Or the Tienda de los Telefonos, as I like to call it. Does everyone remember my little encounter last week at the phone store? Or, should I say, my series of encounters with the short, mean girl that works near the CCI mall in that tiny little phone shop, surrounded by phones and phone cases and phone charms all day long. I've been to this store seven times, and I've waited in those bar stools they have set up in there, perched right next to all the little gadgets you can spend your money on. I just wanted the people at the Tienda de los Telefonos to open the band on my phone - still not sure what that means - so I could talk on it down here in Ecuador. But each visit prompted a second visit, a 'come back Thursday' or a 'come back Sunday, in the evening.' And each time I was made to wait, was mostly ignored and talked around, and no one there ever met my eyes. I saw the Spanish I had spent four months learning turn to dust, breaking off my brain and falling through my ears and mouth and empty hands.
But none of this matters now. Today was sunny and still is; the clouds came for just a little while and then faded. Unheard of. It was so sunny I put on sunscreen and dug up my sunglasses and strolled through the park, admiring the flowers and lemonade vendors. And when I reached the phone store, I forced my chest not to tighten, my heart not to beat faster. It's just a phone. However mean that lady is in there, however much eyeshadow she has on, it's just a phone.
But when I entered today, something was different. The girl looked at me and called something to the guy in back, and held her hand out for my factura, now crumpled and worn, the handwriting faded. She nodded at my old familiar bar stool and I perched. I closed my eyes. It's just a phone, it's just a phone, and did you see all that eyeshadow? Green today.
Today, my friends, two miracles occurred in Quito. The first was that it didn't rain a drop all day, and the sun is setting in a clear sky. The flowers bloomed, the people smiled at each other, I left my umbrella at home when I went out.
And the second miracle is that my phone has been repaired. Here it is, in my hand, all contacts and photos deleted, c'est la vie. Grudgingly, my phone was returned to me. Grudgingly, I was sold a chip for three dollars and was charged $27.50 for that and the price of opening the band. Three weeks was all it took, seven visits, many hard blows to my Spanish-speaking ego, and one fight between Carlos and the girl with too much eyeshadow. Three weeks and here is my phone, so call me, everyone! Call me on this piece of metal and plastic, which now very likely also contains blood and sweat in its evenly-spaced cell phone pores.