Monday, May 29, 2006

Losing the will to go on and getting it back (sort of)

So today I finally gave in to my gut instincts and began what will probably be a long and lusty tradition of bitching about the heat. I've been so good thus far... weeks and weeks of 90-95 degree highs and not so much as a peep out of me. I can adjust! I swear I can! I'll show all these Texans who look at me and shake their heads in smirking pity when they learn it's my first down-south summer that we Yanks are no wilting lilies! We're made of... okay, forget about it. I wilted, I so wilted. It's not even the end of May and Richard and I find ourselves spending 10-35 minute intervals sitting in our underwear on the living room couch, staring at nothing in particular in total silence, because the heat is almost tolerable if you don't move a muscle and no part of your body touches another part. Sweet Jesus, it is HOT. And we ain't seen nothing yet. After some brief ranting and raving I finally turned on the living room air conditioner for the first time... we've been sleeping with the a/c in the bedroom for a few days, but haven't been home enough to resort to the living room unit until Memorial Day rolled around to beat us into pulpy submission. Nothing to make you feel trapped like the knowledge that if you so much as open your blinds - and let's not even speak of moving the rolled-up towel away from the 2-inch gap under your front door - your house will instantly become 10 degrees hotter. It hurts, bad.

Just when I'd given up all hope, the temperature suddenly plunged, the sky clouded over, and it's been practically cool all evening. Like a goldfish with a 6-second memory, I once again like Austin.

For now...

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Ah... it’s been so long since I had time for wireless internet. Not too much has happened since the last time I posted, except for my chorus concert last night. It went really well... everyone else was so nervous though!! Most of them had never performed for anything big like that. And Eugenio’s big speeches didn’t help. But it came off well, and mostly we had a lot of time backstage while the other choirs were singing to bond. Mostly I translated a lot of stuff into English (part of an essay on the “greenhouse effect”, a text message, a romantic letter to paola’s boyfriend...) and the boys turned off the lights and made farting noises. All very mature.

Anyway, I’ve updated some pictures! Here’s a bunch of choir photos, mostly from last night. Here’s some from my first trip to canoa over semana santa. And here’s some random ones including my maduro smore!!! Next week I promise to start in on my parents visit... we went so many places and I have so many pics between me and them that its daunting to go through them all!

Time to sign off... emails and such and then I am going to see the Da Vinci Code with Becky.

Friday, May 26, 2006

feliz batalla de pichincha

Well, today is the observed holiday of the Battle of Pichincha, which since i don't normally teach on fridays really just means i have to put up with stuff being closed and a significant increase in drunk guys making various sound effects at me. yay! Wednesday, the 24th, was the actual holiday, which commemorates the battle that sealed the ecuadorian independence and seems to be some kind of combination of independence day and veterans day. ecuadorian flags and flags of pichincha (the region) appear everywhere. i had to cross through a big military parade on shyris after my morning class, to catch a bus. otherwise, business as usual.

other exciting events of this week:
- I made the maduro smore!! Unfortunatly, since I'm not braving the holiday crowd at the plaza de las americas i can't upload the picture and blog vegan lunch style. It doesn't look like much anyway, but it was damn good. i may have to open my own stand and sell them.

- I got my censo (more or less like a green card.)! Finally. After gathering all the necessary documents all i had to do was wait for about 3 hours in the immigration office. i missed out on the group trip since i was traveling when rebecca and becky got theirs. It was rather amusing, we had to get a letter from our landlord which certifies that "señoritas rebecca nichols, rebecca thompson, y rebecca edwards¨live there. Despite the tedious wait, getting your censo is actually quite entertaining. Becuase for all the paperwork you have to do to get one, it must be the world's most bootleg id. So to get it you have to jump through lots of red tape... It's not enough just to have your visa, you have to register your visa, have copies, a copy of your lease and your landlord's ID (and in our case a letter as well since our names aren't on the lease), a copy of a letter from your sponsoring institution (despite the fact that you already needed it to get your visa in the first place), id pictures, and $4. So after all of that and the 3 hour wait you finally get to the counter to get your censo, and they pull out a crappy paper card which they stick into a TYPEWRITER and type up your info. Then, you get to cut your id picture down to size using the scissors taped to the counter, and glue it on yourself using the helpful school paste they have at hand. You don't have to sign it or anything. Then, you have to take it out yourself to get it laminated!!!! How easy would it to be to stick on anyone elses picture!! Oh, and the best part is that you also have to bring your own manila folder, on which you handwrite your personal information and glue another photo. They stick all your copies in there, and add it to what cannot even generously be called a "stack" of folders in the corner of the office. there are literally heaps of these folders falling all over the place. the whole thing was so quintessentially ecuadorian i just wanted to laugh. a censo doesn't get me a whole lot, i can use it as an id, i can get the national rate at national parks (which is actually a huge savings for the galapagos), and i do need it to get a "permiso de salida" or pemission to leave the country.

- i subbed at the crazy christian school again yesterday. cayanne is already putting together the lesson plans for me to teach the last 3 weeks of school there. mostly they will probably be busy with last minute things the school comes up with to interfere with class, but i get to teach them about the ecosystem and prepare for an open house, which i have to teach in front of all the parents! yikes!

- my chorus concert is tonight! For once it's actually a big formal concert in the casa de la musica. eugenio treated us to a long lecture about what an experience of a lifetime it is and how we can tell our children that we sang there (i'm sure mine will be really impressed...). it's part of the "mes de franz listz", sponsored by the conservatory of that name. you can actually see the info online here! Just scroll down to the 26th of may where it says "festival de coros". I'm in the coro de Unita, and you can even see what we're singing! so fancy for ecuador. well, i'd better be off home to change for that... i've got to be there at 6 to practice. i don't think the concert even starts until 8, so it could be a long night!

love to everyone, and hopefully i will have time to put up pictures tomorrow!

Monday, May 22, 2006

entering my subconscious...

Since I never remember my dreams, and when i do they're never meaningful, i feel the need to share my dream from my late morning nap. (Yes, i finally got a new morning class after the first replacement one never showed... a block away from my old oil company class. and since this one officially doesn't start until 7:15, i can follow the same schedule and actually be on time! very exciting. of course, this guy is an avid traveler, so i'm looking forward to lots of cancellations, boh...) Anyway, so in my dream i'm riding a bus with a nondescript student of mine. he asks to me to tell him where we are, and "i say the bus is going south on... " and here i'm ready to say "10 de agosto" or whatever, when instead i say we're going south on... "oak park avenue in oak park." (except it is in fact jackson ave in oak park, which you can tell because we in fact we are passing the block my house is on...) And even in the dream i know this is quite odd becuase we got on the bus in quito, and oak park is in another country entirely. But i go with it, and soon enough we pass a fabulous american style mall with whole foods and all my favorite stores. so i get off and meet up with my dad who is eating his lunch as usual at wf. but i'm especially intrigued by the food place selling ONLY grilled maduros, my favorite thing ever in ecuador, and they have all kinds of flavors. i was about to try the smore version (come on, who could resist a plantain covered in marshmallow and chocolate and stuffed with a graham cracker filling...) when i woke up! damn alarm clock. i may have to create the s'more maduro in real life, though i'm not sure it will live up to my dream craving. i'll let you know.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

I'm just a girl who cain't say no

Ah, I remember those glory days in Juneau when all I did was wake up, go to work, come home, read a book on the couch, eat dinner, and go to bed at 9:15. When it rains every day, the sun goes down at 4:00, and you have no friends, it's easy to never have anything better to do than finish your novel. How sweet it was. Now between Job One, Job Two, World Can't Wait, singing, visiting, hosting visitors, and attending evening events of the work-related and non-work-related varieties, free time seems to be something I no longer have even small amounts of, let alone vast quantities. Which brings me to yesterday, when my morning-job boss asked me if I might be interested in serving on the newly-forming Board of Directors for Community Shares of Texas, the United-Way-esque coalition of progressive nonprofits to which we belong. Clearly the fact that I don't know anything about Austin, just started working at NARAL, have never served on a Board of anything, don't know a damned thing about nonprofits, and have never exactly held a real job before in my life would make me the first choice in anyone's mind. Apparently the nominating committee asked her, she declined, and so she suggested me instead. As shocked and appalled as I was, and as much as I tried to convey to her that they really, REALLY wouldn't want me except as a last resort, I began to have the sinking feeling that I was actually sort of excited about the fact that she'd asked me in the first place, and that I might have to tell her that I was interested, in spite of all my misgivings. I think they've already found enough people to serve, so it probably won't even be an issue... but the fact that I might have a chance to serve on a Board of Directors kind of tickles and terrifies me all at once.

Speaking of World Can't Wait, if any of you ever have an extra few bucks lying around this summer, it would make my life if you sent it in to them. I've started putting my blood, sweat, and tears into this organization (insofar as a highly distractible and largely non-political girl like myself is able to), and I have a feeling it will only get worse this summer. There's going to be a huge nationwide event on October 5th - I'll spare you the details since I'm sure I'll be bringing it up a lot as the summer wanes on - and really, unless you love Monsieur Bush and his administration, what's the point of NOT donating? Exactly.

Richard and I watched the season finale of "Grey's Anatomy" last night and I cried like a baby. Stupid tv shows that make you care about their stupid characters.

I have a meeting in half an hour and then tonight I get to go to a fajita party at the home of one of my little 5-year-olds whose last day of preschool is next week. I love hanging out with my kiddies when their parents are the ones responsible for yelling at them when they do something bad.

Okay, away I go. Happy weekend!

K

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

out with a bang... sort of

Bus prices aside, the vast majority of proteststing in Ecuador during my stay here (and stretching back into the distant past) has consisted of "fuera Oxy" and "No TLC." (for those unaquainted with ecuadorian politics, Oxy is the American petroluem company with a highly questionable government contract to drill the largest oil reserve in ecuador. And the Tratado de Libre Comercial is the free trade agreement Ecuador has been negotiating with the US, similiar to the ones recently signed by columbia and peru.) So I did a doubletake last night after absentimindly flipping on the news. It seems that yes, in a sudden move yesterday the ecuadorian government kicked out oxy and in response the US decisively broke off trade negotiations! How anticlimactic. I keep expecting to see pigs flying or at least town criers ringing out the momentous occasion. At leat the volcano Tungarahua is starting to erupt. fortunately far enough south to not effect quito at all. To be fair there has been quite a political firestorm in the aftermath... businesses denouncing the government as anti-commercial interests, politicians screaming that Palacio didn't have a balls to break off the TLC himself and used oxy as a pretext, the US screaming that ecuador is ungarteful for foreign business and doesn't deserve a trade agreement, etc etc... so now that the people of ecuador have supposedly gotten what they wanted, we will see if things get better or if it will be a case of "be careful what you wish for..." Also what can we protest next!! With elections coming up in the fall and no tlc, things could get really intersting...

Monday, May 15, 2006

FELIZ DÍA DE LA MADRE!

(just a little belatedly... my day yesterday was rather occupied by traveling so my mother's day related well-wishing was unavoidably postponed.)

In addition to mother's day i seem to have missed out on all the standard depressing headlines. I had to hear about Bush announcing his immigration plan from our taxi driver last night. After inquiring about Becky's maternal status (but not mine, fortunately. this is why i let becky do the small talk with taxi drivers.) he was telling us about his daughter and son-in-law, who he just visted in new york where they are two of the innumerable undocumented immigrants. came on a tourist visa and stayed. So he said he would be watching tonight. Guess I better too!

and so reprimanded for my inattention to the news, i checked out google news this morning and found out that by living in quito i am missing out on massive new england flooding (everyone high and dry??) and volcanic emissions in yogyakarta, indonesia (hey you would count your blessings too if you lived ON a volcano and within range of several others.) Apparently I am also missing out on freak texas storms and cockroaches. Quito is looking better and better every day.

anyway, after weeks of hurried posting, why am i lingering over climate related news stories? Because my brand new 7 am class was a no show and the internet is soooo fast here when the building is still empty! it's quite exciting. i was lamenting our lack of paid vacation to becky on our LOOOONG bus ride back from the beach yesterday, but technically I am getting paid as we speak so I will lament a bit less. By the way, Canoa was just as lovely as it was a month ago, despite being cloudy the second day. which prevented us from swimming, but it was quite nice to lie right out on the beach without taking any shelter. I read another book, took a nap in a hammock, and enjoyed happy hour with becky and my dad. And despite the length of the bus ride, taking the ferry to/from Bahía was DEFINITELY worth it. no chickens, drunk guys or regeton on the first class bus that goes through there. just giant reclining seats, a working bathroom, and air conditioning. ahh...

so today marks the end of my dad's sojourn in ecuador! i'm sure he can't wait to get back to his leather-seated xm radio sprorting personal vehicle, and if he ever took a bus again it would be too soon. But since my evening class is on a break, at least I can send him off in style, perhaps at one of the argentinian steakhouses (since he's been putting up with a highly vegetarian diet, supplemented by seco de pollo or pescado now and again.) First I have choir and last minute items to be purchased at the market and sent home for my mom. Oh yeah, and one more class in there. I am still "working" after all.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Weekend in May

Addendum to the tree adventure: While chainsawing on Sunday, Richard got a gash in the leg of his jeans from a rusty nail sticking out of the concrete slab next door. But lo and behold, fortune is smiling upon this young upstart, because he later discover that his jeans are fine, and that he's actually torn a gash in MY jeans, which he'd accidentally donned. What kind of gentleman puts on a lady's jeans and doesn't realize they're not his own?!?!?! I ask you. At any rate, I have now been commissioned to repair not his jeans but mine. Good times.

Bill & Quincy are hosting a dominoes tournament/squirrel fry this evening. (Bill promised there would be no actual squirrel served, though I may have to bring my own veggie burgers just in case...) Speaking of veggie burgers, I invented a highly tasty variety consisting of mashed chickpeas/black beans/pinto beans, chopped fresh spinach, eggs, ground flaxseed, and whole wheat flour fried in olive oil. More spices than salt and pepper were definitely needed, but as a first attempt they weren't half bad. (Oh man, I have definitely been reading too much Vegan Lunch Box.)

My co-worker's wedding is tomorrow, and we somehow managed to get all the clothes we need from the Goodwill down the block. We're very impressed with ourselves. I should still probably be a good adult and go buy some matching jewelry today... but I'll have you know that I was already a good adult and even got me a PURSE that matches my dress... isn't that enough??? At least I don't have to wear pantyhose...

Other than that, it's a sleepy nondescript Saturday morning... Richard's at work, the builders are nail-gunning next door, the weather's been extremely pleasant all week, we can't figure out if we have a cockroach infestation or if we've just been finding a normal amount of cockroaches for a Texas household, and I'm trying to decide whether or not to take the bus to the farmer's market this morning. Stay tuned for all this and more when next I get around to posting!

Hope you're all well...

K

Thursday, May 11, 2006

mental vacation

Well my mom is gone and my vacation is over! (at least in theory, see below...) We had an action packed week since I last posted... we had a reeeally lovely stay at the black sheep inn, with such highlights as a 5 hour horseback rise to a cheese factory (yes, i bought a very large round of cheese.), family style vegetarian dinners, and wood stoves in our cabin. The northern half of the latacunga loop is infintely more rustic and undeveloped. Which was very nice except for the horribly jarring 4 hour bus ride... on the way out we definitely took the southern route, by way of quilotoa. i was all prepared for another mass of clouds to ruin the view like last time, but we were blessed with one of the sunniest days in a while! it was gooorgeous. we had to ride in the back of a pick up to get there, since the bus only runs at non-vacation friendly times like 3 am, but it turned out to be one of the most beautiful views ever. I took about a million pictures, none of which really capture the experience of having the lush andean mountainside rush past on a sunny morning. we even got to stop quickly in latacunga before catching a bus back to quito, so i got more real cornbread and allillas (corn and goat cheese fritters... mmmm... greeeeeeeeasy...) Then we hopped up to mindo the next day where we hid from the rain, ate more good vegetarian food, and i read another entire book. then we got up at 6 am to go birdwatching, to happily sunny skies. the ungodly hour was fortunately worth it, as we saw all kinds of cool stuff like toucans and woodpeckers and wild turkeys.

then i made a nice show of coming back to work this week... i had taken off tuesday and i'm down to two classes as it is, so i've put in about 6 hours of teaching this week. and after my evening class it's off to the beach again! I know i know, it's getting ridiculous. I even bought a new bathing suit today. sadly next week's prospects for work aren't much better... my evening class is finishing it's ten week course and taking a TWO WEEK break, yuck. So unless my boss comes up with some new classes quickly i'm down to 6 hours a week!! i'm pretty much just writing off may at this point. But, it turns out Cayanne is leaving a bit early so I will get to cover her last few weeks at the crazy christian school... i'm not saying no to steady work!!

and hey, i complain, but really it's pretty damn nice to wake up at 10 and watch romeo + juliet on dvd and take a leisurely shower and go shopping at the mall all before work. a girl could get used to this.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Storminess

After 36 exciting hours sans electricity, the comforting hum of the refrigerator is back to normal, and we're once again able to entertain ourselves without resorting to watching "Mission: Impossible III" IN THE THEATERS. Yes, I paid good money to watch Tom Cruise be a bad actor, again. I'm so ashamed. (Actually, it was pretty enjoyable, as far as poor movies go. Except for a.) the headache, which I had going into the theater and was only exacerbated by the flashing lights and mimosa I somehow decided would make me feel better, and b.) the nausea, which was caused by the migraine and only exacerbated by the 6 pounds of popcorn we each consumed. At the Alamo Drafthouse, a large popcorn is large. For real. Don't order it unless you plan to share it among 14 people.)

We had 3 nights of wacky, wild lightning storms (with more on the way)... the first night was truly a tempest, with pelting hail, booming thunder, and winds that sent one of the trees in our yard crashing down on the neighboring lot - which, fortunately, still consists of only a concrete slab, so no injuries were sustained. (Click here for a comical shot Richard managed to capture of the Ozarka water bottle, abandoned by one of the construction workers the day before, which remained unscathed by the storm in spite of the powerful winds that felled the 30-foot tree directly beside it.) Our landlord is out of town for a month and didn't return our call after we made the dreadful realization that the tree, having sprung from the loins of OUR yard, would be OUR responsibility. Damn. Fortunately, the tree-removal people were too busy running all over town cleaning up trees to get to us before Richard realized we could save $560 if he rented a chainsaw himself and we piled the brush in our yard. So that's what we did. Richard chainsawed the tree to bits, I contributed my tiny part by throwing the lighter pieces over the fence, and now our yard is literally filled with five to six foot tall heaps of branches and logs and leaves. They're still green, so it's actually kind of attractive and jungly. (It reminds me of that part in "Finn Family Moomintroll" when they unwittingly grow a jungle in their house and spend a fabulous day hiding under plants and swinging on vines. I keep wanting to crawl in the piles of brush and make a fort.)

But enough about storms. We have plenty of other exciting news to share, such as the fact that we found really really good deals on Southwest, and will be combining our two theoretical vacations, to L.A. and to WMass, into one supervacation! The last week of June we'll be in Los Angeles (with a day in San Diego to take advantage of the Radiohead tickets that Richard just purchased), and that Thursday we'll be moseying over to Massachusetts to sing and socialize. None of our L.A. friends know we're coming - neither, for that matter, do any of our employers - but that didn't stop us from foolhardily purchasing tickets last night. Really, anything that will take us out of Texas in July has to be a good idea, no matter how poorly-thought-through.

We're off to work now - Richard has a regular shift today and I'm putting in some extra hours - so I'll bid you all adieu. Happy Sunday!

Love,

K

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I saw an elsebound train / on the overpass / in the driving rain...

Okay, Rebecca has once again guilted me into posting. But only a little.

April in cliff notes:

- Richard and I, along with our houseguest and assorted other pals, enjoyed two fabulous days of singing in McMahan (which you'd better pronounce "MACK-man" if you want the old man at the gas station to understand you when you ask for directions) out in the country. What a GOOD convention.

- R and I managed to finagle ourselves wedding invitations! No actual finagling was required, but we somehow get to attend my co-worker's wedding in ten days. We're so proud of ourselves.

- We got to entertain our first and second out-of-town visitors in April... first my mother came and spoiled us silly by buying us tasty dinners and giving us excuses to take off from work and have a great time traipsing around San Antonio... and then we got Jenna! The house feels a little empty these days. Maybe we should get a dog. Or carry on the tradition of the previous tenant by buying ourselves a 150-pound potbellied pig to brighten our long, lonely days.

- I was a big winner at my first silent auction! We went to the Lilith Fund's Reproductive Equity Awards (guess whose place of employment was responsible for those invitations...) and I got me 2 months of karate lessons for $75! If Jackie Chan were a white girl who learned martial arts by making a charitable donation to an abortion fund for low-income women, I would so be the next him.

Other points of interest: Texas is hot; I'm now on the Steering Committee of my anti-Bush organization so I get to boss around everyone else in the group; we finally got Texas license plates which we're a little too excited about (unnaturally high levels of pride regarding such things as state license plates just SMACKS of Texan-ness... and Richard is going COWBOY BOOT SHOPPING with Bill sometime soon... god help us); we got our Kerrville Folk Festival tickets; and I should be asleep right now. Okay, I'm leaving.

Love,

K

Estoy en vacaciones

for the first time since being in ecuador! other than state sponsored holidays and my trip to the us that is. So i apologize for the lack of blogging. we weren't even supposed to be in quito today, so you're lucky to get this much! we're about halfway through our travels as the complete edwards family package. we had a fabulous day in otavalo on saturday during which i already bought lots of christmas presents for y'all, so my parents can take them back. my parents were suitably impressed by the quality cheapness and overall enjoyability of otavalo. i'm spoiled forever for shopping. then sunday we made the trip out to tena, in the oriente (eastern rainforest part of ecuador.) the one place on our trip that i hadn't been. the bus ride was everything it was promised to be... 6+ hours along dirt roads along high mountain passes that could wash out at any minute. which they didn't fortunately. but we did have to stop for a) a rolled over truck blocking the road and b) changing one of our tires. but we made it in one piece and highly enjoyed the warm weather, lush scenery, and monkeys running town around in misahuallí (and trying to get into the restaurant we had taken shelter from the rain. it was pretty damn cute. hopefully some of the pictures came out well.) we didn't so much enjoy the vast amounts of rain and weren't really up for the adventure sports (mostly rafting) that tena is known for, so we came back a day early to give us a rest from constant traveling. we did stop off yesterday in papallacta, the amazing hot springs in the mountains on the way back to quito. it's cold and cloudy but the springs are hot and clean and cheap and yesterday practically empty. definitely relaxing :)

today my parents went to mitad del mundo (the cheesy equator museum) while i went to choir, and then we ate more vegetarian food and bought more stuff at the market in quito... so that was a pretty perfect day in quito by my standards. also i talked to richard while my mom was making phone calls. also it was beautiful. oh i think i edited out the part where i went to get my shoes fixed ($4 including cleaning) and the house across the street was on fire.

i probably won't have a chance to put up pictures for a while, but i have a lot in reserve so one of these days we will have a picture bonanza. also becky's boyfriend can prob hook us up with free internet so that would do wonders for my posting frequency. cross your fingers.

ok, i'm off to dinner and packing for tomorrow. early in the morn we head out to the black sheep inn, which i'm very excited about. then back on saturday and off to mindo on sunday! and natalia says she will prob come down to ecuador after all and mayeb do the inca trail with me! so i'm pretty happy with my traveling prospects. ok ok i gotta run... miss you all! (you can fix that by coming to visit me and traveling to all these beautiful places!) katie i want to hear about your mom's visit and the southwest convention and richards tie etc...