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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

Vamos Ahora

This morning I woke up to my host mother coming in to the room to pick up the landline phone... because it was ringing, of course.  Mari has kindly given me her room while I am visiting, which one one hand, I love the privacy, and on the other hand, I feel bad that everyone else is put out on account of my visit.  Anyway, the phone is in this particular room.  I woke up immediately, and from what I understood, Mami told me that she was going to see her sister and would be back soon.  

Ok.  Fine with me.  Ciao... have a lovely time.  The less time in the car for me... the better.  I need to get a shirt made that says "Hell no, I won't go... in the car... for a bit!"

I attempted to drift back to sleep, but about 20 minutes later, Mari came in the room to get something from the closet.  I said"Is Mami going on the bus?" She replied, no, and that she was driving her.  I took my sweet ass time getting up.  Wandered downstairs for coffee... breakfast was sitting on the table waiting for me.  I wondered how long they were going to be, because I knew we had a very important dancing session to attend at some point during the day.

I'll elaborate on this, slightly...

I was told a couple days ago that Mami has dancing classes a few times a week, at a local gym.  Now in regards to the word 'gym'... it's not actually a gym, but a large community function room, from what I could gather.  Only a half an hour class and then they'd planned something fun... that almost sounded like we might be going to a park.... maybe?

As I mentioned yesterday, the mystery location comes in to play, and you just nod your head out of politeness.

I sat there, lazy, in my pj's, nibbling slowly on breakfast... when suddenly I realize that Mari is outside with the car on, waiting. Mami is rushing around trying to get out of the house, and Alex asks ME if I'm ready... que?

"No... no voy."  (translation: "I'm not going.")


"Creo que no." (translation: "Don't think so.")

"Si... vas a ir.  Nos vamps ahora." (translation: Yes... you are coming. We are leaving now.")

"No... en serio. Creo que solo Mami y Mari se van." (translation: No... seriously. I think it's just Mami and Mari.")

"Y yo y tu." (translation: "And you and me.")


"Mami - Joanna viene también?" (He yells upstairs to Mami - "Is Joanna coming too?")



Literally 7 seconds to get ready.

Brush teeth, throw hair in messy bun, water splashed on face... tank top on, shorts, glasses, grab phone & wallet... GO!

No purse... no book ... no charger.... nothing.

We went back to Tia's.  I don't really know what they do there, but they all disappear down the hall for some time and are not heard or seen at all.  I sit.  Finally we all left... and walked to the 'gym' so Mami could dance.

"Media hora?" (translation: 'Half hour?")

"Si... mas o menos." (translation: "Yes.. more or less)


"Tal vez 40 minutos." (translation: "Maybe 40 minutes.")

No... no no no... NO! 40 minutes, my ass.


One hour of my life that I will never get back.

The hardest part was back at the house, while everyone is asking me if I had fun and I really liked it.

What am I supposed to say to that?

"The first minute was funny... then I wanted to run screaming."  

Back at Tia's... sitting in silence.  Finally, I had to move, so I got up and wandered through the mall that was next door.  When I came back, I discovered that the big plan for the 'park' was actually a 'park with animals'...  otherwise known, throughout the world, in the simplest terms and most convenient definition as... 'the zoo.'

All that kept going through my mind was, "How do I avoid this one?"  The last zoo that I was at was in Sydney, Australia in 1994 and I spent the entire time in tears, much to the entertainment and horror of the group I was with, devastated that the animals were in captivity.  

I had to explain that a park sounded absolutely lovely, but 'with animals' No... please, no zoos. 

Mari tried to explain to me that it was VERY popular with the children... hence... ??  I then left it in their hands, but suggested that perhaps I might take the day to revisit the centre of Guayaquil in the daylight.  Very, very dangerous... no way could I venture in to the centro by myself. Out of the question. It was suddenly decided!

We were all going.

It ended up being fantastic... according to me, anyway.  We walked almost the entire promenade and in the opposite direction that Duval & Pamela had taken me.  I saw 2 iguanas, took some photos, ate some ice cream - and then we decided to do a boat tour to Isla Santay!

Isla Santay is a protected wetland island right in the middle of the Rio Guayas and is now recognized nationally due to the importance of its ecosystems as fundamental for global conservation.  Mouthful!  You can probably tell that I just wrote all of that because I paid attention during the tour and I'm very intelligent... Anyway- this island has crocodiles (some in captivity... so I guess I did get to the zoo indeed), 85 bird species, reptiles (boas and iguanas), raccoons (bastards are everywhere!), anteaters, bats...  But back to crocodiles.

These are right up there with sharks in my personal fear factor. Most of my conversation for the day was;

  • Are there crocodiles in the river?

  • Can you swim in the river?

  • If you swam in the river, would you die because of being attacked by a crocodile?

  • Were crocodiles here 26 years ago?

  • How come no one told me that there were crocodiles here?

  • How many people have died because of crocodiles?

  • Do crocodiles ever venture in to the city?

  • Do crocodiles ever jump in to the fishing boats?

And those are just SOME of my questions... Honestly though... I need to look this up... purely for educational purposes... and my own sanity.

I should probably mention that I've always had a strategy for being attacked by both sharks and crocodiles.  Sharks... I would hold firmly on to their fin until I would naturally die from being drowned... which, to me, is a much better way to die than being torn apart, limb by limb.  Also... on the off chance that I don't die, a dolphin would eventually come along and save me.  With crocodiles, I hear that they shake you until you're dead, then take you down to the bottom of the river and bury you under a rock until they are ready to eat you.  If a crocodile ever attacked men, I would just pretend to already be dead (therefor eliminating the need to shake me)... then I would slip under the rock and then make my big escape once it had swam away.

Of course, this is all pending on me actually seeing the shark and/or crocodile coming at me.  They can't blindside me or the plans will not work. While on the island (any tour, actually)... I don't know why this surprises me... but it does.  Tour guides present their tours as 'tours' but in actual fact, what they really are, are cash grabs.  And I expect that there a percentages involved in sales... Nothing I hate more than being given an hour to hang around and 'wait'... which is code for 'go to the only restaurant on the island and order from their menu of 2 or 3 things.' So... we are forced to sit by the restaurant for an hour... waiting.

I think there should be one boat for those who want to eat and one boat for those who don't.  Plus they didn't have water. 

By the time we got home... 9 hours we'd been gone.

... dead phone... sweating... Kind of wish I had been better prepared for the day.  Miscommunication at its best.  Honestly, I was probably told but just either didn't force myself to comprehend... or didn't listen at all...

My big sayings when I'm confused are;

  • No entiendo.

  • Nada... no.

  • Otra vez por favor.

  • Mas despacio...

Then normally I can get it.... At first I found it interested that I couldn't find Suntan Oil anywhere, and now I realize "why bother with it?"  In this heat,  your entire body turns in to a thick layer of oil...

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