June 30, 2010

The Last Blog

So here it is. After six long months in Ecuador, my last post. Right now, I am sitting in the Houston airport waiting for my connection to Portland.
So I guess I will start by saying that the last few days with CIMAS went off without a hitch. I rocked my Spanish final, so with that I was happy, and our paper and presentation seemed to turn out well. I wouldn’t say that it was stellar by any means, but definitely decent. So we’ll see how much arguing needs to happen after final grades come out.

I said goodbye to my family (well, all but Alejandra, and she didn’t seem too concerned with saying goodbye, seeing as Marco told her that I was leaving in the morning last night and she said, “Ok, I’m going upstairs.” Thanks for all the love Alejandra. Other than that, the other family members seemed genuinely sad about my approaching departure, and made me assure them that I would write.

As far as today goes, I almost didn’t get to leave Quito again, despite having all the correct documentation this time. I got to the airport late because Marco and Sandra forgot to wake up, so we left at about 4:30 in the morning. When I got to the airport, I found out that Continental’s systems were down and they couldn’t check anyone in (unless you had already checked in online the previous day, which I tried to do but just got a bunch of error messages). So I waited in line for about an hour, and finally got checked in at about 5:30. So we have a half an hour until it’s time to board and I haven’t gone through customs or security. Awesome. So by the time I get to the gate, it is about 6:05, and people are getting on the plane. I went through the usual search and pat down that the Quito airport does at the entrance to the gate without problem, and I was walking toward the plane when I heard a security guard behind me say “Ma’am, you need to come with me.” Awesome. Now what?
So myself and another little old lady went with this security guard and on the way to this mystery location, he told us that our bags were going to be searched for narcotics. I then told him that that was fine with me, he had my consent, but that I didn’t want to miss the plane (which is now leaving in 20 minutes) and was going back to the gate. He said no, that to search the bag I needed to be present. So we walked down all these back hallways that are clearly not for passengers and end up out on the tarmac with the national police and our two bags. So the police officer opened up my bag and started digging through it (even though it was meticulously packed and I knew that the stuff was not going to fit back in after he unpacked it). He was particularly interested in the rain sticks I got for all the kids, at one point really fixating on one in particular to the point that I thought he was going to take just one (leaving me with five cousins and four gifts). So after he tore up all my stuff, they called in the dogs (meanwhile the clock is ticking down, it’s about 6:15), and I had to stand by as the drug dog sniffed and pawed and got all up in my luggage. Again, awesome. So at this point I am getting frantic because I know that I will have to go through security again and there are only 10 minutes until this plane leaves. So I tell the officer that I need to go, and ask him if he is satisfied with the search (because neither he nor the dog could find anything, shocker). He finally says yes and I hastily shove the suitcase back together so that I can get back on the plane. I then went back into the airport, back through security (even though I was with a security guard and the police the WHOLE time), and got to the gate. I got immediately on the plane and literally sat down and we took off. It was literally with minutes to spare. The flight was relatively uneventful, I sat next to a smart little 12yr old boy who was pretty cool, and other than that there is nothing entertaining to speak of. Right now, I am sitting at Houston-Bush awaiting my 6:30 flight which is still hours away. But hopefully this flight again will be pleasant (I again have a window seat, which is nice), and I can end this adventure on a positive note.

Overall, the experience in Ecuador was a positive one, though the experience with CIMAS was not. At all. I think that in going to Ecuador, not only did I mature, but also I have more confidence in my abilities, and bonus, can speak Spanish. It is a shame that CIMAS was so awful, but still, now that it is over, I am glad that I went. Peace out Ecuador--thanks for everything.

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