October 30, 2009

Chuchaqui: Definition and Application in Ecuador

Your Spanish lesson of the day: (This word is not true Spanish. It is assumed to have Kichwa roots)

Chuchaqui. Hangover.

Chuchaqui seco. Dry hangover, aka massive headache, desire to vomit, but not having drank anything with your buddies the night before.

This lesson was composed for Sean Manning, my probably drunk former coworker.

Note: Shot glass is from Colombia.
Note: Rose drinks so often she grows crocus bulbs and places cuttings of fragrant daphne in the shot glass.
Note: Rose will gladly match shots if you're buying.

An Ecuadorian Anecdote:
I was in Banos, Ecuador
(Yes, like "bathroom." But it means "bath" because of the natural water springs.)
I played billiards with a bunch of friends in an open-air bar. My cheap mojito was so bad I sent it back twice. The first time because there was no lime or alcohol. Right. At least it had the mint. That night I only drank 1.5 drinks. Must not drink a lot when in foreign country with only men around and not knowing any of their last names. Right. (Two from the Ecuadorian air force and one from Manta, the city's police chief)

The next day I had chuchaqui.
After nibbling at breakfast at David's mom's house, I told the guys I felt ill. My head pounded. My stomach hurt profoundly. And I could barely sit up at the table where I was the special guest. After breakfast, they went to run an errand and I turned and walked half a block to my hotel. I didn't make it. Thankfully there was a nice guy on the street who gave me tissues and water while I was leaning over the street gutter and emptying my stomach...

I felt better and spent the rest of the day white water rafting on the edge of the jungle. Glorious. And I loved every wave!

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October 23, 2009

Round 4: Vegetable Oil

Grandma hid the vegetable oil.

The bad news is that I found the vegetable oil in the coffee cupboard.
The good news is that I found the vegetable oil.

Now where are those enchiladas?

Round 3: The best part

The best part of my day is just before lunch.

I have set out all their favorite and specific foods, brought grandma a spoon for her sandwich (flat handled, of course,) and am silently sighing in relief after they approved my meal.

As I walk out of the room, Grandpa extends his gnarly, pale hand and Grandma's weathered hand covered in purple veins slides into his.
Both of their heads bow, and both are completely focused.

"Father, we thank you for this beautiful Oregon day. It's rainy, but we know we need the rain, too. Thank you for protecting us, for Teresa and I's health, and for Your love..."

I stand in reverence. My eyes fill with tears. This picture of commitment and love to both one another and to God quiets me. It is an example of precisely what I wish in my marriage, both the first day I marry and 50 years later.

GrammyGramps, I love and respect you.
Thank you for allowing me to be part of your lives.

October 22, 2009

Round 2: The good life with GrammyGramps

The beautiful sunset in Salem, Oregon. Note the red dogwood tree turning colors in the background. I've not seen an oak tree and acorns in a great deal of time. And may God truly bless America. The Oregon countryside is magnificent.

My routine: I wake up, check on Grandma and Grandpa, start coffee, open all curtains, get the paper, and start the rounds. Clean the house as much as possible before they wake up. Answer the phone and talk to all kinds of nurses and doctors. Try to remember and pronounce Sodalol. Beta blocker, now 1/2 pill twice daily. Empty urine bucket. Check on Grandma again. Watch her turn up the heat to 74. Wait until she goes to another room. Turn the heat down to 70. Repeat throughout day. Help Grandpa stand. Listen to him tell me he has done his exercises... When I am almost certain he has not. Walk to bathroom if he is not lightheaded. Help him sit on his roller chair so he can go through his morning routine. Wait for the copper bell to ring when he is ready to get up. The rest of the day continues on as this. I am so proud of myself... I swept, mopped, and emptied the garbage cans in addition to making all our meals and snacks.


I just said goodnight to Grandma.

"I don't think we have another niece as kind and thoughtful as you are."

I laughed to myself. Maybe they don't have another niece, but I am certain they have plenty of children and grandchildren!


My diet in Eucador: Three servings of rice, two servings of plantains, and soup with some meat on the side.

My diet at GrammyGramps: Fruit. Veggies. Turkey breast, nuts, yogart, milk, and wheat bread. Oh, wait. And four servings of chocolate. Thanks to all my aunts and uncles for their generous donations to my chocolate supply! It's fun to share this passion with my grandma!

October 21, 2009

Round 1: Hide-and-Seek with Grandma (She's 83)

My aunts and uncles told me that taking care of Grandma and Grandpa would be like babysitting children.

There's truth in this. But rather than saying "I'm big enough!" Grandma says "I know how to do that." They still fall asleep everywhere, want the pink pillow instead of the white one (why does it matter? you are sleeping on it!), and need their cereal in a very specific way. Grandpa likes his half cheerio, half anything else, with blueberries that are partially thawed or with bananas, and always with raisins. Not too much milk. The small white bowl with the smaller spoon. And always always serve Grandma's cereal with the flat handled tea spoon, and with a knife. Because... you never know.

Anyhow. I digressed. Hide-and-Seek. What a lovely childhood game! Fun memories of hiding behind big pine and oak trees on warm summer days make me smile. And Grandma wants to play! But... Not with me.

I was thawing some frozen chicken enchiladas yesterday evening when Grandma started "helping." She wanted to serve and microwave. No biggie. I left and sat down about 15' outside of the kitchen. I got up about five minutes later to check on her and, like magic... no enchiladas! Wow!

Wouldn't you know, but if you play Hide-and-Seek with the enchiladas Grandma hid, and you look in all the kitchen drawers (16) and cupboards (25), you might not find the chicken enchiladas. And if you yell "ALLIE ALLIE OXEN-FREE!!!" just like when you were a kid so all your friends would come running out into the sunshine from their hiding spot... The enchiladas do not come running.

This has been Report #1 from Rose Barker, granddaughter of my lovely and delightful grandparents Teresa and Dick. :)

October 18, 2009

Safely arrived home... Time to adjust!

Amigos y familia,

Greetings from my cozy home in Salem, Oregon!

(( Espanol: Pegar este texto en y encontrarias una traduccion ma o menos suficiente para comprender. Abrazos! ))

I safely arrived home on October 13. I went directly from being stung by an electric eel in the jungle of Ecuador to ummmm a rather uneventful home in the US. Culture shock is strong. I am confused and overwhelmed by the immense waste in all aspects of our lives. I do not know how to process all the giant white people; I am used to peering over the heads of all the short tan people! I miss their good manners and graciousness. Americans are unconscious of how abrupt and judgmental we allow ourselves to be. Road rules. They exist here, and people follow them. Note to self. And where is all the rice and plantains??? I need my arroz y platanos!

All said and done, I am emotionally rather unpredictable. I saw Mt. Hood for the first time and burst into tears. “That’s my mountain!” I thought, remembering all the times I gazed at Cotopaxi in Ecuador and longed for familiarity. And today I saw a collage of photographs of all the relatives on my mom Margo’s side of the family. I froze, overwhelmed, and silently began to cry as I scanned their faces. I hope we celebrate Christmas together this year.

It is good to be home. My patience is deep (I had no control over many aspects of slow life in Ecuador.) I enjoy doing the dishes (ok, I no longer curl my toes at the thought.) I always fold my clothing six times (this way it fit on my handmade shelves in Ecuador.) And I have no appreciation for canned and frozen processed foods (we ate home cooked meals all day every day.)

I started in on my new "job" right away - I am blessed to have the opportunity to care for my grandparents. My grandma Teresa has dementia and needs a bit of help. And my grandpa Dick, who has always done wonderfully with Grandma, recently had a knee surgery and also needs assistance. I will be with them Sunday evening to Friday evening with two short breaks during the week. That’s right, folks, my 110 hour workweek begins only days after returning home tanned from the Ecuadorian jungle. Here’s to a new adventure of measuring Grandma’s milk, helping with knee rehab exercises, and thankfully recouping a bit of finances spent wandering Ecuador.

I have only written about a third of the adventures I experienced. My strategy is to spend a bit of time each day writing and editing photographs. You will likely hear more adventures after my trip than during! Keep posted on the blog.

See you SOON! I look forward to telling adventurous, boring, happy, and painful tales!

October 17, 2009

My Favorite Things

Raindrops on Roses and whiskers on kittens

Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens

Brown paper packages tied up with string

These are a few of my favorite things

I sit on the tip of an old wood canoe and glide down the Cuyabeno River in the jungle of Ecuador. This classic Sound of Music song naturally and unconsciously slips out of my mouth. The gorgeous 40’ tiny leafed trees are literally engulfed by ivy-like vines. Many trees look like some sort of formidable monster that will start walking toward you and eat you at any moment. But the giant Ceibo trees, majestic and white trunked, usually host brightly colored parrots on their uppermost branches. We hear crawing and have learned to crane our necks up and spot them immediately. It is raw and authentic; I am watching different species of parrots and toucans and all other kinds of birds in their true home, not in someone’s cramped cage on their back porch in Salem.

The best part about the jungle was not looking at anything at all. It was holding still and listening. The chorus of birds is explosive, melodic, entrancing. It is one of the most beautiful sounds I have ever heard in my life. And every few hours some species of the birds would finish their shift, a new species join the chorus, and the song entirely changed its tune.

And as I sat on the dock late at night and stared over the river and up at the stars, the magic of the moment washed over me.

One week later I sit on my patio in Oregon on my salvage rocking chair.

I am in Salem, Oregon on a gorgeous autumn morning. I hear the leaves rustle together on the giant oak tree next door. The weather is a crisp 60 and the air smells so delicious. Of wetness and earth, an inexplicable primitive smell that touches my being.

I’ve not seen a tree changing color in a year. And the morning sun pierces through the brilliant red and yellow leaves as though the glowing tree is a gem, a gift from God. The colors all around me are rich hues of mahogany, brass, emerald, and goldenrod. And, although not exactly exotic, I smile as I watch the squirrels dance on the top of the fence and the bluebirds hop around looking for their breakfast.

…These are a few of my favorite things.

It is good to be home.

Praise GOD!!! $2,000 gift from the Pharmaceutical Company

Thank God, praise God, relief, burden lifted.

I prayed and trusted God would take care of my medication issue when I returned home from Ecuador, and this He did.

I am immensely grateful to Glaxo Smith-Kline.
Why am I thankful for a pharmaceutical company?

I have no health insurance. I have been in the US for almost three weeks, and my very expensive medication was quickly depleting. In Ecuador it costs $90.

I applied and was approved to receive free medication through Glaxo Smith-Kline.

There are tears in my eyes -
This will save me over $1,800 this year.

A CouchSurfer, Matthew from Portland, encouraged me to apply.
Thank God once again for Couchsurfing.

If you need assistance with GSK medication, I encourage you to contact them at

Many blessings,
Miss Rose

October 15, 2009

My Digits...

Today I left the house once. To go to Cingular.
I now have a real U.S. cell phone number. My phone is pretty cool: It is so old it doesn't even have a camera! Imagine that.
When my family came to pick me up from the airport, they were all taking pics with their cell phones. That is certainly a change from when I left the US in 2008.

Anyhow, I am glad to give the number to you, but would not like to blog it publicly.
I would appreciate it if you contact me by sending me an email.

Love you!
Miss Rose

October 14, 2009

In the USA and Safe!


Yesterday I awoke near the Amazon. I traveled all day. Last night I arrived in Quito, packed, and slept one hour. Today I traveled for 23 hours.

I was gratefully picked up from the Portland airport this evening by many family and friends, and am now finally home in Salem.

Hugs, tears, smiles, and stories are plentiful.

Time to sleep for a looooong time.


October 8, 2009


I feel antsy. Alone. Overwhelmed.

I am headed to a remote part of the Ecuadorian Amazon rain forest tomorrow, but am absolutely unphased.

I am returning to the USA in five days, and am... uncomfortable.

Please keep me in your prayers!

Hair trim

Today I went to Calle Amazonas and had my hair trimmed.
It was a... unique experience.

"Honey, can I help you?" The Spanish question was asked...
A man in tight fitting jeans and shirt with over-jelled hair stuck out one hip to the side. I smirked to myself.

How is it that there are so many worldwide standards? Why is it that so many male stylists are gay? How does this come about? Why do Ecuadorians and Americans equally eat popcorn while watching a movie?

Anyhow. My hair was plagued by split ends. He trimmed it. In TEN MINUTES. I have never had my hair cut in less than 40 minutes.

The cut looks fine. A little block-ish, but I suppose that's what you get when you pay $2.50. I tipped $0.50. And felt pretty good about that.

He paused during the cut to greet some people walking by on the street. He returned a bit happier. "Those are my gay friends," he said. He paused, trimmed a bit of hair, and announced "I'm gay."

"I never imagined," I replied. The entire staff of the salon burst into laughter.

October 7, 2009

Food. I miss it.

It's interesting how food shapes us, and how we come to depend on it. Back in the States, I used to be proud of myself if I cooked once a week. Costco's frozen three cheese spinach raviolis and Italian meatballs, Foster Farm's chicken corn dogs, and great amounts of fresh fruit were my staples. Now I eat home cooked food at my friend's houses or chicken or fish with any variety of watery soup every day for less than $2.

At first I CRAVED many foods. I seemed obsessed with the day I would return to the States and gobble down my favorites. Now I am fairly neutral. I no longer feel like I need them. It would be lovely, but I am completely content and distracted by eating the fresh fruits and random food inventions of Ecuador. Either way...

Foods I miss:

- Mom's applesauce, peaches, pears, cinnamon rolls, cookies, and stews. Enough said. Last Christmas my breakfast sucked. I miss her Christmas breakfast...
- Dad's breakfasts. People here seem to think an American Continental Breakfast consists of two slices of plain toast, two soft-boiled eggs, and fresh juice. This does not count. Dad's huge pancakes with local Marion berry syrup, turkey bacon, eggs cooked in the bacon grease, and a glass of orange juice (concentrated frozen) always is amazing.

- Great Harvest 9-grain, honey wheat, and Dakota bread. The wheat or grain bread, "integral," is awful here. It is bitter and leaves a nasty aftertaste. 3-cheese garlic, cinnamon chip... Now where is my pink bread card?
- Stew. The soup here is tasty, but largely broth. I like it thick. Mum?

- Skittles. Starbursts. I've not seen them in almost a year. Do they exist?
- My favorite Harry and David truffles. Ghirardelli caramel filled dark chocolate squares. Twix, Snickers, etc. Thank GOD my mom brought me loads and loads of Twix and Snickers and a bag of H&D. I don't know if I would have survived without them.

- Cheddar cheese.
- Krispy Kremes.
- S'mores. Anyone up for a bonfire?
-Andes Mints.
- Black berries and Marion berries. The Ecuadorian version, Mora, is... Icky. I rarely enjoy its juice, ice cream, and other food products.

- Grahm crakers.
- Sausage.
- Peaches.
- Elephant ears. The dough, cinnamon, sugar kind you find at the fair.
- Pretzles
-Mexican food. A real burrito would be SO welcome right now.

Winco Bulk is my best friend.
- PEANUTS. The variety in Ecuador, well, sucks. They are bitter and dry. I cannot see any reason to eat them.
- Cranberries. They do not exist here.

Just some ideas for coming-home gifts. :)

October 5, 2009

Why LAN Airlines Sucks


They are dishonest. They mislead you. They do not offer customer service. They do not complete what they commit.

I purchased a round-trip ticket from Medellin to Quito in July. I only flew the first leg. Their website clearly states that they will refund airport taxes for any flights not taken.

I have been to four different offices in two countries a total of 12 times. I have made multiple phone calls. I have written emails.

The Medellin office said the Manta office would help. Manta said that I could call the Refunds department, but that they would not help. In July, Anthony Valensuela promised me $74.64 as a refund. I asked him if he needed to double check with his supervisor, Leslie. He said he was certain of the refund, and to call him if there is any issue.

I received $13.64.
Back in Quito in the office on Orellana, Maria Alexandra Echeverria said she would resolve the issue. She called his boss Leslie. Leslie would not help. Maria Alexandra told me to email the refund team. I did so. Supposedly they respond in 72 hours. I wrote them in August. They never replied. Know what's funny? I sent them another email last night with this text. In 46 minutes LAN Chile logged onto my blog. 46 minutes. After two months of waiting for a reply. Right.

Maria Alexandra then conveniently went on vacation.

In September I returned to Quito. I asked to speak to the manager. I spoke to Juan Carlos Barreiro. He said he would email Refunds and ask for help. I returned to the office yet again over a week later. He said they emailed him the night before... Asking for my personal information (He neglected to include my plane ticket number. Genius.)

I asked him about his power as a manager. He informed me he was not a manager after all. I was being pawned off yet again.

He promised to call or email me with his response. I agreed, and let him know that if he did not, I would create this blog. He neither called nor emailed.

I returned to the office today, October 7. The manager Aida Morales informed me that I would not be refunded. She made plenty of excuses, and took no responsibility for customer service ignoring my emails, the office staff lying about Juan Carlos' status as a manager, and Juan Carlos not contacting when he said he would.

Is this blog vengeance? I do not know. But is it acceptable that a company make a promise and force their customer to literally make a dozen office visits, phone calls, etc for them to... NOT make good on their word? No.

It has been more than three months since LAN stated they would refund my funds.

Travel wisely.

See the two comments posted below. Read the second.

Interestingly, although LAN never took the time to reply to my many (polite!) emails, they did take the time to hire Altius. The comment posted on October 27 from "." is from LAN - They pay Altius to save their image from monsters like me.

Good grief. Here's to ethics and great client service. One point for you, LAN!

(Let's see how long it takes for Altius to retract their comment...)
Within 12 hours of emailing Altius on their behavior, I received 14 hits on my site from LAN all over the world. Including offices specific to those named in the blog. I wonder how much of their money I have wasted on their salaries alone???

This blog is viewed over 400 times weekly.
This specific story will be directly emailed to 1,500 people, many of whom regularly travel in South America.

(The following is intended to allow LAN customers to google LAN and find my blog. Internationals find the blog every day through Google.)

LAN Airlines airline Chile South America Peru Argentina Ecuador Venezuela Colombia Brazil fly plane airplane customer service awful bad unhappy refund tax taxes return boss supervisor unfair lie lied misrepresent misrepresented no responsibility unhelpful help helpful vuelos promociones servicios estado de tu vuelo informaciones informacion international internacional nonstop ida y vuelta oneworldTM oneworld LAN alliance: LAN Airlines LAN Peru LAN Ecuador LAN Argentina world's leading quality global airline alliance providing the most extensive network to and within every major city in South America departure city arrival city lanvacations lan vacations special offers check-in reservations and services multi-ciudades destino destination fecha de regreso return date e-ticket re
serve check in check-in lancargo 1-866- I FLY LAN 1-866-435-9526 Mesa de ayuda 1 866 435 9526 Sugerencias y Reclamos,,, verificar reserva lan ecuador

Please pray with me -

Good evening!
Yesterday my family contacted me with both good and bad news. I ask for your prayer.

The very bad news is that my elderly grandparents (on my Mom's side) are in a difficult state. Grandma has dementia. Grandpa, who is 88, has been caring for her.
On October 8 Grandpa is having knee surgery. (Reason #1 to pray... Grandpa's health)

Grandma will need someone in the house 24/7. She is fairly independent, but still needs someone present. (Reason #2 to pray... Grandma's health)

My family has asked me to consider living with my Grandma several days out of the week while Grandpa is in the hospital. This is wonderful - I can serve and love my Grandparents, and will likewise fill a much needed role in my family. Everyone will feel better knowing that someone who truly loves Grandma will be caring for her.

I will also be blessed because I will return to Oregon with a job. I was concerned about how I would get along without a steady income, especially considering how greatly my savings have been affected by my trip to Ecuador. ($2,000 in student loans, $1,100 in medication, and $1,200 in the plane ticket and vaccinations... Not including all my living expenses in the last 10 months.)

Reason #3 to pray: Tomorrow I will decide what schedule I will commit to. I am a bit concerned about being cooped up in a house with one other person knowing that she is quirky and a bit unpredictable. Thankfully my family is attempting to get internet for the house - which will be my saving grace. Likewise, most evenings a family member will come to the house and visit for dinner so I can have some time away.

Thank you for your prayers.
Love you!!!
Miss Rose


Update: On 10/6 I decided to commit to a five day per week schedule with Grandma. My family is delighted. I am at peace. I will only be able to see you Friday nights - Sunday afternoons, but I am certain all will work out well. Thankfully my family will come every few days to give me a few hours off. A time and a season -

Another 3 min update

I arrived in Quito safely. I went straight to bed, woke up at 10pm, and went salsa dancing with my friend David. It was lovely.

Yesterday I ate the best Sushi in Ecuador. Toured the old city. And ate (fake) cheesecake in a restaurant overlooking the entire Quiteno valley. Beautiful.

Today I will go to the market with Kim and her boyfriend Ted. Kim is the photography editor for Audubon Magazine.
Ted is a nature researcher.
Both are smiley and quite intelligent. I am blessed to know them.

On Wednesday I may or may not fly over the Amazon. David is in the airforce. His plane is in maintenance. Hopefully we will catch a ride in a cargo or passenger plane to Coca, Ecuador to avoid an eight hour bus ride. And then we will travel together for four or five days. I am SO blessed to travel with him - He spent six weeks in a survival course in the jungle, and is quite equipped to care for me in the event of anything unexpected.

Eight more days!
Miss Rose

October 2, 2009

Concluding my Trip

Howdy, all!
Good news and bad news. The good news is that I am coming home.
The bad news is that my 10 months of vacations are ending. Sigh.

I am well. Tired. I was up until 4am last night packing my bag. I will carry about 80 pounds of stuff back to the states - many books, 40 cds and dvds, and little gifts. How wonderful!

Today I leave Manta. I have had many tears in the last few days. Yesterday was my last trip to Santa Marianita, which is a secluded beach where I feel at "home."

I am headed to Quito today. I will spend the next days with friends. I will visit an airforce base. Hopefully on Tuesday my friend will take me flying over the Amazon. YAY!

Then... I will go to the Amazon! Right now I am looking for a reliable travel partner. Please pray for this.

I will be returning home late on Tuesday the 13th. I will try and plan a coming home party on Saturday the 17th. Hopefully at a coffee house or something similar. I hope to see you!

Buenas. Please read the post before this one which describes how I feel about the end of my trip.

Love you lots!

October 1, 2009


This weekend I planned to go to Macas, a small city in the Amazon. My highschool girlfriend, Amy Quiring, is teaching English there.

And I didn't go.

Now all newspapers and news stations are covered in news: There are massive riots as natives clash ...
Will finish later.