Yesterday, I was downtown in Portoviejo and I got picked up by the policia!
I had just spoken with some police officers and then left to go about looking for some bicycle parts. Before I knew it, a police officer pulled in front of me and stopped me in my tracks.
We have no pictures to accompany this short story, but it was the first time I had ridden in a police vehicle for many years and we thought the moment was worth recording.
Before my family starts wondering what the crazy old man has done now, let me dispel any concerns by letting you know I was not in any trouble whatsoever.
I was trying to find a particular bicycle shop in the central area of Portoviejo. I had the address and I had consulted several maps prior to leaving for the city, but the problem with Portoviejo (and indeed most cities and towns here in Ecuador) is that the streets are not marked with street signs. There are also many angled streets and circles making it pretty easy for a doting old man to get a bit disoriented.
Anyway, I got a lost! So, I started asking people on the street if they could help. Problems arose as it appeared that most of the people on the streets of Portoviejo were just as uncertain as I was regarding the name of the streets and any numbering system that might be in place regarding addresses.
I was searching for Veloka Bicycle shop on Calle Ramos Duarte. At one point I was talking to four people who worked and lived in Portoviejo and I was told to go in four different directions to find the illusive Calle Ramos Duarte. These people were not trying to lead me astray. Many of them offered to walk with me and all were earnestly trying to help. It seems they were just as confused as I was and just did not know where (what appears to be a fairly major roadway on all of the maps that I had reviewed) was.
I located many different bike shops and none of them had the repair kit I was searching for. In the end, I decided to forget about it and hop on a bus to Paseo Shopping Center to link up with Mary who was shopping there. But, at the moment of despair, I spotted four motorcycle officers resting in a median area at a major intersection. So, I crossed on out and had a chat with the policia to see if any of these men knew where Calle Ramos Duarte was located.
The four men disagreed, but eventually determined that I was only a block (or three) from the intersection and I left in the direction the consensus felt was appropriate. About a minute later I was pulled over by the police!
It seems the policemen had continued their discussion after I left and determined that they had misdirected me. The young officer suggested that I hop on the back of his 125cc street/trail style motorcycle so that he could bring me to Calle Ramos Duarte.
What the heck, “Yo soy Manaba!” which roughly means,”I am a citizen of Manabi province.” So, I hopped on.
The officer performed some deft maneuvers and narrowly missed side-swiping many vehicles as we drove several miles an hour faster than any reasonable posted speed limit for a few blocks. We found the Calle Ramos Duarte and I was very glad to have survived the short trip.
The bike shop there still did not have the repair kit that I was seeking, but I was able to catch a bus and reunite with Mary safely at a modern shopping mall with a story to tell of another experience from here where…
Life is good in Ecuador!