A day and a half in Guayaquil

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In the last blog post I wrote that I was dizzy and feeling like I was dying on a 20 hour bus ride to Guayaquil, Ecuador. The reason that my housemates and I were travelling to Ecuador was to get our visas renewed.

It’s been six months since I first arrived in Peru. Given that this is the maximum amount of time a foreigner is allowed in the country as a tourist I was uncertain I would be able to return for a while. This filled me with dread. I had almost no money remaining in my bank account and I would have to beg my mother to help me get home. Also…I still need to take my yellow fever shot.

I was sick when arriving in Guayaquil but I found my hostel and slept almost 12 hours. When I woke I was rested and relaxed. The hot and humid heat helped me feel better. The sound of a loud fan blowing across the room also reminded me of my childhood. I found a restaurant that served a delicious fruit yoghurt and then I took a taxi into the CBD to find Adriaan and Nicola (who booked at another guesthouse).

 

 

 

We ate at KFC, checked the markets by a river, took photographs, climbed 444 steps through alleyways (passing rather persistent girls trying to tempt us into what must have been a brothel) to see a lighthouse and a church, and went on a ferris wheel at night to look over the lights of the city.

The next morning I went to park in the shadows of a fantastic statue of Simon Bolivar and a massive church. But the park attracted the tourists for the iguanas wandering around being petted by children and tempted with lettuce leaves.

 

 

These iguanas (pronounced iHuanas because G sounds like H) were the biggest posers. They loved the attention. I had one iguana that took a pose as if to climb from the footpath to the lawn. It paused there, waiting as if to say “okay, shoot now!” But then, almost as if it realised the photo could be better, it stepped back onto the footpath, walked closer to me and THEN resumed its same position! It waited until I took the photographs, and left me to it.

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I had to leave quickly to find the others and catch our bus back to Peru, nervously waiting to reach the border.

The visa officer gave me another four months on my passport. But I know I will not be given any more extension.

Bullshit in Ecuador

One of the biggest weaknesses in navigating South America is not being able to count higher than six.

The best way to practice counting is to play Bullshit while waiting in line at the Ecuador border. I did this yesterday. Bullshit is a game requiring lies and deceit. The aim is to get rid of all your cards and if you don’t have the card you need, you have to claim that you do. If someone thinks you are lying, they must claim “bullshit”. The cards are turned over, the truth is revealed, and whoever is lying (or wrong) must pick up the deck.

Amy, Nicola, Guy and I traveled to the Ecuador border yesterday with the aim of extending our visas before we travel south to take on a promising teaching position in Trujillo.

It was a confusing mess. Our taxi driver Jorge (Hor:Hey?) helped us but he didn’t know what was going on either, and he knew little English to give us much insight. We were worried we might be denied entry back into Peru, or wouldn’t get the six months we needed (through our ignorance or inability to communicate).

As we waited two hours in a line (that we didn’t need to be in at that point in time, it turns out) I pulled out a pack of cards and we played Bullshit, standing around the deck. I invited Jorge to play which meant trying to teach him in a foreign language, and it only worked because Guy is naturally gifted at learning Spanish.

I decided to try to play while speaking the numbers in Spanish.

“Uno-Tres.”

“Dos-Cuatro.”

“Hmmm.”

“Tres-Cuatro.”

“Bullshit! That’s bullshit!”

We started having an audience – spectators that began to understand the rules. By the end of the game though, my brain was about to explode with the numbers I was trying to remember and pronounce (I still can’t get the e in Tres right. It’s embarrassing).

As we were about to be served at the counter we learned we had to go to another line in another building and that we would have to return to this same line later. Fortunately when we returned the line was shorter, but we queued in about four lines by the end.

Four hours after the game of Bullshit, we were struggling to fill out our paperwork without tables. “Write on my back,” Nicola offered to Amy.  And Amy started trying to draw on Nicola’s back! Ha ha ha. We were tired.

Finally I was at the counter, confident that with blue eyes and my Aussie charm I might be able to persuade the lady with the stamp that I should be allowed six months more to stay in the glorious Peru.

What I wasn’t so confident about was my ignorance of the Spanish language and my ability to  fuck up burnzy everything up with good intentions. But not today! I carried a slip of paper which said “Seis meses de Peru, Por Favor” (should have had para instead of de, and it would have meant ‘six months in Peru, please”.) and I even had an excuse up my sleeve if they asked “why do you want to stay?”

“La Chica,” I would say. Which is bullshit but it sounds cute.

But I never got the chance to sound like a brainless sap, because the lady at the counter tried to talk to me, and I didn’t understand, and I gave her the paper, and passport and I said “Lo Siento, no hablo Espanol”, and she spoke again, and I looked confused, and she laughed (it’s the, ‘wow, he really is dumb’ laugh and I’ve been hearing a lot of it lately, but it’s actually not a bad laugh).

“Cinco,” she said, (five) and I was glad that Bullshit had helped me with the numbers a little. And I said, “No, Seis, por favor!” and she smiled and somehow I was able to understand that because I had already just been in Peru a month, this year, I couldn’t have the full visa refreshed.

I pouted….I actually pouted! Bloody hell. It was a thinking pout, and then I grinned, and I tried again.

“Seis muy bien!” I said, (six very good!*) and in a tone where I was pleading, but she shook her head, with a genuine wide grin, and said ‘cinco’.

I didn’t dare push it, I was already winning, and I hope I thanked her, I hoped I showed the gratefulness on my face, and I think I did. I left with the final stamp and waited for my friends, and they had gained what they needed to, more or less.

Then we went back to the hotel for a pool party where we could drink as much as we wanted in three hours. I got changed in a red flannie and I sang Mambo No 5 and Black Betty on karaoke, and scared the nearby school children at the party by doing it in a heavy raspy voice, and I drank so much that I threw up by a palm tree (making Australia proud) and nearly passed out in a hammock, and made a real arse of myself. The end.

*With my ignorance of the local language I’ve wondered how on earth I’m still alive. But I am alive and there will be plenty of embarrassing stories to come, I’m sure. Keep safe out there, and I’ll make sure to do the same.