Lies in Ecuador: How one person claims they were “screwed” by a socialite

Posted on May 14, 2015 • Filed under: Ecuador Amor reported /The phone rang. “Hacienda San Augustín de Callo, buenas noches,” I said into the receiver, trying to keep my chattering teeth from affecting the delivery. A woman replied in what sounded like a drugged monotone.

“Niña, my husband needs no less than eight pillows to comfortably lay on or else he can’t possibly be expected to sleep. Unfortunately, I only see six. Bring two more to room 11 immediately.” She hung up without waiting for a reply.

I dragged myself out of the office and into the subzero highland night, shivering my way past the Imperial Inca walls holding up the hotel. A light-skinned woman just a few years my senior opened the door, revealing a pale old man passed out across the bed. The sweet smell of smoke from their fireplace and the scent of our hotel’s homemade hot toddies waved in my face like a flag, teasing me with something that could warm me from the inside out. But the woman shut the door as soon as I handed over the pillows, and I went back out into the night, cold and quiet as the volcanoes that encircled us.

It was my third month in Ecuador and I was completely broke. I was living and writing in Quito, locked away in a colonial apartment I could barely afford, sending pitches by day and reading rejections at night. The rent was due and my tourist visa had expired; I was caught in the tangle of red tape required to gain citizenship through my mother, a native. Fortunately, my Spanish roommate had recently slept with the co-owner of a hotel hidden in the pleats of a nearby mountain, and they were hiring. “Venga tía,” she said. “This is your chance!”


Hairy, Israeli and deadly serious about everything, my roommate’s one-night-stand, Itzhak* met me in our kitchen one evening. “We’re looking for an office manager to work at a hacienda at the foot of Cotopaxi,” he said, referring to a snow-topped volcano just south of the capital. Haciendas are colonial-era estates that started springing up around Latin America when the Spanish came and are now often renovated into luxury hotels; I imagined someplace pretty with an ugly past. “We pay competitively and you could live rent-free on location.”

“When can I start?” I asked.

A day or two later, Itzhak led me to the home of a wealthy woman named Magda Plaza. She looked and acted just like Miss Trunchbull from Matilda, but she warmed up once she realized I was actually a gringa. “Well, you don’t look American,” Magda said, waving us inside with a tentative hand, scanning my person for signs of my supposed nationality. Bullfighting memorabilia and black-and-white portraits of mustachioed men were arranged throughout her salon. When she caught me staring at a photograph of a former congressman, she asked, “Maybe you’ve heard of my father?” The Plaza name has long been a powerful one in the country. Magda’s uncle served two stints as president of Ecuador, as did her grandfather, who used to own half of the country. All that was left of their estate now were 80 acres of land, which Magda had inherited and flipped into a hotel. “This is not your regular hacienda,” she admitted. Read Full Article



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