Colombians. They passed through the border with remarkable ease. We did not.

Alaena explained our situation to the guard while I just stood there seriously attempting to keep up with the rambling Spanish. The guard just shook his head and said no.

Alaena has become very good at not accepting the answer NO. She is an optimist at heart, and at times her optimism and persistence works.

Dealing with border guards, police and government officials is always a game. This time they informed us that what they were doing was technically ¨impossible¨. However, since they liked us they were willing to figure something out. This ordeal is all an attempt to get a bribe.

We had a game plan too.

We knew it was highly important to act as if we knew that they were capable of giving us our new stamps. Plus, we had an excuse why we needed them.

One, we needed to get back to Quito that evening. Two, we had a broken car that was forcing us to stay in Ecuador longer then our visa allowed.

We hid the fact we owned a bus figuring they would assume we had tons more money to pay in bribes.

The Colombian border guard looked into the sky as if he was pondering quantum physics, glanced at his computer screen and came to a conclusion.

Twenty minutes later I was standing in a dark corner of a stairway, being restrained from entering the crossing guard’s office by a small middle aged man wearing jogging pants, a white button down shirt and black sweater. He looked more like a taxi driver then a Colombian official.

Inside the office, while attempting the solicit money from Alaena, the guard casually went about his business stamping passports. Alaena`s peculiar position allowed her to read off the computer all the personal details of the tourists passing through.

As the ink dried on newly stamped passports the guard feebly produced a story explaining how his friend would need to check us out of Columbia the next day, since it was impossible to produce an entry and exit stamp in one day. The real problem as the guard saw it was that his ¨friend¨ would not do it for free. The story deafly fell on Alaena´s ears and we exited Columbia with two stamps free of charge.

As we strolled back into the Ecuadorian Office of Immigration, we told our ¨helpful and caring¨ guard once again that we only had $60 and we needed both passports stamped.

He took us back into yet another dark corner and informed us again that it would be impossible to do both for that price. It normally would cost at least $100 for an illegal one at the border and $200 legitimately in Quito. We tried to look sad and explained that we still only had $60 and if it was only possible to do one to please stamp mine.

He took our $60 and passports. We sat down in the coffee stained couches and waited. Two minuets later he walked up to us.

He opened my passport and showed me my new 90 day visa. He handed it over to me and looked Alaena square in the eyes.

¨For good people I gave you…¨ he paused, ¨are you sure you don’t have any more money¨? She sombrely replied No.

With that he handed her passport over, but not before opening it to a new page donning a 90 day visa.

We casually walked outside hailed a cab and laughed for 5 minutes. We had successfully saved $300 by simply leaving Ecuador crossing into Columbia, exiting Columbia and re-entering Ecuador.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hiatus: Moments in Madrid


in a run-on of sentence fragments:

Our last days spent between sheets, under incense smoke and aboriginal thoughts, abstract futures, tireless vomiting, four brown eyes, staring and blinking, my birthday month, so long, so long, until September falls or we never meet again.

a simple end:

Good bye, I liked you. I hope you liked me.

the reality:

I puked for twelve hours while Marta scratched my back and brought me damp wash cloths. I puked and puked and then puked some more. I nearly shit the bed a few times to boot. I was weak.

Marta took care of her sick gringo, like a war-time nurse, calming and comforting. I watched, as I laid in agony, in admiration as she took a damp cloth and placed it delicately on my forehead. She looked in my eyes as she scratched, making me feel so comfortable then.

I rested for three days, our last three days. She opened the door slowly each time she would return to our room from getting Sprites or fruit or lunch to see if I were asleep, and if I were, she was careful not to wake me. I was pleased each time, even though I couldn’t stop vomiting, to be at the center of this woman´s world, even if it was only for a moment.

Our room was on the top floor and basic, no TV, no bathroom. At midday, natural light from our open window shown brightly either on the colored aboriginal blankets that dressed the double bed or our naked bodies and the white cotton sheets they laid on.

We talked one day while I was ill about moving into a flat in downtown Madrid in La Latina. We would go to El Rastro on Sundays and buy many things. I would play shows with my guitar and write for some English magazine or newspaper and she would take pictures and host shows at galleries. We would eat great food and drink wine from glasses without stems while we sat naked on the polished wood floors in our flat with the big windows and the abundance of natural light, except, of course, when we were hungover then there would be no light because we would have black drapes to hide the day.

Or we would move to San Francisco and go to school there. We would become hipsters and talk about intellectual things and do artistic things like shave our heads and paint our skulls white.

I felt like I laid in that bed for weeks delirious from fever and blissfully in love. I feel like I´m still lying there.

One night I had my arm around her and she asked, “do you love me?”

“You´re joking?” I looked in her eyes.

“Yeah, I hate that. When people say things like that. But do you?” She laughed and looked deeply. I couldn´t tell if she was joking, but then she asked me again.

“I´m not gonna answer that question.” I said. I kissed her and the conversation ended.

I never did answer that question, nor tell her that I loved her. We were on two separate paths in two separate places and only by fate did those paths meet for a short amount of time, and in those hours, I did love her, and outside those hours, I love her and think of her often. But I am happy I didn´t respond to her question.

The reality was that we had a fantastic moment and neither one of us have the drive nor the resources to try and be together. We are from different countries; I have bus; and she still has three more years of Chemistry school.

Our love couldn´t have lingered. We could have never been domesticated. It was quick; it was passionate; and now you´re gone.

I think of our mornings and our afternoons. I think of our sober days, not drunken nights. Days when we were clear minded. Not that every night was drunken or that being drunk was bad, I just like to remember her in the light by the river in Cuenca where we sat for a moment and listened to the water moving and I thought about loving her.

From her six t-shirts and the unmatched earrings dangling from her lobes to the array of lawyers and politicians she knew after two weeks in Quito and the six families she claims to be a part of here, Marta danced to the melodious beat of her own flauta, but for two weeks I was the perro who played it.

This is the letter I meant to write you.

Hiatus: Moments on the Cordillera


The bus to Ozogoche slowly filled with forest green, navy blue, and other dark colored felt hats, pink, green, and blue skirts and shalls, and tiny-little penny loafers worn with wool stockings. All adorned by dark, little-tiny Quecha's.

They have century old faces sketched with unknown years of herding sheep and grazing cattle, cultivating land and diverting streams. They don't concern themselves with modern inventions like Super Mario Bros.; they barely have electricity. Their concern is gas for cooking and whether or not they have a freshly slaughtered Cuy to feed the children. Oh, and sugarcane liquor.

It was decided a few days before that Marta and I would take a romantic excursion to the southern highlands. We visited the beautful colonial city of Cuenca, where there is no hiding romance. From the pansies that grow in the square to the rose petals that fall to the floor of the mercado de flores, romance is around every bend. There weren´t even bums.

After Cuenca, we went to Alausi and found out about the Lagunas de Ozogoche. The next day, there we were on the bus to Ozogoche, waiting as it filled with Quechas.

We were supposed to leave at one. It was approaching two-thirty when the bus made its first spurt of diesel exhaust into the soft mountain afternoon.

It didn't take long for Marta to pull out her Canon. She beamed with excitement.

"This is amaazing," she said referring to the ratio of Quechua to gringo.

She made me switch seats with her, so that she sat on the aisle closer to conversation with the indigenous. She didn't sit long. Within minutes, the entire Quechua population on the bus stared at Marta and smiled as she worked her way up and down the aisle asking about their families and their lives. She told them about Spain. They watched her like she was flying on a trapeze in Cirque de Soleil. She asked them questions, flirting, using her giddy laugh and perfect western smile. She gave away pictures of herself,showing them her family and friends, all to make the indigenous feel more comfortable about the camera.

It was a well-choreographed act she had used before, and when the trust of the indigenous was gained, she curtly asked to take a picture.

The Quechua are much different than your average seventeen year old American girl who lives for taking countless self-portraits to post on facebook. Quechua's don't trust the camera. I think the camera has exploited them one to many times, from the billboards in Quito to the Ecuadorian travel magazines where their likeness appears quite often. They are right not to trust the outside. Although my knowledge is finite, the Quechua's, in comparison with other local cultures I hav seen, have guarded their culture quite well, especially in the Nacional Parque Sangay in a high Andean village where we stayed and experienced it first hand. Many spoke only Quechua and a little poor Spanish (right at my level).

I didn't see Marta for the rest of the bus trip, except every now and then when she would come back for a kiss. Everytime I would give her a lousy one, she would say in a spanish accent but with a suprising, direct Puerto Rican tone, "If you don't give me a good kiss, then don't give me one at all." I couldn't help but laugh. She's not Puerto Rican.

She eventually returned to her seat as we approached our destination, a sleepy mountain town. She brought a friend. He smelled of something familiar. He stood swaying, trying to hold onto the seats, but lost his balance because he couldn't let go of the clear plastic cup in his hand.

This is when I realized that everyone on the entire bus was hammered from the local sugar cane guarro. That was the familiar smell.

They were all real nice to us, trying to help us find our way, but they were too drunk to make any sense, so we were confused.

Our choice was to go with the bus down to the sleepy mountain town or go up to Nacional Parque Sangay on a taxi-truck for 1 dollar. We weren´t sure where we could stay. One drunken Quechua told us they had cabanas in the park; one told us that the only place was in town; and another said there was no where to sleep, but we could call his friend.

As much as I wanted to call the drunk guy´s friend, we decided to go up to the park on the back of the truck. I was on one side, Marta on the other. In the middle sat a Quechua boy, girl, and mother. On the back end there was a cow with it's head tied to the metal railing of the truck right next to my shoulder. It stared intently at me, huffing, occasionally grinding its horns into my shoulder.

“The cow either really likes me or wants to kill me.” I screamed to Marta over the wind.

“He wants to kill you. Hahaha.”

The cow wanted to kill me, but it didn't scare me. The single rope, that divided Marta, me, and the Quechas with the thousand pound cow, was what scared me. If the driver slammed on the breaks, the cow would snap the rope, slide towards us, slipping in the wet feces that covered the bed, and crush our collar bones and sternums and maybe our heads.

I wouldn't make eye contact with the cow, but I sure made eye contact with Marta as I kept moving around, slightly panicking about the cow crushing all my organs. She just laughed.

"It's not funny." I said.

Two giant lakes appeared underneath jagged peaks; the peaks had a slight dusting of new snow.

We made it to the lakes and the park without being crushed. We stopped and paid the money and the driver pointed to three little huts and a small fish farm in front of a small river. He said those were the cabanas. I've seen cabanas before; these were not cabanas.

We walked down the road to the three little huts and small fish farm, and a tiny old toothless Quechua, dressed in the traditional bright skirt and dark felt hat, greeted us. She was about four foot tall. She told us they had beds, and told us to follow. We asked her how much. She didn´t know.

She waddled over to one of the huts and unlocked the door. There were about 16 bunks, but the place was completely empty. It was cold there, maybe about five degrees C. We asked her about food; we hadn´t eaten.

“Oh,” she said, “no comida?” She stood and looked back and forth at both of us, slowly contemplating. “Tengo papitas.”

“She has potatoes.” Marta said.

It looked like we were going to eat a lot of little potatoes. She waddled back out of the dorm and we followed. She then went to another hut and opened it up. It was fully stocked. Tuna cans, pasta, crackers, cookies and other dry goods sat on the shelf. They even had beer.

I grabbed a can of Tuna, pasta, some eggs, and two beers. It was perfect. She locked up the store room, waddled over to the other hut and opened it up. It was a full kitchen. This is when the other little woman showed up. They talked and came to the conclusion that there was no gas for the stove. They wanted money to go fill it. I offered to go fill it. I grabbed the tank and she brought me a wheelbarrow. We had to go about a half of a kilometer to the nearby village of about sixty people.

When we got half way there, the old woman said, “Espera!” Then she sprint-waddled all the way back to the huts. She ran inside, then outside, and sprinted towards with a big bag of something on her back. She didn´t waste a minute. Why was she running? We wondered.

We got to a very plain wooden building, the store. Children and sheep wandered around in the dirt yard surrounding the building , the children laughing and staring at the two foreingers, the sheep baing . Behind the building, if you looked up, the devilish peaks ominously loomed over the two lakes, and if you looked down, our three huts sat at the bottom of the hill. The air reminded me of Colorado, crisp and clean, yet it lacked the smell of pine. There were no trees on the mountains, just brownish grasses.

We filled the gas tank and I walked the wheelbarrow back down while Marta talked to the little old woman. We made dinner and planned on hiking in the morning. We had to return to Quito the next afternoon. The two old women told us to go to bed at seven thirty, so we did.

We had a nice hike, and an uneventful trip back to Quito. When we arrived at the bus terminal, I felt like I had returned home. And in some ways I had. Quito was the place where I gave birth to a bus, an idea and a lifestyle. I pray now to the gods of bus, SAVE OUR BUS. I hope I didn´t push a bus out of my mangina for nothing because , frankly, it isn´t easy, especially with Ecuadorian medicine being the way it is.

Photos by Marta Anglada

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hiatus: Moments at the Red Umbrella


I had imagined riding through the central streets of Quito, through Old Town and the Mariscal Foch, Alex driving up the long, storied hills, me in the passenger seat and Alaena in the middle, passing by all of our Quiteno friends, waving in triumph with wide smiles like winners of a beauty pageant sitting on a parade float as we returned from a successful maiden voyage.

Oh we returned to Quito riding in the bus, but it sat on a platform on the back of a very large deisel tow truck. Matthias pretended to switch gears and turn the wheel, a fruitless effort since our inertia was created by the truck we were riding on and not our own. Jokes were not funny. Our glorious return to Quito was pathetic and anticlimactic. There was only one place we could go after we dropped the bus at the mechanic, and it had umbrellas.

We spent most of our time in Quito at the bar with the red umbrellas. On the corner of Reina Victoria and Garcia, it sat in the most perfect, drug fueled corner of the Mariscal. Our frequent visits led the employees of the red umbrella to speculate that we were residents of Quito. Hard to blame them since every night spent in Quito was a night spent, at least the beginning, at the red umbrella.

So when we finally made it back to the Mariscal, I set out alone looking for Tom, and of course, the first place I looked was the red umbrella.

"There you are, you ole bastard." I said to Tom who sat with some strangers.

"Zach, how´s the bus? This is the bus guy." Tom said to the two he sat with. "This is Michael. He´s a famous movie director. He made a commercial for the Super Bowl. He´s modest though, but he´s famous," Tom said as I waved hello. "And this is Marta. She's making some jail thing, documentary thing with her camera. I don't know. So, tell me. Tell me. Tell me. What's happening with the bus?" Tom asked as he moved his arms around drunkenly. "Me and Marta here, have been drinking for a few hours."

Matthias said it perfectly later, that Marta looked like Esmereldas from the Hunchback of Notre Dame (the Disney cartoon). She had long black, curly, mediterranean hair, dark brown eyes, dangly jewelry from her ears and neck, olive skin, baggy skirts and baggy shirts, hiding her beautiful body underneath, and she had youth and innocence in her face. The only little wrinkles she had were on either end of her mouth where the tips of her smile reached. She looked like a gypsy.

Tom and I chatted about the bus for awhile, and Michael excused Marta and him from group conversation because he said that they had something to discuss. I thought Michael and Marta were working together on some movie and were having an off-the-set affair. I later found out they met because Marta snuck on to the set of some movie he was making by pretending to be a camera grip, and once Michael saw her he had to have her.

Unfortunately for Michael, everytime Marta breathed in between his ramblings, she would ask me about the bus. Her eyes glowed when I described the inner workings of a functioning bus, or in other words, a well-lubricated, mechanical system that resembles something made as a result of nuclear science. Any woman would desire a man responsible for creating such an advanced system of cooking, cleaning, fire making, hammock hanging, and rope tying.

Every conversational stride achieved by Marta and me, was interrupted by Michael saying, "Hace Frio." He then dragged Marta inside the bar to discuss his feelings for her. They eventually returned, and amongst much frustration, Michael threw in the towel and left.

Marta decided to stick around with the gypsies for a night of Jingus.

We ended up at the Next Level, another one of our Quito haunts. The place vibrates from the chronic lyrics of 'tonight's gonna be a good night,' and the drunken gringos rubbing against each other on the 'tonight' part. The only place of solace is the porch.

Marta and I couldn't stop talking.

"I don't know why I tell you dis." She said as she grinded her teeth. "I just feel comfortable talking wit you. I am dating a Jailman."

"You are crazy." I said and continually repeated this as she continued telling me her story.

Marta was trying to do a project on teenage pregnancy in Ecuador, but after being told by the head ob/gyn at a major Quito hospital that she should go back to Spain and do a project on pregnant teenagers there, Marta ended up making contacts with a lawyer who got her into the Quito jail. She planned to make a photo documentary at the jail.

Her documentarian dreams were never realized, but she began visiting one inmate named Alexandras. He was twenty, Lithuanian, and doing hard time for smuggling heroine across the border. Attracted to his criminal mystique, or so I justify, she developed a crush on him and he on her and they began to talk on the phone, since he had one.

It was prohibited to bring cameras inside the jail. But it wasn't prohibited for the inmates to have party's with cake, to make Spanish Omellete's for an innocent young Spanish girl, to have cellular phones to repeatedly call young Spanish girls with, or to take the innocence from a young spanish girl, who was involving herself in something she may not fully understand.

I did feel apprehensive about the jail man thing, but at that point, I liked her and I didn't care. It is in my nature, at the core of me, to be attracted to crazy women. I got the feeling she liked me and that meant more to me than some stupid crush on a convict.

I tried for her, regardless of the jailman. Only regretting it once a few days later when she told me, "I hope, well, you know that they are mafia inside, and well, I hope Alexandras doesn't hire someone to kill you." She looked in my eyes and then began to laugh. "He probably won't." This put me in a state of fear since human life in Ecuador is only worth one USD.

We stayed together that night in her bed at the Otavalo Hausi, under the pretense that I wasn't allowed to try anything.

I told her the tale of the young Spanish shrimper who sailed from Spain catching Dorado and shrimp in his space-sized fishing nets, then landed in the Americas, built a space ship, and took his catch to the market on the moon. Then she told me a tale about a mermaid falling in love with a computer system.

We didn't fall asleep that night. We just waited for the morning to come.

And when it did and it was time for me to leave, she asked, "Are you gonna take advantage of me again tonight and stay the night?"

"Of course." I said. That's history.