In all honesty, I would have rather been holed up in an East African hospital for a couple days. Of course, I say that only because I've been there. So where have I been that such an alternative has a strangely sick appeal? Well...
Last Thursday night some amigos and I headed up to Mariscal (north of old Town, a lively bar scene) for dinner. Quite an amusing evening, powered by seco de chivo (a goat dish) for dinner, and cold (!!) Pilsener, the first of three stops was some karaoke bar. Probably the most curious element of this establishment was its screen displaying disturbing gymnastics bloopers along with song lyrics. The first hint of something peculiar is that my song choice for karaoke was Gangsta's Paradise, no "singing" required.
For a reprieve from the horribly mangled gymnasts and the what-the-hell-are-you-crazy-Americans-singing stares, we chilled at Strawberry Fields, a relaxing establishment with walls practically built of Beatles memorabilia. Upon reuniting with more volunteers (and more drinks), we high-stepped it over to a dance club to, well, dance!
There we met just about every other UBECI volunteer, including the founders, and danced the night away. 3am: sleepy time.
After graciously passing on my work opportunity the next morning (hint #2), I managed to make it into my final Spanish class at 2pm. Though my voice sounded more like James Earl Jones than one would suspect my appearance could produce (hint #3), I finished. Twenty hours of Spanish: check!
On Saturday, about 15 volunteers headed to Otavalo, where we could shop till we dropped in the country's most popular market. To say that the streets were peppered with vendors would be like saying you might find a Catholic or two in Rome. No, these streets were heavily seasoned, even slathered with vendors, selling everything from stone carvings and hammocks to handbags and armadillo guitars (charangos). The whole group naturally split into individuals, and we spent about 4 hours roaming, struggling to find the outer edges, then later struggling to find each other.
The bus home dropped us off around 8:30pm, where I struggled (not emotionally - hint #4) to say goodbye to a few parting volunteers. And that is where it ended.
The night, you ask? Well yes. And my trip. What I would come to recognize, after another 4 days of bed rest, is that what started as a mere tickle in my throat on that crazy Mariscal night, what stole my voice in the following days, and what epitomized itself as uncontrollable shivering and stomach cramps, was in fact an infection I had developed. Yesterday I visited a doctor and was treated to a shot of Penicillin...in the ass! Painful? Not really. Strange? Hell yes.
The decision to end my trip a week early was a difficult one, one that was made through torn emotions, flickering travel dreams, and a bit of eye sweat (okay, tears). However, I must remind myself that our greatest disappointments come as a result of our own false assumptions. And this trip was planned with the assumption that I would be squeaky-clean healthy. Not so. And we all know that to assume is to make an ass out of u and me. Well, this time, it's just me. And my ass. And to twist the knife, an injection in my ass.
Tonight, I'm bound for the States and will land exactly one week early tomorrow morning. See you on the flippity-flop.