Sunday, December 23, 2007

Goodbye to Anddrew, Rick, and Katie

For the past month we were glad to host three friends escaping the -6 temps from Boulder.

Andrew Clinkingbeard was here for a month, and friends Katie and Rick joined him for two of those four weeks. It was great to see these familiar faces, again reassuring us that we indeed have NOT dropped off the face of the earth. I can't possibly list all the highlights of the time these three spent with us; with experiences ranging from climbing snowy volcanoes, to motor-biking through the jungle, to sushi-night at our house; we had a blast. Here's to you guys for making it happen and coming down here! It meant more than you know!!!!!!!!!! (and I'm talking about more than the imported Bushmills!) You guys rule!

Now, who's next? Bueller....Bueller....










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Now playing: Agent Orange - Living In Darkness
via FoxyTunes

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Invasion

I had a request to invade "Tim's" blog. So here you go, G. I thought it appropriate to go ahead and post since I am at home nursing a head-cold while Tim and our Boulder friend, Andrew Clinkingbeard (no, he's not a pirate--that's really his name) are up in the mountains. After a successful acclimatization climb up Illiniza Norte, the boys have moved on and will attempt Cotopaxi, Ecuador's third tallest and very aesthetically pleasing conical shaped volcano. Wish them good weather thoughts. I am positively bummed to not be with them right now and am full-on facing the reality of the sinus surgery my kindly, slow-English-speaking doctor claims I need now so I'll quit getting sick.

Things have otherwise been going well. Perhaps when the boys return, Andrew can do a guest posting on the bull fight he attended while we were at work earlier this week. This past week and a half, all of Quito has been celebrating Fiestas de Quito, the culmination of which was Wednesday and Thursday. Part of the traditional celebration is daily full-on Spanish-style bullfights. Thanks to the bullfights, our classes have been half full for the last week. This made my psychology 11 class particularly difficult as I only have six students when everyone is present. But Quitenos are fiercely proud of Quito and their traditions and there's not much we can do about that. Parents get mad at our principal for suggesting that perhaps education is more important than bull fights, but what do we know? Maybe it's not.

I do want to tell everyone about an incident we had at school that has really been weighing heavily on me. Last Tuesday morning, one of our 8th grade students was kidnapped by two armed men while waiting for the bus. This was horribly devastating and continues to be so as the boy still has not been returned. Everything we hear is rumor, but last we heard, the family is negotiating with the captors who are asking for some crazy sum of money that the family probably does have. Upon asking my students about this, they say taking a child is very uncommon. Usually, captors take an uncle or the father--the man of the house. Indeed, several of my students' uncles have been kidnapped before and one had a dad who narrowly escaped capture. I think that day I experienced my first depression-related culture-shock. This had never happened to a kid at our school before and I didn't understand my students when they said this was something they were afraid of. In a Theory of Knowledge class, we were brainstorming how to decrease our ecological footprints and some kids of course mentioned they could walk or ride a bike, but were quickly cut-off by others who said they would all get kidnapped if they did this. I told them they weren't going to get kidnapped. I had no idea.
I've since made my mild peace with this because I've realized that kids face violence everywhere. One thing we don't have to worry about here is school shootings, which was a worry that always occupied the back of my mind while teaching in Colorado--home of some of the worst school violence in history. It hurts to know my students have to live with this fear. But I don't suppose it's any worse than anything they would face somewhere else. I must say, it was a different sort of wake-up call.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A trip to the chapel

La Capilla del Hombre, or the Chapel of the Man, is an astounding museum envisioned by the now deceased Oswaldo Guayasimin. Guayasimin is, arguably, Ecuador's most famous artist. In his Chapel of the Man, Oswaldo, has honored the indigenous people of Latin America through tortured paintings, intricate sculptures, and an eternal flame drifting towards a ceiling mosaic of spirits from a mining tragedy in Bolivia.

I found this museum to be one of the most powerful places I have been in many years. I'm on a bit of a Latin American socialist kick right now, reading Eduardo Galeano and being moved by Guayasamin. Of course, there is no easy answer to the racism, bigotry, and indecency handed to the indigenous people of any country, America included, but knowledge must be the first step.

I'll take the readers of this blog on a short tour of the Capilla, but really, you must come here and see this amazing place with your own eyes.

The Capilla was finished after Guayasimin's death in 1999. The pyramid you can see here on top of the Chapel houses his mosaic to the workers of the Bolivian mine.


The Capilla is located directly below his house (shown below, and yes, there is some controversy over the wealth Guayasimin accumulated "fighting" for the poorest of the poor).


You can actually see the Capilla if you look very carefully, from our porch. However, much more interesting for us, was looking at our home, from HIS front porch.

The Long View: (Remember, you can click on these and blow them up if you really want to see what will fall down on top of us in an earthquake....)


And, the short view. Our house is marked by a red circle at the bottom of the photograph. The red line represents the reason I am tired every morning by the time we are done walking to the bus! And the Blue Circle? The mansion set off from the hotel only twice it's size to the right of it? Surrounded by amazing forest in an ocean of cement called Quito?
That's the American Ambassador's House.

But, back to Guayasamin. I'll need to go back and take the tour (which is offered in English) a couple of more times before I can comment on these paintings. I was so taken aback, most of the guides words floated in one ear, and out the other. But truly, this is a place I could go again, and again, and again....




Below is the famous Andean Condor and the Spanish Bull, symbolizing the struggle of the indigenous people and Spain. In front of it, the eternal flame, reaching up to the ceiling mosaic.... For a size reference, don't miss the people sitting to the right.

Finally, my favorite painting in the Capilla, a tribute to the people of Chile, particularly those who suffered under the dictatorship of Pinochet.

Though his monetary intentions have been criticized, the trickle-down-effect of Guayasimin to the native Quechua people of Ecuador today is undeniably symbolized in any native artisan market. Though they may not have swimming pools overlooking Quito, his legacy has left them with plenty of opportunity to pirate a few paintings off to enamored gringos! Mine was 12 dollars.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Weekly News

Some observations from this week:

* My wife climbed her first 15,000 foot peak this week.
* I published my third article in the October issue of the Mountain Gazette
* Our friend Bryan made the 5th descent of a local Ecuadorian whitewater run
* Our friend Paul ran Gorilla, one of the SE´s most fearsome rapids
* Pictures and videos of our crazy paddler friends are at
http://www.astralbuoyancy.com/02/news/
* Ecuadorian pencil sharpeners are superior to North American ones
* Bali now has a custom-made, three floor, kitty condo
* It didn´t rain this weekend
* Ecuador can´t win at soccer
* Our walls are getting painted
* We now have Emergen-C thanks to Bryan and Karen
* Acoustic Syndicate plays in Asheville this weekend at the Orange Peel
* WNCW´s web-cast rules almost as much as the Syndicate´s reunion
* Jonny Love t-boned a cop last month, totaled his girlfriends truck, and is now friends with
the cop?
* Items left in cabs, like new cell phones, are not easily retrieved
* Erin and I will be traveling throughout the Southeast for the last two weeks of March
* Guildens brown mustard is now available in Ecuador
* My cousin Steve is acting in Pride and Prejudice in Denver for the next month
* I had my second hair-cut by Columbian Transvestites, they do a nice job
* My friend Colin is having a baby; he has lots of tatoos, Colin, not the fetus
* My sister is NOT working for the CIA, she just has a job in D.C. which involves travel to ¨conferences¨ and selling ¨voting¨ software
* As many of you approach winter, the temperature here has not changed at all, it´s odd
* My parents start moving into their new house this week of Thanksgiving vacation
* My sister is staying in a trailer while they do so...or so she claims...
* Across the street is the snake filled attic of my cousin and Rhett:
www.virginrenovator.blogspot.com
* The blueberries in Ecuador have lots of stems, and are small
* Our friend, Justin, who broke his hip being stupid and skiing out of bounds in Vail two years ago, has finally got clearance to ski this winter from his doctor
* Colorado has no snow.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Erin, I´m trying to SLEEP!

¨Erin, stop shaking the bed.¨ ¨Really, I´m tired, I`m trying to sleep, okay...¨
¨Tim, I´m not moving.¨
¨Bali, then.... Stop shaking the damn bed!¨
¨Meow.¨

And with that meow, we realized that nobody was shaking the bed except mother nature herself. The earthquake is the first one I have ever experienced, and it was an interesting sensation. I know I know, Californians don´t even notice them, but like so many firsts in life, it was a little surreal for me. Here´s what the AP had to say:

Powerful Quake on Peru-Ecuador Border
QUITO, Ecuador - A powerful earthquake shook the border region of Ecuador and Peru late Thursday, but there were no immediate reports of injury or damage.

Local media said the magnitude 6.7 quake was felt strongly in the Ecuadorean cities of Guayaquil and Manta.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the temblor struck at 10:12 p.m. and was centered about 150 miles south of Guayaquil, the Andean nation's largest city and main port.

The quake came after a magnitude-7.7 tremor shook northern Chile on Wednesday, killing two people, injuring more than 150 and leaving 15,000 homeless.

Strong aftershocks continued to rattle Chile on Thursday, with one tremor measuring magnitude 6.2 and another magnitude 6.8, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Chile's, Peru's and Ecuador's Pacific coastlines all lie along the intersection of the Nazca and South American tectonic plates, one of the world's most seismically active regions.

A service of the Associated Press(AP)


Finally, speaking of getting shaken, my friend from Outward Bound was recently shaken given some hard news from his doctors after a climbing accident this summer. I´ve linked his website, please visit if you can, and give him whatever support you can consider. He´s a great guy....

www.rockthehealing.org

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Generator

At a party a few months ago, I made an unexpected discovery. In a country known more for Salsa and Reggaton, I stumbled into an Ecuadorian with a Rancid shirt on. Rancid is one of my favorite punk bands from California, and though they are relatively well known, even in the states fellow Rancid fans give each other a knowing nod of the head....cause there aren't that many of us...


So, I was especially astounded to find a Rancid fan in my first month of living in Quito. It turned out that we had more than Rancid in common, we immediately ran down a list of punk bands, nodding in affirmation of each others taste.

David, as my new found amigo is known as, also introduced me to his brother, Mario, as one of the best drummer's in Quito. Turns out these guys, unlike me, walk there talk. They play in a punk band called Edicion Limitado. David and Mario are rabid punk rock fans. When David was in school in the states, he and his brother followed the Warped Tour as if they were the Grateful Dead, they drove 8 hours here in Ecuador for a rare treat, a NOFX show in the coastal town of Guayaquil....and their CD and DVD collection is as rare as Swiss Cheese here in Ecuador.

They played a show last week at the pizza joint/bar next door to us. They don't have a bass player, can't keep one, not enough punk rock interest in this town of Salsa-Swinin'-Hips. As they intro'ed with a song just for me, Generator by Bad Religion, I thought to myself, is this finally time to pick up a four stringed instrument again? It would set me up perfectly for one of those stories for the Grandkids when I'm 80 and drooling on myself in my lazy-boy:

"Did I ever tell you little know-it-all shits the time Grandpa played bass in an Ecuadorian punk band?"


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Now playing: Pennywise - God Save The USA
via FoxyTunes
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Now playing: Bad Religion - Positive Aspect Of Negative Thinking
via FoxyTunes
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Now playing: Fugazi - Forensic Scene
via FoxyTunes
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Now playing: Rancid - Brad Logan
via FoxyTunes

Monday, November 5, 2007

What should a climbing trip cost?

Well, about $25 dollars in Ecuador.

This weekend I went with the owner of the local climbing shop to a cliff he is developing in the rainforest. What do you spend on a trip when you have a local haggling for you?

2 hour bus ride to Cauyuja and back: $5.50
Cookies and chips for lunch: $2.00
Churrasco for dinner (Steak and Eggs): $3.00
Liter of Beer, Pilsener Brand: $1.50
Room in the back of house, dry, and mostly flea-free bed: $4.00
Breakfast of fresh cow's milk and instant coffee, fresh eggs, and fresh cheese from said cow: $1.00
2nd lunch of cookies, chips, and Ecuadorian Red Bull: $2.00

Rubber Boots for the approach: At $6.75, the most expensive portion of the trip, but, truly, truly priceless.

Bring your mud-boots Bryan!




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Now playing: Abstract Rude & Tribe Unique - Headcase
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Dia de Muertas, Day of the Dead

As much as I tried, Erin just wasn't feelin' Halloween this year. No fall leaves (Aspen or otherwise), no Halloween candy, trick-or-treaters, or pumpkin bread. Not a big deal though, the stores are already decked out in Christmas attire...and you thought it came earlier and earlier every year in the States!

They do celebrate Halloween and Day of the Dead here, and tonight the kids are having a big dance with the customary lascivious high-school "costumes," and I'm sure, a little spike for the punch. We'll do our best to confiscate, of course.

Day of the Dead is a bit more serious, honoring all the souls floating around this sometimes spooky old city. There'll be lots of grave visits, and of course, Guagua Pan and Colada Morada...Girl Bread and a Purple-Gelatin-Fruit Punch. These are traditional foods unique to Ecuador at this time of year, and are apparently customs handed down from their indigenous history. That being said, the obvious correlation between bread and purple drink and a certain Christian tradition has to be made. In reality, the pan and colada are probably, like most things here, a bit mestizo, or mixed. Any way you cut it, Erin still looks great with that thar' girl bread.

Hope you didn't find a razor blade in your candy this year....I think my Mom just used to use that excuse to get us to throw away three quarters of our stash:) Happy Halloween!


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Luke´s Blog

Check out our friend Luke´s blog, he has some MUCH better pictures from our trip to Banos...

Luke´s Blog

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Colegio

Well, as we have spent most of our time at this place, it seemed about time to drag the camera to school and waste a planning period roaming around snapping some pics. So here it is, the pics are narrated at the bottom....remember, the best way to view this is to click on it, and open the slideshow in a bigger window.



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Now playing: Royal Crown Revue - Salt Peanuts
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Taking a bath

Aww, you cheeky thing, you saw this post and thought you might catch me in me skivies, or maybe even less! Naughty naughty. Sorry to disappoint you, instead, this is a little ditty about the abundance of hot springs here in Ecualand. While the constant threat of volcanic activity does lead to some sleepless nights perched here on this hill with skyscrapers above us....it also gives way to some mighty fine hot springs. (Don't worry Mom, the river valleys are much worse to live in).

Here's smoke from a guy who recently went to an orange alert from the local geologists who spend their time watching geologic activity, a hobby only slightly more exciting than watching paint dry.



This volcano, Tungurahua has been threatening the resort town of Banos for the past eternity, and has recently been a bit of a nuisance. In 1999 it became particularly restless, forcing the evacuation of the town, a bit of a drop in tourism (what with the mud and ice slides), and it's still expanding. According to our Moon Guidebook, the crater is now "five times wider than it was when it began to erupt." Bummer.

Regardless, the town is charming and we spent a long weekend here wondering how we survived the bus ride down, climbing, and doing our best to avoid the poo-colored and hair filled local baths.


We had the good fortune to hook up with a local climber, Willy Navarette, who besides owning and running a charming bed and breakfast, likes to spend his 56th year on this planet putting climbers like me to shame. This guy could climb! We spent some time at his local climbing wall, and then on to the local (SLICK) basalt crags. We would have climbed more routes, but a couple of the bolts had been flattened by the last flood of volcanic ash and lava that poured down the valley, ummmm, okay?!? Don't worry said Willy, the Volcano is very tame right now (then why was the cliff covered in ash I mused to myself?)



Now, let me answer a few inevitable questions.

1) Yes, in addition to being twenty years my senior, he is 2 feet my shorter.
2) Yes, his belay hand is entirely off the rope.
3) Yes, the waterfall's are beautiful, they're also direct sewage from the city.
4) The flattened bolt was the third bolt up the cliff, fully 35 feet off the valley floor, some flood huh?
5) Finally, yes, that is a cable car and zip line going across the top of the cliff, and hell no, I didn't ride it, did you miss Willy's belay hand??????????? Safety isn't a real priority here...

After two full days of hard climbing, Erin and I couldn't resist relaxing with a nice ATV ride up above town, and some freshly pressed sugar cane juice, what else do you do after climbing?








































So, I'm sure you are also wondering, if Banos is filled with nasty tubs of brown water, and god knows what else, then WHERE are those pools of impeccable blue serenity pictured at the beginning of this blog? One hour from our doorstep, amazingly. In the opposite direction of Banos, Papallacata is the local resort where Quitenos go for a dip on the weekend. We celebrated our friend Aviva's birthday with a luxurious weekend at these springs, which, were blessedly hot and hair-free. Settled at 10,000 feet, in a cloud forest at the tip of the Amazon jungle, these, were, truly, the best hot springs I have ever set my red hot bum in.


In fact, I have to run, I think it's time to head back to the springs. Cheers!

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Now playing: Beau Jocque & The Zydeco Hi-Rollers - Give Him Cornbread
via FoxyTunes

Friday, October 19, 2007

Health Food

The food is great here. The supermarkets are new and modern, and, cheap! There is an abundance of wholesome food available, and at prices that would make a Whole Foods employee blush. Organic lettuce is .50 cents, organic sugar: $1.00 for two pounds, lean (I'm sure free range) beef fillet mignon is $8.00 for 6 fillets. We've found real organic peanut butter, all fruit jelly, roasted banana chips, and more fruits and vegetables than you can shake a granadilla at...or for that matter, a guanabana...if you know what I mean! The yogurts are amazing, they are thinned down variations that come in a quaffable jug similar to the yogurt smoothies my Mom used to make, and they have all the tropical flavors your mouth lusts for. The local power bars are called Battery, which makes sense. Very similar to Cliff Bars, but less sweet. Quinoa is the local power grain, declared a U.N. Superfood and popular among Boulderites looking to augment their status inducing Matte Latte's...but here, it's as ubiquitous as diesel smoke in the air. Hell, even the local Bagel shop makes a Quinoa bagel. So, as you can see, we've made quite the switch to healthy alternatives, and are feeling great for it. Here's to smart eating!





The classroom...

Here´s a quick one, mainly for my Grandma who I skyped with last night. She was asking about my classroom. Amazing, experience texting with someone who grew up in the early 1900´s. Gotta love technology! Thanks again Grandma, it was great talking with you!


video

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Mall

We have three very nice malls here in Quito. We've spent some time wandering around them. This is something I would be embarrassed to admit in previous travels (or, for that matter, doing in the states!), but when you are living here, your perspective changes, and that taste of home becomes so nice. I mean, who can't resist thumbing through the latest Abercrombie and Fitch fashions at the "World is Yours," or admiring a new pair of gaffas at the "Sunglass HOT?" Really, who?

Andy

The Cultura Metropolitano museum in Old Town is hosting an Andy Warhol exhibit this month. Erin and I just finished Factory Girl, a recent film about Andy and his muse, before leaving Boulder. How appropriate to come down here and find this little nugget of a showcase. I thought they did a great job, including some interactive exhibits, some classic soup cans, an "interesting movie...hmmm, Ellie?", and a recreation of "The Factory." All for the ripe price of one dollar. The exhibit featured well known, and, well, as you can see from my slides, some lesser known, but no less interesting, works of Warhol. My favorite was a series of recipes.

Here's the quote from Roast Iguana Andulisian "Since this reptile is not met with on the American Market and is only found in the better gourmet shops on the Galapagos Islands it is superfluous to give recipes concerning its preparation. Let it suffice to say they are prepared like the Burmese lizard." Only Andy could get away with speaking about grilling up endangered species.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Elections

Ecuadorians vote for a constituent assembly this weekend. Pretty interesting stuff if you are interested in the socialist turn of South America. If President Rafael Correa's people win a majority in the election this weekend, he will be asking them to re-write the Constitution and do away with the (he says, corrupt) Congress and its political parties. Some worry this is too close to a move made by his inflammatory friend in the North, Hugo Chavez. Rafael insists that Chavez is a simply a friend, not necessarily a mentor, and that his (Rafael's) intentions are honest. We'll see! Until then, we've pulled our money out of the local banks, and stocked up on groceries, this could get interesting. Check out the BBC link for more interesting information, including some of the intriguing possibilities of assembly candidates! Because Ecuadorians are required by law to vote, some of these folks will probably actually get some votes!

BBC Article on Ecuador Elections

Banff

Erin and I have reflected, that in the month and a half we have been living in Ecuador, we have been surprised by the number of comforts available in this city. Really, besides some Emergen-C and a spot of Irish Whisky, we are not want for anything.

As testament to that, this week, along comes the Banff Film festival on its world tour. I remember when ASU Outdoor Programs first brought Banff to Boone so many years ago, and now Rich Campbell sells out the auditorium every year. This is also a huge event at the Boulder Theater, though at 20 bucks a night, I couldn't afford to attend for more than one evening. Here, out local art-house cinema is hosting Banff for a week, and our friend Jose Velez is the director of the festival. Four bucks gets you in the door, what else do you need?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

When should you visit?

Many folks have asked us when the best time to visit is. Well, anytime is great, and even if we are busy working, you are welcome to our house! The weather here is great year round, with the dry season in the mountains lasting from June to September and in December for some reason? The wettest month is April. The temps stay the same year round, "eternal spring."

I've also included our school calendar, including our days off. We're not sure what we are doing this summer yet...

Andrew Clinkingbeard and our favorite bartender from Hapa Sushi, Rick, are joining us in December. We'll be climbing with Andrew at the beginning of December, he and Rick will be creating all sorts of mayhem during the middle of the month when we return to work, and then we'll be either climbing more or sufing to welcome Christmas 2007. Anyone else want to join us?






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Now playing: The Gourds - Gin And Juice
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Two Fer Tuesday

Ahh, Tuesday nights. So often, they are the scene of the highly regarded "two-fer" phenomenon. For those not versed in this, it's when, on a slow night, proprietors of bars offer up their wares at rock bottom prices in exchange for some foot traffic through the doors. I've often been a fan of "two-fer" specials, and was glad to see that Ecuador is not without it's own "two-fer" night.
Last night we feasted on some tasty two-fer-one burgers, and micro brews at the local British Pub...Turtles Head. Though it was a far cry from any kind of two-fer special, I did also indulge in a rare sighting of 7 dollar 10 year old Bushmills. What the hell, you only get a shot at that stuff every once in a while here.
After dinner we went to a club, where, our friends heard that a movie they filmed a while back was being shown every once in a while. Sure enough, the owner had been showing it, and it had been getting some good reviews from patrons. In fact, he put it on that night, though not till 11:30. 5:30 AM came fast and furious....check it out, our teacher friends Bennet and Brett turning Quito into their own freestyle running track:

Quito Soul on youtube...

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Now playing: Flogging Molly - Laura
via FoxyTunes

Monday, September 17, 2007

Soup

Today I ordered lunch at school. My soup had a chicken foot in it, claw and all. No pictures necessary.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Photo Journal: Fiesta De Guapalo






Yes, it is Fiesta time. Our local neighborhood hosted their throw-down this past week, and yes, this Fiesta has coincided with the first week of school. But hey, what can you do? The Fiesta basically involves bands, fireworks, statues of virgins, and lots and lots and lots of booze.

The Fiesta started with a run of unknown length up out of the Valley of Guapalo, through the streets of Quito, and back down. It was supposed to start at 8PM, I didn't start running until 9:45, and after an obscene amount of elevation gain-loss-gain, a beer aid-station, a kiss from my wife, and a good deal of late night car dodging, I arrived at the finish line around 10:45. I didn't finish anywhere near first, but the race was only 2 bucks, and I got to keep my cloth race-bib. A healthy start to an unhealthy weekend...


Friday night was spent on our front stoop, the entrance to our housing complex. Our stoop is just down from most of the bars in town, and was the center of action. No, you are correct, there is no open container law here. The beer we are all drinking is Pilsener, the national beer of Ecuador. Because there is no recycling here, we bought a case of 12 bottles, and now just get them refilled for something like .80 cents at the shop across the street from us. Convenient, huh!

Saturday night was the climax of this little party. The residents of our community began with a costume party and fire on our neighbors deck, and eventually progressed down to the mayhem in the bottom of the valley.



In the valley we found the locals carting huge firework laden bamboo structures into the middle of the crowd, and lighting them on fire. Apparently this is some kind of competition, but I just cannot describe how ridiculous this is. I think the CanaLazo, a local hot alcoholic cider drink has erased any sense of danger from the participants. But then again, even I couldn't resist taking a run in the circle-pit that was stewing around the flaming bamboo towers of death. Here's an action shot from the "pit"


I got out of the Latin American circle pit just in time, when the top of this sucker went off, fireworks starting cartwheeling into the audience with abandon. I took this video while ducking and holding the camera up in the air.

video


But even with this finale, it became clear that someone was going to one-up them, no quicker had the flaming embers dried in peoples hair, than the locals trucked out this monstrosity. I looked at Erin and said, "I think we should take a few steps back."


Once the locals lashed this contraption together, they started spinning this thing around, and then lit it. As the fire moved up the bamboo, various fireworks would go off, sending amazing amounts of colored missiles into the audience. On the opposite side, alter doors flung open to display a pyro-technic religious offering, the orange wheels spun, missles were shot out of the canisters on the top, and a huge flaming eagle was perched flapping his burning wings. I've never been to a better fireworks show, period.

video

We went to bed at 4 AM last night, and took a rest day today. We did go up for the tossing of the oranges, something similar to Mardi Gras, except the people in balconies were whacking the people on the streets with oranges instead of flashing them. I have to admit, with the orange parade, at least you get to go home with something. And I now must finish this entry because tomorrow is a school day, though I can hear that the Fiesta continues outside our window, unabated....

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Now playing: Youngblood Brass Band - New Blood
via FoxyTunes

House

No, not the TV show (though I did just buy the entire third season for the nice bootleg price of 10 dollars). But, I'm talking about our House, here in Quito. Shall I extend the invitation to come and stay here again? Three beds folks, three! Anyway, we had several requests for some pictures of the house. As I'm writing, the fiesta of Guapalo continues outside the window, I'll post some truly ridiculous pictures and words about that soon. Remember, if you click on the slideshow you'll get more control over speed etc.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Photos from our first week

It's been a long couple of weeks here in Quito, these pictures are probably testament to that. If it's scrolling too fast, you can move your mouse over the picture and pause/go forward manually. Clicking on a picture will take you to a larger version, in case you want to see our friend Graham's drunk face in even more detail:)

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Skype

With our new internet connection, comes use of Skype, an online telephony software program. We can call you over our computer for 2 cents a minute, which is to say, cheap. Even better, if you have a computer with a microphone, or a webcam and mike, we can talk for free, even video-chat for free, though with some of our friends, the video confrences may be an ugly proposition:) So, we would love to stay in touch, and if you can:

  • Email us your phone number, we sold our cell phones, so we don´t have any numbers anymore!
  • henkelst@gmail.com or erinhenkels@gmail.com
  • Go to www.skype.com and register, it's free, and really quite easy.

Then, if you get a webcam, maybe one night you can meet our neighbor, and teacher friend, Lysha...he's, ummm, funny.

Friday, August 31, 2007

A New Picture Test



Here´s a picture of the peak we can sometimes see from our new house....well, if it uploads. Finally, I have broken the code! We are up and running with pictures, text, and maybe even some video. Yesterday, the clouds parted, and we saw this peak off in the distance from our porch, bathed in alpenglow. It's called Cayambe, and the equator passes directly through it. I wonder if the toilet bowl on the summit knows which way to spin?

Scroll down below, and check out the original posts from the first week...now with the pictures I have been meaning to include!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Still getting this worked out....

Well,
I cannot get the pictures to upload, only words. Also, the cable people in Ecuador make you wait just as long for installation as they do in the states, imagine that! So, we´re going to have to wait until we get internet at our house to do more updates, I can´t stand spanish keyboards. Newsflash though, we upgraded our place because of some security concerns (Mom´s, youré welcome) and we now have a three bedroom grande casa for all of you who said you were coming down to stay. Do it!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Guapalo


We have a place for all of you to come and stay in! The city of Quito runs along a North-South valley, and this little bohemian part of town is up and over a pass to the East of the city. Being out of the Quito valley, we have a little cleaner air, a slower pace, and 400 steps to climb up to reach the bustling city. Guapalo, as it is called, is where Oriellana began his expedition down the Amazon river, and it's where we will be starting our expedition here in Ecuador. The picture looks down on the town of Guapalo, our house is somewhere down there on that precipitous hill. Actual pictures of the place are at:
http://www.quitorental.com/
We found some great lofts in the city, very modern shi-shi, danish designs kind of stuff. And cheap! A very swanky two bedroom, furnished, was going for $600. But, in the end, we wanted to slow our pace down a bit, maybe next year we'll move into town.
Other highlights so far? Well, we started our evenings off with a little Enter Sandman-Metallic Karaoke, the locals loved that:) We drank our first boot of beer. Luckily it was glass, not leather. Our school "buddy" who is helping us get set up here played bass at a cool little club with, and I quote, "the Latin American Bob Dylan." Needless to say the place was packed, and our buddy was on cloud nine. Last night was Ecuador V.S. Bolivia in a soccer match....man, it was a big-scoring game, 1-0, Ecuador, of course!

Miss you all!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Americacuador


The school has put us up in a great hotel, and we have been getting tours of the city, "safety" briefings from uptight embassy officials, and apartment shopping. Everything looks great, and THANK GOD, we have a Cinnabun, KFC, Applebee's, and Tony Roma's...we don't know what we would do without them.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Arrival


We're here, safe and sound, with kitty Bali in tow. This is the view of Quito from our hotel window, Colegio Americano is located way off on the horizon! Thanks for all the goodbye's, our friends and family rule!

We'll post more info. and some pics soon!