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.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

car for sale

Today, in some way, marks the beginning of the end of the great Quito experiment. We put the car (technically a 4x4 suv, though small) on the market. The morning was taken up with getting a much needed clean up of the car - 5 people working on cleaning the interior, exterior, undercarriage and even the engine for a half hour for $8 - and "registering" the car at the patio (which, in some weird twist of language, is the ecuadorian spanish word for car dealership).
The little vitara was good to us and always got us where we needed to get to. I hope it finds a good home (and quickly, since we need to close the sale before we leave).
We're leaving in 4 short weeks, with many mixed emotions.

On a tangential note, related but not relevant to the above, the woman running the car wash asked me to help move several of the cars around during the washing of my car. Kind of strange. There wasn't a lot of room in the little garage, and a lot of cars, so they play this weird game with the cars - kind of like that game with the squares that you have to re-arrange to make a picture. I'm not sure why I was pressed into service, but there I was, backing other people's vehicles into tight corners, and trying to squeeze a pick up around other parked cars and up onto a ramp (elevated space with the gap under the tire lanes where someone can walk under the car). All this with a stick shift, and with not a lot of space in the pick up cab for me to fit. What fun.
Oh, yeah, and all the cars had proximity alarms, and alarms that went off when doors were opened, and, basically, alarms that went off all the time. Fun.

Monday, November 10, 2008

map of the trip

Pulled a map of Ecuador off the web and drew in the route of the week long trip we just finished. Covered a lot of miles and a lot of different terrain - high mountains, paramo, petrified forests, big cities, little towns, beach life, banana lands and arid mountain areas.
We traveled on some really bad roads, too. Indescribably bad roads. My lower back is still killing me.

A little hard to see, but the routes in the image below (in yellow). We went clock wise.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

In Cuenca

A and I decided to do some traveling this week, so we find ourselves way down south in Cuenca - which means that we aren´t checking our emails, our voicemails, or doing much in the way of interacting with the rest of the world.
Yes, we were able to catch the election results. We caught a couple hours of results on cnn (in English) over dinner, and then went back to our hotel, where we watched cnn (in Spanish). Amazing that Obama won - we were nervous and now happy.
Interesting notes on the difference between english and spanish cnn -- spanish commentators talk about race A LOT, which the PC people in the US tend to not do. Comments like "Iowa went to McCain, but there aren´t any black people there" were common throughout the evening. Very different. They also didn´t have access to all the cool gadgets, gizmos and analysis tools that the "US" version did.
Fun to hear election results in places like Dakota del Norte, Virginia Occidental, and Ciudad de Washington.

Aside from missing football games and major political events in the states, we´re having fun. Lots of driving, lots of amazing views and mountain roads. Most surreal moment to date -- going to a anthropological exhibit at a museum about the various indigenous groups in the country, and watching about a 100 people from some indigenous tribe walking through the exhibit, taking in the sights. I don´t know if there´s a metaphor for that weirdness. I guess it would be like going to an exhibit of strange religious sects across the history of the US, and finding yourself surrounded by Amish people checking out the exhibit. Strange in a good way.