Well, I’ve Had Better Days

I’m trying hard to figure out how to make this come off as something less than bitter, but the truth is that Kris and I could not be happier about leaving Ecuador.

Perhaps this joy is informed by the fact that tonight we were robbed for the fourth time since we’ve been here. For a little perspective: in the 31 years we lived in Minneapolis, we were robbed twice. In the seven months in Quito…well you do the math.

We were having sort of a bad day anyway. For some inexplicable reason, I’ve been trying for the last 30 days or so to renew our visas to stay here, but today I got the final “fuck you” from the Ecuadorian authorities.

La Mitad del Mundo

Ecuador quito mitad del mundo

I first went to La Mitad del Mundo the week I got to Ecuador. I was taken there by the family I stayed with for a month while I was first working at the school. They took me there because it was the monument to the site of the equator, and damnit, this is Ecuador, after all.

I read in the Lonely Planet guidebook later that the monument is actually off by 240 meters, and that some Indians had accurately sited the equator and built their own monument in the proper site about a thousand years ago. But, the Indian site is on the steep side of a mountain, and this site is in a little valley, so I’m betting that, while they knew where the equator was, the tourism types decided that a flat site near the side of the highway was, shall we say, more efficacious when it came to charging admission and selling souvenirs.

And, what’s 240 meters between friends? Especially when that 240 meters is pretty much straight up.

First Steps in Quito, Ecuador

virgin panecillo quito ecuador

I’ve been living in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, for about four and a half months now, counting the two trips back to the U.S. to take care of some business. Now my wife, Kristin Henning, and I are here for the duration, and that could be indefinite as we’ve just applied for resident visas.

The picture at the top of the blog’s home page is the view from outside the picture window of my apartment. The apartment is very small, very inexpensive, but, except for the mattress, very comfortable. Depending on how successful I am with the visa application, I will remedy the mattress situation soon.

The view is of a hill, which rises right in the middle of the valley of Quito and is called the Panecillo, which translates as “Little Loaf of Bread.” It’s topped by a large statue of the Virgin Mary, which sort of serves as the logo of Quito. And, as Quiteños are proud to point out, she’s the only Virgin with wings in the world. That’s because she’s the Virgin of the Apocalypse and is stomping on the snake from the Garden of Eden. It’s the image of the final triumph at the end of the world of good over evil. I’ll believe it when I see it.