Monday, April 2, 2012

El Bebe(s) Get Married!

Tip 1 to all you proposers out there: Do not propose within 2 weeks of any major that your potential (hopefully) fiance(e) might have, especially when said (potential) fiance(e) is easily distracted and really likes making spreadsheets.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Day 4


We were so ready to leave Quito, but when our ride to Cotopaxi fell through, we decided to reconsider all our options. Instead of heading south so quickly, we decided to head north for a bit to a tiny town called Mindo, that I got excited about when we were reading the guidbooks before we left.

Going to Mindo, too, left us half a day to explore one of the famous volcanos just outside the city, Volcan Pinchincha. 5 years ago, they built teleferiQo, a sky tram, that takes you half-way up the mountian. Very touristy, but worth every dollar--stunning viewa. Once we got to the top, you could walk another 3 hours to get to the crater of the volcano, but we didn't have time, and I was feeling a little under the weather, so we rented horses instead, and a nice man from the San Francisco commuity, in Quito, led us to a tiny waterfall, and told us many interesting things about the volcano. He told us that it is known as Rucca Pinchincha, meaning sleeping, because it is dormant, and also as Cara Sucre, the face of Sucre, a local hero, because the peaks look like a man's face looking up. The most interesting cultural note about teleferiQo is that they seemed very determined to keep the Ecuadorians separate from the foreigners. Separate lines and separate cabs (they hold 6 people each, to take you up the mountain). At one point, Arturo accidentally got in the Ecuadorian line, and we almost got on the cab with locals, until they saw me. Then they made us wait and ride the next cab with the other tourists, ha!

From Vulcan Pinchincha, it was a sprint to catch our bus to Mindo. Luckily, we fueled up with a hot dog (covered with carrots, tomato, crushed Ruffles, and pinapple marmelade), because we had to cross town to get our bags, then cross town again to get to the bus station at what seemed like rush hour. We could barely fit in the bus, and sadly, we lost our nun-honey along the way, but we made it to the station 2 minutes before the last bus left for Mindo. Whew.

We are so glad to be in quiet, green Mindo. Our hostel has a stream running beside it, and the weather is warmer than Quito. We have declared this our place to rest. At dinner, we tried our new favorite food, Quimbolito--kind of like a tamale, but sweet, made of some kind of grain that I have never had before, with raisins in it. Delicioso!

Oh, and by the way, we have heard yet another story about the ban on alcohol. At one restaurant, we were sad to find that the ban was not just in Quito, but in the whole country, and that is was not 3 days, but 60! The man told us that 21 people had died from bad alcohol. And maybe it was callous of us, but it just made us want a beer that much more. So, we asked until we found a place that would serve us beer (she could only serve us beer if we were ordering food, too, she told us). We tried 2 local beers: Club y Pilsener. Both tasted like a cross between Corona and Buswieser. Yum--well, any beer would have tasted good after a day like today.

Day 3


Quito parte dos!

It's been a long day, lots of walking and the computer is about to die, so I'll give you the highlights:

*We got Arturo's camera back! The woman at the bus stop who helped us get on the right bus told us it wouldn't be there, but the man at the museum told us he would hold it, so we journeyed back across town and there it was. Now you all can see the pictures of the creepy spirit figures from the Amazon.

4.5 cups of coffee - all delicious, even the instant coffee and the coffee brewed like tea

The best honey I have ever tasted bought from nuns who make honey, wine, medicine, lotions, and other healing concoctions. Arturo asked the price, passed his money through a revolving door, and received el miel, all without seeing the nun conducting the transaction. By far my favorite moment of the day, and best part, Arturo got just as excited about it as I did.

We went to another museum about Ecuadorean cutlure, and the tour guide was awesome but didn't speak English, so I got an hour-long Spanish lesson, and Arturo got to translate for an hour. We like the pre-hispanic part much more than the colonial period.

We tried to go to a salsa class at the Centro de Cultura Metropolitano, but it turns out that it was a modern dance class and they cancelled it a few weeks ago because the building structure couldn't handle the dancing.

We ended the day downtown; we crossed the whole city because old town, where we stayed is dead at night. But when we got to the area with the bars, none of them would serve us alcohol (this contributed to the 4.5 cups of coffee). This is the second time we came across this, and every time we asked why, we got a different answer:

1 - There was an accident and nowhere in the city of Quito is allowed to serve alcohol for 3 days.
2 - The place that we ate at last night served us sangrio - very confusing.
3 - Again, we hear that the city of Quito is now allowed to serve alcohol for 3 days, this time because some restaurants served bad alcohol and people got sick.

Funny translations (we are learning the Ecadorian spanish is very different from Mexican spanish):

Botar la basura: bounce the trash, at least this is how it would translate in Mexico, but it really means "Throw away trash"

Huevos por mayor y menor: Eggs for young and old, really means, "Eggs, sold in large and small quantities"

All in all we have had fun in Quito, but we are ready to leave the crowded, busy city and get some quiet and some nature. We want to head south to a national park surrounding a volcano, Vulcan Cotopaxi, so when we check back about the ride that we were told would take us there tomorrow and we are told it it not going until the next day, we are mad. But then we calm down, change our plans (for the better), and learn a little better how to go with the flow.

Day 2



After a night of good rest in the fanciest hotel I have ever stayed in (that cost us a whopping $2), We headed out to the Supermax to get water, shampoo, and toothpaste; the Supermax was one of my favorite cultural experiences so far--eggs NOT in the refrigerated section, milk in bags, and the shampoo all in one section, with the 2-in-1 in the middle, and the conditioner on the other side; even shampoo and conditioner of the same brand were separated.

Then we found a sign that said cafeteria (really the first place that had any sign of food that wasn't pricey) and had the most delicious lunch I have had in months. Milanesa, who knew, comes with queso in Ecuador, but after swapping plates, Arturo and I were both satified. I had a Churazco Mexicano, beef with egg on top, and he, of course, the milanesa. Full, we set out to explore, but found ourselves a bit lost amid the maze of streets and phantom tourst information centers. Finally, we set out to find a museo to explore, and decided to try to Museo Etnohistorico de Artesanias de Ecuador, where we saw all sorts of artifacts from the native people of the Amazon. It made me more excited to explore that area of the country, and Arturo, possibly a little more freaked out. My favorite was seeing the weapons that they use to paralize, not kill animals, with tiny poisonous arrows, are shot using only the power of human breath. The museum has some very unclear explanations, but all in all, very interesting and made me excited about learning more about the cultures of people across Ecuador.

After that, we headed across town to what is called Old Town, where all the old buildings and churches are. Once we settled into our hostel, The Secret Garden, with a beautiful rooftop terrace, we headed out to find that Old Town is pretty dead at night. There were people out and about, but not many restaurants still open. We finally found a pizza place, Ecuadorian pizza, they called it. Not authentic, but we have more time for that. Then we headed back to our quaint, though a little pricey (a whole $15 per person per night, ha!) home for the night to plan our route to conquer Old Town and hopefully recover Arturo's camera tomorrow. Let's hope we do recover it, or else you won't get to see the pictures of the creepy statues of the spirits worshipped by different tribes in the Ecuadorian Amazon. They were creepy enough to give the entire room a sense of darkness--Arturo sensed it more than me. But if not, oh well, that's what happens on vacation. C'est la vie. Go with the flow. Asi es la vida. Buenas noches amigos!

Day 1


We have barely left Houston, and it has already been a long day, but a good day. I woke up, excited about the trip, or course, but more preoccupied thinking how blessed I am. Not only am I grateful that I get to go on this trip, but also for all the people that love me, that love my dog enough to put up with him for 2 and a half weeks before he takes his first airplane flight ever to scenic Greenville, North Carolina, for all the people who are generous enough to lend me their towels, bags, tents, water bottles, so I don't go broke going on this trip, for the people (Erica here's your shout out!) who love me enough to wake up at 4:55 and drive me and Arturo to the airport...and pretend like they like it. And as we fly, I continue to find kind people to be grateful for--the 3 people who played musical airplane seats so that I could sit next to mi novio, who pretended like they didn't mind. And really, everybody got a better seat in the end, parents now have their son and daughter in the same row, a nice woman who is on her way to volunteer in Quito gets her favorite, a window seat, Arturo gets a shoulder to sleep on, and I get someone to switch meals with when mine has cheese.

So, 12 hours after we woke up, we are 2 hours beyond Houston, and thanks to our late night half-price-books run, deeply engrossed in our books (Me - "Push", Arturo - "Onward", by Howard schultz, the founder and CEO of Starbucks).

I know you may have been hoping to hear something about an exotic foreign country, but be patient; we'll get there when we get there. For now, we are content with a lazy day of in the airport with a good cup of coffee. Hope you can wait until we get to Ecuador to hear more; we barely can. For now, all the excitement I can give you is a story that I heard for the first time today about when Arturo's dad put in a new water pump when he was a kid. He was so excited that he made up a song about all the parts of the system. I am hoping he gets bored and doesn't read this far, like several of you may have done.

Well, adios amigos. Hasta manana.

Don't forget to check out the amazing song we came across while researching for our trip. Imagine us singing it in every new town we arrive in; now, that's exciting.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Keep Your Enemies Closer

John Frank has just added you as an enemy on Facebook. Click below to accept. 

So the Bible tells me not to lie. And it tells me to love my enemies. I think the only solution to the obvious dilemma that comes about when the girl from high school who wouldn't even blink in my direction adds me as a friend on Facebook is a new application that has been in my brilliant head ever since the day I joined Facebook, as a mysterious Belgian man whose only known activity was poking--the "Enemy" application. It's simple really. If someone friends you and you know in your heart of hearts that to call them a friend would be a lie, but you do not want to insult them by refusing any part in their Facebook life, then you can simply turn around and ask them to be your enemy. If they are then insulted by this course of action, they can always choose to decline. And if they don't decline, you can declare to the whole world that, despite the fact that you never want to see this person or even hear their voice ever again, you do have a desire to be connected to them virtually. You do want to see who they spent Friday night at the bar with, and you do want to know what they are doing every moment of every working day. After all, as my grandmother always told me, keep your friends close and your enemies closer.