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

1 comment:

Katie said...

I really miss you. That's all.