After sushi, I stopped by my friends' departmento to gather a group for dancing and singing the night away. Eventually, I convinced Marco, Katita, Pete, and Ella to join me for a delicious drink before the night started. We settled into a little bar to chat and enjoy two for one margaritas that were unfortunately awful. Needless to say, we only stayed for one drink, said good night to Pete and Ella and then the three of us stopped by Chipitos to enjoy a few shots. I decided I am going to start one of these shot bars in the U.S. Somewhere and sometime this week, I will write my business plan and get started on the project. Anyhoo, Marco and Katita were spectacular shot partners in crime. We enjoyed two or three and then headed back to the departmento.
I finally convinced Brookie to join me for a night of dancing. Jaja so kindly got us into Diablos for free. We occupied an entire corner upstairs for the majority of the evening where we boogied away. It was a wonderful Friday evening drinking and dancing. I will certainly miss carefree nights like this where all we do is dance and have a good time.
The rest of the evening wasn't so pleasant but at least I discovered who my true friends were and was able to make amends with my latin buddy.
I spent the entire day Saturday waiting for my despedida, otherwise known as going away party. My host mom said it was in the afternoon so I figured anywhere between 3 and 5. Of course I forgot to take into account that they were all Ecuadorian so the party didn't start until 7:30. It is a good thing I did not feel like doing anything all day anyway.
When I walked into the grandmother's house where the party was, a lovely relative pointed at me, held out her hands to indicate what looked like two feet and said, "ENGORDA." A woman twice my size and half my height just told me I was fat. Thank you very much. I just smiled and said I had actually lost six pounds and it was just my red pants. She smiled and laughed. I don't think she believed me but I let it slide because I never had to see her again after tonight.
The party was very low key and sweet. Everyone said bye in their own way and many kind words were exchanged. I enjoyed having the opportunity to thank them and to say farewell.
After the party, Sly, her sister, and their new Ecuadorian "uncle" picked me up via the Ecuadorian secret service driver to go to Hotel Quito for the night. This is a very long and kind of shady story I might be able to tell you at some point in the future, however, I am too lazy right now, plus I am still trying to figure it out. "Diego" took us to the roof top restaurant for ice cream and a glorious view before dropping us off at our room with bottles of water and wishes for sweet dreams and buenas noches. I had never seen Quito from the East before, which made the evening a lovely treat. Quito is gorgeous at night with all the twinkling lights against the volcanic background. We slept with the shades open to admire the view. In the morning, la vista was even more spectacular. I had never woken up on that side of town before. How beautiful the mountains were with the brilliant sun shining down on them. The night at the hotel was a very nice surprise, but I could not help but feel the evening was exceptionally extravagant; something I will soon have to get used to after this year. Extravagance and opulence have not been very prominent in Quito for me.
I walked home from the hotel because the girls were heading to an Aventura concert out of town. On my way, a costeno man told me I had a "delicious ass" only in Spanish. I had all I could do not to punch him in the face but I didn't for fear of being kidnapped during my last days. Instead, I ignored him and kept walking, as to keep out of trouble. At some point, I am going to write about machista men and sexism in Ecuador, but I will spare you for now.
Liz, Brookie and I met at Mango Tree for brunch. I cannot remember the last time I saw such an extensive spread of food. Talk about gratuitous eating. Others trickled in to join us throughout the two or more hours we were there. Eventually we left them for the comfort of Liz's departmento to play Canasta for a couple of hours. Afternoons and evenings playing Canasta with the group are some of my favorite times. I told the girls I might have to make friends with the people at the local nursing home to get my fill of this ancient card game when I get home. Brooke left us after awhile. Marco and Katita drank white Russians and watched "The Big Lebowski," while Liz and I read the Miami Herald on the bean bag couch. I doubt my life will ever be as simple as it is here. Very little is required of me and I seem to have all the time in the world to spend leisurely with my friends.
I joined Brookie and Jaja at Coffee Tree for some live music and beers. We spent the rest of the evening enjoying each other's company, completing the Miami Herald's crossword, and choking down more bad Pilsener while swaying to the rhythm of the band until Jaja put us in a cab home.
Overall, my final weekend was good. I was reminded of the simple pleasures and the remarkable friendships I have encountered along my journey here. Sadness unexpectedly swept over me when I realized it was nearly over.