August 19, 2009

Pizza with Archaeologist David Brown: Teaching, Women, and Red Fiats

Yesterday I flew into Quito to meet Pablo.
Turns out that he is publishing one book and a magazine, and editing a second book... And must make substantial headway before heading to Cartagena (Colombian Caribbean) for a meeting regarding one of his many projects.

And so we'll not be mountain climbing or scuba diving. Yet living without expectations has its benefits - Last night after Pablo finished a meeting, we picked David Brown up from his hotel. Pablo told me that he is a famous archaeologist. Google him, and you'll find:

"David Brown has worked for more than three decades helping people preserve the historic places of their communities. As Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Brown led the development team for - and currently oversees the implementation of - the Next Trust Strategic Plan, a blueprint of the future of the National Trust. He also leads the creation of, the online virtual town square where people share proven tools, make connections, and get inspired to save historic places." (

He has his own book publishing company, is world renown for his digs, and seems to have endless opportunities because of his prestige in the archaeological community.

We picked him up on a cold, dark evening with fog persistently blowing around and through every object on the street. He wore an outfit as you would expect of a scholar of stature - A plaid, short, wool scarf with a sort of English sheepherder's hat, longish hair which is contained by his hat, and kindly eyes.

We all ate gourmet anchovy and artichoke and (salty) pruchetto pizza as Pablo and I listened to David. He is full of energy. He told us about his friend's new project on an integrated historical museum, his interesting friends, and opinion on good pizza. He had a dig in Italy. He was second in command and was in charge of all errands to the nearby pueblo. Unfortunately there were an abundance of young women, and he had to drive a red fiat into town and conveniently visit the delis full of local olives and Italian goodies. And about the women... The numbers were on his side, he said.

He mentioned his opinion on teaching at the university: The pay is too little to be worth all the hassle. He then turned and looked directly at me. You're not a teacher, are you? he asked, with a bit of caution in his eye. Actually, I said, I just quit my job teaching on Saturday. And our conversation on teaching ended there. I enjoyed his word choice - hassle. Teaching can be a hassle, to be certain. I suppose although one can do their best to frame the tedious work as service and betterment of society, there are certainly moments at 11 pm when one is still grading papers, still needing to lesson plan for the following day, and still needing to eat dinner. At these moments, teaching can be a hassle.

We spoke of Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's president, who once worked next door to his office. They were good friends, David said. It hurts David to see the person Chavez has become. To see the speeches that Chavez gives, that he has so many dictator-like qualities, that he wishes Venezuela's rich upper class would flee just as Cuba's already has so that the masses will be left alone to his propaganda. What a sorry, disgusting mess.

In the end, I enjoyed an evening of listening to the person with someone who has had such a different life experience than I. He highlighted what was important to him, like Fiats and conservation of archaeological sites. And he licked his fingers while he ate pizza. Huzzah!


  1. Nice update :-) Always a pleasure reading about you central American adventure. Thanks for sharing.

    A small point. I believe you must have omitted part of the last sentence in the paragraph describing David's view on Chavez. The "so that" is merely hanging on air.

  2. Thanks, M...
    And I finished the sentence :)


  3. Hey! Thanks for sharing this post!
    I'm planning an Ecuador Galapagos travel, so reading this kind of stuff it's very usefull for me :)