Journey to the Centre of the EarthMature

By the time I reached the launguage school I was puffing like a randy Rhino, now I know I am carrying the result of a lot of cream buns and vodka about and I don’t think I have ran anywhere since I was chased by a bee when I was four, but a five minute stroll shouldn’t be beyond me physically. I must be suffering from altitude sickness. Quito I remember reading is almost 10,000ft above sea level the result of which is many people who visit end up with nausea, headaches, breathlessness and a handful of other attractive symptoms until their bodies adjust. For me, this was the perfect excuse not to walk any further than was absolutely necessary. Staggering through the rusty gate, sweating and gasping a small, highly attractive woman came bouncing out of the office opposite, extending her hand in greeting.

"Aaamandaar! How lovely to meet you!Oh, you look really hot and sweaty what is wrong?" she frowns and gestures to me to sit on a nearby bench.

This must be, I realised Patricia, the travel company rep – oh marvellous, here am I standing in a pool of my own sweat, hair plastered to my head clutching a soggy notepad and out breezes this South American beauty with that black glossy hair women are always swishing about in shampoo ads – followed it turns out by Brad Pitt. Well okay I know its not him really but I am breathing so hard I am quite lightheaded by now and I swore for a moment it was.

"Welcome to Ecuador" says the adonis in a heavy Scandanavian accent and I watch fascinated for a moment as he tries to wipe the sweat I have transferred to his hand unobtrusively on the back of his jeans.

They give me a tour of the classrooms, which takes all of about five minutes but I am glad for the air conditioning, and I am introduced to Paulo, my tutor. We exchange greetings in Spanish and he appears to be impressed I can at least express myself this much in his language, in fact he is so encouraged by this he rattles off at me – I stand there grinning and nodding until he realises I don’t infact have an instant fluency function and I have been leading him up the garden path with my six words or so.

Anderson, the adonis, suggests he takes me on a short tour of the area and doesn’t appear to be impressed by my explanation of apparently suffering from altitude sickness. "Don’t worry" he says encouragingly "In a couple of days it will pass, when I got here I couldn’t even climb a flight of stairs!". I wanted to tell him all I wanted to do was climb in to bed, but he seemed determined to take me about so off we set.

Ten minutes later I was slumped in a chair outside a bar while Anderson attempted to relieve my apparent respiratory failure by fanning me frantically with a large map of Quito. Locals who made no pretence at politeness were staring at me as they walked past, one or two even stopped to have a proper look at the bright red sweaty ‘gringo’ who was attempting to pour a jug of ice down her top.

"Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea" admitted Anderson "the altitude is affecting you badly, lets get you back to your house" and I readily agreed.

I was swiftly bundled in to a taxi and treated to a slalom ride back to the ‘Casa Naranja’ sliding left to right on the faux leather seat (which I am damn sure the driver polishes every day for a laugh) in time with the drivers suicidal driving techniques. I stumbled up the stairs, past Dora in her curlers who I noticed was bizarrely wearing my nightshirt and collapsed on the bed.

So much for my first day at language school I thought miserably and fell asleep.

The End

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