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Goodbye Ecuador

Well, we finally made beer – American Ale. Lacking many of the amenities we take for granted in the United States (like a sparkling clean counter top), we busted out 5 gallons (actually, only 4) in about 3-4 hours. What to do with it then though? Naturally, we took the whole container of beer to a gas station to top it off with some more purified water. Then (of course you saw this coming) we took it to a karaoke bar. Since we couldn’t go to Nelson’s house on the other side of town first, we just brought it along. We had a difficult time explaining that we had 5 gallons of pre-fermented beer in our hands and we wanted to take it in with us to the bar.

Eventually, the guard agreed to guard it (thus the name) for us while we celebrated my leaving (or maybe they were celebrating that I would finally be gone). But anyways, here I am – tired as hell, trying to get these pictures on the web before my flight leaves for Bolivia. This will probably be the last post from Ecuador and although I didn’t get to see all the stuff I wanted to see, I think I got a pretty good idea of the country.

Bolvia – here I come!

My how time flies

I peered down the alley at the people huddled around the ATM. Wow…is that the line? I approached and quickly snatched a free machine. beep boop beep beep boop – “Señor, no se sirve”. Damn. No worries, there’s another bank across the street. I examine the logos on my card and the logos on the ATM. Damn…my card wont work here. After a brisk 10 minute walk, I find another ATM and try my luck. “Sorry, we wish to tell you that we cannot process your transaction now”, it replies mockingly. Oh, there’s another bank a few blocks down? Okay. And alas! I can pay the travel agent for my trip to Galápagos! Please note: they don’t accept credit cards. And travelers checks are charged $3 dollars per $100 for “processing” (What a daunting process I’m sure this “processing” entails).

So yeah, I’m going to the Galápagos islands for 8 days in an “economy” boat. No hot water, but at least I only have to share a bathroom with one other person. Set me back only $540 bucks to partake in such luxury, plus another $390 to fly there, plus another $100 to enter the park…Anyone wanna buy the pictures I’m gonna take? – never mind that they will be up for free on my site (I said NEVER MIND).

I discovered yesterday that I am sick. No – I mean like medically, not mentally, as the latter probably isn’t news to many. I think I’m a little better today though. Just a head cold (as cool as I am, you would think I would catch colds more often, no?).

Still so much more to see in Ecuador and I have to leave the day after I get back from Galápagos! Hopefully Nelson and I will see one more place before I have to go, but if not, I have really enjoyed my stay here in Ecuador. This place is awesome. I think knowing someone here has made all the difference.

And now I must take least, as the guard’s dog outside is barking loudly and it’s getting a bit annoying. Yeah, guards have dogs and shotguns here and they are stationed everywhere. I’m not quite sure what service the dogs provide, as they just sit there tied to a post all day, but what can you do? (What can you do?).

Oh yeah, and it may be a few days before I send another post (But I swear I’ll call you, mom) as I don’t know if they have many internet cafes in Galápagos or whether I’ll have time. But, I promise that I post have a ton of bad ass pictures on the site when I get back (que chévere!).


Quote of the day: Yeah, the people in my country speak poor in the South too.
–A Californian kid trying to pick up on a German chick in my hostel.

Technical difficulties?

So it has come to my attention that some people have been having problems opening the links on the emails I’ve been sending out. I have modified the way my stuff sends out so let me know if you are still having problems. If you still have problems though, keep in mind that you can always copy the address and paste it into your browser.

Let us mourn a fallen soldier…

Please everyone, a moment of silence. On this day, September 7, 2003, a great compatriot was lost. He served me well for 7 days – but alas, as with many great ones in the past, he was left on the bus coming back from the bullfights. Yes…yes, my hat is no more. A tear comes to my eye as I write this, actually. He shall…he…he shall always be in my memories, however, and although he will never really be replaced, I´ll probably get another tomorrow.

In other news, I went to the bullfights today. Check out the pictures in the gallery. Things may look a little weird as I rearranged all the pics by city, but the new one is the Sanguolqi album. In these bullfights, they don´t kill the bull – they just mess around with him. Thing´s were going great and then it started raining like I’ve never seen before.

It was outta control and we were all trapped under this crazy three story club house-like stadium for several hours. It didn’t stop the bullfights though and after everyone in the stadium was sufficiently drunk, people crowded into the ring to taunt the bull. About 3 people got mauled – which I am assuming is what they wanted – and a few horses got knocked around. This place was pretty incredible though. You walk down the road to the homemade stadium and there are hundreds of people roasting pigs over fire, making pastries, selling water, beer, gum, candy, soda, biscuits. If you want to use the bathroom, it´s 15 cents – no ifs ands or buts.

It´s two bucks to go into your “suite” in the stadium and if you venture over the imaginary line to either neighboring suite, a lady comes up and yells at you. When the rain started, everyone took turns hitting the tarps above our heads to get rid of the water and everyone screamed in unison as the water fell through the holes onto one or two random and different people each time. As soon as the rain started, a hundred people started selling 5×2 feet sheets of plastic to cover up. As the rain varied its intensity the price ranged from .25 cents to a dollar. It was wild.

It´s funny – I thought that I knew Spanish until I came here and it became the only language I can speak. I am learning really fast though and it doesn’t seem like it´s only been 7 days. The most frustrating thing though is that I can´t make many subtle and dry jokes because that takes a better command of the language.

The question was posed to me in an email – which way does the water in the toilets spin at the center of the earth? I have scientifically tested two toilets to find the answer. In one it just kind of filled up then was sucked away without any spin. In the other, it went counter-clockwise. I think I´ll have to poll more toilets around the city to get more conclusive statistics.

Please pray for my hat.

About those buses…

Yeah, in Quito, bus stops don´t mean much. You can get on and off wherever you want and it´s usually just 25 cents to anywhere in the city. I just got off a pretty long bus ride to this far away town called Otavala. There is a really huge market there with thousands of people every weekend. We walked around all day (I took lots of pics) and then watch the Ecuador vs. Venezuela soccer game.

Long bus ride back though – we were waiting in the dark for a bus back to Quito but they were all full so we kept waiting with some others for about an hour and a half. Cars would come by occasionally and load people up (I guess if your going to Quito it´s a cheap way to make some extra money) but they didn’t have space for us. Then finally, a bus pulled up and everyone crowded to the door but only me, Nelson and Giovanna (my friends) were able to make it on. The bus was full though so we had to sit on the ground in the front of the bus until others got off.

Yesterday, I went to the Middle of The World – a monument dedicated to exactly where the equator is and the northern and southern hemispheres meet. The weird thing is that the French (those god damned French) came and set up a monument where they thought the exact point was, but they were actually wrong. It is over on this mountain where the Indians originally put this big monument. They can´t figure out how they knew where it was.

So after that we went to karaoke (my buddy Nelson loves karaoke) and then went and played pool. When we got hungry we went and hung out at this Arabic place with Giovanna´s brother and got some dinner (a whopping $1) and then went to this other Arabic restaurant.

It took like 2 hours to get our drinks and coffee and the waitress spilled coffee all over Nelson, but it was probably one of the funniest nights yet in Quito (ever).

What´s a trip about Quito is that there are like tons of little kids everywhere selling stuff. You´ll be sitting in the bus and some kid will jump on and hand out candy to everyone, then make rounds again and ask for money for it, or that you give it back. You will be in a bar at 1AM and some 4-5 year old kid (no joke) without parents will come up and tug on your shirt and ask you to buy some gum. When you say no, he or she just walks away to another table, then to another bar. Sad stuff, but you can´t really contribute to it because although it might help them in the short run, it just leads to it´s continuation and encourages their parent´s to not put them in school.

Anyways, pictures will be up soon (set #3). Tomorrow it is off the bull fights!

Help! What day is it?

Okay, okay, I got some of the technical difficulties with this site figured out so I suppose I can spend a little more time with my impressions of Ecuador.

Just like anywhere else, some people are really friendly and some aren’t. You walk around and have to pay constant attention to where you are walking so as to not get run over. But what´s really cool is that there is always something going on.

There are always a million cars flying by on a one way tattered street honking (they honk a LOT), taxis soliciting clients, shoe shine boys asking you if you want “limpiar”, motorcycles flying down the sidewalk (the road is for lamers), guards standing around cafes or banks with their guns ready to be fired, and about a million other things. Because we are so high up, the clouds move fast and the weather outside always either looks really sunny, or really cloudy and dark. I never brought a jacket because I thought that it would be hot here on the equator, but no, the altitude makes it damn cold – so this chick I met is letting me borrow here jacket.

My friend Nelson has introduced me to lots of people and I’ve made a lot of friends. We have gone out and done something nearly every day – like the natural hot springs we visited last night. Sitting in a natural spa and relaxing certainly is nice. The springs were halfway up a volcano, so we were really high up.

We were right in the middle of the clouds and it was always half raining. Check the gallery for pictures.

As far as smells are concerned, you get a mixture in different areas. Near the busy streets you get a blend of roasted meat, diesel and ….. uh, fresh air. Sometimes you´ll walk by some place gross and get a whiff of urine, but usually it´s pretty normal. With everything that’s constantly going on here, you can just sit and watch things pass like a movie. It´s pretty crazy.

Today I´m getting ready to go see El Mitad Del Mundo (the middle of the world) which is some monument right on the equator. I´m uploading more pictures, so check the site in a little bit for more.

Pictures Take So Long To Upload

So, I´m trying to get a system down for uploading pictures but it´s a real pain. So I don’t know how often I´ll be able to do it. If anything, I’ll just take low quality pictures. Anyways, the museums here are pretty cool. Lots of churches and cathedrals and stuff like that. I´m going to some pretty cool cities pretty soon here with my friend and hopefully I´ll have some cool pics from there too. Hopefully I´ll also have some budget info up pretty quick too. It took me a while to get used to everything and I may have been spending more than I needed to – but now I should be able to put up accurate stats.