Houston to Quito

Feb 11, 2012

I got into my hotel really late last night, so I didn’t get around to writing about my flight from Houston to Quito. Always entertaining!

It was a 6 hour flight and I was in an aisle seat. Sitting in the middle was an Ecuadorian man named Jorge and at the window was a lovely Ecuadorian woman, about my age named Nina (I think).

I slept for the first bit of the trip, but after about an hour I woke up and started talking to these two ‘locals’. Come to find out, they were talking like old friends, but didn’t know each other prior to take off. So, I jumped right in to the conversation (in English of course). I talked to Jorge for most of the flight picking his brain about all things Ecuadorian … what to see, what to do, what to eat …

He taught me that ‘papas’ is Spanish for potatoes and that I should try a ‘cane lazo’ which is an Ecuadorian warm alcoholic beverage. He told me about his home town of Ambato and that he would be enjoying carnival festivities while he was home! Now, not that I wanted to go home with Jorge, but it definitely made me itch to find locals who I could hang out with and participate in local celebrations as part of the community instead of just a tourist. I wouldn’t be able to do this on my own this trip, but it reinforced my urge to learn Spanish in a homestay environment where I would be immersed in the culture, not just the language.

For awhile I also practiced my Spanish on my laptop when I thought he was sleeping. Nope, he was peering over my shoulder to see how much I knew. He later told me he was very impressed at my vocabulary and that it should take no time at all for me to pick up speaking it.

During the flight I had a man sitting directly behind me who had several fits of anger throughout the flight. Apparently on Continental airlines, movies are not offered for free and you have to swipe your credit card to get one. Not only this, but once you are over international waters, the movie may or may not work. The flight attendant certainly had her hands full trying to keep this man in his place. I was honestly a little concerned that some kind of security might be put in motion to calm him down. All this over paying for a movie? Wow! People just don’t have their priorities right at all.

Near the end of the flight (the last 45 minutes), we hit a bit of turbulance. Jorge was very good at telling me that it was normal and that shortly I should suspect a ‘drop’ as we approached the runway. This wasn’t the first time I had been warned of this. It is something to do with the altitude and the shortness of the runway. When the plane approaches, it has to drop quickly a couple of times in order to properly land on the runway. And, it is a noticeable ‘drop’ … one that would have made my heart stop if I hadn’t been pre-warned that it is normal. Moments after the ‘drop’ we were landing … by landing I really mean bumping and screaching to a hault. Quito has a relatively short runway and I remember wondering if we were actually going to stop moving before the end of it! The end of this flight was a little rough, but overall, I had great conversation along the way, so it was all kinds of fun!

When we finally got off the plane and headed through security, Jorge stuck by my side and helped me navigate to get my luggage, get through security and find my way to my transfer driver. Thank you Jorge! I think I would have been a little lost and definitely much slower than I was if it hadn’t been for Jorge leading the way and explaining to a couple of officials in Spanish for me. It was a huge help and stress relief for me after 16 hours of travel and it being close to midnight in a new country where I didn’t speak the language.

I am thankful for helpful people!

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