Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Adios, Quito


It's coming to an end. I leave on Thursday afternoon. It's hard to say goodbye to the folks who have helped me form my life here, but I'm ready to go home. I'm ready to be with my family and friends, eat good food, enjoy the surroundings and everything I've missed about California and the US of A.

It will of course be hard to leave, but maybe not as tough as I was expecting. It helps that my social calendar is filling up as we speak. Job? uhhh, I'll think about that later.

Tomorrow (my last day) it's one last visit to the center (Centro del Muchacho Trabajador, where I worked last year). I might enjoy a good ceviche or something else Ecuadorian, but it'll be a mostly quiet day of packing and goodbyes.

So, it's time to go. Thanks for everything, Quito. ¡Chao!


Sunday, July 4, 2010


I travelled to the "valley of longevity" with Mary, Tasha, and Chrissy. Vilcabamba is known for its elderly population. Something in the water, they say, gives folks the ability to live longer (we're talking 100, even 130 years old as the legend goes, though I don't know if that's true or just a little local embellishment. Do I really care? No, because everyone in town is so proud of the 130-year-old man.)

Beautiful sierra, much different from Quito. Hiking, horseback riding (galloping, really. I was scared...) pool lounging, World Cup watching. It was a great vacation.

Chrissy asked me to join her for open mic night at a bar, so I did. Our fans included 5 friends and the bartender.

That's all for know. Wish me luck in my last weeks. I return on July 29 and though I'm excited to see family and friends, it's going to be hard to leave. More thoughts on that later...

Oh yeah, ¡Feliz 4th of July!

much love, M

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Andes

Nothing particularly exciting happened in the months of April and May, so I let the blog slide a bit. Not to worry, though, as I've come back with photos of a fantastic trip through the sierra (Andes mountains) through Quito-Riobamba-Guamote-Alausí-Cuenca.

Early morning start in Riobamba where we boarded the autoferro, pretty much a bus that's been converted into a train car. If you look closely you can see mount Chimborazo in the back.

The volcano Tungurahua erupted the day we left Quito and was still erupting when we left Riobamba the next day. See it?

There's Chimborazo and some lovely countryside.

Church in one of the plazas in Cuenca.

Ancient terraced hill made by the Cañaris (pre-Incan folk).

A view of Cuenca.

River running through the city.

"The rumor of the river. Old books and marvelously useless things." My travel partner suggested I be in a picture with this sign. I didn't get it at first.

And on the plane ride home, a stunning view of mount Cotopaxi.

I arrived back to Quito today and have a meeting for work in the afternoon. Tomorrow I start the first day of my last teaching cycle. Wish me luck!

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Hi all,

I've really been lagging on the blog front--apologies. The teaching cycle ended March 11 and I've had a wee vacation since then. Tomorrow we have a teachers meeting in the afternoon (during which we find out our schedules) and on Tuesday it's back to work. I like my job but I'm not exactly ready to end my paid vacation. But who is, right?

After the cycle ended my two dear roommates, Will and Elsa, left our sweet apartment. Will is in love (go figure) and his girlfriend got a job in New York, so he went there. Elsa is from Guayaqil, the big coastal city, and has to attend a month-long seminar in order to start work on her Masters degree. It was a sad goodbye and I miss them terribly.

It's been a big change to lose them, but the nice thing about it is that I got to upgrade rooms. My new room is about two and a half times as big as the closet I was living in before. And now I actually have a closet.

The two new roommates are good stuff: Andi the German (he works for a textile company) is here for two months, which means we'll have to find a replacement in early May. Ryan is a teacher at CEC and is a nice guy.

I went to the Amazon again for a few days last week. This time we weren't so "Heart of Darkness" deep in the jungle, so it wasn't as intense as Cuyabeno. Still, it was great to get out of the city for a little adventure. We went on a hike through some bat caves and had to scale the walls of the caverns using our own weight as support. Does that make sense? Here's a picture of my friend Jasmine as a visual for you:

So about 10ft below the guy in the red hat is where we started climbing, and I'm taking the photo from the top of the cavern (which is actually more of a crevasse that leads to light and fresh air above). We did this about 4 or 5 times in different caves. I had no idea that guano actually smelled like poop. The photo below is of a vine called "monkey stairs." I liked the name and decided to share it with you. After that are photos of more scenery.

We also went to an animal rescue center, which was sad and really eye-opening. About a third of the animals they have will never be able to go back to the wild for various reasons. For example, there was one feline (called a weasel cat) that had been found in a hotel room, and a small monkey that had been kept as a pet and was so used to living in pockets that they had to hang pants up in its cage. The facilities are quite spacious and smack in the middle of the jungle, so it's all pretty close to their natural setting. None of the birds can be released because it's just not possible to sufficiently train them to survive in the wild. It was great to support the place but hard to deal with the fact that the exotic animal black market is so widespread that there seems to be no end to it. Apparently a macaw will sell for $10,000; just the night before we got there someone broke into the reserve and stole 3 macaws. There are no security cameras (it's a pretty low-tech place) and to get there you either have to arrive by boat (it's on the edge of a river) or get through miles of jungle, so who knows how someone broke in. Sad and frustrating.

Well, that's all for now. I'll let you know how this new teaching cycle gets going--I really loved my students last cycle so I hope I haven't been spoiled in the way of awesome students. Take care!

love, M

Friday, February 26, 2010

Feliz Cumpleaños, Andrea

Love you--here's a little something you can remember me by...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Take out your personal watercraft

Today in my intermediate class we played charades with two-part verbs. It goes like this: the students have to write down a bunch of requests using two-part verbs on little cards (por ejemplo, clean up the kitchen, put away your things, take out the trash, etc). Then they exchange cards and have to act out the request and get their team to guess correctly.

It was a fantastic game that really made me laugh, especially when I saw the following gems:

Take out the teacher (M.A) and close the door. (all in good fun, I promise)

Throw away your feelings.

and the most puzzling:
Take out your personal watercraft.

Where that came from, I have no idea.

love, M

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Climbing Rocks

Hello all,

About to finish the fourth week of this cycle (the half-way point...jeez, things move quickly sometimes). The latest news is that our lease is up in mid-March. Roommates Will and Elsa are leaving--Will back to the states and Elsa back to Guayaquil. I will miss them terribly.

Sara and I would like to stay in this apartment because we love it. I don't love my room, but I might upgrade to one of the other rooms if we can find someone to take this one. If Sara and I can't find two people to move in, it's goodbye awesome apartment complete with washer, dryer and terrace. I saw a nice little place inhabited by two other CEC teachers the other day and they were interested in having me move in. And there are almost always people looking for roommates so I'm not worried about finding a place if it comes down to that. But nothing I've seen so far is quite as cozy as the place we have now...we'll see.

Carnaval is happening Feb. 15 & 16, so we're talking about going to the beach. I haven't been to the coast in a while so I'm definitely itching to go. I started a rumor that we're going camping on the beach and I'm hoping it catches on.

Below are some pictures from a little rock-climbing trip last weekend. In case you were wondering, no--I didn't make it to the top.

love, M

I got up to that arrow above my head...nice, but I didn't exactly conquer the beast.

Santiago, who owns the equipment and knew what he was doing, gracias a dios.