Anaconda: Cuyabeno Edition (meaning no Jennifer López, and instead a baby anaconda)
As the unsuspecting group went along the river in the late afternoon, the boat suddenly veered to the right—something had been spotted! As we approached the riverside, we focused on a small nook in the tree roots. A young anaconda slept, undisturbed. Suddenly, the reptile awoke! Once it realized that it was being watched by a group of travelers, it slowly started to slither away, down the nook and into the jungle beyond.
Lake Placid: River edition (meaning no Bill Pullman or Betty White, nor was it on a lake, and they were caimans rather than alligators)
The tourists set out on the evening boat ride, hoping to catch sight of the scaled reptile native to the waters—the caiman. Armed with nothing but flashlights, the group went forth in near silence, looking for the incredible force. Each time there was a reflection in the eyes of an animal, the boat headed that way, sizing up the creature. The silence on the river gave nothing away. Seeing the reflections of the eyes told you they were there, but then you realized that there were even more watching you, that you’d never see or know about. Suddenly, as the boat approached the river bank near a set of large tree roots looking like a mangrove, a tail-slashing and a crunching sound broke the silence. The ferociously strong jaws of the caiman had captured a catfish as its evening meal, consuming it, bones and all. And then it dipped into the water again, fading from view, but not from mind.
The Sixth Sense: I see extranjeros (meaning no Bruce Willis or Haley Joel Osment, nor ghosts who continue to suffer)
As I walk the streets, as I ride the bus, as I listen in restaurants, I realize it: I’m not alone. Their broken Spanish, with accents weak or harsh, scattered with foreign words. Their lost faces, hoping that this is the correct bus, since the native population seems to have a weakness in directional aid. Their instability on the moving bus, looking incredibly uncomfortable with the sudden collapse of personal boundaries. I recognize it all: they too are visiting, finding their way around a new city. Even the ones who have been in Quito for some time end up standing out, whether because of stature or language or confusion. There’s a bond of some sort, that makes us make eye-contact at some point. And from there, I give up my own status as a gringa (in case the blond hair, blue eyes, and 5’ 6” stature didn’t do it). Sometimes, we leave each other alone. Other times, I have to help them find their way, directly them to the correct bus or part of town in a language that is a little closer to home.
Speed: Ecovía Edition (meaning no Keanu Reeves or Sandra Bullock, nor are we going at high speeds, nor is there any actual threat)
The unsuspecting public transit population was simply riding the 6 de diciembre Ecovía bus as usual that day, just before noon. Everything was going smoothly, up until the Manuela Cañizares stop, that is. The bus stopped, and people stood at the doors to exit as the driver announced that the doors would be opening. But then, nothing happened. The doors remained shut. The passengers hoping to board stood there as those waiting to disembark stared confusedly at the door. Some started to shout for the driver to open the door, but nothing could be done. The driver repeatedly pushed the “door open” button, hoping that the continuous effort would break the will of the doors to stay shut, but we all remained stuck inside the bus. In order to not hold up traffic, the bus driver continued to the next stop, my transfer stop, Galo Plaza. Once again, the doors would not open. The people on the bus began to get antsy and uneasy, some starting to yell and push their way to the door. The security guard at the stop went to the outside of the door to try to help, but he was unable to lower the outer part so that the doors would be free. We stood hopeless on the inside, knowing that we would soon continue to the next station, still trapped within the bus. At the Casa de la Cultura station, we gave up hope of having the doors open. As the lone gringa on the bus, I stood in the corner, trying not to attract attention or look too concerned. The bus continued to just past the station, then stopped in the bus lane. We realized that they were trying to open the emergency door—we had hope once more! Perhaps opening the emergency door took more time and effort than it should have, but we made it. As we all poured out of the bus, some relieved some annoyed, the bus behind us opened its doors to let us all on without having to pay again. And so, we continued forth, glancing hopefully at the doors each times they did not open immediately.