Dear diary, I don’t want to be here

Despite being rational, I catch myself looking out for signs from the universe…

Ecuador travelogue: Chapter 20 | Read other chaptersSee photo gallery

Dear diary,

After a splendid day of hiking to Mt. Fuya Fuya, I wanted to go back to the hostel and relax in a hot tub. Instead, for a mysterious reason, I decided to go straight to Ibarra (इबार्रा), a provincial capital town about an hour away from my base in Otavalo. Don’t know why, just a moment of spontaneity I guess.

You know I am quite rational, right? But the following sequence of events happened that evening and I couldn’t but think that these were signs from the universe. Little hints that were telling me not to do what I was doing. Let me describe:

First some small annoying incidents: It was only after I checked out and hauled my backpack to the bus station that I realised how silly it was to travel to another town. My bus to Ibarra broke down thirty minutes after it took off. It was hardly catastrophic, and certainly not an entertaining bus experience like the one in Yucatan, Mexico, but quite frustrating and worrying. I was exhausted from the hike and although it was evening, the sun was still spewing fire. Everyone got off the bus on a very dusty Otavalo-Ibarra highway and had to wait for the next bus which took a while to arrive. I reached Ibarra at dusk, my most unfavorite time of day for arriving into a new place. The bus station was closed for repairs so everyone was dropped off outside the town and it was annoying to find my way.

Then I started acting funny: I purchased a overpriced t-shirt because, lets admit, I was smelling of sweat and dust (and for some reason, conscious of it). Forget negotiation, I paid whatever the guy quoted, which was about $10, definitely not cheap for Ecuador. I’m from India; if I don’t negotiate, it means I am not thinking.

GPS error: I got lost and had to take a taxi. At the risk of sounding like a smart-ass, let me tell you that I seldom get lost or disoriented. In Ibarra, as if getting lost wasn’t enough, I found myself walking into a shady neighbourhood, you know, where people stare at you. It’s hard to mix with the crowd when you are wearing a big backpack. So I panicked and violated my next rule of not taking taxis, by flagging one down, a random one off the street, which is the third riskiest thing you can do in Latin America. Oh boy, textbook errors.

No space in the hostel: My hostel didn’t keep my reservation. I hadn’t paid for it, just confirmed via email, and the attendant simply said, “sorry, no space”. I hate finding hostels at night; the prices are inflated and you don’t have the energy.

That’s it. I didn’t wait for more signs from the universe, because I was so unaware of my presence that who knows, it might have been a robbery or an assault next. Ofcourse I am exaggerating, but by now, I was convinced that Ibarra was not for me.

Exhausted and frustrated (and hungry, with my stomach starting to make dubious noises), it just didn’t feel right and so I took the next available bus to Quito, reaching the capital city around midnight. Thankfully, I could find my way around Quito using public transit. The city is so dead on a weekday midnight, it’s unbelievable!

Has this ever happened to you? Do you believe that the universe (or god or inner voice or whatever) drops hints suggesting what not to do?