Wednesday, May 31, 2006


global transmission has arrived. check it out (((here)))

my last month in ecuador

It´s been awhile since I´ve written since I´ve been volunteering for the last 2.5 weeks at the Magic Roundabout ecolodge/hostel/farm (website is here) to save some dinero that I´ve been burning through at a rapid pace. It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. The place is beautiful. Ali and Meg own about 80 acres of land in the Ecuadorean cloud forest, with several waterfalls, trails, cabanas, rolling hills, etc. on the property. Just like the rest of Ecuador, you can expect rain almost every day at some point. Ecuador is really really green. While there I was a chef, a server, a dishwasher, a sign maker, a sign poster, a mule carrying things from the road to the hostel at the top of the hill, etc. Some days we had no guests, other days we were filled to capacity with about 20 guests. Those days were busy. The most rewarding things I did involved community work. Had a minka one day, which is where everyone from the community of Las Palmas comes together to help one household out with a chore that requires lots of hands. The day I helped out was making and sterilizing sawdust bags for producing oyster mushrooms. Not a difficult process, but too long and probably boring to explain here. Other community activity included cleaning out chicken shit from the chicken coop for 3 hours to make fertilizer. One of those things you do once in your life to say you did it, and hope to never do again. Also, at the Roundabout, we had a big old fiesta for a little boy's first communion, and his sister's baptism last Sunday. Ended up partying with 50 drunken Ecuadoreans till the break of dawn. Que bueno!
Anyway, here are photos from the last month in Banos, Quito, the equator, and the Magic Roundabout in Ecuador:

church in Banos

hilltop view of Banos

did a hike up to the top of Pichincha Volcano at 4800 meters, just outside of Quito. Took this Mitsubishi Montero up to a point, then hiked the rest.

this was another group whose Land Cruiser got stuck part of the way up the hill.

mountain flora

a cross near the top

cloud people

view from the top with lots of clouds and me looking at clouds

views from the Secret Garden Hostel in Quito. great place by the way.

photos of stained glass windows and mass in the Basilica in Quito

views from the top of the Basilica

did you know that this cathedral actually has a bar in the tower? here´s proof.

this monument is where French scientists located the equator in the early 20th century. They were off by about 300 yards. The yellow string in the second shot is the real equator with the incorrect French one in the distance. Way to go Pierre.

photo of my left ass cheek in the southern hemisphere and my right one in the northern

views of the cloudforest from Magic Roundabout and some local fauna

Thursday, May 11, 2006


ok, so it's about time i give something back.
gonna go volunteer at an ecolodge/wwwoof farm, the magic roundabout, in exchange for free room and board.
i'll be out of touch for the next 2 or 3 weeks, since the cloud forest i'm going to doesn't have email. i could be text messaged by cell phone, but i don't have a cell phone, so i guess i can't be text messaged. so forget it.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

no need to translate

in the United States, the NAACP would have a field day with this. However in Ecuador, the name of this restaurant is more than acceptable.

images of ecuador, part ii

took the 'nariz del diablo' (nose of the devil) train ride from alausi to sibambe back to alausi and then to riobamba. here are some shots of this train that zig-zags through the hills of central ecuador. it's an incredible feat of engineering since you're right on the edge of a cliff, and the train has to do switchbacks to get down. you can sit on the roof, which would probably never be allowed in first world nations, but in ecuador they're more than happy to oblige.
spent a night in alausi. not much to see or do here, but there's a big st. peter looking over the city. view from my hotel

this is what the smell of a third world town looks like

this is street food. so far, i haven't gotten sick from any of it, which is an amazing feat of bio-engineering in itself.

view from the roof of the nariz del diablo train

at one point, the train stopped, two of the conductors got out and hunted for these big green vegetables.

this guy got only a small one

and then for some odd reason, the other conductors made him take his shirt off. all while on the roof. then they started slapping him and beating him with a leafy stick. it was a funny, albeit, odd looking sight.

pretty hillside view

mothership cloud

othership cloud

people seen along the way on the train

images of ecuador, part i

have been in ecuador for over a week now, crossing the border in the south from peru. have been to loja, vilcabamba, cuenca, the nariz del diablo (devil's nose) train ride where you sit on the roof, riobamba, and now banos. a lot less gringos here than in other parts of south america, which has been a nice respite from the typical tourist trail.
ecuador is pretty green and lush, with lots of pastoral rolling hillsides, and down the middle of the country is the avenue of volcanoes. perfect cones of volcano goodness. east is jungle, west is coast. it seems like it'll rain everyday, and sometimes it even does. that's probably why it's really green. here be some images that i've taken so far:
- vilcabamba: if you ever go here, there's a great place to stay, el jardin escondido (the hidden garden). great garden setting, hammocks, good food, great staff. did a hike outside of town and here's a donkey at the start of the trail

and waterfalls at the end

there was also a church in vilcabamba with neon lights, first one i've seen outside of vegas

and in case you were wondering who provides light

- cuenca: pretty colonial town with UNESCO heritage status. here's the main cathedral

here's the stained glass from the inside

here's the aisle

here's a big statue of the pope when you enter

also in cuenca, this is the most sterile looking market i've ever seen.

outside of cuenca are the inca ruins of ingapirca. they're pretty tame in comparison to ruins like machu picchu that you'd see in peru

but the staff working the door are more interesting