Thursday, December 11, 2008

back in the US(s)A

So, we're back, the experiment that was our lives through most of 2008 has come to a close, and reason would dictate that we should stop blogging. But that's just not how we roll. I imagine that we'll use our new found free time (our eventual free time that hasn't materialized yet) to post longer descriptions of our recent expeditions and the last few weeks of life in Quito. In addition, we should now have the bandwidth and the time to load up a whole slew of pictures that have been stored on various cameras for way too long.
Here's some samples:

Picture of the "lagoon" outside our camp in the Amazon. Note the super long dugout canoes that are used to get around.

Symbiotic Lemon Ant/Tree:
There is a tree in the jungle that creates a poisonous toxin that kills other vegetation around it. In addition, the tree creates a "home" - paths and protusions inside the stems and stalks of the plant - for ants. These ants, in return for the free home, keep other bugs and animals that would harm or eat the plant away. Classic example of a very complex symbiotic relationship. When eaten, the ants taste like lemon. Or lime. Or something slightly acidic. It's best to crush them in your fingers a little before eating them so as to avoid the wriggling around on your tongue that they do.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A sad farewell to the ping pong table

And here's the last use of our ping pong/dining table before it found a new home.


The Ecuadorian version of the party bus.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Let the Fiestas Begin

Holy batty street parties! Things are getting tense around here - people are desperate to get their partying on. We're told that the "intense" revelry starts tonight, although people have been living it up for most of the week. It seems that every reasonably aged person under 25 has spent the last week out in the streets, drinking and dancing. There are parades, seemingly spontaneous and unorganized, all over the city, at least one for every high school in the country, it seems. Those, coupled with the fact that half the population is off of work and out shopping, and traffic is ludicrously backed up. Chivas are everywhere, day and night, filling the clogged streets with music, dancing and general chaos. The few people in offices around the city seem to be busy chatting, or playing cards, or sleeping off a hangover.
It's sort of like a third world version of New Orlean's Mardi Gras, but with bull fights.

Luckily, we were able to sell the car yesterday (and just about everything else that we had to sell), because the city basically shuts down from now until the new year. We had a great time hosting a farewell party last night. Figured out that ping pong and Amanda's signature martini drinks are another example of two good things that are not necessarily better when joined together.

Now it's time to pack. Final preparations and errands are being considered.

We would have pictures of the Amazon trip (and some of the festivities outside our windows) but Amanda's gone and hidden the cord that connects the camera to the computer. Maybe more updates soon.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Apart from the many, many mosquito bites (I look like I have the measles), there were a few highlights from the trip including sitings of: 20-25 foot anaconda, fresh water dolphins, glow in the dark mushrooms, poinsonous snakes, macaws, jungle shamans, monkeys, aligators and lemon ants. Lemon ants are called that because of their taste - and yes, we tried them (live) to confirm. Very lemony. Here's a picture of them crawling on a piece of wood:

back - with a correction

We made it back in one piece from the jungle. A mosquito and other insect bite covered piece, slightly charred by the sun and dehydrated from the heat, but a single piece nonetheless. Now we wait through common gestation periods and see if we brought back any unwanted passengers with us.
Details, descriptions and dibujos (pictures) of the trip are forthcoming.
In the meantime, a correction on the earlier post - Lago Agrio and Coca are, in fact, two separate and distinct city/towns, though relatively geographically proximal to one another. Lago Agrio has been renamed Nuevo Loja, and Coca has been renamed Francisco Orellana (and we all know who he was). I don't think the names have stuck - and I'm pretty sure that most people don't care.
That's it for now.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Going to the Jungle

We're off in a few minutes for a trip in the jungle. Should be interesting. We're going to be near the Cuyabeno National Park (I think). Flying into Coca (hee-hee) this morning and taking a dugout canoe ride to the hotel. Naming a town "Coca" in the middle of the jungle in the is like naming a the local dive bar "Booze", so much so that I think they recently changed the name to Lago Agrio (sour lake).
Pictures will be forthcoming.

Oh, and we're missing the kickoff of the Dias de Quito on Sunday. We'll be returning to debauchery, outdoor festivities and general no work getting done around here stuff. It's like mardi gras, but colder, with fewer beads, and bull fights.