Friday, December 28, 2007
If you had a chance to taste it please comment and let me know what you thought. Ilya-- sorry I forgot to send one home with Kristen.
Listening to KCSM Jazz
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
I just taught a lesson today that opened with this quote and I was surprised at the response I received. I think it is an utterly true quote, but my students brought it to life with this great conversation about the polarity of life. We talked about how there everything is weighed both ways. Like the quote, beauty wouldn't exist without pain, but more than that; happiness is force that changes and moves up and down through depression and enlightenment and it is far from constant. It was interesting that the girl with the most insight is diagnosed as Bi-Polar.
There is a theory called dialectics that says all of life is a constant push and pull, and when one force overcomes the other, change occurs. I shared this concept with them and they were completely receptive. It was a discussion that gave me chills down my spine. the kind of conversation that I never expected, but was moved by.
These students never cease to amaze me.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
I have quite the cold. It moved in slowly, making me think it was just a nasal thing, then, before I knew it, it attacked full force. Leaving me displaced in my apartment scowering our empty medicine cabinet for something to make the headache and nose-run to stop. I finally did find it. It was called Tylenol PM. It is quite the wonder drug, I thought maybe this sickness would resist its forces, but before I knew it, it was 6:30 and I was sawing logs in my old man chair.
Needless to say, after a good night's sleep I am feeling quite a bit better. I'm ready to attack one more day this week with my little buggers.
I met some other alternative school teachers today and they all seemed pretty amazing. Just the mention of the things they were doing in their classroom made me feel inadequate. And their staff goes out drinking on Thursdays! We don't do that at my school.
Anyhow, rain has finally made it to Santa Cruz, and Daren has also discovered this incredible social networking tool called Facebook that seems to suck his time away from blogging on a consistent basis. I have connected with some long lost friends along the way, which I guess is pretty cool.
I am teaching a class about activism and writing this term and I am seeing that there will indefinitely be some challenges, especially if I plan on attacking it the way I have been. But its so fun to stir up a little tension in the classroom.
We spent this week talking about oppression. It was very interesting. I also used this poem last week that brought up some really strong opinions:
A moment Of Silence Before I start this poem
I love poetry, but kids are so afraid of it that it can be difficult to teach. But I, gonna try!
Now playing: Xavier Rudd - Choices
Monday, November 19, 2007
The weekend before last I had an amazing trip in the central sierras. My friend Tim, his girlfriend and I hiked up to about 10,000 feet and camped by a granite lake called emerald lake.
Hiking in, the weather was beautiful. But after the first nights downpour we were thinking we should get out while the gettings' good. I of course led the decision to stay longer and as we decided, the snow started coming down. That snow didn't really stop until 8 o'clock that night.
But when we woke up the sky was clear and brilliant with stars. The snow was thick on our tents and we were a little bit worried as to whether we would be able to find the trail in the morning.
Needless to say we awoke to clear blue skies and crunchy snow at every step. Not only was the snow crunchy but so were our boots, rain jackets, socks, sleeping bags just about everything that could freeze, did.
As we walked the 6 miles out of our campsite we had a renewed view of where we were and we were humbled by the granite peaks that surrounded us. We were on top of the world, even though it almost swallowed us.
Listening to: Townes Van Zandt
More pictures here at flikr
Friday, November 2, 2007
I've been reading a lot of articles and critiques of today's youth (including 20-somethings) and one of the most interesting designations that I've read were those of "The Restless Generation." I think I've also read Complacent and Bored as designators for our generation. These critiques really seem to speak some truth to me.
Technology is booming, electronic communication is so easy and fast. It allows us to create and share so much, but I also believe that it shuts us down and takes away any sense of freedom we might have had without it. In its essence technology makes things easier. Tasks that used to require effort and work require almost nothing now. So now that these small yet meaningful tasks are taken away from us, what do we do? How do we measure our accomplishments, how do we dirty our hands?
Ours is a generation of exercise-nuts and alcohol and drug abusers, a complacent generation if you will, a people who cannot be content because of a painful disconnect with accomplishment. I believe that many of these replaced tasks give us too much and leave us agonizing over the strange place that it truly leaves us in.
I believe that one of the most important things in our lives in community and our connection to other people. We may not be aware of it but we depend so deeply on all of the people around us. We depend on a feeling of accomplishment as well; and technology has inadvertently taken those two dependencies away abruptly.
So where does it leave us? restless, bored and complacent. With so much energy that has to be extinguished in one way or another, through drug abuse, through exercise, through technology, through travel, through anything that is available to us, we don't know what to do.
I am not trying to paint a picture that doesn't include myself, I believe that I am an integral part of this mess, I'm just not sure how to deal with it.
I would love to hear others opinions on the matter.
listening to Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova, "Once" Soundtrack
Sunday, October 21, 2007
I'm listening to the new Radiohead album, in Rainbows and I feel the deep need to create. This written form of creation requires the least amount of energy. They've released it online and are selling in on a sliding scale. You can pay as little or much as you want for it. I was listening to All Songs Considered and they debated as to whether it is an innovative, thoughtful move for Radiohead or just a gimmick to sell more albums.
I think that its innovative and thoughtful. Those who are able will pay more, those who arent won't. And those who have friends who buy it will get copies from them (that's me but I'm a starving teacher). On All Songs Considered, they said the album needs to be listened to with headphones, and I totally agree. In Rainbows reminds me of Radioheads' earlier album OK Computer in its ability to sweep the listener away through rhythm and sound. Its an amazing album that grows on you like a good album should.
I remember a few years ago, I went to visit a friend who was going to Columbia in New York and I went to the Whitney Museum of American Art. At the museum they had a sound room in which these electronic composers had put together "sonic landscapes," where they combined sounds into a transcendental continuum (I'm not even sure what that means). At first I thought it was weird, but as I sat and took it in, I had one of the most incredible "musical" experiences of my life. This album reminds me of that.
I was talking with Meghan last night about music and its strange connection to memories and time. Itunes is making music more accessible than ever before (except for when Mp3s were free). I have a huge library of music on my computer, but what I've realized is that certain songs exist in only one time and place, no matter how hard I try to collect them.
I tried to listen to Pearl Jam's "Why go Home," the other day and I realized that it will never sound the same as it did as I screamed it in the middle of the mosh pit at San Jose Spartan Stadium 11 years ago. I will always love Jeff Tweedy and Wilco, but i don't know that I will ever be as moved by Being There, as I was during my first trip to Europe after High School. I have flooded my collection with Greg Brown even though I am fully aware that he will probably never sound the same as he did during my first summer in Alaska (Two Little Feet).
This may be part of getting older or it may just be the reason why music holds such a powerful presence in many of our lives.
Listening to Radiohead: House of Cards
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
I just subscribed to Outside Magazine and have been somewhat disappointed with their layout and general ethic. The pages seem to be drenched in advertisements and their glossy pages don't seem to match their supposed green ideals. They write more about gear and clothing than they do about the great outdoors.
I just read an interesting article about this guy who drives a Ford F150 and he was saying that he wasn't sorry for driving that car. He lives on a farm and produces much of his own food and reads books instead of using his power hungry computer. It seemed to me like a plea for acceptance. Then again, he made some really good points: no matter how far us upper middle class white folk drive in our Prius' (or bike), as a culture we are still rabid consumers. We shop at Safeway and buy organic produce from the likes of New Zealand, in which the transport was probably much more harmful to the environment than the miracle grow on the next door neighbors tomato plants. We use technology and drain power and batteries daily at work and at home, we travel to exotic locales in planes that burn more fuel than 60 cars every 100 miles. i think that if we really want to make true environmental change we do need to re-think the way that things are being done on a very large scale but also on a smaller scale.
I think it is important though to remember the positive, every little bit helps.
I've been researching Buddhism with my students and one of the four noble truths is about longing for things and how that causes suffering. Killing off that desire is one of the hardest things in any of our lives, but it can have a great effect on the planet and in our personal lives.
environmental rant: fin
listening to: The Weepies
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
I know I just posted, but I saw this and was inspired. It is an ad, but this project is so exciting and amazing to me.
Its like this big opening up of the cracks of reality. We are all fallible. We all make mistakes. We all have things that we hide. Reading through these secrets makes me feel more alive and more real.
I haven't yet bought one of this mans books but the art is visionary, and I plan to go see him at Bookshop Santa Cruz when he comes. I've been trying to brainstorm how to use this in English, I see it as a wonderful writing prompt but there must be more.
My mornings and afternoons have slowly become the most essential and serene parts of my day. I just got a new bike and have been riding it to work every morning.
As I pedal through the dawn light I am able to mentally prepare myself for my day. Sometimes I go over the lesson plans for the day or for the next week.
Sometimes I go over how I can better resolve conflicts with students. Sometimes I just think about how cold it is in the morning.
I also have been listening to The interdependence project podcasts. They are these weekly lectures about 21st century Buddhism in the US. They have helped me deal with situations differently and have given me things to share with my students as we plow through Dharma Punx.
As my day comes to a close I ride my bike home and am able to pedal out any stress or confrontations that I had to deal with that day.
Its sort of a meditation that has really helped with my sanity and its been good for the environment.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
In other news I was finally polled last night by a media group.
I always read about these political polls about where Americans are with their political leanings or interests and I think, "whatever, they never asked me!"
but they did, they did. My opinion, no matter how small it is will be heard. The two issues that I said were most important in the upcoming election were health care and the war. I thought about it and can't believe that I didn't say education. I guess I don't see the pitfalls as much working at a charter school, even though I am very aware of their existence.
My voice is heard, and I hope other voices are heard as well in this upcoming election.
Here is a link to an important bill that was just vetoed:
Let congress know what you think about children's health care.
listening to: Glen Hansard Once
Monday, October 1, 2007
At school, I've been dealing with a small group of students who are just completely rude and obnoxious to me. Conveniently, they are all students from last year and for some reason seem to have it out for me. The same student today told me that I will burn in hell and that everyone hates me. I know what your thinking... don't take it personally, he's probably dealing with his own demons it has nothing to do with you. But damn that is not easy. In the last week another student told me to F*** off when I told him to leave campus for smoking.
I try my best to not take things personally, but it isn't always that easy. And as an educator I know I'm supposed to say, "What is their strength?" or "How can I support these students' learning?" but I'm more prone to say, "How can I get these students out of my classroom, they are taking away from the other students learning and my credibility."
It may sound selfish but I'm done being a babysitter for students who just cant handle the structure of school or have these transferred feelings from a dilapidated past.
I wanted to tell this student to F off. I didn't of course, but I think those sort of incidents are slowly hipping away at my integrity and strength. I chose this profession to make change and help young people grow, especially those who aren't exposed to many opportunities for growth. But with these students I have tried again and again to give them what they need and I think I'm done.
I'm not done with the job, just with 3 or 4 kids.
listening to Greg Brown
Monday, September 24, 2007
Long school days leave me exhausted with not much left at the end of the day. All I want to do is listen to some music or veg out on the couch, it makes it difficult to get school things done in the evening.
In other news, yesterday, I went surfing with a friend in a new spot here in Santa Cruz and I was surprised to find a much kinder, less-competitive crowd at this spot. I had a good time even though the good waves were few and far between.
Something that had bothered me about Santa Cruz over the last year has been the intensity of some Santa Cruz people, but specifically Santa Cruz surfers. There are a number of surf spots in town in which older surfers will heckle inexperienced surfers, put them down and even attempt to fight in the water. It was one of the biggest surprises i found moving here.
I always thought that surfers were generally a chilled out, mellow balanced group of people, but I've found that the contrary is true here at the popular spots. People are intense, competitive and generally mean. I don't know where this mean-ness comes from but I suspect part of it is a phenomenon that comes from growing up in the shadow of a tourist community, where people come and go all the time.
I see this same strange intensity in some of my students and I've brushed it off as normal teen angst, but I think that there may be something more, some hidden piece of aggression that comes from living in a place like this.
I'm always trying to find them out a little more, and I'm sick of surfers raining on my parade.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
This afternoon I was sitting on my couch as the wind battered my avocado plant against the window. These chilly winds made me feel as if fall is making its way into our lives again. For me, its so clear and refreshing when fall returns; summer is wonderful, but fall seems more real.
I Have almost made it through a month of teaching and it seems to have flown by. Daily, I am challenged by my students but I am beginning to find rhythm and balance in my job and life. It feels really good. I can't say that my teaching gig is great, but its certainly not terrible.
Fall Wind by Jean Lester
I find that there are specific groups of students who have decided that it is their job to argue with me and challenge my authority as a teacher. I am trying my best to not let them do that, to differ their energy in other ways, even if that means sending them out of the classroom. I am definitely not always good at that, I take their emotional beatings much more than I should, but I also want to support their growth and gain their trust, its just damn hard.
I was riding home with another teacher for about a week and we talked about how the job is good, but its rewards are very few and far between. sometimes the rewards seem non-existent. I just wish I could show my students how lucky they are to have teachers that care about them and put up with their angst and frustration. I don't think that many youth are aware of their privilege--but many adults aren't either.
I haven't been taking work home this year and its giving me a little more time to live, which is peaceful and wonderful. I went to the SC farmers market tonight and got some vegetables for dinner and it was quite pleasant. I now plan on finishing my book and listening to the new Wilco Album.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
One of my favorite authors, Sherman Alexie was in town last night. And he completely rocked.
If you don't know who he is, then you should. He is a prominent Native American author who has written some amazing books, but he might be best known for writing the screenplay for Smoke Signals.
I am having some of my students read one of his more recent books called Flight. Its about a half Native American foster child dealing with his own reality and his past.
He is know for his frankness about oppression of Native Americans and he deals with many disparaging stereotypes like alcoholism and casinos with humor and satire. He was no different at Bookshop Santa Cruz.
He started by making fun of Santa Cruz in a light-hearted manner. He talked about how its the only place you can find street performers offering tarot cards for money. He then said that he has some issues with the fact that his predominant audience is college educated white women, there was uncomfortable laughter when we all looked around.
He came back around to say that without capitalism, brown people, minorities would not be succeeding in the arts and that it is one of the powerful tools against oppression.
He was abruptly frank with the audience but in a very loving way. I have to say I was very nervous to talk to him, but he was very kid to me.
I have heard about past experiences where he will not come to a place to talk, unless he gets to work with the native community, and looking around the room at the bookstore, I realized that Santa Cruz doesn't have a very strong Native Community.
Here is one of his poems:
Buffalo Bill opens a pawn shop on the reservation
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
a Wind Swept Street,
Walk hand in hand
a restless vagabond
a peaceful warrior
tangled in fortune
In different places,
So much the same.
an artisans cart
illuminated by the sun
through circus umbrellas
rolls softly into the evening
as the street fair winds to a stop
suddenly chanting merchants
belt out an east African soliloquy
while passing shoppers accord an unimposing brief grin
and evenings sun dances through Belmont street
in a lovers tangle with the late summer winds
and the two
continue to walk hand in hand
by a fleeting moment.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
I was greeted on the first day with an unavoidable need to argue and completely disrespect me as a teacher. I was a bit disgruntled because I came back with such a positive attitude, and they came back with their fists raised (not in a form of solidarity, but ready to spar)
I am reminded by the New teacher project that I must focus on the positives and the accomplishments so far. Well, the students are excited about reading, they are totally enthralled with the drug and alcohol drenched memoir of Noah Levine, Dharma Punx. It makes me excited that students are so excited about a book. I just hope they are able to dig deep enough to get the true messages of redemption and self integrity woven into the narrative.
We have a new teacher who is very excited to collaborate and work on creating a backpacking/outdoor club with me, which I have wanted to do for awhile.
I started the New Teacher Project today and will be able to share ideas with other teachers from around the county.
The new students have a much deeper understanding of respect and have been absolutely positive in their interactions with me.
So really, things aren't all that bad. There is potential for greatness this year.
Monday, August 27, 2007
There really aren't any words that I need to say about this, except that it completely blew my mind and moved me more than any piece of literature has in a long time.
This man has an incredibly eloquent way with words and with getting an absolutely important message across. Why do we still live in a country in which people who love each other can't be married?
By the way I found this video on my friend's blog Lip Gloss and Pepper Spray
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
He played about 3 years ago at my graduation party and pretty much blew everyone away. He is one of those brilliant small-time performers who doesn't seem to want to get into the mainstream. To the discerning ear his music has a strong tinge of melancholy, which can be something that can be hard to listen to.
while sitting and listening to him I thought a little bit about the importance of melancholy in music and in our lives.
I have been accused of liking "depressing music" more times than one so I guess I would like to defend my side of the issue.
Life is not easy, and it is not static, we are all at sometimes low, at sometimes high and often in that strange space in-between. Sometimes music is used a catalyst to overcome these states. But as Jeff Tweedy puts it, "The feeling is already there, the music just reinforces it." I feel like that lower space on the human spectrum ins often looked down upon, but it is just as real as all of the other places. It needs to be celebrated and examined, and who better to do that then our poets and musicians.
I feel that truer, deeper emotions come from melancholy than they do from anywhere else. The interesting thing is I am not a huge fan of Emo (emotional music) because I feel that the sensibilities in that music are forced and sometimes false.
But I still Say Long Live Melancholy. And give Gregory page a listen:
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
I just read an article in the San Francisco Chronicle that actually criticized the press for a controlling aspect of all the news, and it got me thinking about blogs.
I have sulked multiple times about how blogs are self-indulgent diaries posted in a public place, but I've decided to change my opinion on that. Blogs give common people a chance to have their voice and their perspective heard. Rupert Murdoch has no control over this one.
Blogs give people the power to report about events or things happening in their lives, their communities, or the world, and theres nothing more socialist or gratifying than that. I only have links to friends' blogs, but I plan on searching out some more socially relevant blogs and posting them on here.
Some internet places I constantly visit are The Independent Media Center which is a people powered media source that allows anyone with a keyboard and a voice to post stories, Wikipedia which with its faults is one of the most accurate and modern uses of the socialized internet format and the newly discovered Santa Cruz Wiki which is an editable source about the history and community of my town.
The internet is a powerful source of information and can be a self-indulgent fictional source of edited media or it could also be a great social network to bring people together to create change.
Lets focus on the later.
Listening to Manu Chau
Monday, August 6, 2007
This morning I woke up with a strange feeling bouncing around my head. My body was telling me that I needed to get out of bed and start planning for my classes this year. It was an unfortunate wake-up call in the middle of my vacation. And it gave me a clear understanding as to why I haven't written in awhile.
I was talking to an old friend who is also a new teacher and she gave me a great analogy of how summer works: June is like Friday, July is like Saturday, and August is like Sunday, when one tries to relax but is fully aware that the inevitable school day is just around the corner.
So here's my writer's block: I really enjoyed not writing, thinking, or talking about school for a good amount of time while I was in Ecuador. It was gratifying and liberating. But as all of the adventure (and misadventure) has come to a close I have had some difficulty coping.
I don't want to stop writing about traveling, and experience and culture. I don't want to start writing about school. Not Yet!
But it truly is inevitable. Target has started their back-to-school sale, Our school Secretary and principle are back to work, and the dark gloom will be settling soon over this little coastal hamlet. The school year is coming.
I will try my best to think of as many non-education related posts as possible, but it is coming.
Listening to: Vince Guraldi Black Orpheus
Saturday, August 4, 2007
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
- I spit out tap water without thinking, becuase I didn't drink any water there
- I put toilet paper in the toilet for the first time and it felt really wierd
- My stomach is still adjusting to American food, each meal twists my stomach one way or another.
- I am acutely aware of the speed of people and things around me, and I feel like I am a a somewhat slower pace.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
I went back to my old Hostel and told the lady who runs it about my story...missing the planes and all and she just smiled and said, Pero has apprendido bastante. But you´ve learned so much. Next time you wont cut the Jungle flight so close, you will probably take better care of your credit card and you´ll know what to do if you have any other problems. You´ve learned a lot, and you´ll be home soon.
I agree with her. I´m sure in the next couple of days or weeks I will be able to reflect on some of the things I have learned during this trip. I am pretty sure that is the reason that I travel.
Now I will know all of the ladies who work at the TACA office in Quito, I will know the security guard and the Airport, and will be able to go standby like the best of them. :)
Today I spent a rainy afternoon buying a few pirated DVDs and CDs. It was kinda fun. Copyright laws don´t really exist here, so therefore real music and movie stores don´t exist either.
I debated going to the black market to see if I could find my ipod or Camera and buy it back but I was too lazy and a little bit scared. I guess its better that I don´t support the theft that allows the black market to exist.
Yesterday I went back to the school I studyed at and visited Marta, the head of the school. She was so glad to see me, and her entire family was in the school having a get together. So she made me coffee and introduced me to everyone, including her parents.
It was pretty great. But boy do her parents hate our president.
We started talking about the jungle and the problems with Columbia, and the fumigation, (google Plan Columbia if you don´t know anything about it) that has destroyed so many lives and is sponsored by all of us and Mr. Bush.
This is the second time in Ecuador that I have seen someone speak with a voice so full of passion and emotion. It seemed that she was on the verge or tears or a revolution with every word. It was difficult for me because I obviously don´t like Bush, but I also don´t know exactly what to say.
She asked me if the Us was a democracy, and if so Why is Bush still in office. I gave her some blase teacher answer like it would be very difficult to remove him. But then it made me mad, because what have we done as an American public?
given up. Resigned ourselves to the fact that we cant do anything, and to the fact that no matter who is in office we as a general public really don´t have a say in the national or international goings on.
I just love to see that much passion steaming from a person, it makes me happy to be alive and to be here.
We finished the Coffee and Elisabeth invited me to join her family for dinner or today for lunch. She was so accepting it made me feel great.
What a trip.
Friday, July 20, 2007
This morning we left the lodge at 4 am and drove the 2 hours in Canoe and three in car to reach the airport in time for my flight, and we made it with an hour to spare, the only problem is it started to rain like nothing I've ever seen before as soon as we checked our baggage, and of course the plane couldnt land until three hours after it was supposed to, so i missed my connecting flight in Quito. I really hope I am able to get on a flight tomorrow, if not I may be here for awhile. Oh yeah, I also lost my ATM card.
But let me tell you about Amazonia
Tuesday morning I hopped on a plane and withing 30 minutes I was on the edge of the ecuadorian rainforest, in a town that lonely planet describes as full of prostitutes, drug runners from columbia, and oil workers, not a place you want to stop unless you have to.
It was scorching hot and I met up with an English couple who was on the same tour. As I got off the airplane the walkway is lined with army men who are armed with guns as big as my leg, saying Buenos Dias!
Our guide picked us up and told us that it would be a 3 hour ride to the river but it would be broken up because there is a stricke going on and we would be walking around it and picked up on the other side. I asked him about it and he said the indigenous people are trying to stop the oil companies from getting throught the road in a protest agains what they are doing. He said its no big deal though.
So we drove two hours, picked up some more people and worked our way to the block. As we got closer we say busses turning around and saying they were going back. We kept going untill a bus driver told us that two foreigners were robbed and another bus was chased by men on a motorcycle throwing rocks.
We decided to go another way, but what we didnt know is that it would take 6 hours in car and 6 more in canoe. We stayed the first night in a camp lodge and swam with the boas, pirahhnas, and the little fish that swim up your urethra, but it was great.
The sound of the jungle at night is like nothing I've ever heard before.
Needless to say, it turned into quite the adventure and our guide turned out to be an Ecuadorian reincarnation of Steve Irwin. I realized this when we went for a night hike and he killed a fish in the water with a Machete. It was incredible. That and him climbing up a tree to catch a boa constrictor to show us. Oh yeah and he also hunted mice in the lodge with his Machete. Blew me away.
In the jungle I saw some amazing things and met some amazing people, It was worth missingmy flight, I just hope that I can get home soon.
Monday, July 16, 2007
And so do I but not for the states.
I went into a tour agency and asked what the possibility was of getting into the jungle for the few days I have left. She said it wasn't good but she´d check.
She checked and I'm going. I had to pay a little extra to fly out there instead of taking the 12 hour bus, but I will still get to go.
Tomorrow I fly to Lago Agrio and from there hop in a canoe to a jungle lodge. I will be in a tour, and it will be a short time, but I am really excited. I fly back to Quito the day of my flight out of here.
I cant wait to tell you all how it is.
Wish me luck.
I´m back in Quito for the last night after a relaxing and beautiful albeit freezing time in the little Andean Village of Papallacta.
It´s another hot springs place that is located on the amazon side of the Andes in this painfully green mountain Valley.
Meghan and I stupidly thought that since it was on the same side of the mountains as the rain forest, that it wouldn't be all that cold. We were painfully wrong.
It is located around 10,500 feet and its winter there. We froze, at night and during the day. The only time we were warm was when we sat in the hot springs. But the mountains were incredible.
But here´s the fun part: Karaoke!
Our hotel happened to be a popular destination for Quiteños, which meant on Saturday night we had to sing Karaoke with them. And being that we are american they passed us the mic for every english song and expected us to know it.
So after a rendition of Hotel California and Yesterday, they told us to sing Barbera Streisand because and I quote, ¨"she is well known." It just wasnt happening but it was fun and the people were great.
After this experience i came to the realization that aside from the thiefs in Quito and the taxi drivers who always charge us more because we´re white, the people here are so wonderful.
The couple who sang with us invited us to their home in Ambato,
The owner of the Hotel gave us a hug when we left and looked sad to see us go
People on all of the streets of the small towns wave to us and say buenas Dias
The lady who runs our hostel in Quito has a smile that could change the world and it has changed mine
The lady who runs the Spanish school has begged us to come back... and so on
It seems that the list of big hearted people goes on and on, the problem is those few scrappers tend to stand out over all.
This is a very peaceful and powerful place.
Friday, July 13, 2007
So as things turned out, Meghan didn´t leave Ecuador... She couldn´t.
She got tot the ticket counter and the Airlines wouldn't take her ticket that was printed by expedia. Her name was in the computer and they still couldn't accept it.
Needless to say, we went the the airline headquarters and got them to make an exception and change her ticket to Tuesday. After two hellacious days in Quito going from Office to office, She will be able to leave South America. I think we have Expedia to blame for most of our problems and we will be writing them a letter and reporting them to the Better Business Bureau, but take this warning:
Be very Careful if you plan on buying tickets through Expedia, they make many mistakes and tend to blame others.
So I will probably not be going to the Amazon based on our time disposition. It takes a long time to get around, and a long time to get there. I guess I´ll have to save that for the next trip.
Tomorrow we are going somewhere for a few days, we just don´t know where. It will either be another Hot spring town or the northern Sierra around the indigenous market town of Otavalo.
I would normally say, these are Latin Companies and they function differently than American companies, and they tend to make these mistakes, but that would be a lie. America f-d up, well Expedia f-d Up.
Anyhow, I´ve been eating strange food here, probably a lot different than you would think:
for lunch I had a Mexican Burrito and for dinner I had Mongolian Barbeque. Last night, I had Italian food after a Thai lunch.
We´re in Gringolandia the traveler center of Quito, and its so strange. There are bars lighting up many of its streets with food and drinks from all over. There are mostly backpackers frequenting them with a mix of ecuadorians who are interesting in practicing their English or their dancing.
I leave one week from today. Look forward to seeing you all.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Meghan got a little bit sick tonight but we had a nice Italian dinner--I know wierd!. Meghan's vegetarianism had made it very difficult to eat in Ecuador. We usually need to look for gringo restaurants that have pasta or pizza or something without meat. People look at Meghan as if she has a serious problem. No meat? so chicken's ok? No hmmm...
Well I was walking home tonight and I walked past a guard ans his dog, and as I said Hello his gigantic dog jumped on me and bit me. It scared the bejeezus out of me. Im ok. The dog has all of his shots, it was just another crazy expierience.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Monday, July 9, 2007
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
The sky was low and we saw some amazing things. Bananna field sunsets as far as the eye can see and houses where the only structure was a bannana leaf canopy and four bamboo poles. There were people everywhere though. Kids playing in the streets, trucks (camionetas) filled to the brim with the darker indigenous people. I´m always blown away with how many people live in this crazy world. It was amazing and suffocating at the same time (that may have been because no one on the bus would open the damn window!).
After an incredibly long day of travelling we ended in Guayaquil, Ecuadors largest city. We ate half cooked hamberguesas at a Cuban resteraunt and rested our souls.
The next day we awoke to a nice surprize: sunshine and beaches. We woke up, ate our typical breakfast of coffee and bread and hopped a bus to Salinas.
We didn´t know what it would be like but it turned out to be a great surprize! It was a white sand beach lined with palm trees and restraunts and yes condos. It was sort of a mini MIami as people here call it.
When we arrived an ecuadorian man from the US with two children befriended us and helped us to find a nice hotel. And it was great. Hammocks, a pool, huge bed, all for much less than we were paying for a shitty hotel in Guayaquil. I guess it pays to not have white skin.
Anyhow our time in Salinas has been bien tranquillo. Seafood, coco, and patacones by day, cervezas by night.
Tomorrow we are off to our most expensive and hopefully most interesting destination, the Galapagos. Its 1000 miles off the coast, so we´ll be flying. It should be great. Ill let you know as soon as I am able.
I´m living the South American dream.
And if you aren´t posting comments, then send me an email. I hope everyone is doing ok.
it was in the form of me hugging a dirty toilet in a andean mountain town. I got sick. and i didn´t get a little sick, I got really sick.
Meghan and I went to this beautiful market town and all I could think of was throwing up. I threw up in a restaraunt, then I threw up in the bus. It was a terrible day, but everything got better quickly.
Meghan took really good care of me and all of our newfound family in Quito were really worried about me. Our host mom made me some special tea, and the lady who runs the school called 3 times to make sure I was ok.
I am much better now, and I´m still not sure if it was the Chicha or the seafood I at night with our irish classmates.
I think its pretty normal to get sick when visiting a developing country, this was just my time.
Friday, June 29, 2007
Well, today I finished my Spanish classes in grand form.
For two hours this morning my professora and I did some final Spanish studies. They were important things like how to make fun of someone or how to curse.
After that, we went on a field trip. It was great. I had said I wanted to try typical Ecuadorian food, so she wanted to show me the real thing.
We went to the south of the city, and as I said earlier Quito is so big! it took us about an hour and we talked in Spanish about Politics, books, la vida en general. We went to a street that was full of incredible different types of food:
entire pigs fried where they were serving everything that was inside.
Pig and cow intestines served with their blood (for fertility of course)
Rabbits roasting over the fire
Women with piles of herbs for traditional medicine, and the most interesting thing is that many of the buildings were made out of adobe.
We went from this street to la professoras restarante favorito. Where we had.... wait for it
GUINIEA PIG! (cuy)
It was cooked on the roticirie and served with patapoes and a sauce made out of the cuy lungs. But I have to say, It was pretty good. Think--fried chicken. We also drank chicha, which is basically fermented fruit, but the way they make it in the amazon with women´s saliva. This Chicha was made with a machine, but I think I have to try the real thing.
I´m glad Meghan didn´t come because of all the meat (she was studying hard) but it was a great expierience.
Everyone we´ve been talking with and studying with has been really great. The lady who runs the school took Meghan and I out last night to drink a cerveza and see the old town at night. We listened to traditional music and watched the light bounce off the buildings and the sky.
I have to say Quito is a crazy city. On first look it is dangerous, dirty, and unorganized. But after some time here I have realized there is a certain beauty about it. Yes there are some beautiful old colonial buildings, but the beauty is in the gente--the people.
Nothing ever stops here. The cars don´t stop at the lights, the people don´t stap walking when cars almost run over their toes, the discotecas blast music into the night. There´s something so beautiful about all of this movement. The city is alive.
tomorrow we leave for Otovalo, where the Quechua sell their wares, and the mountains are awake with volcanic activity.
Va a ser muy Bien!!
Hope the pictures don´t make you sick!
By the way click Speak Your Mind Here and leave me a comment
I miss you all.
Meghan says hello too.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Meghan and I are living with a rich Ecuadorian family and going to Spanish class every morning here in Quito. It´s a lot of fun and a lot of my Spanish is returning. We have dinner every night at 8 and breakfast at 730.
They are a very nice family, but very formal. The abuela is very passionate about the state of Ecuador and she says that the economy is terrible, the government is corrupt and her country is falling apart. It was incredible how stoic she became when speaking of these things. The family is very accommodating.
Today we went up the Teleferiqo which is a gondola into the Andes up an active volcano that was about 12,500 ft. It was amazing. We could see everything. The city seemed to grow the higher we got. And we were able to see the Cotopaxi volcano covered in snow in the distance. It reminded me of Denali in Alaska. It was gorgeous.
I don´t have pictures because I don´t have my camera or my cord. Meghan took pictures and I will probably post them when I return.
All is good. We are going to visit El Mitad del Mundo (the ecuator) with our professoras tomorrow. It should be interesting.
A funny thing happened to me on the way to the jungle. I was robbed.
Meghan and I got up early in the morning to get a taxi to the bus stop for the cloud forest. I really should focus on the cloud forest.
Anyhow all of these men came up when the taxi stopped to help us load our bags in the car. I was thinking, wow, what nice people-- they want to help us gringos out a little.
Meghan was smart. She was mad and didn´t trust these men. Anyhow they loaded us up and I was smiling and saying, ¨Muchas Gracias¨ in lala land. Then we arrived at our bus stop. And my little man-purse was missing. Of course I thought oh I must have misplaced it, but no. Meghan knew. Those friendly men were probably already enjoying my camera while listening to Greg Brown on my ipòd.
I was a little bit upset, but hey, there was no money nor passports inside. The one thing that really hurts is my bible, Lonely Planet Ecuador was inside.
So I believe it was a lesson to not worry too much about material things. I am totally safe, I have my passport, my girlfriend, and I have my friends and family. Really what more can I ask for?
A man told me that around 70% of the tourists who come here get something stolen. Ay que pena!
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Earlier today, Meghan and I arrived in Quito. It took us 12 hours because we flew through San Salvador and San Jose. I had some seperation anxiety when we had to leave Costa Rica. Just from the airplaine window view, I got quite nostalgic.
Flying over Quito was an expierience in itself. It is a HUGE city surrounded by the Andes. It seemed so condensed and it spread for miles and miles. On the plane I spoke with a Quiteno and he gave us some ideas about what to do and see,he was very kind.
When we came out of the airport there was a lady waiting with a sign that said Dahren y Megan. Both of our names were spelled wrong but it was comforting to have someone there. At that point, the spanish began. She didn't speak any English so I had to dig out my rusty Costa Rican Spanish to communicate--but it worked. She understood me and we talked the entire ride.
She told us a little bit about the city and about the good things and the bad. I just finished a book about the oil exploration in Ecuador and I was trying to get some dirt about that. She instead wanted to talk about the Colombians who are giving Ecuador a bad name.
Regardless, we made it to the spanish school and eventually found a european style hostel. The altidude is giving me a bit of a headache (over 8000 ft.). But the tourist section that was supposed to be ridden with problems seemed generally safe. They call it "gringolandia" and it makes sense. There were bright lights, ethnic food, Salsa and Cumbia playing, and muchos extranjeros.
More to come. Tonight we sleep.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
So I sent out an email, and so it is official. Tomorrow evening, Meghan and I leave for Ecuador.
This Blog will, for a month, become Daren's travels in Ecuador. I will still be learning of course but in a different way. You can subscribe by clicking on the link to the left and joining the Google group.
We will start in Language school in Quito, and then tr to make our way to the coast and the Galapagos islands.
I got pricked today for Yellow fever after much toil and thought. I think I made the right choice.
I must say, I am a bit nervous and not completely sure what to expect when we get there.
I guess that is part of the adventure.
Friday, June 15, 2007
I don't want to say this is the reason that I chose teaching because it is not, but damn, what a great thing to have two months off of work. Summer time and the livin easy!
Yesterday I cleaned my classroom and the day before that, I attended our graduation in which we had 22 Graduates, which was our largest graduating class ever. One of the nice things about my school is that at graduation, all of the graduates are invited and encouraged to speak, there is no valedictorian, they are all celebrated.
Most of the speeches were just simple thank you but there were a few that were quite moving. One student looked at me and said, "Daren, I struggled in your English class and you were quite tough to the class at large, but one on one, you were the best English teacher I've ever had."
It's words like that that make my time at this school worthwhile. I don't care how reluctant or rude the students were to me in class, at graduation, everything changed.
One of the other teachers said something to the students that really resonated with me he said, "You are not individuals, don't think that its just you receiving that diploma. We are all graduating with you. Your teachers, your family, and your friends. Don't think that you are alone, we are all accomplishing so much today."
I agree wholeheartedly.
I am so glad I have this time to rejuvenate myself.
May the living begin.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Two girls under the influence of multiple pills from an unknown origin.
Mother came crying to school because her daughter was taken away from her ( the same one who swallowed too many pills)
My microwave was bashed in by a skateboard
My bike was picked on by an angry student (Do they really hate me?)
I am afraid of what the summer holds for many of my students. There are too many kids that I feel like are close to hitting rock bottom but aren't quite there and have the consistency and safety of school to keep them away. Summer means less structure, less rules, less responsibility, less supervision, more drugs, more alcohol, more danger, more freedom.
I am crossing my fingers.
but on to more interesting things: I found this beautiful cover of an old song by two of my favorite singer-songwriters, Ray Lamontagne and Damien Rice. Please listen and be moved.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
I went on a little mini-vacation these last couple of days and discovered one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. I hung out with my buddy Tim and his uncle. We rented a primitive cabin in a place called "Steep Ravine" just south of Stinson beach in Marin County.
Before going there we camped on Mt. Tamalpais
Tim made special labels for his double IPA (really strong) homebrew
Tim and Greg outside the Steep Ravine Cabin
Self-portrait with window and sun
mmmm, can't you taste the mate (its south american tea)
I think I could live at Steep Ravine for awhile. Hope you enjoy these photitos
Listening to Ani Difranco Educated guess
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
There has been so much American literature, film, and music that is based around the freedom and excitement of the road, and because of this we Americans have a preconception that taking to the road has all of the possibility of changing the way we think and live. These preconceptions only sometimes come true though.
The transitory nature of the road is a strange thing. One of the stories from this american life was by a zine writer named Dishwasher Pete and he talked of traveling on greyhound buses around the US and about the strange transitory community that develops in the in-between. He eventually comes to realize that some of his idealistic fantasies are just that, idealistic and unrealistic.
I have a drive to explore the world, and I have many of those same misconceptions-- and my drive brings up so many more things:
Why do I get to explore the world?
What is the real outcome of living in transit or transition?
After all of my travelling I usually come to the realization that the most important things are my friends and family and the community that I am a part of, so I guess I am trying to figure out why I continue to do it.
Expectations from media?
Journeys away from suburbia only to return?
As usual, I have many more questions than I have answers, but if anyone has any thoughts or ruminations on travel please post them.
Friday, May 18, 2007
I am taking a break, not a complete and total break, like I should probably be taking, but I'm not going in to school
One of the other teachers told me, "enjoy the day off, you should take more days for yourself."
She wasn't trying to be mean, I think she was just supporting the fact that sometimes even teachers need a little r+r. I am going to My sisters graduation in Chico, but a day away from school is like a breath. Some time to inhale before the last few weeks of school.
The only problem with leaving for a day is, someone has to cover for me, I have to set up lesson plans, make phone call and be sure that I am covered and cross my fingers and hope that everything turns out.
I saw a bumper sticker that I need to post in my classroom:
"Change is inevitable
Growth is optional."
The name of my school, Delta means change, and that is our goal. I see kids change, but I do hope that they are able to take that growth into consideration.
My neighbor mentioned something that made me really think:
Sometimes kids need to make a really big mistake, before they are able to learn and mature. I see so much truth in that, but its also kind of scary.
Listening to Workingman's Dead
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
listening to Soundtrack to Amelie
Friday, May 4, 2007
If these words offend anyone then they shouldnt be used.