May 29, 2009

In country X

Ecuadorian women were not trained to be companions nor did they know how to carry on a conversation.

From Living Poor, written by a Peace Corps Volunteer who came to Ecuador in the 1960s. He lived in a village on the coast long enough to start a cooperative, avoid a few drunken machete fights, and discover the impossibility of an 8-hour workday on a diet of bananas. I put down One Hundred Years of Solitude and finished it in two days, it was so good. Not everyone can breathe through months of true cultural difference and not everyone can write well. Great literary non-fiction is special.

As for the quotation, I had to read it twice, because it smacked of ¨In country X, the people are Y.¨ Then I counted my conversations with Ecuadorian women. Beyond superficial chats at the beach and the bar, and the bilingual comedies with my language partner, none.

May 25, 2009


Mom flew in Saturday night, and after promising that she didn't have swine flew, she was released from the airport into my custody. I took her to the Secret Garden, a hostel in the Old City, where I had failed to procure a private room. Later Mom discovered that the dorm room was for both ladies and gents (Oh!). Props to her for rolling with it.

Sunday we walked the Old City, a place as colonial and thief-ridden as the books say. By luck, it was Independence Day, so streets were blocked to traffic and cyclists emerged in packs to enjoy their annual day of relative safety.

We wandered into a square full of people. 

Que pasa? 

Correa y Chavez vienen!

More luck by the minute. Ecuador's president and the crazy Venezuelan himself were on their way. We waited. Heladitos were sold. We waited some more. And then, with helicopter racket overhead...

The crowds went wild. Dorm or no, not bad for one's first 24 hours in Ecuador.

May 23, 2009

Goodbye island

In the departure lounge of San Cristobal, half the cast of the last four months met my eyes, from Pepe the child bartender to Judith the German biologist, and even the crippled fish man, who was always very nice when he sold me filetes. We were sweating, trying to smile. Pepe gave me vague plans about studying in Guayacil. Judith said her daughters were happy the family was moving back to Quito, so they could go to an international school. I gushed that I was excited to see the sierras.

We all wished we were in arrivals. Then our friends would be on the other side of the wall, sweating, smiling, instead of taxiing back to town for a dollar.

May 21, 2009

Why Andy is so great

1. He had the guts to wear a blow-up sumo suit to the Parade of Lost Souls, bus ride included.

2. He recently beat his older brother in a squash tournament. Wahahahaha.

3. He is taller than us all.

4. He is kind to small animals and children.

5. He fought scoliosis with yoga.

6. He wants to be an inventor.

7. He helps me design and build gingerbread creations every year, no matter how much I yell at him in the process.

8. He has a strange and extensive vocabulary. 

9. He appreciates underwater Matrix reenactments.

10. He just turned 17. Happy birthday, Andy!!!

May 19, 2009

I heart boobies

Parker snapped this on the way to Tongo

a popular surf spot

rocky, though

May 18, 2009

My favourite Galapagos creature

To lure a hermit crab from his cave, whistle at him. Your warm breath and flute-like notes will arouse even the most cantankerous shell-dweller.

May 15, 2009

Shot in the ass

Went to the health clinic at the naval base today.

"My legs have been hurting for a few months."

"No, I'm not running more than usual."

"Yes, I'm drinking enough water."

"Not, not a sharp pain."

"When I lie down, they ache and feel heavy."

The doctor prescribed a vitamin injection, to be taken in the ass cheek. This is their Tylenol, their Aspirin, their salt water gargle--the ass injection is the cure-all of Ecuadorian medicine. When Josefhine had the flu. When David wasn't feeling 100%. When my legs hurt. Shot in the ass. I said I would come back on Monday.

Vitamin deficiency is probably it. Not enough iron in my cow-less and now tofu-less diet. But part of me says it's psychosomatic. Every day, I wear the same bikini under the same bright sun and watch that sun slip into the exact same spot on the watery horizon at the exact same time. The people, the breakfast, the Reggaeton, the slow internet--it's always the same. It's wearing on my health. I need not a shot in the ass but a kick.

May 11, 2009


Grey's Anatomy with Spanish subtitles all afternoon and a bowl of sesame-covered peanuts.

estará bien (she'll be ok)
quieres saber que pienso? (want to know what I think?)
pensaba que debías saberlo (I thought you should know)
al menos todavía no (at least not yet)
tengo que decirte una cosa (I have to tell you something)
necesito preguntarte sobre... (I have to ask you about...)
pregunto (I'm asking)
es bastante malo (it's pretty bad)

My favourite:

Derek: Gracias por venir.
Meredith: Gracias por llamar.

May 6, 2009


Me: Fredy, are you going to cook tonight?

Fredy: Umm... [considers the question]... HUNGRY!

I love Level One.

May 5, 2009

Pink Eye

It's going around. 

Here they call it la patada china (the Chinese kick).

Robin tiene miedo de la patada china, so I taught my language partner Lorena how to say, "Robin,  your eyes look kind of red." Hahaha.

What about ojo de mierda?