September 28, 2009

What to expect of me when I return. What I like about Ecuador... And detest.

- I am thin. Skinny? I eat a lot. Don't worry. And I have acne.

- I detest it when people do not follow through on their word. If you need to cancel on me, call as soon as possible. If you will be late, call me as soon as possible.

- PLEASE do not cuss around me. PLEASE do not use coarse or sexual humor. I want to fully eradicate this from my life. PLEASE help me in this when I slip up.

- I have a tan. HAHAHA. I went to four beaches in the last three days. HAHAHA. And I intentionally did not wear much sunscreen. Because I want to return to the mucky Oregon October weather much more tan than you. And, yes, you can easily note my bikini tan line.

What I will miss in Ecuador:

- My amazing friends
- The endless generosity of so many Ecuadorians.
- The amazing beach and sunshine
- Salsa music on the bus. Salsa music in the grocery store. Salsa music anywhere on the street. In taxi cabs. At friend's houses. Salsa music.
- Unimaginably strange, cheap, and amazing fruits
- Walking on the beach and paying $1 for a man to use a machette to open the tip of a coconut, drain the coconut water, hand it to you in a bag with a straw, open the entire coconut, scoop out the meat, and hand it to you in another bag. Nothing beats this.
- $1.75 for juice, soup, rice, banana, and meat. Too much food to eat.
- Eating home-made, fresh food every single day. I believe I ate frozen or prepackaged food less than ten times in the last year. I used to make effort to eat homemade food at least once per week back in the States...
- Canelazo. It is sort of like a hot hard apple cider. But different. And delish!
- Condensed milk on many foods and sweets. Delish as well!

- People here are so easy going. It is obvious to see that Americans are SO easily offended. After spending much time here, I have learned to exist peacefully. I have done many things and tolerated many people and activities I personally have not wanted to do, but was not agitated as I once would have been in the States. I am not looking forward to returning to the crabby Americans that you have to tip-toe around to be certain you will not deeply offend or hurt. If you are reading this blog, you are probably one of the people I am referring to. No offense. :)

- Regular, reliable bus system for $0.25
- Running across freeways. I really enjoy that.
- Internet cafés readily available
- Breathing the moist, warm sea air
- No road rules
- Everyone with gorgeous nutty chocolate brown eyes. I hope to marry someone with such eyes. I believe it will be quite startling to walk down a street and go to church and be in public places and note more than 1% of the population does not have dark hair and dark skin and is an entire headlength shorter than you.
- Not living with mirrors
- Having zero responsibilities, obligations, and schedule. Amazing. I have not been this free since before Kinder garden.
- So little responsibility that I feel free to keep my house meticulous, hand wash the dishes, and complete daily chores without complaint

What I will not miss in Ecuador:

- Watching men piss on walls.
- All of the microscopic ants that infest my bathroom garbage can. We don't flush toilet paper. Which means that they eat my poop and then walk around in my house. Yum.
- The volumes of rotting garbage on the sides of the roads.
- Crass men whistling, hissing, yelling, "I love you baby," "Whasss you name?" "Hello," etc.
- Seeing shiny things on the ground and thinking they are coins. They are beer caps. When I return home, they will be Susan Bs.

- Trying to pay for a cab or recharge my phone with a $5 bill and being told they do not have change. Good grief! (Ecuadorians are not the brightest businessmen.)
- Manjar. It is basically a really awful concept of caramel. When I return I will buy caramel in bulk from Winco and will buy caramel apples. Yum.
- Wheat / grain bread. It is always bitter, icky, and has a bad aftertaste. Can you say Great Harvest Dakota or 9-grain??? Yum.
- Bathrooms not even having a knob for hot water. Cold showers suck.
- Obscene amounts of smog pouring out of busses.
- Car alarms. Car alarms. Car alarms.
- No road rules.

- Horrible fashion sense. No one seems to realize or care that they are 10-15 years behind the rest of the world. But this does, in a sense, make them less vain. They even have a brand of jeans for women called Bottoms Up! Disgusting. I don't want to see rolls of fat splurging over one's jeans, nor every lump on one's thighs. Yuck. At least the men comb their hair.
- Constantly worrying that someone will attack you. Not wearing earrings on the bus or marketplace for fear of appearing "rich." Impossibility to bring my camera into many public places.
- Frequent, consistent buses. $0.25. Cheap, but dangerous. Don't ever pull out your cell phone, wear earrings, etc.
- Half of the keyboards are English. Half are Spanish. And the computer may be set to input the keyboard in the opposite language. Meaning the " symbol is Shift + 2 or is Shift + the key by your pinkie finger. And your : is either your pinkie finger or somewhere else on the keyboard, interchangeable with the ñ key. It will be lovely to have one keyboard and not constantly look down for symbols as I type. (Assuming the keyboard input is equal to the symbols on the keys.) Hrummmph.


September 26, 2009

Headed to Manta or Santa Marianita, Ecuador to learn to kitesurf?

I encourage you to read this first. I had an extremely negative experience, and feel like I flushed $300 down the toilet. Kitesurfing school review comin' up...

GREAT instructor and school:
Wladimir (Vlad) Paternina & Nicole
Humboldt Kites School
091 272509 (cel in Ecuador)
011 593 91 272509 (from the USA)

I strongly recommend this school because of their fairness of price, quality of teaching, and high level of professionalism. And they have a pimp VW bus, too. :)


My experience at Robert Bedoya and Ecuador Kitesurf was a complete disappointment.

He is, certainly, an excellent kiteboarder.
However, his caliber of teaching and professionalism lack greatly.

Unfortunately his lessons include no overview, no handouts, and no concrete information. I need verbal explanation. He prefers to reach over me and fly the kite himself, trying to have me "feel" the kite, without explaining what I am to be doing.
I asked about the emergency pull cord many times. Four times on the beach he pulled it; never did he offer me to do so myself. This seems a poor way to introduce a new student to water emergencies.
Iit was not until I was six hours into the course that I found he speaks English. It would have been tremendously helpful to have kitesurfing's technical information shared with me in his native tongue.
At this point I spent 20 minutes speaking with his partner, Alice. I learned a great deal because she understood my questions and could directly answer them. Rob is, again, an excellent boarder, but seems too advanced to know how to explain the basics to beginners.
I went home and watched videos on YouTube for an hour. I learned more then than in my entire six hours on the beach with Rob. I learned about angling the board, surfing with the wind, handling, etc.

My fourth class was with a different instructor, Danilo. He and Rob use different Spanish terms; one says release while the other says hold for the exact same movement. It was difficult to adapt. Either way, Danilo was much better at communicating in Spanish and directly answering my questions.
Last, often my helmet was so big that I had to keep adjusting it with my hand. The harnesses were likewise very large and uncomfortable. It became difficult to concentrate in the water when my harness was literally held on by my armpits and chest.

Regarding professionalism, I was astounded that he constantly interrupted my lessons. Rob would wave over onlookers and spend time explaining kitesurfing while I was on the beach with a kite in hand... waiting for him. This happened multiple times each lesson. I was paying $30 per hour for this?
On two occasions I came to class and he did not even greet me - he just handed me the gear and walked off to hang with his kitesurfing friends or work with another student.

I felt like all Rob wanted was my money.

Last, it took me SEVEN months to receive my IKO certification card. I finished lessons in February. I asked for my card then, and for the next seven months via phone, text, at his business, and via email. There was always an excuse - he forgot the cards, he ran out of cards, he was waiting for the cards, he was out of town. Should he not be required to always have them on hand? Did he have seven months of students not receiving the cards? In the end I paid for a taxi to go to his home and pick it up from his fill-in instructor. Before I came, I was told, "Why bother? It's not like you are going to kitesurf again." What type of teacher and professional says this?

The only positive piece of my experience was Rob's employee Alice. She was so empathetic and helpful. She answered my questions, encouraged me, and helped me out. I felt like I had a friend. My experience would have been a complete flop without her.

(I also loved the other students - I still am in touch with two... over a year later!)
Also - If you choose to go to Rob's school, you HAVE to go to the restaraunt next door. Maresol is owned by a huge family. Try the special rice plate - Maresol. It's enough for two, and it's amazing. Eli, the manager, is one of my good friends. Tell him Rose says HI!

Miss Rose

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September 24, 2009

Updates. Current, and a LOT of them.

Last night I dreamed about my cousins Megan and Amy. My uncle John. And my grandma. To be more specific, we were all fixing her leaky faucet. I have no idea what any of this means.

My laptop is ALL the way dead. My monitor does not turn on. It is now in a friend's closet in Quito. SAD. I miss my BFF. And I left my memory stick in an internet cafe in Quito. I have little mode to post my photos in my blog. Sad. Sorry!

Today I ran across a freeway. Today I read about all the secuestros (kidnappings) in the city. Today I left my garbage sack of toilet paper waste on the side of a freeway under a palm tree. I left my house 15 minutes ago. Today I woke up in Guayaquil.

I miss my dad. Last night I went to a cafe that overlooks the entire river delta of Guayaquil. Last night in that cafe I danced salsa. The cafe is named Artur.

While I was in Quito I "happened" to remember to check in on my finances. There was a pending debit of $1.13. I called the company. They said thieves commonly use their website to verify that a DBC works and the account has funds. DREAD in my blood.
The scary part? My DBC is locked in a closet at all times. The last time I used it was for an ATM withdrawl one month ago. I have no idea how it was compromised.
I worked in bank finances for four years. I knew exactly the potential of disaster this could cause. And I knew that I am in a foreign country, and the potential of having no way to work with my bank because my finances were severely messed up was... very possible.
So I contaccted my bank, Chase (Formerly WAMU), shut down the accounts connected to the account in question, changed my debit cards, and had them leave notes on my account.
***** THANKS to Julie on the Center Street branch who worked with me for 40 minutes. When I come back to Salem, I am making her cookies :)******

Today I woke up with a cold. I stayed in bed until 11:30. I needed to do so. I hope I don't have Gripe (the swine flu)... But I know that my chances of contracting it are much much higher in Salem, Oregon than in Ecuador! Boooo for sore throats...

September 22, 2009


I am in Guayaquil and super fine...
Been in Baños for three days. Went rafting.
Went to Cuenca for four days. Went to super old ruins and to thermal baths (baños :)

Now in Guayaquil couchsurfing and headed to a Cuban theater show.

Life is good!

See you in a few weeks...

September 17, 2009

Googling rosebark + xyz

Turns out my blog is well cached.
I googled "rosebark" with various other pairings, including Manta or Ecuador or Salem, and google spat out various blogs of mine. Sort of scary to see how easy it is to find me. And one was about the deodorant from Mark! Good grief. Of all the things for the internet to care about.

And on StatCounter I see that someone found my blog by doing a google search for fire pits, one of which I built and blogged about waaaaay back on December 27. I hope I helped someone's back yard look much cooler.

September 16, 2009

It's 2:38 am. God.

It's 2:38 am on Sunday, September 12, in San Agustin, Ecuador.

I sit in my bed, back errect, covered in blankets, and wearing my brown wool beanie.

I cannot sleep. My back hurts so very bad. I lay in bed playing Sudoku on my cell phone, tears streaming back down both cheeks to my ears.

And I finally get out of bed into the cold bedroom. My feet danced quickly as I ran to grab my iPod without losing too much body heat. I take a second pain pill and then another pill to help me sleep. I am too overtired from too many sleepless nights to go without a sleep aid again. When I do not sleep enough, my fibermyalgia flares up in my joints big time.

I am back in bed, now with music. The first song is lively, delicious Salsa. I choose to skip it; I need something tranquil to induce sleep.

And the next song is acoustic. Delicate.
"You are so beautiful."

This love song to God meant much more to me today than it would have two weeks ago. These things, the beauty of God, the enormity of God, the complexity of God, these have been circulating in my mind. Not because I want to be "holy," nor that I am deliberately meditating on these concepts. I simply want to know.

I want to know why it is that God is eternal. Why He is beautiful. Why He cares.

But I want to know how I know these things, and not "because the Bible tells me so."

More fundamentally, my question is: Do I know these things?

I am beyond tired of Christian-ese, the jargon, the repetition. I know the songs, in both English and Spanish. They kindly repeat Bible verses, which has greatly aided me as I am rather dreadful in memorization. I know the words, the phrases. But what do they mean?

My mom came to visit me in May. We had an amazing time running around the coast of Ecuador and visiting an Andean village. I loved speaking with her. This time is so precious to me and we have a much deeper relationship now.

But something else happened. I would tell mom about an issue I was having. About faith, or feeling lonely, or some other facet of life normal for any person to have difficulty with. Not to mention living with no friends from home for six months!

And Mom's answers were the lovely, trite memorized responses.

The words she said are in the Bible. It's like when we Christians face any situation we whip out a band-aid: A Bible verse or a quote from our pastor.

But what if I don't know what she said? What if I have heard the phrases so often, what if I have simply repeated these phrases as my own salve to soothe my human wounds... But without actually treating the root problem?

I have treated my anxiety with words for too long. "For I have not given you a spirit of fear...' Yet my anxiety returns three minutes later, or never leaves me for a moment.
Repetition of these words has been ineffectual.

After a few attempts of beginning to share my heart with Mom, I realized I only spoke two or three sentences after she paused me and gave me the "solution." I eventually broke down in tears. I needed my Mom, a friend, a hug, empathy. Someone to listen. And I received yet
another Bible verse, or "truth" of God.

But where is the reality of her words??? It all seemed so shallow.

What must I do to encounter God?

I must know the answer already. I have attended too many church services, gone on too many mission trips... I even produced a DVD on Christianity ( )
I know the answer is inside of me. Not in a humanistic way, but in that I have experienced Him before, and our relationship "worked."

I do not expect to conceptualize God. To fully experience any of His attributes.

(Right now my iPod plays "Change me on the inside... There's only one way I can finally break free.")

And this has been my prayer - that I be changed from the inside. Recently my journal has been full of this desire. HOW can I know about God? Man cannot tell me. I must experience Him.

There is no other way. Because, frankly, I don't believe what a man tells me about God. How
would man ever know when he can only recount his experience.

We humans have given God so many names, categories, descriptions, and analogies. I loved one portion of the book "Mister God This is Anna." Anna said that Holy, Perfect, Just, and Beautiful are not descriptions of God.

Rather, it is exactly the opposite. Man's words can never describe God. We lack any capacity to ever comprehend Him, much less describe Him. Our words will never be sufficient to describe His magnitude, His fullness.

And so, God describes Holy. God describes Perfect. God describes Just and Beautiful. We can never know what Perfect or Holy mean without knowing God. He is the point of reference.

I want to know God.

I am reading a book called Crazy Love by Francis Chan. My mentor Doug Comstock gave it to me when we shared breakfast just before I left the States. He knew I am going through a change in how I approach God. The jargon, the packaged view of God... I cannot accept this.

And now I slowly read the pages about God's attributes. My short letter now returns to its start: The book speaks of God's attributes. About how He knows everything, how He is completely powerful, how He is eternal. I don't know how to process these.

(I pause to read just in my bed. My back is still killing me.)

And so as I remind the staff members at San Agustin how to say "Good morning!" or "Thank you!", my mind continues to consider these thoughts. I am so glad that they gnaw at me. So glad that my being is driven to find some sort of change for the better.

Right now my life is simple. I have absolutely no commitments. None. Good grief - I am at a five-star hacienda, eating amazing food, breathing pure air, far from human's noise, and in the sunshine. And yet I am still anxious, still breathing shallow, and my mind is still racing. I am not at peace.

It could be a side effect of a medication. And yes, I absolutely need to take this specific medication.
One CouchSurfer talked with me about how our whole selves need to be cared for... And that perhaps because I was / am not having sex my person is unable to be in stasis. Interesting thought.

Other than these, I can think of absolutely no other reason my body is in such a poor state other than my spirit's unrest.

"For I have not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and of a sound mind."
God, make this my reality.

(My iPod plays "Jesus, I will hold nothing back from You.")

It is 3:22.

God, make You my reality.

September 15, 2009

Physical location

I am currently in Baños. Then Quito, back down to Cuenca, Loja, and then up the Ruta del Sol... To give my despedida a Manta. I believe after that I will head to the Amazon jungle. I will gladly keep you posted on my adventures!

Right now I am traveling with three friends. Two are FIA pilots and one is a police chief. I'm in good hands.

And one of the FIA gents wants to take me flying over the Amazon! COOL!!!

September 14, 2009

My chocolates...

I helped heal a man with cancer. Bob and Amy are vegan and visiting from Florida. They asked me to join them for dessert... Because I made blackberry, coconut, and strawberry chocolates. Bob should not have sugar, nor should he have stress. My mantra is "everything in moderation except chocolate." He ate my chocolates and an amazing cake. "It's more important to control my stress. Your chocolate does that."

September 12, 2009


And that horse ride?
It was SO windy. My horse, Megan, was often spooked by the dust clouds. The girls were a lot of fun. My saddle hurt, my butt hurt, and I learned why I really ought to have worn a bra. Trotting sucks. :)

We had an AMAZING view... Straight up!

There was a rainbow halo around the entire sun. It stayed this way for at least one hour.

The sunset over Cotopaxi was marvelous.

This little piggy went weeeeee weeeeeee weeee all the way home...

Remember how I said that I watched a pig be butchered???
This is the non-graphic version of that story.

Here is our Oinkey. (Name changed for protection of el chancho.)

Rose (author) decided to stop eating pork months ago when she saw the garbage dumps on the coast... The pigs actually eat garbage. From the dump. Literally.

The staff each chose about 10 pounds of meat for their families.
Oinkey was organically fed on the food scraps of the tourists.
This is literally the most expensive pig ever...
One bowl of potato and cheese soup, locro, served at the Hacienda costs $15.
And the pig ate the left-overs.

They grilled all the entrails while butchering the pig. Everyone was eating out of the pot.
Eeeeeeesh. I eat about everything when I travel. Except head, testicles, entrails, and feet. I've got to draw the line somewhere.

And so I had some of our piggy for dinner one evening. It was fabulous. Seriously.

September 10, 2009

I just finished horseback riding in the countryside with three of our guests. You've got to see our chaps. HOTTIES! Hopefully I will post a photo soon... Next I will create a list of horsie terms in English for Patricio, the horse handler.

Last night I played RISK for the first time. I was thinking about Derek Conn the entire time... How many church camping trips were consumed by RISK? ;) I lost both games. I consumed premium rum, a grilled cheese and salmon sandwich, and layed my head on the table frequently. I was up until 4. And I slept through my early morning English class with the kitchen staff. Ooops. Don't worry... We caught up later!

To lunch -

September 9, 2009

Breakfast & English Class

PLEASE do leave comments!
NOTE: Photos take forever. Yesterday I spent ONE hour to post the photos for that blog. I hate not having posted photos for so long, but it is difficult to justify spending time on uploading.

Today my breakfast consisted of fresh honey (we just found a hive. There was about 5x the amount of combs that you see in this box...), fresh yogurt (made on site from our cows) and fresh granola (also on site.)
Beat that.

Later we had English class. They are SO attentive. I feel emotional when I teach - they hang on every word and syllable I speak. They desperately want to know English. I am a part of their life experience.

(?), Alexandra, (?), Monica (cook), (?), Cute Me (maestra), Patricio (horse handler), Rodrigo (gardener), Hugo (handyman), Elsa (chef), Victor (chef), Monica (maid).

September 8, 2009

Today: San Agustine de Callo, la Hacienda

A cold August 20, 2009

I scratch my forehead thinking, "How did I ever end up here?"

The fire snaps and crackles. My left foot is tucked under my bum as I sit on a cashmere blanket draped over a leather couch. Photographs of nature and the former president comfortably rest on the walls as the three foot wicker basket of firewood leans so far back you'd like to put out your hand to catch it.

Something new is here, something fresh, something palatable. It is unavoidable, consuming, enchanting.

Bach plays. My head is light. My eyes lose their focus yet again - last night I went to bed at this early hour, and my body is asking the same of me tonight. I am thankful for the white down bedspread which engulfs the king sized bed, soon engulfing my chilly body.

I am at an hacienda - San Agustine de Callo. I dine in an Incan palace masterfully built in the 1400s. The walls are beautiful heavy stones perfectly fitting with one another. It is owned by Mignon, from the family of two former Ecuadorian presidents. She is colorful, brazen, and looks about 20 years younger than her 75 years of age.

Pablo invited me to come visit him in Quito for a few days before he spends a month shooting a story in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Sure, of course! I thought. I figure that I can't go wrong traveling with someone who knows Ecuador and its beauty so intimately.

Mignon! says David Brown, the Archeologist. Mignon wants you to come to San Agustine and visit. Dr. David Brown (see prior post) has actually spent months on archaeological digs located literally in the buildings of San Agustine and in the surrounding fields. These Incan ruins are some of the most historically important in Ecuador.

(The courtyard)

I hopped in Pablo's four wheeler and we headed an hour south of Quito. San Agustine is in the foothills of Cotopaxi, a deeply culturally significant mountain in Ecuador. We pull off the side of the highway into a sketchy road stop with a few tourist shops and vendors selling bags of fresh mandarins for $1. After 15 minutes of a deeply rutted, dusty road, we arrive at a stunning hacienda. Lunch is served in one of the Incan rooms, almost tomb-like except for the afternoon sun pouring through the window and cascading around a bouquet of 30 roses. Lunch was amazing.

Mingon offered me any of five rooms. The first was breathtaking and I chose it without considering staying in the others. Outside the window is Mount Tunguragua. My bed is a California King. I have a large sitting area with antique desks and furniture, a bathroom almost as big as my apartment in Manta, and large fireplaces in all three rooms. I later learned that the regular rate for staying in this suite is $400. Imaginase! Did I mention the dozens of red roses at the head of my bed?

My room:

Shortly thereafter began dinner. And how we eat! Gourmet, home-made delicacies of meats, juices, soups, and deserts. Fresh juice and fine wine.
The specialty of the house is locro, a cheese and potato based soup. Its appearance is deceptively plain. It is both the Hacienda's specialty and a typical regional dish.

Elsa is our wait staff. She stands quietly in the corner waiting for the opportunity to offer another glass of wine or serve the next fantastic plate. I think Elsa has the best "seat" in the house - There are so many wonderful and interesting people who pass through San Agustine.

The most brilliant part of this experience was the candlelight illuminating the dark, rough Inca walls. Its raw elegance set the evening's tone.

Mignon is enchanted with Pablo. She asks of his books and projects. We speak of politics, of plans, and of the potential in promoting San Agustine. The hacienda offers her a unique opportunity. She is able to invite ambassadors, famous musicians, ministers, etc to the hacienda. They are delighted to stay in this wonderful place free, and she is delighted to have their company.

When I arrived back to my room after dinner, all three fireplaces are lit, my bedspread is turned, and a chocolate covered strawberry rests on one of my four pillows.

I slept well.

My favorite staff member is Daniella. She is WOW. She is a professional flamenca, (Flamenca dancer), loves bull fighting, and sings Blues Clues. Quite often she forgets something. She pauses, leans over and places her head in her hands, and says, O shit!!! She makes me laugh all the time. She constantly bursts into song. She helps me remember to be young, to be free. I know I forget all the time. Here she is dancing again...

The grounds include an Incan room converted into a chapel, dozens of horses, a huge vegetable garden, flower gardens, water fountains, and immensely generous and helpful staff. There are innumerous antiques, and innumerous boquets of roses.

My feet are tired. From doing nothing, I suppose. We toured a flower farm with German, the owner, and his son and daughter in law. Their primary export is broccoli starts. They move millions of plants per week. I unfortunately did not tour their roses - I believe they grow about 60 varieties.

I was blessed to stay two nights in the opulent room, and one night in a more modest room... Read on.

September 7, 2009

I have returned to San Agustine alone.

I'm here to help in the garden and teach a little bit of English. I will not be staying in a room valued at $400, nor will I be eating in the Inca dining room, but I am quite well taken care of.

My room contains three single beds, one wood chair, and a pitcher of drinking water. And that's just about enough for me!

The good thing: I walk into the kitchen at ANY given moment and eat whatever I want. I have no idea how expensive my dinner was today: A grilled sandwich with smoked salmon and some yummy cheese with sweet peppers and grilled veggies. Greek olives, Tres Leches cake, chocolo, and whatever else I found. Good stuff.

(Any random light snack)

(Rose and Cotopaxi)

Today I went on a mountain bike ride into the town of San Agustine. I slung my camera around my shoulder and pumped up and down sandy roads, which is a lot of work.

(Citizens of San Agustine on their way home from work)

Cotopaxi was brilliant. This is the mountain so many Ecuadorians identify with, respect, know, and are comforted by. I took photos of the mountain in the background of a stream, of Indians in traditional wear, of a cow after having just given birth, of two drunks sharing a bottle, of a straw hut, and of the 13 year-old girl I chatted with... Who knew the younger drunk. His name was Chachichi or something similarly weird. She says he drinks all the time.

(my new friend)

(our drunk friends)

I am in a large common area full of old portraits, of pillows tossed on the floor, antique desks and tables, and photography books of all kinds. Behind me is a portrait of Mignon by Guayasamin (1968). Guayasamin is one of the most celebrated artists in Ecuador.

Spetember 8, 2009

Today I drank hot chocolate with milk fresh from a cow. Today I taught English to staff at a five-star hacienda. Today I watched a pig be slaughtered. Today I ate too much salmon. Today I laughed. Today I listened to a friend tell me her boy stories. Today I considered who God is.
Today... I have not yet finished.


On that Pig:

It was actually... sort of mundane. The only part I didn't like was the pig's scream. it was horrible. They just stuck a knife in it for about five minutes and it died. I also saw them torching the hair off and cutting its belly. But I didnt see the innards or anything else because I was too busy preparing for English class :)

Later I walked down to where they were butchering and everyone was taking slabs of the pig home. YEEEccccckkkkk.

I have some really cool videos. Yee haw!

And on all this: Nothing in the world is perfect. There is some tension between some staff members, It is really cold, and I have gas.

God is still good :)

September 5, 2009

Las aerolíneas LAN son pésimas.

- In English -

Las aerolíneas LAN son pésimas.

Son deshonestos y además mienten. No ofrecen un buen servicio al cliente. No cumplen lo que prometen.

*Por favor, dejan sus comentarios abajo.*

Compré un pasaje ida y vuelta desde Medellín a Quito en julio. Yo sólo tome el vuelo de ida. Su sitio web dice claramente que se reembolsará los impuestos de aeropuerto para los vuelos no usados.

He visitado cuatro oficinas diferentes en dos países por un total de 10 veces. He hecho llamadas telefónicas múltiples. He escrito correos electrónicos.

La oficina de Medellín dijo que la oficina de Manta podría ayudarme. Manta me dijo que podía llamar al departamento de reembolsos, pero que no serviría de nada. En julio, Anthony Valensuela me prometió 74,64 dólares como reembolso. Le pregunté si tenía que verificar con su supervisor, Leslie. Dijo que estaba seguro de la restitución, y que lo llamara si hay algún problema.

He recibido $13,64. Al regresar a Quito, María Alexandra Echeverría, dijo que iba a resolver el problema. Ella llamó a su jefe Leslie. Leslie no hizo nada. María Alejandra me dijo que envió un correo electrónico al equipo de reembolsos. Así lo hice. Se supone que responden en 72 horas. Les escribí en agosto. Nunca respondió. La cosa chistosa? 46 minutos despues que envio otro correo a ellos ayer, ya LAN Chile habia leido mi blog. 46 minutos. Dos meses esperando una respuesta. Muy bien.

María Alexandra entonces convenientemente se fue de vacaciones.

En septiembre regresé a Quito. Pedí hablar con el gerente. He hablado con Juan Carlos Barreiro. Dijo que debo enviar un correo a la oficina dereembolsos. Regresé a la oficina una vez más una semana más tarde. Me dijeron el día anterior, antes de recibir una respuesta de la oficina de reembolsos, que necesitan mi número de boleto porque Juan Carlos no lo había incluido.

Le cuestioné acerca de su autoridad como gerente. Me informó que no era gerente. Me habían mentido una vez más.
Prometió llamar o envíame un email con su respuesta. Estuve de acuerdo, y le hice saber que saber que si no me respondía me gustaría escribir este blog.

Ni me llamo ni escribio.

Regrese a la oficina por Orellana hoy, 7 de Octubre. La supervisora Aida Morales me dijo que no voy a recibir un reembolso. Me habia dado aunque mas escusas, y no tomo ningun pedazo de responsibilidad por ni el servicio del cliente no respondiendo a mis correos electronicos, ni los empleos mentirando sobre Juan Carlos' estatus como gerente, ni Juan Carlos no contactandome cuando me dijo que va a hacerlo.

¿Este blog es una venganza? No lo sé. Pero ¿es aceptable que una empresa haga una promesa y obligue a sus clientes a hacer una docena de visitas a la oficina, llamadas telefónicas, etc ... para que no cumplir con su palabra? No.

Han pasado más de tres meses desde que LAN afirmó que me restituiría esos fondos.

Piense bien antes de usar los servicios de LAN.

Este blog tiene una audiencia mundial.  Más de 40 veces a la semana gente de todo el mundo buscando informacion se encuentran a esta página para aprender más de LAN.
Esta historia específica será enviada directamente por correo electrónico a 1.500 personas, muchos de los cuales viajan regularmente en América del Sur.

*Por favor, dejan sus comentarios abajo.*

Este documento fue presentado a la red LAN de servicio al cliente,, y varios otros sitios web de la evaluación independiente de avión.
LAN Chile ya habia revisado este blog dos veces.

6 Oct07:50:35IE 6.0WinXP1280x1024, 5 Oct22:15:35BlackBerry 0 Your browser may not support display of this image. Santiago, Region Metropolitana, ChileLan Chile (lineas Aereas De Chile) ( [Label IP Address]

(La siguiente es la finalidad de permitir a los clientes de LAN inalámbrica a internet Google y encontrar a mi blog)

LAN Airlines aerolínea de América del Sur Chile Perú Argentina Colombia Ecuador Venezuela Brasil volar aviones de servicio al cliente avión horrible mal infeliz de devolución de impuestos se encuentran los impuestos sobre el retorno jefe supervisor desleal mentido tergiversar tergiversado ninguna responsabilidad ayudar inútil útil vuelos promociones Servicios Estado de tu informaciones informacion vuelo internacional sin escalas internacional de ida y vuelta oneworldTM alianza oneworld LAN: líder en calidad de LAN Airlines LAN Perú LAN Ecuador LAN mundo Argentina la alianza global de aerolíneas ofrecer la red más extensa y en cada ciudad importante en el sur de la ciudad de América lanvacations ciudad de llegada partida especial de vacaciones de internet ofrece el check-in reservas y servicios multi-ciudades de destino Destino Fecha de regreso fecha de regreso e-check reserva de entradas en el check-in LANCARGO 1-866 - I FLY LAN 1-866-435-9526 Mesa de ayuda 1 866 435 9526 Reclamos y Sugerencias
,,, verificar reserva lan ecuador

Lunch with Ivan

The day before yesterday I was blessed to share lunch with Ivan Vallejo.
He was a bright and charismatic man. When I asked for him to pass the juice or the ahí, he insisted on serving me. His necklace was yellow and metal and unusual and I wish I'd asked its story.

There are 14 mountain peaks over 8,000 meters.
Ivan has summited all 14 - without oxygen.

I asked him about his children. His oldest, a son, is 25 and enjoys climbing Cotopaxi with Ivan whenever he has the opportunity. And his youngest daughter, he says, is an expert with the GPS - In the mall, that is. She knows where all the discounts are.

I saved my important question toward the end of our meal. (Paraphrased)

"You must have incredible inner strength to have climbed these peaks, especially without oxygen. What spiritual impact has this had on you?"

"That's a great question," he said. "It sounds like a journalist's question." He stood, considering his reply.

"The mountain is my 'school of life'. It teaches me everything. I come to the mountain with an open soul, an open mind, and an open heart. It is then that I can truly learn. The basic things, the daily things are what really matter. I realize that my health and having food to eat are so precious. After the 7,000 meter mark, I can no longer eat. If I try, I only feel like vomiting. And when I finally reach base camp, a plate of rice with two fried eggs seems like the most delicious meal in the world.

"And there are moments when I see a boulder 20 meters ahead of me and I continue toward it, but it feels like I am moving nowhere. During these moments I focus on my children - on a letter one of them wrote me, or an email, or something they told me." Ivan paused, flexing his arms, neck, and facial muscles. He looked away and grunted deeply. "This is what gives me strength to continue. Thinking of my children."

I am honored and humbled to meet such a man.

September 4, 2009

Last night

I went on a nasty awesome bike ride yesterday in the mountains of Ecuador... Sort of a tropic jungle. Amazing. Muddy, dirty, rainy. Beautiful birds, stunning view. I returned home by moonlight while watching the river and fireflies... My wrists and butt are bruised from bouncing down the deeply rutted road. It was worth it.
(I was in Mindo, Ecuador)

Had to think of DanK at one point to push up an ugly hill. He is my hero...
(We rode the MS 150 together with Team Wachovia/Stretchie Pants)


I just realized
I have not seen a TV
since August 18.

And I don't miss it one bit.
There simply is not enough time in life to watch television. I'm not sure how I fit it all in before.

(except one time I did see an old tv in Mignon's bedroom. that sort of does not count.)