Friday, 10 October 2008
by Nurse JennaBuenos Dias. This is the first of my upcoming posts coming to you from Quito, Ecuador. I arrived Sunday night to begin my 3 weeks of homestay here, where I will be attending a local school to study Spanish. It was a rough trip getting here, and before I did finally arrive safely, I had a childhood flashback of the dreadful time I was accidentally forgotten at school. I was reminded of the memory that is still burned deep in my psyche, where my mom thought my dad was picking me up and vice versa. The result was a 2nd grader in a tear-stained pink dress sitting by the front of the school with an exaggerated sense of abandonment that still haunts me. Thoughts of that day popped into my head while waiting at the airport in Ecuador, where I was without money or a phone, hoping someone would come pick me up when everything around me suggested I had been forgotten.
So how did I end up in South America without money or a phone, likening myself to a lonely child? Let me not forget to mention it was raining. After all, what is a foreigner in the dark of night, in a 3rd world country, if there is no rain. I find myself here because I was long overdue for a brush-up on my Spanish. Some issues at work about 2 weeks ago occurred due to poor communication with Spanish-speaking-only patients and these incidents refueled my desire to improve my language skills. So after a hastily purchased ticket and a flurry of packing, this was where I found myself.
I started the trip a bit nervous -- about my faltering Spanish speaking abilities, traveling alone, the lack of planning [child_alone], a lot of things, really. The nervousness began to crecscendo when I got to the airport and realized my ATM card was not working. I had virtually no cash with me and was counting on being able to get cash before I left the country. Of course, the bank customer service line was not open on a Sunday. I was uneasy, but figured I could cash a check in Miami before I left the country. How could a major international airport NOT have a currency exchange? Well, there wasn't. I was reassured there would be one in Quito when I arrived in Ecuador. Again, not the case.
As if being without money and language skills isn’t bad enough, my cell phone also did not yet work, and my ride was not there when I got to the airport in Ecuador. I circled with my bags a few times looking for someone holding a sign with my name, and even went outside (in the rain) to look around. No one was there. Tears were welling up at this point. I had been flying for over 12 hours and now I had been forgotten. I not only felt just like a little kid whose parents forgot to pick them up from school, it was as if I had also forgotten my phone number and was helpless to call anyone. It was certainly a moment of regression for me. An "emergency" call and an hour later, I was finally picked-up from the airport and dropped off at my homestay. All is well that ends well, I suppose. Though it is now three days later and I still have no money and am still struggling with international calls and banks regarding my ATM card. Life is a bit less technical here, among other things.
Have you ever forgotten to pick your kids up, or remember a time when your parents forgot to come get you?