You may recall that Tom and Camille kindly drove us to Chicago. Actually they drove us straight to my friend Anne Palmieri's (nee Frazier) house, which is right in Chicago. Anne and I also worked on summer camp together back in '89. The last time we caught up was when she visited Australia in 1997. She is now married to Scott, and they have a one and a half year old called Maggie. We spent a relaxing afternoon with Anne and Maggie, just catching up and reminiscing. When Scott came home later in the day, we all went out to a tapas bar called "Casa Iberica" in the city centre. Very impressive! Great atmosphere, and excellent food. From what I recall of Spain, way back in the early 90's, the food tasted pretty authentic.
Back at Anne's place we were later picked up by Alex's Auntie Mariana (his dad's sister) and her husband, Francisco. What a reception...Mariana flew up to Alex and gave him a big hug. Alex had not seen his auntie and uncle in 7 years, which is when they moved from Ecuador to Chicago. I arrived in Ecuador just after they left, so this was my first time meeting them.
As we drove outto their place, there was a lot of chatting and catching up. I feel like I have known Mariana all my life. Alex's mum told me that we would get along like a house on fire, and we did, it was instantaneous!
We met Nathaly, Alex's cousin, and her two children Andres (2) and Emily(1). We would meet her husband, Jesus, the next day. The next day we would also meet Nathaly's sister, Michell, and her husband, Julio. That same night I also met Franklin, for the first time, another one of Alex's uncles who has lived here for 6 years, his wife Fanny and children David and Gustavo. It was great to be able to see Alex connect with his family, and in my case, be able to meet them for the first time.
The next morning, Alex and I went for a walk. I am still running and walking to keep fit, and Alex sometimes joins me. We had not been back for 2 minutes, when Nathaly came out of the house telling us that Emily had fallen out of her high chair and hit her head. Within minutes, we were all in the car, driving to the closest hospital's emergency facility. It all ended up working out well, but as you know, these things take time. Little Emily had to have an MRI/ cat scan, but it showed that all was well. You have to see the funny side - two foreigners in sweaty shorts and tops, hanging around a hospital.
It could get worse...and it appears that it did! One day inside a hospital...and another inside a police station; and I was driven there in a police car! We were on our way to visit Lisken, another friend from the USA that I have known for 17 years (more about that later). Alex's auntie had lent us her car, and we had only just left the house. After picking up a shot of caffeine (USA size...and that's BIG!!!) at "Dunkin' Donuts" (don't you love the names here!), we were about to leave the car park, when I edged out a bit too far, and was hit by an on-coming car! You HAD to be joking! Not to me! This was not supposed to happen, and especially whilst I was borrowing Alex's auntie's car.
Without going into too much detail, the other party called the police, as they do here when an accident takes place, and they were at the scene within minutes. When I showed Officer Bobby Smith my licence, he looked at it a little puzzled. Where was my International Driver's License? Back at Mariana's house of course! Officer Smith wasn't even sure if my licence was legal, although I knew it was as I had checked previously. He had to do his job however, and I went back to the police station to fill in a report whilst Alex and his uncle went home to try and find my International Driver's Licence, as well as try and print some information pertaining to an Australian licence being legal in the USA.
Officer Smith was exceptionally kind to me, and he must have seen my jaw drop, when he mentioneed that had I been a local, or living here, I would have had to have gone to court over this! Not to mention pay a fine! I was not even game to ask how much! Once I had filled in the paperwork, I was free to go, and Alex and Francisco picked me up....but not before Alex asked Officer Smith, "Can I please have a photo of my wife and you standing next to your car. We have to put this on our blog!" Yes, Officer Smith obliged, and you are able to see the photo!
Alex and I have had enough of big cities, and roof top views, so we have not really gone into the city centre. Chicago has really been about relaxing with family and friends, but somehow, some type of adventure never seems too far away!
Next blog entry: our time with Lisken, and Mariana's birthday!
(Images: 1. Annie Scott, Maggie. Ombi & Alex. 2. Alex, Ombi, Natali, Mariana. Kids Amily & Andres at Navy Pier Chicago. 3. Family and Friends BBQ. 4. Natali. 5. Franklin, Fanny, David, Gustavo & Alex. 6.Car after the "Dunkin' Donuts" coffe 7. Ombi & Officer Smith. 8. Lake Michigan.)
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