Well, the print cartridge arrived about 30 minutes ago! The courier actually called me to say he would be here in ten minutes. All I have to say is that Tintajet.com has made a customer out of me!

More Travel Story

I flew Air Madrid to Quito. It's a budget airline, and I understood that I would have to pay for ANYTHING that I wanted to eat or drink. So I packed a lunch and made sure I had change with me in case I wanted something to drink.

Knowing that the flight would be full of South Americans, I made sure I was at the airport early. Standing in line was like being home in Ecuador, and I stood there and grinned inwardly. It was chaos, but it was warm and friendly and nobody was behaving in a loud or aggressive way (something that is common in Spain.) You have never seen such a variety of "luggage," all of it stuffed to the hilt. Despite the 40 kilos of weight each passenger was allowed, lots of people were being sent to the line to pay overweight charges.

I got checked in without a problem, and the whole flight was a great experience. We left on time, they gave us 2 meals and drinks for free (apparently their plan to charge for food was backfiring as everyone was just taking food with them) and showed 3 movies. It is a really long flight, 10 1/2 hours, but it was non-stop so that was a bonus.

As we got close to Ecuador, they handed out the immigration forms, which (get this) were all in English! Ecuadorian immigration forms for a plane full of Spanish-speakers. Good one. Anyway, I had fun helping most of the people around me fill in their forms. About 20 minutes after we were done, one of the flight crew got on the loudspeaker and translated the form line by line.

By this point I was having all kind of conversations with the Ecuadorians around me. Why was I going to Quito, how long was I staying etc. etc. I felt like I was already home. Listening to the noise level and timbre on the plane was like a big party where everyone knew each other well. I loved it!

When we landed in Quito, everyone cheered and clapped, in good Latin tradition. I cried, I admit it. I cannot land in Quito without getting choked up. And I wasn't the only one! I saw lots of tears being wiped quietly away.

Once we got on the ground I was very impatient to get out to see my brother. That was not too smart, because I was immediately plunged into Ecuadorian inefficiency. It's friendly and bubbly, but a nightmare all the same, especially when I have gotten used to living in Europe.

Getting off the plane was our first challenge. They opened doors at the front and the back, but they kept telling us to "go the other way." We were laughing when we finally got on the bus, having walked up and down the aisles in different directions more than once.

Once we got inside, the immigration lines were like playing Russian Roulette. They closed lines, reopened them, closed them again. I switched lines more than once and finally got through. I was struck by the fact that ALL the immigration officers I saw were women, which was a very new thing. They all had on smart uniforms and wore their hair in smooth buns.

I paid my $1 for a luggage cart and wandered around looking for my bags. The luggage belt in Quito is only big enough for so much luggage, so it's customary for the bags to be taken off and piled up on the floor. It's a good thing they actually check your luggage tags to your claim tickets. After finding my bags on the fringe of the crowd, I breezed through customs without being stopped and Scott was standing there.

We went home right away so I could meet Emiliano. This is my favorite photo from my visit...


Priceless Moments

This morning, Meg came into our room and stood on Troy's side of the bed looking at me. I lifted the covers for her and she climbed in to cuddle. This doesn't always happen, so I am thrilled when it does.

She said "When you and Dad die and go to Heaven, I can stay at Mrs. Rivas' house." Mrs. Rivas is her current teacher. I hugged her tighter and told her that she didn't need to worry, that probably Mom and Dad would not die until she was much older. It was one of those moments when I wished I could say that I'll never die, that she doesn't have to worry about that. But you know that life is unpredictable. So instead, you hold her tight and tell her it's not something she needs to worry about, and that Jesus will take her of her and our family too.

Then she said, "I'll miss you when you die when I'm older." She was very calm, and didn't seem to be freaked out or anything. So I just said "Yes." and hugged her some more.

After that she moved on to talk about how "next" I'll be a grandmother (is this 8-year old in a hurry or what?) and that she'll be a Mom when she "gets kids."

How I wish I could spend a day inside my daughter's brain!!!


You Gotta Love Skype

If you don't have Skype, you really should get it. It's so cool. Tonight in the span of an hour, I talked to (and laughed with) Mary in France, Paula in California, and chatted for a minute with Stefan in Munster. (I can't do those little dot things over the u!) How cool is that?

I know I owe you the next installment of my journey to Ecuador, but I am also having a conversation on yahoo with my Dad in Dallas about a laptop. And when I am done with that I'm going to bed! We have three houseguests for the next two nights, 2 more coming Saturday-Tuesday and three more coming Monday-Wednesday. Yes, the Cady Hotel is fully booked. So I'm happy, but I'm tired.

I'm so glad tomorrow is my day off! We're going to go buy a trunk-load of firewood so we can start building roaring fires to cozy up to. Come on over!


The end of the toner saga & "La Ida"

Well, since I ranted yesterday, I have to tell you how the story ends. This afternoon, Troy and I went to 6 stores looking for the toner cartridge. Some had no Brother toner products at all, some had other kinds. None of them had the one we needed. Never mind that PC City had a huge stack of Brother laser printers that take exactly the same cartridge and there was nary one of those cartridges in the store.

So we gave up and came home. I did some more hunting on the internet and found a place that will do it COD. Not sure when it will come, but I will have my 67 euro ready by the door. Sigh.

Moving on...

The Friday before I left for Quito, we had meetings with some of our CAI leaders until 5. When that was done, I dropped Troy off at Nic's preschool so they could walk home, and I went to pick up Meaghan from the people who had taken her home from school with them. It was Friday afternoon, and the everyone in Madrid was headed in the same direction as I was. The highway was a parking lot.

I had planned on cooking a nice dinner that night so we could celebrate Troy's birthday (which was the coming Monday and I would miss it) together as a family. At 6:30 when I had gotten Meg, I called Troy to confirm what he wanted so that I could stop at the grocery store. He said, "Forget cooking, just go buy me Burger King and I'll be happy." So Meg and I stopped at Burger King on the way home and picked up burgers.

After the kids were in bed I had a couple more errands to run (depositing one last batch of money in the bank, returning a movie and picking up some ice cream for dessert.) I was standing in line at the grocery store with my ice cream when two grown, more-than-middle class women got into a fuss about who was next in line. They began to verbally abuse each other in a way that would suit fishwives. When it started to get physical, I decided that was enough of that. I put my ice cream back and left the store. I remember that the bread shop had ice cream too so I went and bought some there in peace and quiet.

I had convinced my hubby we should stay up late watching a movie so I would be tired enough to maybe sleep on the plane the next day. At midnight he said he was done in, and since he had to preach the next night, I capitulated and we went to bed. I still had some last minute packing to do but I decided I would just do it early on Saturday morning.

A little after 2 a.m. Nic came into our room asking for "puffs" (when he feels wheezy he knows to ask for his inhaler.) I gave him 2 puffs and put him back to bed. Since I was awake and was not sure whether he was going to stay down, I stayed up and finished my packing. I was downstairs in the kitchen when I heard a tell-tale cough, a splat and then crying. I'm not sure if he was coughing and that made him gag, or if he was nauseated and he mistook it for wheeziness. Anyway, the mess was not too bad. I got him cleaned up and back in bed.

Now I was really not sure if he was going to stay in bed. There is nothing worse than going to sleep only to be quickly awakened and have to get back up again. So I stayed up, puttered around, and waited to see what would happen.

At 3:18 all was still quiet, so I went back to bed.

At 5:08 I heard a slow slide and thump, and the clang on the big metal mixing bowl I had put by Nic's bed. I am pretty sure Nic has fallen out of bed, but I hold my breathe and wait to see what will happen. I hear Nic say "OWWW." Then silence. I do not move.

At 5:23, Troy makes a sort of moaning noise that could mean he is getting sick too. I freeze. I have sudden horrible thoughts of bad Burger King grease causing an epidemic of sickness.

At 5:37, I give up, and get up.

At 7:00, Jay comes to get me, we load the bags in the car, and I'm off to Ecuador.

To be continued...


This is Probably Not the Post You Were Waiting For

It's Monday night, which means Troy is out, so therefore sushi and time to myself. I had planned to write a witty little post about the comedy that was me getting ready to go to Ecuador. Not so much. Instead, I am feeling disgruntled and fed up.

Why, you ask?

1. I have spent an INSANE amount of time trying to find a toner cartridge for our laser printer. When we bought the new printer this summer, we compared prices of the cartridges at the same time so to make a wise choice. Ha. We have gone to the store where we bought the printer at least 3 times and each time they have been out of the cartridge. When we priced it an another store, (Office Depot, which is now going out of business in Spain, to my further displeasure!) it was double the price! I have been trying to order it online with no success. I am very, very annoyed. Tomorrow after staff meeting it will be my quest to try and find a print cartridge. I hate wasting so much time on stupid things.

2. I am not happy with the Spanish department at Meg's school. Meg barely holds her own in Spanish class even though she tries hard. Most of the time she does not have a clue what is going on. What is perturbing me now is that they seem to put forth very little effort to make sure at the very least that Meg understands the basic instructions. For example, what books she needs to bring home to do her homework!!! Yes, she has homework due tomorrow and she came home with nary a Spanish book.

It's also Halloween week at school, which sets my nerves further on edge. Her school wants them to dress up only as "Halloween" things (in other words: witches, vampires, ghosts etc.) And last year they showed Harry Potter to my then 7-year old daughter! HELLLOOOOOO! I really hate Halloween. When I said that the other day, my daughter said, "Mommy, remember when you told me I shouldn't use the word hate?" Sigh.

3. Even though my daughter is very responsible in some ways (and I should remind myself that she's only 8!) she also forgot to bring home her spelling book, and when she did not understand what one of her homework items written in the "teacher diary" was, she did not ask for clarification. That is something I have been trying to get through her brain. Obviously it hasn't quite gotten in there yet.

Anyway, there you have it, my disgruntled self in all its glory. Now I'm off to eat my sushi and watch Kipper with my kids. And hopefully lighten up a little!

Stay tuned, maybe the witty little post will come tomorrow...


Regularly Scheduled Posts will Resume Tomorrow

My body and brain did so much better in another time zone. I was waking up early every morning, ready and raring to go. Ever since I got back my body has been sluggish and tired, my brain at a dead standstill.

Anyway, in an effort to get back into the groove, I aim to start posting again tomorrow. Feel free to post threatening comments if I don't.