Friday, February 27, 2009

La Mariscal-Thoughts from Days 1/2

La Mariscal is a neighborhood in Quito Nuevo that houses dozens of hostels, bars, clubs, coffee shops, and international eateries.  Sounds great, I know, and it would the right circumstance.  I'd love to be here with friends, living cheaply, seeing Quito stuff all day, and then having Pilseners at any one of the 2 dozen or so booze spots.  

However, I came down here with a specific purpose - to choose my daily doings almost as if I hadn't left Austin.  Obviously, one thing that's missing is employment...we're working on it.  Aside from that, I've found myself asking the question, "Would I do this/that if I was in Austin?"  When it comes to going and getting hammered for no reason, the answer is, "No."  I want it to feel like I live here.  This is not the neighborhood to feel like a local.  There are English and German speaking white people all over the place, and I think I saw about 12 dreads today.  Of the four bars I've stopped in to have beers, two have been run by white proprietors speaking English.  I have no problem with this, or maybe I do, but it's not where I want to be right now.  Here are some funny stories from La Mariscal.

First, I stopped to watch the futbol in a sports bar called Shooter's.  Approaching the bar, I saw what was really funny for a new Ecuadorian.  Behind the bar, there was a single, count em, single, tap.  It vomited, guess what, Pilsener, the everyman's beer here in Ecuador.  I actually quite like it.  Maybe that means that I've got a job I just don't know about yet.  Yes!

Another funny thing at Shooter's: there's a "Jirafe" on the menu.  Jirafe meaning Giraffe, of course.  I soon discovered what ol' Shooter had up his sleeve when a waitress brought out what looked like an oversized test tube mounted on a lampstand.  The lampstand had a tap in it, and the huge test tube (about a yard+ tall, 4 in. in diameter) was full of, yep, Pilsener.  A group orders the Jirafe and proceeds to pour their own beers...all four feet of them.  

Later that night, I end up going out with some fellas from the hostel.  We've got Frances (Montreal), Kevin (Australia) and my roommate (from all over).  Kevin is a somewhat gangly fellow, though he's quite gregarious and talkative.  I quite enjoy chatting with him.  We talked about how the culture of America is rubbish yet how individual Americans always seem so genuine and gracious.  

Now Kevin has had a wild ride here in Ecuador.  He's probably 50, and an economist amongst other things.  He's sporting an interesting look, with two terribly blacked eyes and a totally bloodshot left eye.  Not knowing what the hell to say to get to the bottom of it, I don't ask anything.  Being Kevin, he comes right out and tells me.  He was robbed once in Quito.  His money, wallet, watch, and British passport were stolen.  There was little violence involved in Robbery 1.0.  Unfortunately for Kevin, he was wearing a target of some sort, and he is attacked again.  This time, attacked is used in a literal sense.  Evidently, Kevin is approached by 6 gentlemen who surround him and stare menacingly.   Kevin responds by smashing one of their jaws.  Broken, he tells me, assuredly broken.  

As one might imagine, the remaining five hoodlums give Kevin the what-for.  Right in the eyes.  Hence, the raccoon mask he's wearing.  He cannot see out of his left eye.  He really looks like shit.  Lucky for Kevin, he has a solution.  Kevin literally wears his sunglasses at night.  One has to feel bad for Kev.  He's had a shitty month.  The governments involved aren't making said month any smoother.  

So, the four of us go to a self-proclaimed Irish pub.  We order our Guinness pints, which is to say our 'barriles de Pilsener,' and find that the bar is full of diversions - pool, darts, white people, etc...After a few barriles, sunglass-clad Kevin comes up and drops a bomb - he's signed us up to play pool against the local sharks.  It would be accurate to say that I hate pool, which is somewhat ironic because I totally love pools.  Huh.  

Being extranos, gueros, gringos, o que sea, Kevin and I get skipped a few times in the play order.  That's fine with me, as I hurry to finish my beer so as to have a valid reason for leaving.  As I'm slamming my beer, literally, mid-slam, Kevin comes up and informs me that the time is now. 

Long story short, that pesky ol' one-eyed Aussie and I accidentally win three games in a row, defeating, amongst others, well-known local shark Juan Carlos, who calls me ZZ Top.  I take it as a compliment.  Juan Carlos expects that I should.  

In an interesting coincidence, indeed one which gives me great hopes for the future, I met a fella who was interested in 'hiring' me for a teaching gig.  Fella's name is Ed, and he's acquainted with my roommate here at Posada del Maple in Quito.  Ed was inquiring as to my purpose for being in Ecuador.  I reply, naturally enough, that I'm here to teach, though I'm not sure how, where, with whom, or what exactly I'll be teaching.  I explain to Ed that I don't really want to teach English for the rest of my life, and that I enjoy working with children.  Out of nowhere, Ed responds that there is a group of 'ninos pobres' who need educatin'.  He asks if I'd be interested, and reminds me that they're pobrecitos.  'Ed,' I say, 'I can't even get communicate with rich kids.  It's not in my blood.'  

Ed says that he, regretfully, can't offer me any payment, but would be willing to have me stay in his home and eat with him and his family if I were to teach these poor youths.  I wonder if Ed knows he basically made me an offer I can't refuse...if it were in Cuenca.  Still, I'm encouraged by the fact that I was able to so simply find something as interesting as Ed's offer in the first two days I'm in Ecuador.  

I just might pull this off.


sterling said...

i can picture all of this shit. sounds really fun. good luck with ed. kathryn, dan and anna were going to come see me today, but an 18 wheeler smashed on 35 and spilled all its contents (fuel) and closed both sides of the highway. shitty. keep the writing coming, it is entertaining.

prahdig said...

damn guy. zz top. didn't think of that one. i cant wait till you become the local pool shark - seems like that crappy tilted-leg pool table at bridle path did you some good. things are good in austin, except for this huge puss balloon on my left thumb - i'll have to send you a picture. keep the posts coming!