¡Estamos Perdido!

Claire Wohlers - Ecuador


September 5, 2013

Today, I got lost. Probably the most lost I’ve ever been.

After Spanish classes today, we visited the United States Embassy for a security briefing and explanation of what the Foreign Service does here. During the security briefing, we were warned about the dangers of Quito. The taxis, the streets, the evenings, the buses; apparently nothing is safe. Leaving the embassy a bit shaken, a small group of us headed to Rosh Hashanah services. I am not Jewish, nor do I care to convert, but I thought attending services in a country that is 95% Catholic might be an interesting experience.

It was. The synagogue was lavish and everyone was dressed nicely, if not in couture. And weirdly, it felt oddly like home. Many people spoke English and it reminded me of the many Bar/Bat Mitzvah services I attended in middle school. I learned later that the Jews in Ecuador tend to be wealthier, and therefore are a little bit resented here.

After attending Rosh Hashanah services, we jumped into cabs in groups of 4. We created groups based on direction: north or south. My taxi had 4 people and 3 destinations. We dropped off the first two people without a problem but when it came time to direct the taxi to my buddy’s and my house, the cab driver had no idea what we were talking about. At first, we were able to direct him using our knowledge of the bus route we took to school. However somewhere along the way, we made a mistake and wound up lost, with no idea what direction we needed to go and with no means to explain this to our cab driver.

At this point, I was becoming a little panicked. Remember: just hours before this pickle we were warned about the dangers of cabs, especially at night. And here we were, 9pm, in a cab, completely lost.

Left with no other choice, I called my host mom. I told her that I was in a cab, I didn’t know where I was, and the driver didn’t know where I needed to go. She stayed very calm and gave me directions. Unable to understand her well enough to explain to our cab driver, I handed the phone over. I was humiliated and worried that I had woken her up, or worse, worried her. I snapped out of my bubble when I heard the driver say “ciao” into my go-phone. We asked our driver if he knew where we were going now, and he told us he did.

When we arrived at our house, my host mom was waiting outside the apartment building for me. I was happy I was alive and home, and upset with myself that I had bothered her. I ran to her and gave her a huge hug– relived to be safe at home after being lost for a solid 30 minutes. I apologized profusely and she told me, “Don’t worry. You did the right thing by calling me”. And now I lay here safe in bed thanks to my beautiful host mother.

Moral of my story: No matter where you are, moms rock.

Claire Wohlers