Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Double Trouble Comes to Quto

Today has been easier is some regards than the first couple. I have been suffering from mental constipation. After having studied Spanish to reach the intermediate level, on paper at least, I have been straining to remember the words. Either I hear something or want to say something and I strain and strain wishing it will be a good movement of language, but there it sits in the colon of my mind. It is like a poorly dubbed film. The words come gushing out long moments after they are needed, making whatever point now moot.

However, I have to admit that it is getting easier each hour to trace back the palabras from whence I learned them. As we get ready to go out, I think “hacer” irregular verb or “pisar” means to step, not what one would assume it meant. That word would be “orinar”. So the flow is starting and by the time we leave, it will be at a fast trickle which will be useless in Budapest.

We leave Quito tomorrow for 3 nights in Otavalo, but when we return, we will check into a different hotel. The next Quito hotel is in the Old Town area, where there is more to see. Ron received involved instructions on how to use the bus to get downtown. Ron said we wanted the tourism office, which was a second reason for going.

After a hefty walk to the bus stop, many of them are elevated. You pay a cashier and then go through a turnstile where you line up for the bus you intend to take. The bus comes and special doors on this platform slide open while a platform from the bus is extended. It was so jammed, there were well over a dozen people who could not get on. All I could think of was the Garfield the Cat dolls they used to put in car windows making him look smashed against the glass. Sardines in a can had more room than we did. All the time, I am thinking, it is so crowded no one could pickpocket if they wanted to. They would not have room to lift their arms to do it.

I held my shoulder bag closely and had my hands on each of my pants pockets, though all I had in one was the pedometer I bought for the trip. The other had my little beaded change purse I bought from a little old lady in Belize. When I stepped off of the bus, I was intact. Ron was not. His Healthy Back bag that was only a year old was sliced on the bottom. My bag is too thick to try slicing. They were not able to get anything from Ron as he had taken off his vest and stuffed it in the bag. Feeling something, he reached down, but was too late to avoid the cut.

Fearing the rip would only get larger, when we went to the hotel we would return to, we asked about getting some electricians tape to repair it. The clerk was horrified this would happen, but said that tape would not hold; we should get it sewn. He took us down the street to a shop where they used to do this type of repair. Now they sell Santa hats. They gave us directions for a place 3 blocks down the street in a large market, but we were told to look for people at sewing machines.

The adventure began. Between the two of us, we were able get the instructions, found the place, but were told that we would have to try a different place in the next building. We found little open store fronts barely wide enough for a fat person, but there sat three men behind three sewing machines doing repairs that people brought to them. One looked at the bag, but said he could not fix it. He sent us to another down the street 1 ½ blocks from him. This young guy said yes, without hesitation. When it was our turn, he had it sewn in a professional manner in a matter of 2 minute. The cost was $1.00.

It was shortly thereafter that I realized that my coin purse with $10 and my MasterCard was missing. Now one thing I know for sure is that I had it when I got off of the bus. I am positive I must have pulled it out without noticing when I pulled something out from my pocket. The jeans I am wearing are from my ‘skinny’ collection. Yes, they fit beautifully now, but still. No one has tried to get into my pants for decades now, so if there were any hint of being touched in that way, I would have known immediately and then sent them flowers as a thank you. Thought the jeans fit well, getting into the front pocket would still be a challenge.

Most of the rest of the day was spent mentally retracing my steps, hoping again hope that I had left it in the safe in the room or it was in some yet undiscovered pocket in my shoulder bag. Nada!

This led to the joy of calling Capital One to let them know I did not have possession of my card any longer. Ron has a card under my account, but the number is the same. I have a World Sim card that is supposed to allow me to call roaming free from 136 countries. Apparently, Ecuador is not one of them. It would not work either in the USA or Global mode. I took out the battery and the SIM card as stated in FAQ on their site, but it still did not call out. It has worked in Hungary, so I know it works.

I went to the desk to ask how I could call and Ecuadorian operator. They had no idea. When I told them the story, they called direct and handed me the phone. When explained my tale of woe to the Capital One rep, he was excellent. After explain this was to be my main card on this trip, he was not able to replace it other than to a US address. He did however, tell me he would credit my account with 2,000 miles for those that I may be losing and also credit the account for $10 for the call. That is great service, all without a currency conversion fee or other trumped up charges.

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