Quito’s observatory only looks abandoned: peering in alerts a student to our presence and he sells us two tickets for a tour. It’s full of clocks and instruments measuring wind speed, latitude, longitude and a bunch of other things I should remember from school but now just nod and smile as though I do. Underground, four seismometers measure the continual volcanic activity of Ecuador and its roof-opening telescope measures the worlds above. Humbling, but something else as well.
There is no shortage of sights to see in Quito, but for the first time we feel like tourists instead of travelers. It hits me: in our camper, we bring our home along with us. Without it we feel naked and utterly unremarkable – just another customer for street kids selling scarves or bundled-warm women ladling out dishes of unrecognizable meat soup. I realize why it is that I’m so driven to find the camper my father built. I might have been malarial, half-starved and penniless but I belonged somewhere.
Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom of the landing page on my teresabrucebooks.com website or here or here. Planning a road trip? Buy the audiobook here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa.