I found my old Ecuadorian cell phone number today, which is kind of ironic because just a couple of days ago it made me sad to realize that I could no longer remember it. The way I found it was kind of random actually, because I was at work. I had written in to the office while still living in Cuenca and there I found my information with the old address, phone number, and even the email I’d written. Now after even more immersion, I could see where I’d made mistakes with my Spanish and it made me blush to myself.
There was all of the old information, which was new information last year. I lived on Mariano Cueva y Juan Jaramillo. And the cell phone number, which survived the hijacking even though the original phone didn’t, was still there. (I actually still have the second phone I bought in Ecuador and use it to this day). In my head I said the number as I said it a hundred times to friends in that country. Cero nueve cinco-cuatro ocho seis-uno uno cuatro. On the rarer occasion that I was giving it to an English speaker, it would simply be 095-486-114.
I guess what made it sadder to lose the memory of the number wasn’t so much that I’d forgotten something special about that place, but it was like losing a part of myself. That number was almost like an identity–a part of the life that I had there. And though the phone itself didn’t get nearly as much use as my phone back in the United States, it was a part of my way into the culture. Not just any gringo has a cell phone in Ecuador. It showed that I was there to stay for a while, and people were more open to that idea.
As the year went on and friends of mine started to leave the country, I began to take their numbers out of the phone book one by one until it was a slim list. And eventually I took them all out when I went home, and I have to imagine my number was taken out of the phones of those who stayed behind. But I wish I’d left those numbers now that I think about it. At the very least it would have been another little memory of my life there. Proof that I was able to rack up however many friends and mix into the life there. But in any case, the number is now back, and now that it’s on the Internet, it will always be there for me to look back at.