The trip started out at 3:30 in the morning last Saturday. We went to the St. Louis airport, and my family sent me off. I had a backpack stuffed to the top, Tevas hanging of the straps, a Nalgene bouncing around, and a guitar loaded with various things in every possible crevasse. I felt pretty cool being "that one guy with the guitar" walking through the terminal but by the end of the day, it was pretty cumbersome. I made my connection in Dallas and went on to Miami. We landed, but it was raining and storming there so we couldn't "taxi" into our gate for another hour. After deplaning, I booked it on over to the gate, following another girl (in her twenties) who was going to Guayaquil too. We were fast-walking/jogging through the terminals because the screen said our flight was still on-time and it was already time to start boarding. We got to the gate, and it turned out that our flight was delayed and it just didn't say it on the screens. Our wing was filled with Spanish-speakers, and I felt a little overwhelmed. I talked to some people and then met Heidi, from Texas, who is going to Guayaquil for a Rotary Exchange too. An interesting thing is that she lived in Indonesia for 6 years in her younger days. On the flight I sat next to a kind Ecuadorian girl (around 23 years old) who also went on a Rotary Exchange to Holland years ago. I talked to Sandra, and she was headed back to Portoviejo (the city of Marcelo!) - what coincidences. I talked to her in Spanish for the greater part of the 4 hour flight about things from beaches to music (she does, in fact, have a great taste in music including Bob Marley and Jack Johnson). We landed, and I eventually got off, having difficulty squeezing between the aisles with a guitar, overpacked backpack, and my customs tickets falling all over the place.
Customs took a while but we got through that and continued on to collect our baggage. I knew that I wouldn't be able to carry everything so I went to get a cart. I think they charge for them if you go out of the terminal, but I was stumbling through my Spanish so I think the lady felt bad and she gave me one. I could only find one of my gigantic suitcases and Heidi could only find one too. The suitcases were still in Miami, and they ended up sending them to us. We eventually arrived at 10:00 (for what was supposed to be an 8:35 arrival), and we walked out into the line of people waving and carrying signs. My niece Paulina (13) was holding a sign reading "Logan Brunner." I was swarmed with hello's and hands helping me with my luggage. Greeting me were my host-parents, Jose and Patricia, my sister Patricia Maria, my nephew Sebastian, Paulina, and Johnny! I told them I lost a piece of luggage, stumbling through Spanish again, and they told me to tell them in English so they'd understand. This ended in giving the lost and found people another number to call when they got the luggage. We went to a house of theirs in Guayaquil, and then I went with Patricia, Maria, Sebastian, and Pauli to a restaurant. We had this bread with a chuchurri, a green sauce that had a kind of bitter/tart twang that was pretty good. Then we had some meat (I think beef) on a sizzling platter with coals underneath. I also tried some sandwhich with really tender chicken and cheese that was so delicious (vegetables and all). Then we went back to the house and crashed.