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
* 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:
* 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!¨

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....

Saturday, November 10, 2007


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?"

Now playing: Pennywise - God Save The USA
via FoxyTunes
Now playing: Bad Religion - Positive Aspect Of Negative Thinking
via FoxyTunes

Now playing: Fugazi - Forensic Scene
via FoxyTunes
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!

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!