Tuesday, July 24, 2007



I was hoping that at the end of my trip, I could have this grandiose reflection about Ecuador and its people and what the travelling meant to me. Its just a bit more difficult than I thought.

After arriving home, I have had some small issues:

  • 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.



WhileI feel as if I got a small taste of South American culture and geography and if anything it will make me appreciate where I live a little bit more.

Ecuador is a country that works as a great metaphor, it is a metaphor for its people, for its tenacity, its corruptness, and its political force and unrest. Each of these descriptions is a metaphor for your own understanding.

The Andes run right down the middle of the country and they alter between towering peaks and volcanoes that pierce the clouds, down to lush forever green valleys that are at times peacefull and as in Quito, they are at times full of energy, life, and destruction.

The Oriente and the Rainforest skirt the eastern side of the country--with their torrential rain and humidity that supports so much life. Bugs as large as my arm and animals that live their entire lives without touching the ground. Then there are the streams of liquid gold oil that seep between the indigenous' and American oil barron's feet.

The Coast and the Lowlands drive with moisture and poverty but are rich in landscape, food, and history of conquisition and resistance. The bannanas grow like weeds and the people move at a pace that only echoes the slow wet air.

The Galapagos Islands are a strange enchanted jewel that were neglected and pushed away until tourism became a viable money-maker. Nature is at peace there, while food pruduction and protection seems like a joke.

There are so many great and amazing people in this world and so much energy I just hope to hold on to a small piece of it and share it with all of you.


I really believe that this Blogging thing is quite self-indulgent. I get to converse with myself and reflect while there is a very good possibility that someone will read it.

So I want to say, to those of you who read it--Thanks. It means a lot to me. Self-indulgent or not, its very important for me to share my expierience with friends and family. It makes it that much more relevant and important. I feel as if I am carrying you all along with me on my shoulder.
I believe in the power of the story, and I think that this blogging thing is just a techy-version of telling stories, and if I cant have all of you around a campfire to tell a story, then I might as well publish it on the internet.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Lessons Learned?

It looks like I´ll be returning home Sunday Night/Monday Morning. I leave for Peru early tomorrow morning then I start making my way north.

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.
Hasta mañana.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Why does it have to rain in the rainforest?

As if it wasn't enough to have Meghan stuck in Quito, I have managed to miss my flight.

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

To the jungle goes I!

Well, Meghan really leaves tomorrow morning (she has a 24 day of traveling ugh!)
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.

Mi Ecuador tiene un corazon grande

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

Expedia ate my Girlfriend!

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.

Strange Days.

I leave one week from today. Look forward to seeing you all.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Quito Bites

After a nice morning soak in the hot springs at Banos, and a morning siesta, Meghan and I had to leave paradise for the hustle and bustle of crazy Quito.

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

The sad state of the Galapagos

Well, I´m sitting in an internet cafe in Baños, its raining out and I´ve got a little bit of time so I think I need to reflect a bit more on my time in the Galapagos.

First, I must say. It is an incredible place. The animals there are unlike animals anywhere else. Each island has its own set of sub-species based on the food available.

The Darwin´s finch has 20 different species with beaks that grow based in if they eat from trees, cactus, the ground, or the sea. Evolution is an amazing thing.

An even more amazing thing was the amount of tourists there-- predominantly American or European.

We arrived and were stunned to find a city with hundreds of boats in the harbor, in a place that we knew of for its wilderness.

The UNESCO just recently identified the Galapagos as one of the most endangered wild places in the world and here´s why:

Thousands, and I mean thousands of people arrive there each day from all over the world. And they all come for similar reasons. They want to see the turtles, the sea lions, the boobies (blue footed ones). But they don´t think about the impact they might be having--just as I did´nt think about it.

As we disembarked to our first island,I saw a crowd of Safari outfitted gringos with telephoto lenses like guns pointed two feet away at the face of a baby sea lion. Up and down the beach there were more groups surrounding the sleeping Lobos Marinos. With a male barking at them from thewater I realized, the animals may not have many predators, and we are taught that they don´tmind humans in their face, but we humans (once again) are their most vicious predators.

Animals accostomed to human contact on the Galapagos have no place to hide. Think of someone walking into your house and taking pictures of you while your eating breakfast. You probably won´t bite them or run away, but when theykeepcoming in hordes, you willwant to run and hide.

In the Galapagos there is control, only 80 boats can be there with tours, but in corrupt country such as ecuador (or the US for that matter) money rules, and nature dosent take the front burner. (80 boats is a lot!)

The people making the money are the boat owners, and they aren´t going to advocate for more control. We were on the cheapest boat and we paid about 550 USD each and our guide was only paid 20usd a day. I wonder where the rest goes?

In a country where an expensive hotel is 20usd and an expesive meal is 4usd, these boat owners are doing alright.

I like to believe that national parks should be for nature first and people second, but I just don´t think it works that way. I think of Yosemite Valley in the summer, Yellowstone, and the supposedlyprotected wilderness of Costa rica and Ecuador that are being mined for tourism and oil andit makes me cringe a little bit.

I see the irony of course, I am here. And I want to be here, and I have a large impact, but I really do wonder what can be done in my own country and in others. It is a dilemma that I think needs to be examined.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Baños-- que Lindo!

Well, I´ve returned from the Galapagos islands and I have so much to say about it, its almost too much to process. I´ll fill in some of the highlights here and come back to it.

Sunrise Sunset. We lived on a boat called Yate Yolita with an obnoxious german man who couldnt stop knocking Americans, but it was also filled with a lovely smattering of international clietelle. It is the cheapest boat in the Galapagos, and for this reason it´s a bit rickety. It tipped to one side or the other the entire 4 day cruise. But the food was great and the sunsets and sunrises were absolutely stunning.

Playful sea Lions. Vibrant memory number one-- snorkelling by myself, while a group of 4 playful sea lions swim right up to me and look me in the eye. Their eyes were so big and so incredible. They swam loops around me and wanted to play. That is not to mention the sharks, penguins, turtles, and massive schools of fish I also saw.

Blue-footed Boobies-- they did their dance, made a little love, and had fluffy little chicks that had absolutely no fear of humans.


And there´s so much more that I will get to soon. But now, I am in a little Andean Mountain town called Baños, now, if you´ve practiced your Spanish, you know that means Baths and I am still a little droopy from my evening soak.

Baños is in this stunning green valley surrounded by 2 volcanoes. If you continue down the road, it drops into the Amazon. The air is cool, and the people are the friendliest I´ve met in Ecuador.

There are Baths all over town and they are supposed to have a healing power, I´m pretty sure they do. I feel pretty damn good.

Well I went on a hike today and tomorrow I might go on a little bike ride, we´ll see. Meghan is only here for two more days and then I plan on Heading into the Amazon if I am able.

I hope all is bien tranquillo on the home front.


Tuesday, July 3, 2007

La Costa de Ecuador

So, Meghan and I spent 10 hours on a bus dropping out of the Andes, through the cloud forest, and into the lowlands going from Quito to Guayaquil. It was a beautiful ride, but damn was it long!

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.


Chicha may have been a mistake

So the day after being so excited about trying Chicha I had a realization...
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.

No se.