Sunday, March 7, 2010


So I picked up my broken USB Flash Drive and the DVD they made of everything on it. I am now $187 poorer, but so much happier. Can't really put a price on my vacation memories. It could have been worse/more expensive!!

Had to learn the hard way to save my pictures on my computer AND online. Oh well. Making up for it right now!! I added a link to my Picasa Photo Albums to my side bar thingy. Check out the pics, since I can't add all of them in my posts!!

So now that I am posting this I am under the gun to start posting again. I have so many older posts to complete from my written notes on each day. Yikes!

For now it's bedtime, but soon I will post again!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Computer Problems...

So even though I have been back for almost two weeks now, I still haven't posted anything. There are a couple of reasons for that. One is definitely laziness/culture shock.

THe biggest reason is sheer idiocy - mine. This last weekend I was in Bellingham visiting friends and had a minor accident with my USB Flash drive the pictures are saved on. Basically the USB interface at the end of the flash drive is bent so it can no longer read what is on the flash drive.

So Briana should be able to get her pictures from wherever she backed them up, right?

Absolutely, if that place existed. I spent 4 weeks in Ecuador, going to a family wedding, doing tourist things, meeting amazing new people. But I NEVER, NOT ONCE saved my pictures anywhere but on that one USB flash drive.

"And the award for Alltime Stupid Computer Usage goes to...."

So I am hoping that I can get a data recovery shop to get them off the drive. At a certain point, the pictures are really priceless, but unfortunatley my current price tolerance is a bit low.....

At the end of the day, I don't really need the pictures to get up to date on my posts, but I know that is what you all want. I will start drafting posts and playing catch up soon while I am waiting for the final outcome on the data recovery.

I will keep you all "posted" on the picture recovery. And maybe a few other things as well. :o)

Monday, January 25, 2010


The rain has finally returned to Quito. As I am typing, I am sitting in the window in the dining room that overlooks the city, watching the long awaited rain pelt the city.

The thunder started about 15 minutes ago. I had been reading for quite some time, but as soon as I heard the first rain drops hit the patio tiles, I came dashing into the main house. One of my favorite things when I lived here was sititng in front of the large windows in the dining room that overlook the valley of Quito. What a pleasure it is to sit here again, dry and warm while the daily rain falls.

I am not sure if I have menioned the drought that has plagued Ecuador for the last several weeks or more. This is the rainy season, so when you mention climate change here, there is no doubt in anyone's minds about the reality of it. The drought has impacted the country in multiple ways. First, the cities are unexpectedly hot since they do not cool during the customary afternoon rain. Second, are the threats of water shortages in the coming spring and summer. The biggest concern is the electricity supply. The majority of the nation's power is hydropower. When there is no rain, there is not enough river current to generate the electricity needed to meet demand. Last Saturday the apagones (rolling blackouts), were suspended. The apagones have continued nationwide since before my parents arrived here on December 27th.

The blackouts have wreaked havoc on people's lives. Businesses have to shut down and traffic in the city comes to a virtual stnadstill as the police force can only direct at the major intersections. Businesses that have generators use them for several hours during the middle of the day, adding further pollution to the air, and since there is no rain, the pollution lingers over the city. Neither are good for business and people are already hurting during these poor economic times.

I am so happy that it is finally raining, but also disappointed. The rain is now hardly more than a drizzle. The real Quito rain this time of year is that sheet of drenching rain that doesn't let up for at least 30 mintues, if not several hours....

But at least it has rained. Maybe now things will improve and the dreaded blackouts won't return.

It's nice that I was able to see the rain here in Quito since I spent so much time treking through it in the afternoons. After a while, it just becomes part of the reality of life in Quito. Simply knowing that the rain will only last a few hours at the most makes it tolerable compared to the constant drizzle that those of us in Seattle know so well.

Now the rain is picking up again, so maybe it will be real Quito rain afterall.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Relaxing and Enjoying

So the last few days here in Cuenca have been wonderful. I have enjoyed hanging out with Francesco, Wendy and Anna, as well as meeting new guests at the hostel. The city is so beautiful and the people are wonderful. I´ve been going to museums, local arts and crafts markets, hole in the wall lunch places, wherever suits my fancy.
(FYI - I am having issues uploading pictures, so I will do that once I get back to Quito)

My stomach is still not too sure what´s going on, but I am puke free since Sunday night!! I have oatmeal every morning at the little cafe right next to the hostal. Alex, Faviola and Glenda are always happy to see me, as are the owners of the hostal. It feels so wonderful to be surrounded by such amazing people.

The best part is that when I am tired or just want to relax and read my book, I can. No one to think I am not enjoying or taking advantage of my time here. I am reading a great book that I am really enjoying, the weather here has been great - though that means that it has not been raining so the power situation is still iffy. The government (who runs the power grid and supply here) will decide tonight if the blackouts will continue.

I have had a wonderful time people watching, carefully picking presents for people and just resting. Sometimes I get a bit tired and warm like my body is fighting something, but I started taking the antibiotics my doctor sent with me, so hopefully that will pass.

Tomorrow I fly back to Quito and then I will be going to Otavalo for a few days with Mami, Sandra and Pedro. I am soo excited to see the market again and see how Otavalo has changed in the last ten years. I will also hopefully get to pay my respects to Mami´s other brothers and sisters who are still mourning Tia Fanni.

For now, I need to go figure how I am going to get everything in my suitcase to take back to Quito tomorrow. I am not even thinking about how I am going to get everything back to Seattle! One step at a time!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Healing, Cuenca style

So I planned my trip to Cuenca alright. I got an airplane at 10am this morning for the short flight down. I am pressed for time, not feeling well and the bus ride is 10 hours. No thanks. The $80 bucks was completely worth it.

I got in about 11am. I took a taxi to the hostel I read about in Lonely Planet. On the way there, we passed a "Paseo del Niño" parade around one of the churches in town. The taxi driver explained that it was probably one of the city`s neighborhoods that got together and decided to do the procession and then they go back to their neighborhood and have a big party.

Problem was that once I got to the hostel, no one answered when I rang the bell. I wanted to stay there since it was so highly recommended, I decided to have a cup of coffee at the cafe and breakfast place right next door. What great people! The women who run the Cafe are awesome! I sat next to an amazing couple from the states. They have traveled all over, but are living in their house here in Cuenca and are in the middle of remodeling it. As much as they love Cuenca, it is a bit too chilly at night for them, so part of the remodel is putting in a heating system. People don`t heat their homes here, so they have had to bring in a guy they know from another country to install it because no one knows how to do it. Hopefully the system won`t need maintenance, right?

At any rate, after a cup of amazing real coffee, I went back and rang the bell at the hostel again. Since I didn´t call ahead, they were full for the night. So I went back to get my bag from the cafe and the women told me that the hostel attached to their cafe is really nice. So I went and looked at it - it was great and the two women who run it are so awesome! I was hoping for a single room with a private bathroom (in case I got sick again), but all they had were beds in the dorm style rooms. The room and the whole hostel was beautiful and clean so I took it.

How glad I am that I took that bed, but I will get into that later. I put my stuff away and grabbed what I needed to go check out the Paseo del Niño and some of the churches if I felt up to it.

The Paseo was amazing! I saw several other gringos enjoying the show and taking pictures as well, but most of the crowd was Cuencan. It was a wonderful surprise to be able to see the Paseo since it´s a bit late in the season for them. After the Paseo went by, I walked through the main food Market in Cuenca enjoying the fruits and vegetables, meats, etc. From there I headed to the main plaza with the New Church, saw the flower market nearby and wandered through the local outdoor market selling all sorts of things for the locals.

I sat for a bit resting in the beautiful park next to the cathedral before heading back to the hostel for a nap. The joys of vacation!! As I came in to the hostel to take my nap, I ran into another American trying her best to inquire about a room or bed for tomorrow. I helped her out, and they brought her up to check out the room. She liked it and will stay in our room tomorrow night. Wendy is here to study Spanish. She´s from Fort Collins, Colorado - what a great fun person!!

I got to meet one of the other people in the room, Franceso, from Milano, Italy who is taking an entire year to travel through South America. When I mentioned that I would be going up to the Mirador, the viewpoint over Cuenca, he said if he was around he would love to go.

So about 5pm, as Francesco got back to the hostel, he ran into Wendy downstairs, and the other person in our room, Anna, came back. So, all four of us crammed into a taxi and headed up to the Mirador. The view was amazing and the company was even better! We sat and chatted, shot pictures and shared a couple of beers as the sun set over the city. We decided it was time to get some dinner and head back down to the City.

After some searching, we found a nice cafe in the center. We shared some llapingachos, which are traditional food of the Ecuadorian Andes. They are fried potato pancakes with fresh mozarella cheese inside. So good! I ate mine slowly, but my stomach was doing great. Hopefully I am finally over this bug.

My mistake was ordering a shrimp stirfry. What was I thinking? As soon as it came and the smell of the seafood hit me, I knew it was a bad idea. I managed to take a bite, and it was delicious. After about a minute I knew I was going to lose the battle. I ran for the bathroom and proceeded to puke all over the tiny bathroom. I barely made it into the bathroom, and it was all I could do to get most if it in the toilet. Of course, the toilet paper was gone, so I couldn´t even clean up some of it... I have never been so embarrassed in my life as when I had to ask one of the waiters for a rag or something. He of course refused to let me clean anything up. I was SOOO embarrassed.

The best part: I had managed to get some of it on my jeans....

I was able to eat a little bit of the rice that came with the stirfry and I took the rest of the rice home with me.

So yeah, apparently my stomach isn`t quite over this shit.... Awesome. But the company was great, so it didn´t seem so bad! Meeting fellow loke minded travelers was exactly was I needed and these three are wonderful. We had a great time hanging out, which was perfect. It seems sometimes that these things are meant to be, or at least serendipitous.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


So in addition to being sick, the relationship with the family has changed, too. Yesterday evening, when I was still puking up water, Sandra kept telling me, don't think about being sick, you will be able to go to Otavalo with us tomorrow. You'll feel better. There's optimism for you.

So I say, yeah I hope I feel better, but I don't know about going - I'm worried about getting sick on the road. Pati, her brother (keep in mind here that I am sitting around the kitchen table with Sandra, Pati, Mami, Papi and Neil's parents from South Africa), says in a dismissive tone, I'm sick of people who get sick and can't eat certain things (I'm lactose intolerant) and complain all the time.

Really? I've been puking for almost 24 hours. Really?

I asked him if he could make me feel better immediately, to please do so, that would be wonderful. Whatever. I can understand about the complaining part to a certain extenet - I don't do sick well. I did pretty well about it, keeping up a good face, but what the hell, am I supposed to pretend I feel just fine? Excuse me while I run to go puke up the 1/4 cup of tea I just drank (I think it was at least another 15 minutes before that did actually happen, but still). I spent almost the entire day half-asleep in my bed out in the apartment off the patio and was barely around the house. How I was irritating while asleep, I'm not sure.

By some 24 hour miracle deadline, I woke up feeling much better this morning. So I get up and get ready to go, eat some bread and weak tea, which I keep down. Right on, let's do it. I really want to go see the market, it will be a short day, I am going to get ot back again later so it'll be nice to just take it all in without worrying about presents and things to buy.... Yeah, the car was full. So Sandra says, well you and I can go on the bus and meet them up there. Before I can say, yes, let's do that, someone else says, it's such a short trip, what if we can't find you, etc.

So if I say I want to go I making more problems, but if I say I am going to stay, I am just wallowing in my sickness. So now I'm upset because I don't know what to do... So I am thiking out load trying to decide what to do, I do really want to go even though we will be there again in a week, but on the off chance I get sick again while we are gone... Sandra gets this fed up look on her face and tells me, enough worrying about being sick, don't start with that again.

At least I found a way to extricate myself from the situation. I needed time today to plan my trip to Cuenca.

It's funny that something as small as being sick and not wanting to push myself managed to remind me that this trip was a roll of the dice from the beginning. As I am reading back over this, I'm realizing that describing it doesn't cover all of the undertones to the situation. When I lived here before, the little comments like the ones above were hard. More often they were tied to being forgetful, messy, misplacing things, or sleeping in - all of which are associated with being lazy. In a Catholic society, being lazy is practically a sin. It makes me a bad person.

Having someone, or a family, who is supposed to love you and treat you as their own, say things like that and make you feel that way is a damaging experience. It was those wounds I came here to try and cleanse, but for now the alcohol really stings and the wound seems too deep. I know that the healing will come from myself alone. I knew that coming here, but after how well things had gone until now, my hope that they would treat me better grew.

So for now, while the sting is fresh, I am leaving this house where so many previous hurts haunt. I hope that I will get to Cuenca and be able to enjoy myself in one of the most beautiful cities in Latin America, rather than retreat and lick my wounds.

Growing and healing always hurts, but that knowledge never seems to make it any better.

Food Poisoning...

So yesterday was a pretty crappy day.... I guess I should add pukey, too.

The puking started at about 11pm Wednesday night and the diarrhea wasn't far behind..... I don't know if it was the shellfish I had for lunch before we left the beach to come home or some virus, but something pissed off my digestive system.

I spent most of that night and the following day in the bathroom or in bed resting. What a way to spend my vacation, right? Bored, in bed or puking. I think I did manage to play 4 or 5 games of Sudoku... The real kicker? Everyone else got to enjoy the crab feast planned for lunch that day. I couldn't go into the kitchen for more than a few minutes without having to run for the bathroom. The smell was more than my stomach could handle....

After a day of eating bread and drinking water, which most of the time I couldn't keep down anyway, I woke up this morning feeling much better. I was able to drink, rather than sip, water and had no problem eating bread. What a feeling!!

I had some black tea with more bread for breakfast this morning and for lunch I am going to try eating a broth soup with some pasta.... Yum - flavor!!