punch cinturon

in ecuador, there are a lot of people who try to sell you things on the bus.  they jump on and walk up and down the aisle, yelling out the names of things they have for sale.  you can buy newspapers or candy or gum or oranges or watches or toys or cookes or cake or water or soda or anything you want, really.  today, while trying to explain to wiston, in spanish, that in the US it¥s illegal to sell things in a public place without a permit, i accidentally said “nobody sells themselves on the bus.”  this may or may not be true.

there¥s a certain type of belt (cinturon) that people here sell a lot, usually on the street.  they¥re made of some kind of thick fabric like a seat belt, the buckles are flat pieces of silver-colored metal, and they come in about a billion colors.  they only cost fifty cents apiece, so everyone has one, including wiston and megan and me and todo el mundo.  mine is, of course, orange.  today as megan and wiston and i walked down the street we played punch cinturon, which of course involved punching the person nearest you whenever you saw someone wearing the belt.  i think wiston won.

this afternoon a little girl followed me down the street for several blocks, sobbing, begging me to buy some of the candy she was selling.  my pity and my suspiciousness fought each other to the death.  the little girl was missing her two front teeth.


i{m going to type this as if everything on this keyboard were in the same place as on my keyboard at home, not because i think that all keyboards should be like mine at home )after all, the < and > are very conveniently placed on this here ecuadorian keyboard), but because i{m tired of searching for punctuation.

a list of things i should have brought from home, but didn{t—

more clothes for cold weather.

my other arm warmers.

more jewelry.

some sort of altitude’stabilizing device )i am at 2000 feet right now) which would allow me to not feel like my brains are drying out.

a tiny, tiny person who knows how to fix my watch, OR an additional watch.

more silly putty.

a sandwich board which says [hi. just because my spanish is bad doesn{t mean i want you to speak english to me. i am in your country, and i should damn well try to speak your language, shouldn{t i? for me, that{s part of the fun of it. also, i can understand your spanish better than your english. thank you.[

more undies, OR woolite to wash the undies i have, so i don{t have to wash them with shampoo.

ditto with the socks.

an umbrella that folds and folds and folds until it is the size of a sugar cube.

ditto with an english’spanish dictionary.

ditto with a water heater.

an invisible chain to tie things to my waist so i won{t lose them )things i have lost so far include my copy of entertainment weekly at the airport in houston, my salman rushdie book on the plane, and the tiny flashlight that andy loaned me )sorry andy)).

death cab for cutie{s the photo album, as i{ve had the first track in my head since i got here.

tortoise{s tnt, as that{s what i listened to when walking around london exactly three years ago, and walking around here reminds me of walking around in london.

a bigger suitcase.


other things—

just now at this internet cafe i had a brief discussion with an english girl about the lovely bones. i told her i thought it was really well’written, but some parts were a bit cheesy for my taste. she asked me if i was satisfied with the ending, but i couldn{t remember how it ended.

right now they{re playing the song that{s at the end of mannequin. other songs they{ve played while i{ve been in here include the first track from yoshimi battles the pink robots, that single off the blondie album from a few years back, a lenny kravitz i can{t remember, and some other stuff that sounds familiar. i keep hoping for the first track from the photo album, but so far no dice.

today megan went to climb a volcano with some of her friends. i don{t think i could do that without vomiting or otherwise humiliating myself, and airlifting me up there was out of the question, so i stayed behind. i had all sorts of plans for things to do, but then i fell asleep reading and woke up three hours later. i told myself i didn{t have to feel guilty about those three hours because this is a two’week trip so i have plenty of time, and i haven{t really been alone since i got here and i really like to do that, and if i slept for three hours i must have been exhausted, but i still feel guilty about it.

i like quito overall, but it{s more frustrating than being in my sister{s all’spanish’speaking neighborhood, el guasmo, in guayaquil. here{s the deal— megan{s two friends here )they are getting married this weekend) both speak english very well. the guy doesn{t speak much spanish but the girl is fluent, so she and megan talk to each other in spanish all the time. if they want to say anything to me, though, they say it in english, so i have no need to listen to what they{re saying in spanish, and no need to speak spanish at all. this is a thing that sucks; my spanish was really improving in el guasmo, where i had to speak it to everyone but megan, and it made for some very interesting and often hilarious challenges as well.

in el guasmo i{d started to forget whether conversations i{d had took place in spanish or english. this was a good thing.

right now jim croce{s on, and somewhere, iguanas are fighting.


on the eight-hour bus trip from guayaquil to quito, they showed two jean-claude van damme movies: death warrant and nowhere to run. i fell asleep before the first movie ended and woke up halfway through the second one, so i thought it was just one movie. how, i wondered, did jean-claude get out of prison and onto that farm? what happened to that mysterious red stuff he found in the pen? how did he end up on a tractor, pushing a giant barrel of water onto a flaming propane tank and saving the day? when megan told me that they were actually two different movies, i was much less interested.