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?