Friday, April 29, 2011

Nosotras Corremos - My first 5k!

A few weeks ago, I gave my students an assignment:  create a goal and make a reasonable plan to achieve it.  At the time, I created my own goal poster to use as an example, complete with a time line, a list of steps, and some possible obstacles I would have to overcome.  My goal?  To finish a 5k in 30 minutes or less.  Little did I know that later that week, posters would be up all over the city for Nosotras Corremos, a Nike-sponsored 5k.  I threw my doubts to the wind and signed up, even if it was a few months ahead of my time line.  Now the time has come, and in 18 hours 40 minutes and roughly 5 seconds I'm going to be joining 1000 other GuayaquileƱas to run from one boardwalk to another via downtown Guayaquil.

I feel excited:  excited to be running my first 5k, excited that Ecuador has a positive and highly-publicized all-girl event, excited to get a lot of cool running swag, excited to run on streets that are normally occupied with four lanes of traffic, and, unexpectedly, excited to feel like I'm joining a larger part of the Guayaquil and Ecuadorian community, which is something I didn't realize I was missing.  Que chevere!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I had a great vacation over Semana Santa.  As you've already seen here, I spent the weekend in Vilcabamba.  It's cheap, beautiful, peaceful, and quiet there.  It's a great contrast to the traffic and noise of Guayaquil. 

 The main building/restaurant of our hostel

 The view from the restaurant

Relaxing pre-massage

 some local wildlife

Better passion flower photos

and one of the humming birds that I just couldn't get a decent photo of.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Feliz Viernes Santo!

I'm not a religious person.  I won't be eating fish or slurping soup from a watermelon as some people do here on Good Friday.  I am, however, a botany person, and today, I woke up to a balcony full of passion flowers.  It's a serendipitous find for Semana Santa.  Keep reading.

If you're unfamiliar with the reason a passion flower is called a passion flower, or if you're like me and once suspected that it was so named because of it's unique beauty, then here's the low down.
In the case of the passion flower, it is not named "passion" because it is beautiful, or because it can be used as an aphrodisiac, or because it bears passion fruit (which some do).  The real story is that centuries and centuries ago, when white men first stumbled upon the flower, they were inspired by its potential for religious symbology.  The fringe in the center became the crown of thorns, the colors came to represent purity, and the three stigmas represented the father, son, and the holy spirit.  There were some other symbols involved that I don't remember, but basically, the flower is named for the passion of Christ.  I can't say that's the first thing that would have popped into my mind, but I admire the passion of the men who came up with the name.

As for what spent most of the day wandering around in my mind, I'd spent hours without internet resources, trying to use my limited botany knowledge to imagine how the flowers' form fit their pollinators (a good way to figure out what kind of animals you can spot in the area). As I did this, a bee the size of an airplane completely clouded my vision.  I stumbled backwards.  Then, I readjusted the zoom on my binoculars and realized it was only the size of my fist and still about fifteen feet away.  I recollected myself and watched its big hairy back collect pollen off the bottoms of the stigmas.  My brain muscles flexed with their new knowledge.  I felt pretty awe-struck that a bee the size of my fist was not some freak radioactive mutation that would play some Hithcockian/"Birds"-role in my vacation.  Thank goodness.  Then I saw the thumb-sized hummingbirds that were going to compete with the bees for nectar, and I felt a little sorry for them.  They didn't stand a chance.

All week I'll be posting news and photos from Vilcabamba, a place I highly recommend visiting even if there are gargantuan bees.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Some photos from my vacation

While my school was on break in February and March, I traveled to Europe for two weeks.  My first stop:  Valencia, home of La Ciudad de las Artes y Ciencias, an awesome public bike system, a week-long festival of fireworks known as Las Fallas, thousands of orange trees, and more.  I've included photos of some of my favorite places and moments below:

La Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias

Please note the out-of-place brontosaurus in the archway.  He drinks the pool water.

El Parque Guliver

Children as Lilliputians:  delightful and terrifying.

Duffin Dagels:  the best Dunkin Donuts knock-off I've seen yet.

And finally...

Ham-flavored potato chips. 

No other snack chip will ever compare. I would revisit Spain just to taste these bad boys one more time.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Monster Dust Bunnies

During January through the end of March, our school was on vacation.  Everyone went off to travel the world until April.  Unfortunately, when we returned two months later, at 5:00 AM, tired from 18 hours in airports and planes, and desperately trying to readjust ourselves to the humidity, this is what we found:

The long absence had given our house time to fill up with the air pollution we normally sweep up once a week.  These photos don't do it justice.  Our bedroom and bathroom were covered with black dust and soot bunnies.  All of our dishes had to be rewashed.  The floors and countertops were swept, mopped, and swept again and again until, after five tries, our feet and hands stopped looking like this:

We were officially back, my boyfriend, me, and over a million other people and their cars.  I couldn't help but wonder if their boogers were as black as mine the next morning.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Blogging is a responsibility...

Sometimes I blog on this site.  Then sometimes I forget or get lazy, and it completely ruins the point of having a daily log of anything.  Today, I'd like to begin again.

For starters, I've only been back in Ecuador for a few weeks, so I haven't had much to report.  Two, since I've been back, I've been busy with a few things like teaching classes of 30 to 37 ninth graders, beating back monster dust bunnies (more on that later), and settling back into a 6:00 A.M. wake-up time.  Honestly, it's been nice.  Round one of Ecuador was like a trial round.  Now, I'm getting into the groove of things.  By this time next year, I think I'll be a little sad to say goodbye.   

The good news is that I finally bought a new camera!  Documenting my life here has just gotten a whole lot cooler.  Unfortunately, the view of my favorite subject in the city has been obstructed by some tacky blue roof.  But, imagine if you will a mural of a recently-married couple walking up a stairway into a pink oblivion of clouds and a half-finished copy of Michelangelo's "Creation of Adam."  Then imagine it's beneath the disco lounge with the white piano and the dance platform.  Believe me, it deserves documenting...and maybe a 1970s version of Elton John at the piano, just so it all makes sense.