My father was restless. He liked to go places.
(He was also a bookie for the mob–indicted by a number of grand juries and convicted of conspiracy before he died.)
Whether it was World Series tickets or PGA passes, Daddy was forever after the means of admission. Any event deemed big, any venue that glittered—my dad wanted to go there, be a part of it–experience the sparkle, encounter the spin. Maybe it was the mafioso in him.
Whatever the reason, my parents traveled—a lot—jet-setting here, Love-Boating there. In fact, Daddy adored cruising—the drama of ship board dining, the theater of midnight buffets and ice sculpture display.
It was all of this I remembered when, just before New Year’s Day, Sara and I visited Quito and rode the teleférico to the top of the Pichincha Volcano. You see, during the summer of 1977, my parents took us kids on a Caribbean cruise that stopped in Venezuela for the day, allowing us to ride the teleférico from the port city of Macuto, up over Ávila and down the other side into Caracas. It was an experience that amazed me as an adolescent.
The February before my father had been indicted by a grand jury and the FBI raided our house yet again. Thus, May meant my parents muddled through another trial. Jury selection began on Monday, May 9th and ultimately my dad was acquitted on May 26th—though in actuality he was, as my mother still says, ”guilty as sin.” To celebrate the acquittal, my parents booked a 10-day, ship-board adventure for our entire family of six.
The cruise itself was sandwiched by a stay at our beach-front condominium, during which my father played practical jokes on an assortment of balding old men, startling them with the newly-installed, automatic car-starter on his dark green Sedan d’ Ville. One south-Florida stranger kicked the right, rear tire when the car spontaneously roared to life next to him . Another, a hotel manager, called Bal Harbour police concerned, we could only ever assume, that the car might also pull from the parking lot driverless and endanger the blue-haired old ladies walking their Pugs, Pekingese or one another along the Miami outback that is Collins Avenue. (To read more about the real reason my father had one of the first car-starters ever invented, click here.)
Still, the highlight of that entire trip was the cruise itself and the cable car ride above the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, only a few photos of which I’ve been able to locate.
This entire sequence of criminal and travel events came flooding back when Sara and I rode the teleférico to the top of Pichincha Volcano in Quito. I can’t imagine now, how I took it all in as a child. I can barely comprehend it, even as an adult.
Still, if your Ecuador travel takes you to the country’s capital and you’d like to take the cable car to this spot high above the city, keep in mind the following:
- Go early in the day. We arrived around 9 in the morning and were able to beat the long lines that can form only an hour or two later.
- Bring along a jacket or sweater. It’s often cold and windy atop the volcano.
- If you are a resident of Ecuador, bring along your cedula, as you can enjoy the ride at a steep (no pun intended) discount, paying around $5. Foreigners without cedulas pay closer to $9.
- Bring along your camera. The views are stupendous!
And if you’re contemplating a trip up the teleférico and wonder what you’ll see, sit back, relax, and enjoy this vicarious ride.
The next sequence was taken from atop the volcano.
Finally, Sara snapped a few photos of our descent back into Quito.
Since my mafia father enjoyed the teleférico above Caracas so much, I can only imagine how the one in Quito would have excited him.
Plus, it’s fun to walk again in the Keds I wore as a kid!
Have you had a peak (pun intended) experience as an adult that reminded you a childhood adventure? What fun might you have enjoyed as a kid, the adult version of which you’d like to have today?
If you are new to my blog, you might like to know that I’m writing a memoir about growing up in an organized crime family. To read chapter one, click here. I’m also reading drafts of subsequent chapters at literary events in Cuenca. They are held the first Thursday of every month at California Kitchen—7pm. Admission is free. The next reading will be on February 7, 2014.
This post was written in response to the WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge– “Leave your Shoes at the Door.”