–First off excuse me if this post is a bit all over the place because I am dog-tired, really! I haven’t completely adjusted to the altitude and we have been running non stop since we left the States last Wednesday, July 30. We arrived home, in Cuenca, on Thursday evening because of a layover in Quito. A bit of a mess but more on that in a minute. Uno minuto. I am thinking a little in Spanish, I guess that’s a good thing except I tend to get my tenses wrong…a lot!
There were a few tears shed by me… well a lot actually because I said see you later to very dear family and friends in our congregation and elsewhere. See you later because we will see each other again, I know it! My son and daughter…mi bambinos! My girlfriends, including one of my best friends of 36 years, who lives outside Chicago. We drove to see her and her family before we left. She reminded me I’ve wanted to serve where the need was greater in a foreign country since we were teenagers! I tried to get her to go but life took us down different roads. She is busy pioneering now in Illinois and her daughter (where did that cute chubby baby go?) is a beautiful married woman and has a wonderful husband in the truth. It is so good to be with old friends who are going strong and serving Jehovah, eh?
The friends in our congregation had a nice sendoff for us and we got to spend some time with them, one young brother, Mason even had fireworks for us, super fun! My son and daughter can attest to the fact that I love fireworks! Thanks again, Mason!
As far as the trip over, before we got to the airport we called and double, double checked (yep 2 doubles) to make sure we could have extra baggage. If you know my husband you know he does not like surprises!!! We were prepared to pay of course for the extra baggage. So off we go with 8 bags to the airport, 2 a piece extra. Big bags. Weighed and everything, each 50 lbs. NO BUENO!! After much hemming and hawing by the reservationist or whatever you call the person who checked us in a supervisor comes over after about 20 minutes or so and abruptly tells us there is an embargo in Quito (the embargo comes and goes by the way, one person got in a while ago with 17 bags) and we can ONLY take 4 bags total. She will let us take up to 70 lbs in 4 bags but no more. YIKES!! we are flustered, irritated and bewildered. We had already packed and unpacked 10 times and given away every non essential item we could. Short, aggravating story made shorter. We called the secretary of our congregation who lives about an hour from the airport (as do we) and asked him to come get 4 suitcases and in the meantime we go over to the waiting area and with 1 hour to spare before departure we proceed to unload all the suitcases, jettisoning anything extra and cramming the other suitcases as full as possible…so 1 set of sheets instead of 3 (sheets and towels are very expensive here remember?) Chet’s shoes and extra jackets, his robe and a couple of suits (it’s cold here remember?) extra cosmetics including his stash of shaving cream (it’s $6 here) desktop computer and monitor, sewing supplies, etc. We were a little harried so we were just getting rid of stuff, I even gave some things to nearby passengers. All was not lost though, I heard Jeannie and Andy liked the Chicago Mix we gave them. If you don’t know what it is you can buy it by the case on Amazon, it’s addictive!
We had a 23 hour layover in Quito, and because of that we had to check our baggage all over again there. Yep, you guessed it, there was a problem with the baggage being too heavy there even though they told us (American airlines) that the bags would be checked through and have no problems. Not so. Avianca (who we flew with from Quito to Cuenca) charged us but the cost was only about $70, for all 4 bags. It just took them 45 minutes at the counter to finally tell us that. Bienvenidos to Ecuador! We get to our gate and we are there for about 1/2 hour and security calls us. I have to open my bag and let them see what’s in my small carry on (I had to check it, too heavy for Avianca they only allow 10kg.) anyway they thought I had a bomb or something…it was my juicer. yea that’s right I could not jettison my juicer, so what I gave up an extra warm pair of pajamas (it’s cold here remember…especially in July and August). Fresh juice anyone? Lesson? Later someone told us, don’t fly American. We had a wonderful experience flying Copa into Guayaquil and we will go with them next time. Definitely.
Lest it sound awful the good news is this…we saved a whopping $700 on luggage fees by downsizing even more, and really you can only sleep on one set of sheets at a time right? Chet is going to have to replace his clothes but in service today I met a tailor that is a return visit of a sister in our hall. He makes nice suits and jackets at reasonable prices. So that’s an option. Plus we got to our apartment safe thanks to the brother who is our residency attorney arranging for the husband of a sister to pick us up. He was right there at Cuenca airport when we got off the plane, along with his daughter and possible future son-in-law. They took great care and delivered us and our 300 lbs. plus of luggage to our door. The friends who had the apartment before us left it immaculate and nicely set up for us. We made the bed, turned on the portable heater we bought when we came in May, dove under a pile of blankets and slept. Ahhhhh, so good to be home! The friends in the congregation are so warm and are glad for us to be here and we feel the same. Igualamente.
Chet signed us up for 3 classes per week of Spanish, Monday, Wednesday & Friday afternoon after service. He is eager to be effective in the ministry and the congregation, as am I. The cool thing is our instructor the first day we walk in has a Bible Teach book in English on his desk. He said “Oh, yea I am helping a young man learn English and this is what he wants to use, we’ve been through the book already and we are going through it again. He is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you must be also?” We agreed and he in turn agreed to help us put our comments into Spanish for the meetings each week, isn’t that cool? Que Bueno!
Did I say I was tired? I took 2 aspirin with caffeine to knock my headache out and well I can see my son shaking his head, he knows caffeine gets me WIRED! anyway enough…Hasta Luego Mi Amigos. Ciao!