Thursday, March 11, 2010

robbers, tarantulas, and hippies

The SUPER COOL thing that happened as we were trying to leave Peru:

All my cash, credit card, three sets of presents and the coin purse from our godchildren in Bolivia: STOLEN. Right out from under me. Right when we were trying to cross the stupid border on an overnight bus. When we got off the bus from Mancora, I was massively irritated and the first thought that came to mind was something along the lines of, "Cool, take all my money. I'll eventually go home and earn that all back-- and then some-- and you can stay here in your pitiful 3rd World thievery. Enjoy that." Then I remembered I'm supposed to be praying for my enemies. I struggled with that one and would have ALMOST concluded the Peru expedition with a bitter taste in my mouth if it weren't for a couple of things. Firstly, the kind man at our bus line office who found me an obscure computer (the only one with internet) in the station so I could cancel my card, and who counseled me with such gems as "Money is like water! It'll flow back to you in no time!" and reminded me that I was still safe. It's amazing how good-hearted, well-placed people can turn a situation around. Secondly, Marlo reminded me that we were heading to pure nature to live on Neverland Farm, which would be a perfect time to escape from using money at all and, as she put it, "really focus on a good mental cleanse" so we could start Ecuador on a positive note. Mental cleanse, brainwash, whatever. Let's do it.
We found ourselves arriving in Loja, Ecuador at 5 am, ready to move to a farm but having had the complicated directions stolen as well (maybe the most annoying thing about getting robbed is when they take the things that mean absolutely nothing to them, but everything to you. I met a Canadian girl who had a thousand dollars of things taken from her in the main square of Quito, but the thing she cried most about was her journal). Essentially stranded, we slept in the bus station for three hours until the town opened up and we could get to an internet cafe to REWRITE the 5 paragraphs of instructions. Finally, after two busses into the highlands and a long hike that was no easy jaunt with our backpacks on, we arrived at Neverland Farm.
Let me take a moment to describe what we THOUGHT we would be doing, based on the website:
Drinking farm-grown coffee, smoking farm-grown tobacco, eating farm-grown fruit and learning about sustainable organic agriculture. Not to mention getting our own hippy names (MoonBeam?PeaceWart?) in the process. What we did do was come to understand what it actually looks like to live on a hippy commune. We lucked out and had a vegetarian chef from Denmark cook us all our meals, ate veggies from the farm, and showered in the outdoor rock bath. Added bonus: new litters of kittens and puppies to play with, as well! What we were not up for was sharing an outhouse with tarantulas, finding spiders with weird fangs outside our door, having a leech colony waiting to attack from an unknown location, and having all our stuff permanently damp from the highland forest dew that seemed ubiquitous. I think we knew it was time to call it quits when, in a midnight attempt to avoid the outhouse, I accidentally peed on my Lulus. *Flashback to age 5, when my cousin tried to convince me that it was easy to pee in the woods. I got my grey sweatpants all wet and was mortified when we passed a cute 1st grade boy on the hike back. Since then, I have avoided the squat pee maneuver at all costs, besides that one time in the Bolivian desert where it was either "bano natural" or a UTI.*

So, with our new army of wonderful hippy friends left securely behind in their hemp beds, we made the trek back out of the woods and headed for safer ground in Cuenca, more than ready for a place that wouldn't either rob us blind or make us feel high-maintenance for not wanting bee hives in our living areas. Chau, puppies.

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