Hola amigos! Habla espanol? Hablo un muy pequito espanol. This is my second week here in Banos (Ban-ios). I am taking some time here to learn some basics of spanish. I am finding it overwhelming but baby steps as I always say. It took me a few days to get on track with the right school and teacher. The first school and teacher was not a good fit. There was no structure and little focus. I am very happy with my teacher now though, Marcelo from Raices Spanish School. So in total I will have had 6 days of one on one classes with him for 3 hours per day. He is very patient and focuses greatly on pronunciation which is key obviously. Pronunciation is difficult for me as well as understanding someone speaking – minor details. I can ask some basic questions but I am like a deer caught in headlights when trying to understand the answer. I am hoping my headlights have a dimmer and eventually some of it will become familiar; it has to, doesn’t it?!
A lot of the adventure of traveling is getting from point A to point B. It is so easy when you are home. We take it for granted, especially with all the fancy devices these days and with GPS but beyond that because everything is so familiar. It is one of the most challenging and exhilarating parts of traveling; it is a sensational way to truly immerse yourself in the culture. I plan on writing a blog post just on this very topic so stay tuned for my pointers and survival tips.
It was a 6 hour bus trip south to get to Banos from Otavalo. I was nervous about my journey. It began at 4:30 in the morning, after not sleeping at all (tossing and turning got the better of me), with realizing that I was locked inside my hotel. The gate was locked to get out and there was no way to climb over due to the large spikes protruding out of the top of the fence. Soon enough though the night clerk awoke and came out to yell at me, apparently I should have told him I was leaving so early. The day clerk of course didn’t tell me that. He was the least of my worries though. I asked him for a taxi, he said no. Oh well, at least I was out of my hotel as I had a 530ish bus to catch somewhere on the side of the PanAmerican highway. I walked to the bus station hoping to find a taxi there and I did. I had gotten the hotel day clerk to write down in spanish where this bus stop was, and that proved to be my saviour. So I got dropped off on the side of the highway at 5am in the dark at this bus stop. I was pretty confident I was on the correct side of the highway too, pointed in the right direction. There were buses coming every minute almost, which one do I wave down? There is only one bus and if I miss it, well it’s gone. Luckily I had checked the Expreso Banos website and I knew it was a yellow bus and that again helped me immensely. Around 5:45am I waved down the Banos bus and I was very happy. In the meantime I had gotten mentally prepared with the prospect of having no seat and having to stand since I hadn’t gotten it from the initial departure city. I got on the bus and it was full from what I could see as there was already a man standing. It didn’t take long though for the bus guy to point me to the very back where there was ONE seat left…yes. I was really happy. Knowing that Banos was the last destination, I could sit back, relax and enjoy the ride, not having to guess where I get off.
When you are constantly challenged with unknowns and unfamiliarity, you easily appreciate the simple things with immense joy and gratitude…such as actually getting the bus and then getting a seat on it. I only had to keep hold of my daypack with all of my true essentials in it to be sure it was safe, safety first; otherwise, I was golden.