Hacktreks in Ecuador
A lament by Ken Lori in Ecuador
the patio of a restaurant in a costal village of Ecuador the sad foreigner
eats dinner with an older dutch woman he met in Banos, and a young french
girl he met the week before. His stomach is queasy and he goes to the
restroom and leaves a black mess that cant be flushed. Outside
the door he hears the french girl ask if he is okay. She asks him to
hurry because she has to go too. He flushes frantically but the black
mess lingers until finally he must ask her to promise not to look at
what hes left behind.
On the patio the dutch woman alerts him to a sign outside the restroom
requesting customers to refrain from shitting, that the toilet is experiencing
technical difficulties. The sad foreigner smacks his head in frustration
and immediately orders a bottle of wine to wash away his embarassment,
and hopefully repair the damage he has done to his chances with the
She returns, and assures him she didnt peak at his insides. He
offers her a drink but she complains that the Chilean wine is nothing
like that of France, and the sad foreigner tolerates her for the sake
of what might come. The other foreigners speak limited english and are
unable to discuss anything of substance so they talk about three-somes
and other filthy things to pass the time. The sad foreigner prefers
to complain about his ills, accuse the guide book of withholding useful
information, to wit:
In the restrooms:
a) The light switch is never just inside, left or right. They always
make you look for it. Could be under the sink for all you know.
b) Usually you discover there is no toilet paper, after you dump.
c) Hot water tap in the sink never works simply decoration, and
you know it is but you turn it anyway just to see.
d) Taps in the shower are not always left (hot) and right (cold). Sometimes
it is the reverse. The endeavor to make the determination requires high
tolerance for pain, health insurance, and usually twenty minutes naked
under cold water hoping to God...
e) Toilet seats arent always firmly fixed on the toilet. Sometimes the
attempt to sit leads you to the floor.
f) Bring your own soap.
g) A door on its hinges is rare. A lock, luxury. When someone outside
says, occupado? say, si.
On the deck of the bar on the beach the sad foreigner watches the french
girl salsa with a local boy who makes her laugh the way the foreigner
wishes he could.
On the patio of another shack the sad foreigner drinks on, wishing the
french girl hadnt insisted she go back to her hostel, that she
would have been willing to exchange info or meet up the next day. After
walking her, the sad foreigner returns with his money and buys a round
of drinks for the locals laughing in the moonlight. The dutch woman
is mildly consoling and speaks good Spanish so the sad foreigner doesnt
have to explain his mood. He can listen to David Bowie and Freddy Mercury
as he drowns in his beer until his liver says enough, until the locals
The sad foreginer sits on his own deck and smokes one last cigarette
and coughs up his cancer but he doesnt care. He would rather die
than feel what he is feeling in the silence of the night when all the
other cabins are full of happy affectionate couples drawn together for
one reason or another, but that they share one thing in common: love.
Or, more accurately, they dont share one thing in common: loneliness.
They are together and have one another and, sure, they will in their
travels inhibit each others growth but will never be alone on a beach
in a foreign land wondering who they are or why they are there or what
might come. They will know who they are through the eyes of each other,
know why they are travelling and living together, with hopes about what
Not the sad foreigner.
He takes his money and pours another down the drain, puffs on another
regret or moment of truth in which he knows he does not belong here,
in which he knows he ought to be elsewhere but elsewhere does not reveal
itself. Why does elsewhere not reveal itself? Waiting for elsewhere
to reveal itself, the sad foriegner tips the waiter to make himself
feel better and checks out early to move on, to leave these feelings
behind for perhaps someone is waiting for him down the coast, someone
who will bring him elsewhere, someone simply elsewhere.
© Ken Lori May 19th 2003
Journeys in Hacktreks
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