Friday, May 1, 2009

Dar Vueltas

For as long as I've been in Ecuador, this has been a phrase that has been just out of reach for me. It's been mysterious and something to be envied, and I always wondered why I wasn't invited to "Dar Vueltas" with everyone else. What it basically boils down to is a group of friends pile into a car and drive around all night looking for a place to drink. It sounds pretty juvenile and it is, but I wanted to experience it firsthand, and finally last night I got a taste.

Of course, as I've experienced with other things, the long awaited taste isn't always as good as you might expect. We started the night when I got picked up outside of my house by a group of friends. I thought we'd go to a bar, but they wanted to save money and just drink in a park. After debating for 10 minutes which park to go to, it was decided that it would be too hard because the cops were going to just kick us out, even though everyone drinks in parks.

So after more stalling and driving around in circles, we bought some Zhumir, the local drink, and a 6 pack. I didn't want us to drink at my place, and no one else could help.

"My parents are home, they'll kill me."

"We can't go to my house, my mom is sleeping."

This all seemed extremely reminiscent of high school, right down to the driving aimlessly while trying to figure it out. But people don't mind driving around, as it's a sense of freedom that they can't have in the home. And since gas is so cheap, it's never really an issue. Since no one else I know has a car, I've never been able to take advantage of this, and as a result haven't seen much of the outskirts of the city. Driving is a big part of suburbia life, and it's something that I miss. So as we drove around and I could see neighborhoods I've never been to, it was entertaining and worthwhile, even though we were wasting time.

All of us were over the legal age to drink, but there was fear of something. They didn't want to deal with cops. As we pulled into a park a cop on a motorcycle was just breaking up the people there. Plan busted. Next thing I knew we were driving into the sticks over muddy, broken pot hole roads, further and further away from the city. We pulled off into a dirt road by a river and while the music played, the drinks were mixed.

Something I've never seen was done. They took the liquor and put it all into a plastic bag, following that with the tonic to mix it with. One of the guys then bit a hole into the bag and poured it slowly back into the bottle, now that it was "mixed." After a drink we moved on back into the city and met up with some more people. At the Coliseum, "The Doors" were playing. I put the name in quotations because from the looks of the poster, it's two original members and three other guys they just threw together. Hardly The Doors. The streets were packed with tough rocker wanna-be's and packs of friends drinking on the corner. One spot seemed as good as another.

We found another park, pulled over to play music, got out and started drinking. Always pouring just a tiny amount in the cup to take a quick drink and pass it on. But soon the cops showed up and kicked us out. So again we piled back into the car and drove around. I was beginning to see how this wasn't a very efficient way to drink. Stopping to get another bottle, we arrived in a new part of town. But again, we were soon kicked out by a night watchmen. It was looking hopeless.

But eventually, when all seemed lost, we wound up in a neighborhood outside of town called Banos. There we were able to drink in peace, and even though it was cold and late, it was fun just hanging out and talking with everyone. And after all that work, we only stayed there for about a half hour before heading home. To dar vueltas, it seemed, was more about driving around than drinking. The long awaited cultural experience was one that really didn't amount to much, but as long as I've done it, I'm glad it's been done.

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