I wrote this upon returning to Houston, Texas…
It’s been craaazy beneficial y’all. My neuropathy is waaaaay less, not one seizure or tremor, no optic neuritis, my ulcers are virtually painless because the food is fresh AF, more yoga because I’m moving a little better, I meditate to 6am sunrises. We’re already making EVERY plan to return Jan. 15th for a week WITHOUT kids. Found an Ayahuasca Retreat within miles of the city for me to try (Nope, the Queen will not participate nor get involved because that’s “too far”). Folks, healthcare and specialists for those without paid healthcare to the point even I qualify and get it for MS shit, FREE college, FREE medical school, a 3bed/2bath in city subs for $200-500/mo, over the water, like we are, is $800-1000/mo and that includes water, trash, cable (you pay Wi-Fi and electricity). We can buy FRESH meats/fruits/veggies/cheese for FIVE for less than $50/week. Doctors come to YOU when needed (covid test doc just left and we got results in an hour). I bought a cannabis topical in the Mall for $30 but haven’t used it OR even smoked since we left Texas on the 12th. I feel so good and pain-free that I don’t feel the need. I barely drank liquor the first week because I didn’t need help managing my body and symptoms. *sniff* It’s freaking ridiculous how much better I feel here. We eat outside, play dominoes outside, talk outside… A thousand thank you’s for the support and affirmations!! 🤜🏾🤛🏾🖤
HOW IT ALL STARTED
It was late 2019 that my wife approached me about going to Ecuador. *scratching head* Maaaaaybe early 2020, I get confused with dates. She was really, REALLY into this FB Group, African Americans in Ecuador.
Run by Jewel Wren, the group is a tight knit community. I will make NO attempt to lie to my Tribespeople. Nope, none. I was not impressed. Sure, the pictures looked AMAZING but after a few vacations with the homies to Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Belize and Costa Rica, I figured I was good with jungle climates, tropical weather and fresh food. I had it. I LIKED it a lot. I was always cool beans with checking it out for vacation buuuuuuut….
Her: “Hey. Aren’t you the BIG shot History teacher? You taught Social Studies didn’t you?”
Me: “Yeah BUT I was kinda pre-occupied with STAAR tests, making shit interesting and proving how UN-important our curriculum was by teaching BLACK History and assigning Minority History projects. I ain’t ever had a student do Ecuador. *3*”
That discussion was tabled until the pandemic got to raging so damn hard that working-from-home became a viable option. See, in Fall 2020, I got a FT gig doing work-from-home sales and customer service. With a consistent income chained to a home computer, vacations and such became a reality again. That was when I began paying closer attention to the pictures and testimonies of Kings and Queens that visited Ecuador and were blown away by the culture, beauty, beaches, pricing and FOOD. I started jamming some of the history of Ecuador and secretly plotting which ones I wanted to see for myself.
A brief history of Esmeraldas, Ecuador. – where the enslaved actually killed the slavers and got free AND founded a city that THRIVES to this very day!
I was getting crunk in 2020. We convinced our usual homies to roll with us and spiced things up. I’m talking SPICED it up. It was my Queen’s idea to bring the kids on their first out-of-the-country vacation. I was down with it but admittedly worried due to my own handicaps. In MY head, we were even bigger targets because I’m 100% disabled and wheelchair-bound. Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis has WHOOPED my black ass but I’m still here swanging and banging on the 1s and 2s, daring someone to stop my grind, block my shine. The fear came from Ecuador’s proximity to Colombia. All I remembered from Colombia was the Pablo Escobar stories of legendary violence and terror. Us? Wheelchaired dude? Kids? Nobody can speak Spanish? We would be taking risks by bringing kids. That’s when the homie said…
Yo. We’re bringing our disabled son with us. We got this bro!Da homie…
That did it. We got the kids’ passports and made arrangements. It had taken over a solid year of planning, saving, plotting and some friends volunteering to come along but we were on our way to Ecuador.
1. ) Theeen, the homies didn’t get their son’s passports until after we came BACK!
2.) The people we arranged to meet had to come back to USA while we were in Ecuador.
3.) Our contact told us we were too large of a party for his taxi so we needed different transportation.
Despite ALL of this, we were determined to go. By the time we were buying tickets and reserving rooms, I was caught up in the hype of the climate, pictures and everything else. Our contact explained that an electric wheelchair probably couldn’t handle the hills of Manta, Ecuador. He advised we bring a wheelchair WHEELCHAIR. Staight manual power. *43*
That’s ALL I gotta know to get ready. Regardless what disability, which limitation, tell me requirements and I’LL make the decision.
We landed for our ELEVEN hour layover in Fort Lauderdale, FL. At this point, the kids were still excited. The plan was simple enough, land, tour the city by Uber, eat a little, meet a colleague, sip a little and play on electronics until we bounced to Guayaquile, Ecuador 🇪🇨. The layover had OTHER ideas. 🙄
1. 3 different Uber drivers LEFT us because my disabled ass took too long. TWICE, we made eye contact and they STILL left us.
2. The dude we got? HE left us at a restaurant with NO seating. #WTF?
3. 1 kid broke a camera
4. 1 kid broke a laptop
Folks, we hadn’t even BOARDED for Ecuador yet!
Guayaquil, Ecuador 🇪🇨. We flew in here because Manta has no public airport.
Ooooookay. Now, Ecuador begins to prove itself. Spirit Airlines LOST my wheelchair on the trip from Fort Lauderdale to Guayaquile. (I will never stop asking out oud, WTF?)
First, the Hotel Oro Verde was cool beans. The location near the airport made the drive super easy, crazy quick and I can’t lie. In the past, we have stayed at resorts. That drive from the airport to the resort can be… UGLY AF! The poverty. The kids chasing the resort bus. The anorexic cows, pigs, livestock. Since we were staying right there in the city, nice hotel, the total drive was 15min tops. We saw restaurants, bus stops, late-night pharmacies and the regular city stuff you’re used to seeing. DAWG. I didn’t realize how refreshing that was until we SAW it. Nothing out of the ordinary, I thought I would at least see a “lady of the night” but nope. Nothing. Nada. Not a doggone thing to report or even whisper about.
Breakfast the next morning, things continued shocking me. I will not pretend like I didn’t expect SOME kind of bullshit or shenanigans. Breakfast. Hmmm. I skip breakfast at most hotels and stuff. I mean I GO but not to eat. I’m usually there for the make-your-own-waffles. If that is not available, I’m out. Even at resorts, the breakfast tends to be the weakest part of the stay. Not at Hotel Oro Verde. Noooo. I was grubbing EVERY DAY.
Remember I told y’all that ragged, ol’ Spirit Airlines LOST my wheelchair right? I was offered a wheelchair with no brakes. *straight face* Honestly, no brakes. Not a single brake on either wheel. I mean NONE. After TWO hours of Google Translate and piss poor body language, I was granted exclusive use of their OTHER backup wheelchair. This one had a defective wheel, the inflated tire would jump off the rim every 100 yards or so. *SMH* Which is why I was doing this kinda stuff the entire 4 days of Guayaquil!
The Malecon was the highlight of our Guayaquil stay – The Malecon is basically their riverwalk except it’s on the BEACH.
That means we walked down a BUSY AF street, full of vendors, hustlers, thieves, entrepreneurs. I THOUGHT I was used to busy streets of Houston, TX and the surrounding cities. Nothing in my previous travels prepared me the the busy of Guayaquil.
Wow. On the the way TO the Malecon, it was busy but on the way BACK… Yoo, I felt we were walking shoulder-to-shoulder, like in NYC subways!
Once, my son had to explain to me that one man was making several passes of us and kept eyeing my phone. *embarassed* Well, I’ll be damned. My son had to school me to street game in another country!
The Malecon wasn’t too packed or anything. Due to COVID-19 fears, the residents pretty much chilled out with everyday games and play things. It still got crunk but we were on our way home by then. (Ain’t nobody got time to be making sure kids are close by and phones are held close.) While we were there, we saw some FLY stuff and places to kick it.
Nooo. Carl Jr.’s was NOT one of those impressive places but I didn’t want to show the McDonald’s stuff either. LOL! We rode South America’s tallest Ferris wheel too. Maaaan, while you tripping; the fact there were hotels, with balconies, overlooking the Malecon for $8/night was a highlight within itself!
The Malecon even had the old school swing set, slides and see saws!
After Malecon, we hung around the hotel until we left for Manta.
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