Thursday, June 26, 2008


Pirated CD´s and DVD´s are a way of life outside the borders of the U.S. Like it or not, there is no stopping the pirating of electronic products. Like a Starbucks on every corner in the states, you can´t walk a block without finding a DVD shop in Ecuador hawking your favorite Alf episodes or the most recent Hollywood release filmed (usually surprisingly well) in the back of the theater. Don´t want to fight the crowds at that Sex and the City premier? Go buy the DVD for a buck fifty from your local neighborhood capitalist.

Strangely, though, it´s mostly DVD´s that are sold, and it is difficult to find music. (Though there are plenty of music DVD´s). That is, until I found the Russian Mob. My friend Carl turned me on to an MP3 store run by a Spanish speaking Russian ¨family.¨ They sell their CD´s for 4 dollars, and each one contains between 10 to 15 albums, bootlegs, rare-cuts, and live concerts of your favorite artist. From Willie Nelson, to Jethro Tull, to Miles Davis, this is truly impressive. For 40 dollars, I just transfered 6 gigs, 1411 songs, and 3.2 days worth of music to my computer...including (John Newkirk and Rhett Baker) the entire Bad Religion collection. It almost makes me forget that the only beer I can get is a cheap lager.

Friday, June 13, 2008


God bless the internet. Because of those little gerbils running around inside my computer, I can download and listen to the best radio station on the planet...88.7 WNCW out of Asheville, NC. When my family first moved to South Carolina we stumbled upon this little NPR gem muddling through it's first year on the air. We've been devout fans ever since. In fact, I would say that listening to WNCW gave our family a lot of direction, in a way it gave my parents a whole new set of friends, and it gave my sister and I something to hold on to from our Appalachian Roots. Through its music diversity, the station has further connected my family. Each of us listens to the station every day, and I suggest you do too. Download the web-stream here.

I keep track of my favorite songs that I hear while at work, and at the end of the school year I've rewarded myself with the purchase of these songs on itunes. Here is is, my list from the

WNCW listen at the desk while grading papers in Ecuador 2007-2008 Best of....

Song Time Album Artist
Southern Suggestions 5:00 Southern Son Michael Reno Harrell
Dangerous Times 4:48 Color Came One Day Chuck Brodsky
How Will You Shine? 5:11 Noble Creatures The Gourds
Wagon Wheel 3:52 O.C.M.S. Old Crow Medicine Show
After Midnight 4:52 After Midnight The Seldom Scene
From Now On 3:23 Secrets Sierra Hull
City That Care Forgot 5:36 City That Care Forgot Dr. John with Eric Clapton
and Ani Difranco

Summertime 3:08 Honey Songs Jim Lauderdale
Floo-id 3:57 Daydream Turbo Pro Project
Steam Powered Aereoplane 4:16 Leftover Salmon Live Leftover Salmon
Falling for It 2:54 Airstream David Wilcox
This Is My Life 3:42 The Golden Hour Firewater
Wine 3:35 Mission Door Peter Cooper
Twenty-Four Hours a Day 3:18 Elana James Elana James
Hard Livin' 4:55 Amen Corner Railroad Earth
King Ebeneezer 6:34 Mountain Tracks, Vol. 5 Yonder Mountain String Band

I also REALLY wanted this Peter Cooper song, comparing Pearl Jam and Nirvana...but alas, it's not on itunes.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I've Been Tagged!

I was tagged by dear Katie out in Salt Lake City (a possible location for our back-to-the-States retirement), and I must admit, it's the first time I've been tagged. This is a cute, fun way to learn more about people, so I'm answering the call, tagging others, and also using this post to shamelessly plug my new blog. But you're going to have to read through the "ME" game before you learn about my newest internet ramblings.

1. What were you doing 10 years ago?
Oh my, the "dark time." I had just finished my first year of college at UNCG where I was studying Psychology and English, but mostly that year revolved around a completely unhealthy and dysfunctional situation with my Cross Country and Track teams. No need to go into specifics. It was bad enough the first time around!

2. What are 5 non-work things on my to-do list today?
Email my bank info to Tie-Care so I can get my health insurance reimbursement.
Order some new trail runners
Get a shopping list together for our July visitors: Jess and John E. Johnson
Squish Bali--and do a family squeeze with Tim too.
Figure out what time the open mic fundraiser begins tonight at Cafe Libre.

3. What snacks do you enjoy?
I'm having a hard time remembering what I used to snack on regularly in the States. Here's what I snack on currently:
Pan de yucca (bread made from yucca flour and bit of cheese)
Dark, jungle chocolate
Tim's fresh fruit and yogurt smoothies (he is the master)
Chiefles (plantain chips)
Can coffee be considered a snack?

4. What would you do if you were a billionaire?
Tim and I were just talking about Bali would do if she were a millionaire, and there were some pretty cool things she'd do, so first, I would make Bali a millionaire.
Invest/save lots
Lavishly retire our parents
Give much to friends and charities I appreciate
Send Tim to get his PhD in whatever educational field he chooses--or all, if he so chose
Buy my brother a house and set up a trust fund for the college education of his future children, of which I'm sure there will be several.
Travel the world!
But I would still want to do this international teaching thing for awhile. This job rocks and would so even more if we didn't have to worry about money and how much we're making.

5. Where have you lived?
Boone, North Carolina
Greensboro, North Carolina
Boulder, Colorado
Quito, Ecuador

6. What jobs have you had?
Ski Instructor at French Swiss
Logistics at NC Outward Bound
Coffee/Counter Manager at Spruce Confections
Executive Assistant/News Editor at the AAC
Education Coordinator at LNT
Full-time Graduate Student and Substitute Teacher
Teacher--Psychology and Theory Of Knowledge in Ecuador

Well, that was fun. I tag: Amanda, Karen, and Jessica to help her get started on her new foray into the blog world (Jess, it's okay to post twice in one week--or one day, for that matter).

Speaking of the new foray (shameless plug! shameless plug!), Jess is going to be an author on my new blog, which Tim will have to add to our friends' list here. Beyond doing a race here and there, keeping up the mileage in the summer and hibernating in the winter, I have not run regularly or with a major goal in mind since college. But next summer I turn 30, and I wanted a major running goal. I've always said I never wanted to do a marathon because of various injuries and what-not. Now I want to try. But not only do I want to try a marathon, I want to try an ultra marathon next July. I guess I just want to know if I can do it. I love trail-running and think it's something I could do all day long. The problem is that I don't really have regular running partners here, so it can be hard to motivate when it's such a solitary pursuit. I created the blog so I could make what I'm doing public, to hold myself accountable for a training schedule, and also to try to entice others to join me--if not in my distance, then at least in some goal of their own so that we could support each other via the web. It is my greatest wish to grow it, so that many women are posting, commenting, getting the advice they seek, and feeling good about supporting friends in reaching their goals.

So consider this your official invitation. If this sounds like something you want to join me in, if you have some running goal that you're struggling to meet or if you want to start on one and think the help of other chicks in the same boat would be a benefit, please drop me a line. You can comment here or there. We'd love to have you. In fact, we need you. I have room for 95 more authors.

Cafe Velez

My summer employer, Outward Bound, runs trips in Ecuador during the fall and spring seasons. Of course, with my teaching schedule, I´m unable to work any of these trips; but better than working a course down here, my boss at OB introduced me to Jose Niccolas Velez. Jose, or Peppinico as he is known down here, is a mountain guide working for everyone from the Colorado Mountain School to the American Alpine Institute...and of course, Outward Bound. Lately though, Jose has been trading in his crampons and ice axe for jungle boots and a machette. You see, Jose has begun roasting, distributing, and farming the best organic coffee here in Ecuador. Historically, Ecuador has not been well known for producing good coffee. It´s a huge export, but it mostly goes towards McDonalds and Folgers, not Starbucks or Whole Foods. Jose is changing that. He works with local producers to increase quality control, and then he takes the beans home and roasts them in his Ferrari of coffee roasters, imported directly from Idaho!?!

I facilitate ordering coffee for our teachers at school, and what started as a grocery bag of coffee delivered once a month to school has grown into a box of 20 bags distributed every two weeks! Two weeks ago, Erin and I visited a farm Jose just bought. He´s making the next step...farming his own beans.

Enjoy the slideshow, this is where your morning addiction starts....

(remember, you cam click on the slideshow to view it full size)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

More Ecuador Reporter

My third article (this one on coffee and sugar cane production) has just appeared in The Ecuador Reporter, and I´ve been told I might even be getting a fancy business card....que rico!

Even better, my editor is actually getting me assignments that involve drinking!

Dear Sir, We are currently writing a monthly newspaper here in Quito for tourists and travellers that come to Ecuador. Would it be possible to write a column on the vineyard there in Yaraqui? I'm looking to send a journalist there in the coming weeks so as to get the story in there for the July edition.

Best wishes,

Tom Nicolson
The Ecuador Reporter

We´ve also had some nice complements lately on the paper, the Ministry of Tourism complemented my column directly, and this email came in from a CBS News Producer:

Hi Tom,
I am a CBS News co-producer and news writer who happened to pick up a copy of your newspaper in a restaurant called "The G Spot" last night. I wanted to let you know that I think you and your staff are doing a wonderful job! Keep up the good work. As I´m sure you´re aware, there´s no other media like it down here.

Now if I could just figure out how to get paid....