I hate saying goodbye but sometimes, a little pampering can soften the blow.
And our last weekend in Quito was great.
Yes, it was a little bit girlie – maybe a little bit vain – but it was ultimately a very fitting goodbye.
Our festivities began on Friday.
Once we’d got out of school (I forgot how great that can feel) Pippa and I went looking for second-hand mobile phones.
Now, I’d love to write about this – particularly the moment when the greasy Mafioso in the shop revealed he’d bought his last phone in Italy – but it would probably send Tom ‘this is so wrong’ through the roof.
Instead I’ll tell you how, with new phones in hand, we dispatched the boys to buy communion gifts for Pa-ool – football memorabilia – while the girls crept into a local beauty salon.
What a funny little shop.
Inside we found two middle-aged ladies, happily chilling amid horrific images of 80s haircuts and all manner of torturous beauty devices.
We must have been in there for four hours.
The ladies buffed and polished, washed and blow-dried and generally helped us shed our feral traveller ways, if only for a day or so.
The effects lasted us through a lovely meal and a few cocktails that evening before we retired ahead of the big day.
Now, the morning of Pa-ool’s communion dawned bright and sunny, which was a good start – knowing how hard Monika had worked.
Bryony and I may have slunk back to the salon (hey, it’s only three quid to have your hair washed and straightened) and may have bumped into Fran, on exactly the same mission.
I think that shows our respect for the small businesses of Quito.
But soon we were all gathered, in all our finery, in Monika’s transformed home ahead of several hours of eating, drinking and dancing.
Highlights for me will be food based, obviously.
I particularly liked the tiny swans made of sponge and cream (only had one, of course) and the huge cake emblazoned with a picture of Pa-ool, praying devoutly and wearing his most angelic expression.
The guest of honour himself was on his best behaviour and seemed pleased enough with the gifts and cards we had brought.
But considering he filmed Harry playing the violin on a brand new camcorder – I’m guessing our gifts weren’t his highlight (not for the first time did I wish they gave first communions to heathens)
In fact, the only dicey moment was when I misheard the ‘exaltation of Pa-ool’ to be the ‘exorcism of Pa-ool’ but barely anyone heard.
Later we put the locals to shame by dancing enthusiastically to a bizarre selection of 50s rock’n’roll, before heading out into the night, ever so slightly full.