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Friday, February 28, 2014

Mourning the Loss of an Ecuadorian Friendship

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Gloria Chalá of Quito, Ecuador


She was a traveler's dream! Upon my first visit to Ecuador in December 2009, Gloria took me in, a total stranger as she was  introduced by her daughter, a Facebook friend living in Germany whom I never met in person. Gloria took time between her work hours to take me out, show me around, and even escorted me to the Center of the World, the equator, better known as La Mitad del Mundo. The following December of 2010, I stopped in Quito during a five-nation Latin American tour, and she took me home to be among her family. In Each of my visits, she saved me an enormous amount of money in travel expenses.

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Gloria escorted me to the Center of the World—the equator
better known in Ecuador as La Mitad del Mundo 

I was very sad to get an e-mail from Gloria's daughter, Alexandra, in Germany telling me that her mother passed away. At the same time, I felt happy that I stayed in touch with her, made sure to call her yearly just to wish her happy birthday, and even wired money to her on a couple of occasions. Today, as I write this piece, I'm wiring money to her daughter as an expression of my condolences. 

Real friends, wherever they may be in the world, are precious. Unlike your average traveler, I never want to forget the wonderful people I meet, like I did when I was a young sailor in the US Navy. People who take the time and the energy to host us in our travels need to know how much we really appreciate them, and they love it when we take some time from our hectic lives and simply say “hello.” Gloria María Chalá Anangonó, REST IN PEACE.