12417947_464265950434238_6063749171861706391_nThe Guayasamin Museum in Quito has recreated an archaeological dig in a corner of its sculpture garden. While we were looking at it, a man in a tan jumpsuit approached.

Jumpsuit man: “We’re doing an actual excavation in a private area on the grounds. Would you like to see?”

Me: “Yes!”

We followed him to a roped-off area where a shallow trench had been dug. Several people squatted in the trench, carefully using doll-sized implements to rake, brush, and sweep the earth.

One of the rakers/brushers/sweepers (“R/B/Ser”) said, “We’re uncovering something over here. Check it out.”

Husband and I walked to the edge of the trench and leaned over.

Me: “I don’t see anything.”

R/B/Ser: “Look at the corner. See the edge emerging?”

I leaned over more. “Sorry, I don’t.”

R/B/Ser: “It’s right here!”

Me (grabbing onto Husband’s hand so I can hang way over the edge of the pit): “I see it! It’s—“

Without warning, my hat fell off my head and into the pit, landing on top of what I was sure were priceless artifacts, irreparably disturbing the R/B/Sers’ scientific process.

I and the R/B/Sers stared at it in horrified silence. Then one reached over, gingerly picked up my hat, and offered it to me. I took it, stammering an apology, backing away from the pit’s edge, wishing I could vanish into the (very) thin air.

“How bad do you think that was?’ I asked Husband once we were in the taxi on the way back to the hotel.

He looked thoughtful. “Well, the guy in the jumpsuit told me they think they’ve found what may be an important link in the evolution of man. So…”

I stared at him, aghast. “What?! You mean I could have ruined—“

I broke off when I saw his smile, the one that signals he’s teasing me.

To his credit, the taxi driver didn’t slow one bit when his female passenger started whacking his male passenger with her hat.