Mom and her baby (Suzanne Hoffman)
Our driver is supposed to arrive at 0900 but we are told he is usually early. At 0845 a young man in a suit arrives and we think it may be him - but it's not. Five minutes later, an older gentleman arrives - it is him. Once our luggage is in the trunk our driver, Geraldo, gets in the drivers seat and the young man, Julio, gets into the passenger seat. We never quite figure out his role - but it seems to be bodyguard and helper-extraordinaire. We are well taken care of. Geraldo's english is quite good, Julio's is good. Geraldo likes 'old' American music (Elvis, Beach Boys, etc) - he is playing it for us because he thinks it is romantic. We don't have the heart to tell him we'd prefer the quiet. He takes us to the equator museum - which is a fascinating place. We never figure out why it seems impossible to walk a straight line ON the equator. There are other interesting exercises like watching water flow in diffeent directions and getting an egg to stand on end. We also learn about indigeneous people and even see a real shrunken head (eerily fascinating - but it makes me shudder to think about it). He then heads back to show us the old town and a cathedral. Traffic is SO BAD that we decide to go to the market instead. Parking is impossible and Geraldo drops off Harry and I and Julio. Julio is great - he helps us communicate, carries bags, and watches to ensure we are protected from pickpockets. I am hesitant to buy anything (except chocolate for the office ) as I cannot imagine how it will fit into our suitcases. Harry has no such worries and we end up with a couple of bags, 2 sweaters, an afghan, socks, and a fair amount of chocolate. (I am thinking that we will have to buy a suitcase at the airport) . When we are done, Julio calls Geraldo and he appears around the corner. We stuff all our treasures into the trunk and head for the airport. We spend about 20 minutes on the floor stuffing things into suitcases - mostly mine. Thank goodness that it is designed with an expandable zipper! We get our bags checked (even Harry decides it is time to check a bag) , and relax. I manage to buy a Christmas ornament and get it into my carry-on before we get on the plane. We are tired!
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