Aside from the fact that it was a cataclysmically bad movie, one of the only things I can remember about the Matrix II was an extremely dumb line, in which someone said “You never really know someone until you’ve fought them” (or something). I tend to take a similar attitude towards cities: “You never really know a city until you’ve gotten senselessly and unnecessarily lost in it.”
It’s become something of a long and proud tradition: cities in which I’ve managed to completely lose my bearings and spend some time thinking I’m going to die in a gutter include Davis California, Nan Thailand, Barcelona Spain, and Kampala Uganda (for starters). You would think that, after all these previous experiences, I would acknowledge that—my training as a Boy Scout aside—I actually have pretty terrible direction sense, and should probably keep a map on me. But never mind; yesterday, after the Uruguay-Ghana game, I left my school without a map, without a cell-phone, and without the address of the house where I am staying.
I spent the next two hours wandering aimlessly, both on foot and public transit. I eventually had to re-find the school—itself no easy feat—and swallow my masculinity and get a map. I made it home alright, but given how rampant crime here is supposed to be—especially against clueless gringos—it’s hard not to think that I got lucky. Still, it was a good way to get to know a bit of Quito. Today – having not quite learned my lesson – I embarked on a run, only to find a MASSIVE city park at the top of the mountain. I think I could stay here a while.