A true friend is hard to find...
Last year I spent Christmas in Quito Ecuador. I didn't know it then but my body was riddled with parasites that were causing uncontrollable bouts of depression and a bacterial infection that was causing me no end of additional grief.
I had planned my suicide and as I sat on the rooftop of my hostel looking over at the basilica of Quito, figured I'd spend my last Christmas in a church looking for God one last time.
Also, I figured that's where the party would be and I wasn't remotely disappointed. When the idea struck me I looked around at the drunken travelers around me and said sort of off handed "anybody wanna go to midnight mass with me?“
To my surprise a whole gaggle of people were into it. People from all over the world actually and not one of us religious. Go figure.
We made our way through the old town past 500 year old Spanish architecture and idols of conquerors past and present to the church adorned with galápagos animals.
Despite the revelers around me my sadness was deepening as I pondered my wasted life, how I had neglected and eventually lost the only woman who ever loved me (or so I believed at the time), and the shame I represented to my family. Fuck. This was a bad idea. Fuck my plans, I would just buy some pills and a bottle at first opportunity and find a quiet place to float away...
But once we entered the church something happened. The Paolo Santo smoke was burning my eyes a little, and the music was so beautiful, I looked over and saw a beautiful woman smiling back at me, and my heart swelled just a little.
As the night went on, various little shows were presented until around 2am a marching band entered and marched right through the massive cathedral before turning around.
Everyone was on their feet, clapping in time and moving towards the center aisle and following the band outside. I was swept up before I realized that my beautiful Danish friend had taken my hand and was leading me along with the crowd.
Suddenly we were outside in the cold night air. A bottle of hot alcoholic guayusa was passed to me, then a joint.
In the center of hundreds of people was a dance troupe killing it to African rhythms and shooting giant rockets into the sky from within the crowd, sometimes inches from our faces! We just got more and more faded as I gave myself over to reckless abandon. Fuck it.
Suddenly and quietly, there entered these two drunken clowns with a bottle of something much stronger than our guayusa, a little dancing dog, and something that looked like a giant purple dido. And then we were following them up the hill. Horses, the dog, a plastic baby Jesus, hundreds of Ecuadorians, the marching band, and our own band of shitfaced white people following these wasted clowns.
An hour later we reached the top of this Hill and we're rewarded with a gorgeous view of the sprawling city below. Many of the locals had dipped off down this street or that back to their beckoning beds and our group had dwindled to about 40.
We dedicated few were welcomed into a palatial mansion and fed like kings...also we were interrogated like criminals. It was all super friendly but understandably they were curious how we had gotten there.
Across from me sat the drunken clowns. As I watched, and the food was being passed out I watched the bigger of the two fade from this world as his snores echoed through the dining hall. His mate put his arm around him and held his plate while he snoozed.
I snapped a picture and thought to myself: that's a true friend. Maybe life isn't so bad after all.
A few weeks later a friend of mine dragged me to a psychologist in Northern Peru where I was diagnosed with two parasites that were causing my depression. Just a few weeks after that I looked back on the previous years and it all seemed like a dream.
I'm not religious in the least but I thank God for my friends every day. I would literally be dead without them.