I am sitting on a porch in Canoa right now, so it is a bit hard for me to complain. But for you, dear reader, I will reach deep down into my inner well of cynicism to relate to you our recent ordeals that have granted us a much deeper capacity for patience.
I've said before that there is no discount for buying an adult bus pass. It just elevates you out of the guerro de cambio. Diana and I have been trying to get bus passes for some time, but for whatever reason they have not been available for three months and continue not to be. Whatev. If they are ever available, they are widely available.
But the kids and other discount categories get special bus passes that you can only get in one place. We were lucky enough to ride with the kids and the school secretary one afternoon on one of the school vans taking kids home. The van dropped us at the secretary's car. By the time we reached this special place it was 5:01. They close at 5:00, which is unusual for government offices that usually stay open till 6:00. But we now knew where the thing is and could return.
Next week was the first of the kids' school Christmas holiday, so I took them on the 50-minute bus ride to the special place. The man behind the locked cage-style gate let us know that the office was closed for two weeks during the holiday season and would reopen January 3. Heh. OK. Sure, that would have been good to know when we were here last week. But whatever. Back on the bus.
Then the whole family made another adventure of it the week of the 3rd. New big sign: "Esteemed client, in order to serve you better we are upgrading our systems and will reopen January 15." Heh. Heh heh. Back on the bus.
Well, the 15th is a Saturday, so we are not so foolish as to take that bait. So we wait for a weekday, hop on the bus, and find...a new sign, that says (I'll paraphrase here) "Esteemed client...we can't believe you fell for that again. But enough kidding around. Come on back again some other time. When? Well, whenever you like. We can be sure there's a sign waiting at anytime that's convenient for you."
But there's a good park and a great ice cream shop nearby. So we're really excited to have spent six hours and forty minutes of bus time getting there.
Opening a bank account was a similarly enjoyable experience. I'll just give you the short version and ask you to take the sense of frustration you can deduce from the bus pass story and apply it to the fifth time I walked into a local bank trying to open an account. Last I was in I asked if there was anything else, absolutely anything else, the kind lady can think of that I will need to open an account before walking back over to the bank yet again with another thing they forgot to mention I needed. Nope, nothing. Money? You think I'll need money? Well, clearly that, yes. Clearly. How much? At least 100 dollars. Right, nothing else? Nothing else.
I return with everything done, provided, signed, stamped, licked, smacked, folded, and filed. Here's my initial deposit. Oh, well, you aren't able to deposit. I'm not. Why? Well you can't use your account. BUT YOU SAID NO MORE, BLAH, BLAH BLAH, ALL READY. No I said you'd have your account open, I didn't say you could use it. Right. My bad.
And they are all such damnable pleasant and kind people that it's really hard to get angry with them. And since I can't unload on them, I'm sure I seem like some homeless vagrant as I walk down the street after these encounters spitting aspersion at the imaginary clerk before me, waving my hands, turning purple.
The proprietor of the beach hotel we're staying at is British but has been in Ecuador 39 years. He related a conversation with another gringo who began a gripe about Ecuadorian ways with, "You'd think..." "Hold it," says Phillip. "Stop right there. Don't say that. Take it out of your vocabulary right now. If you are going to stay in Ecuador and remain happy, don't even think--and certainly don't say--"you'd think..."
Phillip has learned to accept as they are the things he can't control, rather than how he'd expect, or even as they would most clearly make sense. He is perfectly happy and gets along in Ecuador swimmingly. So we are working like mad to master the language, and to...not think.