To the Ecuadorian family who took me in and looked after me when I was penniless in Quito, years ago.
Thank you Mr taxi driver, for being patient, for driving me to a dozen different teller machines when my card wasn’t working, but especially for taking me back to your home and looking after me. You said I shouldn’t sleep on the street, that I would probably get knifed and/or robbed. You were probably right.
Thank you for moving you, your wife and four kids onto the floor and giving me your only bed. I felt terrible about it, although I realised after several minutes of protest that you wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Thanks for introducing me to your children – Henry, Carmen and I forget the names of the other two girls it’s been that long. The two weeks I spent with your family, at the end of 1999, I’ll never forget. I even enjoyed going to your Sunday church sessions, even though I’m not religious.
Henry, it was cool teaching you guitar, you were a good kid, and now hopefully you’re a good man. Little Carmen, I bet you’re a gorgeous woman by now. And to the girl who had her 13th birthday, for which I rode on the rooftops of buses to get to (months later) – during a nationwide strike in Ecuador – I hope you liked your necklace. I picked the seeds in Vilcabamba myself.
To the mum – thank you for feeding all of us, for dinner and breakfast the next day, all for US$1. This was a real eye-opener for me. Your cooking was great, and so was your character, sitting patiently at the British Consulate on many days while I got angry with Lloyds Bank in England, who took their time sending me my money.
I hope I gave you enough in the end. Well, I could never repay you entirely. I felt terrible I lost my diary with your address. I know you struggled to find a better life, I wanted to give you the answers, but I didn’t have them. For me it’s easy, I come from Australia. Like I told you, it’s a good place.
I wish I could contact you all, I would find a way to repay your kindness, or at the very least come and visit you again.
I hope you’re reading this someday.
Your friend Andy, or as you liked to call me, “Andresito.”