June 27, 2009

Night stuff

A local girl gave my housemate Ben her phone number on a scrap of paper. Ben is a mangrove researcher from University of North Carolina and he speaks no Spanish. Karla the number-giver knew this, so she explained in as best she could in English what she meant by the gesture.

If you want to do...night stuff.

How great is that?

June 26, 2009

Miedo vs. confianza

In la Concha de Perla (the Pearl Shell) I like to swim laps above an eagle ray pair that lives at the bottom. The tide sank too low yesterday for turtle-sighting, and all the tourists were still at breakfast. Alone, I couldn't help but think of sharks. A man appeared on the dock to save me from swimming by myself. 

Tengo miedo! I laughed. I'm afraid!

Tenga confianza, he said. Have confidence.

We swam to the mangrove-covered rocks and back. One of the rays passed under us with his galactic night back and evil tail. Apparently they're only dangerous if harassed, or disturbed while mating. The man, I learned, is a famous artist and sculptor in the Galapagos, where he has lived for 26 years. 

June 25, 2009

Wednesday night

Here is a bottle of Caña Manabita. In it, is liquor made from cane sugar.

Last night, Jordan charged me $6 for one such bottle. Mas barato en San Cristobal, I grumbled. Yeah, well you aren't in San Cristobal anymore, he shot back, in Spanish, of course.

I bought the bottle and then, out of the blue, ran into three friends from the old island, who are here in Isabela with tourist work. There were four limes at home in the fridge, so only two things to do: make caipiriñas and find somewhere to drink them.

Caipiriña Recipe:




We drank them at the flamingo pond behind my house. Four full-grown specimens wandered toward us in the dark, and I was very happy.

June 23, 2009

Back to the future

"Live in the present."

The problem is, without a plan for the future--an exciting, romantic, and inspiring plan, no less--I can't. I think and plot and scheme and worry, all the while living in my head, in the mist of the maybe-future. The funny remedy is a booked flight. As soon as the confirmation screen appears, I come back to the present. Seven more weeks here? I look around with new eyes. Seven more weeks, then; I better make the most of it.

The good humour of my students, the sunset behind the volcano, the iguanas on the beach, the adolescent white flamingos in the lagoon, the smell of the panaderia, the hammock hours--these things become more valuable because I've stamped them with an expiration date. With the future sorted, the present is easy to live in.

June 20, 2009

Teaching makes me laugh

"Write an email to a tourist who wants to visit the Galapagos."

In Galapagos, we have much seafood, like octopusy.


Please, what is the difference between:




Yes, Teacher?

What's my name?


So call me Mary.

Yes, Teacher.

June 16, 2009

Emails from Mom

"Last night I woke up in the middle of the night standing in my room with my heart about to give out as I could not figure out which hostel room I was in and my purse was not anywhere. Took me at least a minute to get it together."

June 15, 2009

Embrace change, blah blah blah

After 5 months on San Cristobal, I raised my hand to move to Isabela, a less developed island, because the university decided to offer English classes to its meager population. My first week was sweaty and stressful, but major hurdles have been jumped, such as:

1. Opening an account at the fisherman co-op, because there is no bank or ATM.

2. Buying a bike. A tire popped on Day 2 and an axle jammed on Day 3, but neither Junior nor his father (Senior?) charged me for repairs.

3. Finding Pancho the water man and pre-ordering enormous bottles of water so that I don't ingest worms and E. Coli from the untreated tap water.

4. Stocking the fridge. $1 for two carrots? Fine.

5. Meeting the neighbours. Reuben took me to his farm yesterday, Jeanette invited me to her sister's birthday party last night, and today people gave me more bananas than I can eat in a month.

6. Finding a laundry place. $13, you say? Petty cash is here for a reason.

7. Finding a lunch place. The woman hasn't smiled in the last decade, but she doesn't serve me red meat, so I'm a fan.

8. Accepting that homes on the beach with tile floors need to be swept daily, if not more.

9. Accepting that the internet cafe might not open all weekend. 

10. Remembering my good fortune.

June 13, 2009

The best thing all day

The driver honked, so I turned around and smiled, assuming it was a friend. Not so. Instead I got the, ¨What the fuck?¨shrug, presumably because I cut him off on my bike. I gave him the, ¨What the fuck do you mean what the fuck?¨shrug. The briefest embarassment quivered in my brain, before giving over to an overwhelming sense of achievement. I caused road rage on Isabela!

Do you have any idea how hard that is? First you have to wait around for a vehicle. This could take hours depending on time of day, and I live on the main street. Then you have to get enough traction on the sand--no paved roads here--to actually get in front of someone as they try to corner. What, what!

June 10, 2009

I'm back!

Sorry the big gap in writing. I went to the sierras of Ecuador with my mom, and my new home on Isabela lacks internet, and drinkable water, for that matter. I'm going to backlog some vacation stuff, starting with Hugo Chavez. Scroll back to see his fat head.

June 1, 2009

Dubious compliment of the day

Hola, amiga. Que buena que eres.

Thank you, young sir on the bicycle.