Today was the final day. It was a free day until the evening when we would do a group dinner like the first time. Everyone had a variety of plans for things to do around the city, and others wanted to take the day to relax and recoup from the craziness of the past two weeks. A group of us decided to take a taxi to the market in Quito and do some last minute gift shopping. It was time for the last round of bargaining and seeing how many more things we could somehow squeeze into our suitcases. It was an indoor market (sort of) with lots of little stalls underneath a plastic covering. There were rows and rows of stalls with things ranging from home goods, to piercing and tattoo stalls.
We later ventured out to find some lunch and then took the bus with Jeff back to the hotel to help Omar do some food shopping for the group dinner that night. The bus ride was actually enjoyable and we had the opportunity to talk with a guy on the bus who was close to our age. Andrew had actually just finished applying for masters art programs in the United States, particularly New York. He was actually really wonderful to talk with and it was a general conversation that went both ways. He would talk to me in English and ask me to respond in Spanish. Apparently, my accent isn’t that bad. I think he was just being nice and appreciated the effort being made. He invited us to grab a drink that night, but unfortunately we were leaving that night. He even got off the bus and introduced himself to Jeff. Jeff had been sitting at the front of the bus and we had moved to the back; he had a very skeptical fatherly look on his face during the course of our interactions. Had we had more time though, we as a group probably would have gone out for a drink with him in the area.
Food shopping for the night was fun as we tried to have well balanced meals for 20 people and also make allowances for the vegetarians in the group. Lots of weird fruits were bought, empanadas, and all sorts of delicious things. (We did avoid potatoes though…most people were tired of all the potatoes from the village.) The meal was delicious, the conversation was great and it was sad to get ready to say good bye. I knew that I would without a doubt cry when we got to the airport and had to say good-bye to Omar and Juan Carlos.
Sure enough, after a slightly car sickness inducing ride, we arrived at the airport for our 1:00am flight out of Quito. We said by to Juan Carlos first, which was sad enough, but sure enough, when Omar left after lots of hugs, I burst in to tears. I hate crying in public, a lot. Jess started crying to and next thing we know we hear, “Trip leaders, falling apart at the seams.” It was true enough though, it was our second time with this community and we were leaving and potentially not coming back for a long time.
It was really hard to leave. Part of me knew it would be that hard, but the other part of me expected it to be easier since in total, I had spent three weeks there. I don’t know if it was still the honeymoon stage of travel, where everything is great, or if I really just wanted to spend that much time there.
As if to rub it in, our 1:00am flight was delayed due to fog. We proceeded to sleep on the plane, or in the terminal waiting for the call that we would be able to take off. Of course, Jess, Jeff, Eric and I were of course thinking about the fiasco that happened last time. Where our flight was delayed, then just never ended up taking off so some people were in Ecuador for an additional two days. People were upset, but eventually we took off, made our flight to Boston and the New York group had rescheduled flights waiting for them at the Texas airport. The flights were smooth and uneventful from that point forward. We were officially back in the States and my second trip to Ecuador had come to an end.