Sorry...I had to do it....again. I just can't think of another way to start this post. I know I say that a lot, but this time it's frreal! (that's how my cousin Kristin says it.)
So...We had an AWESOME time with the Doyle's, and I plan to post on that soon! I just wanted to do a quick post on the past few days, though. I'm going to go through the timeline to somewhat abbreviate the experience...
Monday, 2:00 PM in Quito: We pick up the Rustick family at the airport in Quito...This is a family of 9 (Yes! They have 7 kids.) who will be staying here for a month to work at the orphanage.
The van driver has no idea what's going on....says he's supposed to take us to the guesthouse- rather than Shell, where we're supposed to go ... Patti Sue is there, and she is NOT happy:-) ...We go back to the guesthouse, where Vicente (our main driver) is waiting with a different van.... We move everything over to the new van.... Now... When we made the reservation, I specifically said we needed 11 seat belts, and that we'd be putting luggage on the top of the van. Needless to say.... Patti Sue ended up keeping the majority of the luggage to bring down later.... The guys strapped 4 bags to the top of the van...Vicente stopped on the way out of Quito to buy plastic....Guys get out to strap it all on top.... We're on our way!
About 2 1/2 hours (half-way) into the trip... We are all gazing out the windows in admiration of the mountains, clouds, etc..... when Vicente slams on his brakes. Of course, we all look to the front to see what we're avoiding.... only to see a man jogging across 4 lanes of traffic toward us! Vicente is basically just skidding down this hill....trying to veer to the right as this guy CONTINUES to jog toward our path, and we end up hitting him! There was absolutely NO WAY that Vicente could have avoided hitting him! The only way I can get you to understand is to imagine someone running across 4 lanes of traffic with a blind-fold on. He literally did not look in any direction...EVEN as we came skidding into his line of vision. He NEVER hesitated or even flinched...HE literally ran into US! I know that sounds ridiculous, but I'm being serious.
Needless to say...He had been drinking. Anyway...we jumped out of the car, and he was sprawled on the ground. His head had hit the front corner of the windshield on the driver's side, and it broke the windshield. These are those funny vans that just have a flat front... The guy was breathing, and tons of people crowded around.... We are wondering what's going to happen, because when drivers get in an accident they are just automatically put in jail. - There were plenty of eyewitnesses who vouched for Vicente, but we were still doubtful that he could just walk away.
The ambulance came, and they loaded the guy in. The cop who was on the scene didn't know what the laws were for this situation, and he said we just needed to follow him back to Latacunga.....which is 30 minutes BACK in the direction we came. So, we follow him to the hospital (not the police station) where Vicente goes in with the cop to check on this guy.
Remember that we are going through all of this with a van full of first-time visitors...7 of whom are children!!! We're able to find a bathroom, water, and eat a dinner of granola bars while we wait in the emergency entrance parking lot. After an HOUR, the cop says to follow him again. 10 minutes later, we are led into the police station parking lot. It's dark and cold by now, but everyone is desperate to get out of the car and stretch a little. When we do this.... the female cop who has now been assigned to watch Vicente asks me if she can get in the car. I don't really understand what she wants, but I DO understand that I should probably give it to her. :-) So...she climbs into the car and then yells over for her "friend" - one of the military guys- to come get in the car with her. SERIOUSLY?!? So, here we are with the 7 kids, standing outside in the cold while they snuggle on the van seat and listen to music playing from their cell phone!!! Classic.
FINALLY...at 10:00pm, our 2nd van arrives from Quito to pick us up. We all load up in the new van...tell Vicente goodbye as they take him off to jail...and we're on our way. At 1:00am, we are about 30 minutes outside of Shell.... It's raining pretty hard.... We come to a mud slide that is blocking the road. NO WAY. We couldn't believe it. So..... We drive back to Banos...about 30 minutes back.... find a hostal and all climb into bed around 1:45am.
7:30 am Tuesday morning- Everyone wakes up excited to finally get to Shell! We don't worry about bathing or even putting on clean clothes (not that we had any!) or brushing our teeth, because we're going to be in Shell in about an hour anyway.
8:30am... We stop behind a long line of traffic about 30 minutes outside of town. After we wait 2 hours...hear about 20 different explanations from various people.... We are told the road to Shell is completely shut down due to mud slides. Apparently, noone will be able to pass for 2 or 3 DAYS!!!!
Our only other option to get to Shell is to drive BACK to Quito, and take a route in the opposite direction to come full circle to Shell. After about 10 phone calls and more incorrect information from various Ecuadorian sources....we find out that Tena (the city you can take the other route through) is flooded even worse than where we are!
Essentially...We're told there is absolutely no way to get to Shell. We'll just have to wait it out somewhere. So.... We go eat. :-) Back in Banos....It's lunch time...we can't do anything else. After eating, we find a nice hostal and make plans to stay the night. Oh yeah.... since we won't be able to drive across, we are making plans to make a 4 or 5 hour hike (with the 7 kids) in order to make it into Shell on Wed. morning.
We're resigned to staying another night....we're settled at the hostal...It's about 4:00pm, and we hear that the road is open and cars are going through. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. We have a million questions....some of which were:
"What happened to the bridge that was GONE?!?"
"Is it actually SAFE already?!?"
"Should we just stay?"
"Do we have enough daylight to pack everyone up and try again?"
"We sent our bus to Quito, so now how do we get all 11 of us there?!?"
Those were just a few of the things coming up.... Oh well. We end up staying the night, even though the roads are all miraculously present and clear.
Also....While we are stuck in Banos, we find out that Alison, Dallas, and Beto are there as well. Then Mike Waskosky calls us, and we meet up with him! Patti Sue is stuck in Quito...waiting for the word that it's clear to come down. Our team that is coming in on Tuesday decides to stay in Ambato until they hear otherwise.... It was just craziness.
7:00 Wednesday morning: We wake up at the hostal to find that the Rustick family's groceries have been stolen. NO WAY. I just cannot think of anything more that could happen to this family on this trip!!! Thankfully, the hostal subtracted some of their cost to account for it. (Dad, I know I keep misspelling hostal, but that's how it's spelled here! I can't help it.)
8:30....We have rented a new van, and we're on the way to Shell! YEAH!!! We drove all the way through without any problems. There were 15 different mud slides, and the wreckage was insane. The majority of the road was gone on one curve, but they had essentially just built up into the mountain, which became the new road. - If you haven't been on this drive....You're essentially driving along the side this mountain range for 40 minutes, so these mud slides come from straight above and just completely cover the road as they continue down....or it takes out the road with it.
10:00am We make it home, drop the family off at their house, change clothes and head into work. Patti Sue made it within a couple of hours...the teachers made it back in the early afternoon, and the group arrived at 4:00pm. 3 tours at the orphanage and an attempt to catch up on email took up my day, while Dwight wiggled around on the ground all afternoon trying to fix a dryer at the orphanage. We got home at 6:00, and we are DONE. We told the group we'd go to dinner tomorrow night. :-)
So...that was much longer than I thought, but I just HAD to share. It has been a CRAZY few days. BUT...I do need to mention that we were SO impressed with the 7 Rustick kids! They are amazingly well-behaved...never complained or whined... That part of the trip was awesome! We got to sing with them, tell some jokes, and it was a joy to be with them!
I'll end on that positive note. :-) As always...Sorry for the long email. I just re-read it, and I definitely did NOT abbreviate it like I said I was going to. oops. It's another one for the fam! ha.
- Praise God that the man we hit is fine. Before we left the hospital we were told that he was awake and becoming more alert, and that all of his vitals were good.
- Please pray for Vicente. We're assuming that he's still in jail at this point. It usually takes a few days at minimum for the police to "investigate."
- PRAISE that everyone made it safely home during the last couple of days. Aside from all of us associated with the orphanage, there were several other missionary families from Shell who made the same trip. God is so good!