Border between Colombia and Ecuador. Getting the stamp “out”, then the stamp “in”, changing my remaining pesos in… 3 dollars. I wanted to get more, so that I would be able to pay for the bus to Quito.
– Excuse me, sir. Where can I find a cash machine?
– Over there.
I went “over there” but couldn’t find any. So I asked again.
– Excuse me, madam. Where can I find a cash machine?
– Over there.
The direction she was indicating was the one I was coming from. I thought I must have missed it and went back… and, again, couldn’t find it. I asked for the third time.
– Excuse me. Cash machine?
– You won’t find any here. You have to get to the city centre.
Right. So I had 3 dollars, which was exactly enough to get me there with a cab. To the centre or to the bus terminal, where I intended to go and where, they assured me, there was also a cash machine.
Terminal. Cash machine. Not working. Bus leaving in 10 minutes.
– Don’t worry! Get in! We’ll stop at a place where you can withdraw money.
So I get in. Moneyless.
After 5 minutes, the bus makes a halt.
– Is it here?
– No, no. Further away. I’ll tell you when!
20 minutes later, the bus makes another stop. The guy I had been talking to wasn’t to be found, so I asked the bus driver.
– Can I get some money here?
– No, no. Further away.
After more than one hour’s driving, and not hearing a thing from my friend, I go and see him again.
– Is it still far away, that place where I can withdraw cash?
– Oh but that was earlier! You should have asked!
– … I did ask. I asked the bus driver.
– But you should have asked me!
– But don’t worry. You’ll be able to get some a little bit further on!
Do I need to say I couldn’t get any at the next stop? Nor at the following one? Nor at the bus terminal in Quito? In the end, a taxi driver had to lend me the 5 dollars for the bus, then take me to a cash machine. Which didn’t work either. And THEN, then finally, at the next stop, I could get some dollars, pay the cab, the hotel and have some food.
I didn’t spend a lot of time in Quito. Just from 22.00 to 7.30 in the morning but, in that short time, I felt more insecure than I had in any other city. I had not even been two hours outside my hotel when I was offered some drugs – well… only marihuana. Not the “strong” stuff. But I’m sure I could have had it from that same person if I had asked for it – and, in the morning, I almost got robbed. Luckily, I spotted the swindlers – a man and a woman – in time, as did two ladies working in a hotel nearby. So the couple asked me for the time, if I had some coins – considering the odyssea it had been to get them the previous day, I wasn’t planning to give them away that easily – and then just walked away.
One of the ladies from the hotel offered to show me how to get to the bus terminal in public transport. I don’t know where all those bus angels keep coming from but, without her help, it would certainly have taken me a lot longer to get there.
Now I still had 3 hours to go before getting to Baños and find back Dorine, whose company I had been missing. I was looking forward to see her again.