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Romancing the Road in Ecuador
Romancing the Road in Ecuador
Romancing the Road
Erik Larkin - 02:29pm Mar 25, 1997 PST
I was in Ecuador on an extended trip, spending time with a girlfriend who had volunteered to teach there for nine months. One particular night, we were hanging out with some Peace Corps people, drinking thin beer and devastatingly strong cuba libres. My girlfriend went home, and I continued on with the Peace Corps cadre to a small place called the Unicorn Bar. Once in the bar, we had to walk down a long thin corridor towards the dance floor, with the bar itself on our right side. It was a typical bar as I knew them, with dim lighting, younger crowds, and loud music. As we walked, I was glancing around me, and eventually came to watch the dancers ahead of us. After a few moments, someone out on the floor turned and looked at me -- a gringa, with shoulder length light brown hair, and dark eyes that had me completely transfixed. I wouldn't have been surprised to see people in our line of sight flinch from the heat -- I have never before or since shared a simple look with that degree of intensity. I managed to break away, and sit with the Peace Corps folks at a table near the dance floor. Unavoidably, our eyes locked again and again. I knew that I wouldn't initiate anything, though, so I foolishly thought I was safe... until this dangerously sensuous senorita left the dance floor and sat down between me and one of the Peace Corps guys next to me. Turns out she was Peace Corps herself, and knew all the people I was with. While I knew by this point of my trip that my relationship with my girlfriend was basically over, and had been for a week or two, I wouldn't have felt right pursuing anything with this girl. No matter that every fiber, every cell, every atom of my being was pulled- towards her with nearly irrestible force, I just couldn't. Likewise, I was afraid that if I let my guard down for even a split second, my moral resolve would unravel like a cheap sweater in a playpen full of kittens. So, I made a choice that has haunted me for four years, and gave the girl the proverbial 'cold shoulder'. Sounds simple, felt intense. I haven't forgotten that girl, her burning gazes or her confused anger when I wouldn't follow up on a blatantly obvious and extreme attraction. Supreme, sublime, and tragic no-win situation.
When this story was prepared, here was the front page of PCOL magazine:
This Month's Issue: August 2004
Teresa Heinz Kerry celebrates the Peace Corps Volunteer as one of the best faces America has ever projected in a speech to the Democratic Convention. The National Review disagreed and said that Heinz's celebration of the PCV was "truly offensive." What's your opinion and who can come up with the funniest caption for our Current Events Funny?
Exclusive: Director Vasquez speaks out in an op-ed published exclusively on the web by Peace Corps Online saying the Dayton Daily News' portrayal of Peace Corps "doesn't jibe with facts."
In other news, the NPCA makes the case for improving governance and explains the challenges facing the organization, RPCV Bob Shaconis says Peace Corps has been a "sacred cow", RPCV Shaun McNally picks up support for his Aug 10 primary and has a plan to win in Connecticut, and the movie "Open Water" based on the negligent deaths of two RPCVs in Australia opens August 6. Op-ed's by RPCVs: Cops of the World is not a good goal and Peace Corps must emphasize community development.
Read the stories and leave your comments.