December 18, 2011
We arrived at the building which sat just across the border but was not sign posted well and the most prominent sign was "restaurante", there was one in that same building. It ends up you don't drive through a checkpoint like in the US or Canada, you park your car(or bicycle) and then walk inside a building. Once inside I had to fill out a form and describe my mode of transport, they didn't want to see or inspect anything. Lady was very helpful in describing the situation but the man behind the counter said I needed to go back over to the Colombian side and get my passport re-stamped. I had my reservations about what was going to happen over there with the one day discrepancy. The Colombian side was a walk of about 1000 feet, again Lady explained the situation and the woman behind the counter voided the stamped date from yesterday and re-stamped it with today's date, no problem. Lady and I walked back over to Ecuador and he stamped my passport no questions asked, it went very smoothly and I had no reason to be concerned. I wondered what would happen in the US if someone crossed the border and then went back a day later?
I do not think this would have been quite so easy if I had not had someone with me that spoke the language. I felt very blessed to have met these people here in Tulcan, and Latin America in general most people so far go out of their way to help.
After we got the passport done, Lady took me to meet her 3 year old daughter who has a minor genetic disorder which causes her to have poor motor control and coordination. I talked to Lady and her brother who was there too and gave them some suggestions for exercises and activities. I demonstrated on both of them what to do that would be helpful to add to her daily exercise routine. It was a lot of fun and I was very glad to be able to contribute something. The little girl was very adorable and at times wanted to sit in my lap and other times wasn't too sure about this gringo. An extraordinary experience I was blessed with to be welcomed into someone's home and be able to contribute something.
Lady drove me back to the hotel and the streets were crowded because it was market day. I ended up walking for many blocks up and down blocked off streets, the fresh produce went on forever and this was much larger than the famous "Eugene Saturday Market". There were a few stands selling various items such as pirated DVD's and music, that is very common in Colombia too. This is a place were you can get 5 mangoes for $1.00 or 5 avocado's for $1.00. The prices are even better in Ecuador than Colombia.
photos from the market
The smells were amazing as I walked through seeing every kind of fruit and vegetable imaginable and lots of stuff I did not recognize. There were also roots, grains and flour of all kinds.
One thing I've neglected to mention so far is that when I am being greeted by or introduced to a woman, it involves a hug and she kisses me on the cheek. This is apparently the way of the culture.
When Gabriel returned from his trip with the queen, Mireya, visiting the children, we went for dinner with his friend Christian. After dinner Christian drove us around the area to show me more of the sights and monuments.
As I went to bed I heard the 10 rings from the church bell indicating it was 10 pm, I guess telling everyone it is bed time.
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