Flying early in the morning is strange and, frankly, it messes with my carefully constructed routine for international travel.
I always arrive early. I check in and I seethe my way through the palava that is security.
Once that horror has passed, I recover quietly in WHSmith. I buy a Daily Telegraph (because it always offers discount mineral water) I treat myself to a copy of the New Yorker, then I dither in front of the Economist before I buy Grazia.
I then revel in the anonymity of it all. No-one talks to me, no-one bothers me. I read and I people watch and I go to the gate and I’m happy.
Not this morning.
It was too early and WHSmith was closed. I was on the plane to Madrid before I knew it. I slept, I stumbled through the connection and I felt confused and slightly irritated.
Somehow, I made it to the queue for the flight to Quito and, thank goodness, met my fellow volunteers. They are all 18 and on their gap years.
“Ah,” said one of the girls, Bryony.
“I think you are staying with me for two weeks, at Monika’s mum’s house.”
That’s good, I think. I’d been typically disorganised and assumed we were staying in a hostel.
And Monika! I wonder if now is the appropriate time to reveal my affection for the project co-ordinator following her “view of the live” comment.
But one of the boys, Alex, speaks first.
“Monika sent me an email,” he says.
“She told me I would like her house because she has willies.”
I fail to suppress a smile and fortunately the others do too.
“I thought she was propositioning me,” he confides in mock seriousness.
“But it turned out she was just trying to say she had wireless.”
I like him immediately. That is exactly the sort of potentially innapropriate anecdote I would also share with a complete stranger.
And I can’t wait to meet Monika!