On Tuesday February 23, 2016, after three days in our apartment in Quito’s Centro Historico, and about three weeks into the world tour, we spent a delightful night off-the-road, so to speak, with our ex-pat friends, Diane and Sharri, in their condominium in the eucalyptus-covered hills of Quito.
The relationship between Diane and me goes back about 20 years. We both were employed in the natural gas industry. She was a business negotiator for a big electric utility in Phoenix, Arizona, and I represented yet another big energy utility based in San Francisco. Both of our employers received huge quantities of gas from El Paso gas pipeline, a very big operation.
If you remember the Glen Campbell hit song, “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” you will grasp the reach of the El Paso pipeline. It serves all of the cities mentioned in the song, and then some. The narrator in the song moves from west to east as the verses progress, passing from Los Angeles to Phoenix, eventually to Albuquerque. The El Paso pipeline moves gas in the opposite direction, from east to west, but it traverses — and provides natural gas to — all those same cities and more.
It’s enough to say that the matters Diane and I were responsible for involved high-stakes debates.
But what distinguished our relationship, Diane’s and mine, along this big pipeline, was our ability to resolve our differences through negotiated settlements. It was in these complex business negotiations that we cemented our ties, Diane and I, through trust and mutual respect.
Diane and Sharri have been living in Quito for about four years now. Both are widowed, neither has remarried, and they live together essentially, in their own words, as sisters. (Unlike Brian and me, they are not romantic partners, but they are very much partners in their own unique way.)
Alas, the ex-pat days for Diane and Sharri in Ecuador are coming to an end. Driven in part by the fact that Diane’s 5-year-old grandson lives in the Phoenix area, they are preparing to sell their condominium and move back to the U.S. Southwest. If things go as planned, we will be among the last of the visitors they will have entertained in Quito.
Brian had not met Diane or Sharri before, but they welcomed him warmly. As two couples, we were well matched. Sharri and, both of us lawyers, I are comfortable with language and the give-and-take and subtleties of the law. Brian and Diane both have MBA degrees, and the two of them are masterful (slight pun) with numbers and things like statistical analysis.
In their home, Sharri is the principal cook. They remodeled the kitchen in their condo when they purchased it five years ago, and it is a cook’s delight. Sharri was pleased to treat us to a delicious home-cooked chicken dinner the night we were there. The next morning, she served elaborate breakfast of baked French toast and delicious lean Ecuadoran bacon.
The conversation flowed with ease. Before dinner, we had drinks and hors d’oeuvres on the patio outside their kitchen, where they have several hummingbird feeders.
We saw several hummingbird species there, which are depicted in pictures here from the internet.
It was very relaxing indeed to spend the night as the guests of Diane and Sharri. We felt restored.
First, there was the joy of our reunion — it has been at least six or seven years since I’ve seen either of them.
Second, their gracious hospitality was a welcome break after several weeks of traveling.
To cap it off, Sharri’s delicious home-cooked meals were a real treat.
All of us, including our two hostesses, really enjoyed ourselves.
We left the home of our ex-pat amigas on Wednesday morning, feeling restored and ready for the next leg of our journey. We left that day for the old city of Cuenca, farther south in Ecuador.