Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dream 20/3

Dont recall most of this one, but here goes.

Im at a petting zoo with some friends and family. There are children there. The presence of the children give me the inkling that I've taken my children on a field trip to said zoo. There are tigers there, of bengal colors, but with bone structures like cheetahs or panteras. The fences are flimsy. Some of them don^t even connect correctly. Im nervous about this.

The reason for my nervousness is confirmed as accurate when the massive cat decides it wants me. Suddenly, Im in the cage with it. It doesnt care about the trainers. It doesnt care about the children. All it wants to do is eat me, and only me.

After struggle and retreat, Im overtaken. Im screaming for help as the massive cat munches away, slowly, methodically, without haste, at my right hand, consuming one finger at a time. I look into the cat's eyes, not really knowing what I expect to see. What I do see is pure, unadlterated rage and hatred. I'm very dissappointed with this, because I want the cat to love me as much as I love it.

I decide to gouge the cat's eye out. This seems to be fruitless as I wake up in my dorm bed in Baños, Ecuador.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Cameron and Interweb~Act VI

Scene: Patate, Ecuador
A few days later.

C: Interweb!? (echo in the valley)
I: (nothing)
C: Internet!? (echo in the valley)
I: (nothing)
C: World wide web!? (On his knees.  Echo in the valley)
I: (nothing)
C: Sorry I left without a word...I was hoping you'd follow me here. (Tearing up)  O, God!  (Groaning incoherently)  My dear, dear Interweb.  Will I never see you again!?  

Camerón's words echo throughout the valley in which Patate sits.  He collapses to the street, a bottle of wine in his hand.  The only sounds to be heard are those of the packs of stray dogs perusing the towns' garbage bags for meat scraps, an activity which has and will continue to reward them handsomely day after day in the sleepy (or drunk) town of Patate.


Cameron and Interweb~Act V

Scene: Hostel Residencial Sucre, Quito Viejo, Ecuador
All (Cameron, Don Rodrigo, Don Jose Miguel Abad Carrión, etc...) have been drinking Aguardiente Trópico.  They've been taking shots.  The note still stands, as does the uploading of Cameron's photos onto Flickr so that his family and friends can see that he's okay. 

Enter Angry, Wall-Eyed Bear (hereafter AWEB)

C: Pleased to meet you, AWEB.  What seems to be the problem?  You seem quite upset.  Everyone else is in good spirits and is getting along.
I: Yeah, AWEB, there really is no prob-
C: Wow, AWEB, I wasn't sure of how the internet worked here in Ecuador.  I can take my card out and find another way to get them uploaded.  I really didn't know that in Ecuador they charged based on how much you uploa-
I: -they don't-
C: AWEB, now you're hardly making sense.  But, I'd hate to have to mash your hideous nose in, so I'm off to bed...with my photocard.  (Holding back tears.  To Interweb)  I...guess...tomorrow?
I: Yeah...sorry about all that.  I really loved the new plan.  It was working to perfection, until...well, you know.  Please do come over tomorrow, though..please.
C: We'll see.  I'm in a pretty shitty mood right now, though.  I guess it's not you I'm mad at, of course.  It's that stupid asshole, Angry, Wall-Eyed Bear!


Cameron and Interweb~Act IV

Scene: Hostel Residencial Sucre, Quito Viejo, Ecuador
A few days later.  Cameron and Interweb have both been quite busy, but have made time for each other.  All's well in the house of Don Jose Miguel Abad Carrión.  

C: So, Interweb. (Pause)
I: What's up, Cameron?
C: Well, you know how you're always complaining that I log off too early, on account of needing to address all the visa stuff I'm dealing with and all?  Well, I think I may have a solution.
I: Get outta here!  That's great.  Let's get started.
C: Alright here's the plan.  (Whispering) I'm gonna leave my scandrive with my picture card in you all day, uploading continuously.  
I: Whaa?
C:  Exactly.  It won't stop for hours and hours.
I: But...I don't....the others...
C: I know what you're gonna say, and I've already thought of that.
I: Out with it, then!
C: So, I'll simply write a note, in Spanish, that gives very clear instructions to the housemates, that they not mess with the scandrive while it uploads.  That way, while it's busy putting my photos up-
I: -other people, other people can check their the same time!  You clever little man, you!
C: Well, that's what I'm best at, Interweb.  You know that.  Seriously, though, I really appreciate you recent fidelity and devotion, even if you have been a tad slower than before.  (Laughs)
I: (Laughing)  You never quit, do you?  Unbelievable.


Cameron and Interweb~Act III

Scene: Hostel Residencial Sucre, Quito Viejo, Ecuador
A few days later.  Cameron and Interweb have spent quite a bit of time together.  Cameron has learned the payment process, which has given him the confidence to be seen with Interweb by his fellow hosteliers.  They find themselves in a bit of a game.

C: You know, Interweb, these last few days have been great.  It really feels like the good old days.  You and me, spending time at Thunderbird...
I: ...Clementine...
C: ...Epoch...
I: ...Flightpath...
C: ...UT Campus...EID's!
I: Bah! Ha ha!
C: ...wait, wait, how about this one: neilisgay!
I:  That shit is classic.  For reals.
C: Man, we've had some times over the years, Interweb.  
I: No doubt.  Remember bandwidth restrictions at Moore Hill?
C:  Ha!  I never knew what the hell that meant.
I: I still don't even know what that means.  Ah ha ha ha ha.
C: Ha ha ha ha.  That's rich.  
I:, no...platinum.
C: You know what, Interweb, I'm sorry for all that mess from before.  I was acting like an idiot.  You're alright.  In fact, Interweb, I think you're the best.

Cameron and Interweb share an embrace.


Cameron and Interweb~Act II

Scene: Hostel Residencial Sucre, Quito Viejo, Ecuador
A few days later.  Cameron and Interweb haven't spoken in days.  Both have been busy, and presumably haven't even missed each other.  

I: I knew you'd be back...pussy.
C: Screw you, I'm only doing this 'cause no one's around.  Anyway, I probably won't even pay.  That's how much you're worth to me.  Marinate on that for a bit.
(Cameron doesn't know the protocol for payment at his new hostel)
I: Great.  Makes no difference to me whether you pay a million dollars or not a damn dime...I'm still getting mine.  Comprende, compadre?


Cameron and Interweb~Act I

So, I decided to write a play in which Interweb, the internet, and I are principal characters.  There are others as circumstance necessitated.  The play takes place over the last few weeks, so far.  I really hope you enjoy it.

Scene: Posada del Maple Hostel, La Mariscal, Quito, Ecuador
Cameron walks past Interweb on his way to his dorm upstairs.  He's had a long day, and is a bit famished.  All he really wants to do is send an email to his mommy and daddy.  Interweb is busy with another man.

C: Pffft.  Real cool, Interweb.  You work, you're free, but you're always busy.  Always hanging out with that one prick.  Frankie, Francios, Frenchie...
I:  Whatever, asshole.  His name's Frances.  He's a really great guy, and trust me, he's harmless.  We just check his email, and I love his French accent.
C: Well, anyway, even if it wasn't for him, I can't use you after 10.  This sucks.  You know what, now that I think about it, even if I did have pictures to upload-
I: -which you don't.
C: Which I don't.  Even if I did, I wouldn't upload them anyway.  So there.  I'll see you in the morning...maybe.


Another New Aspiration.

The other night in Patate, as I was readying for bed, the movie Big Daddy was on.  Of course it had a title akin to, Wow What a Hilariously Ill-Equipped Father!  There was one funny thing I thought I'd mention.  I also developed a new life goal after having watched it.

First, there's the part about Adam Sandler having his newly adopted son, Frankenstein, urinate on the side of a building in response to being rejected use of the bathroom in the very restaurant that is housed in said building.  I wonder if Ecuadorians think this is funny at all.  I only ask because I've witnessed this very same circumstance (adult assists in child's public urination, on a wall) no less than three times.  Public urination seems to be very much more of an accepted practice here.  I guess I chose correctly, eh?

Secondly, there's the part when Adam Sandler is researching the laws about how to keep the young boy.  He's not the biological father, although took custody of the child under that guise.  He stays up all night, reading his law books (he attended Syracuse Law School, evidently), highlighting certain parts of said law books, and thinking really hard.  I, at some point in my life, would like to be part of a situation wherein this is not only prudent, as with a class, but necessary, as in a fight for what I think is right.  I only hope I highlight the right thing, and that the court is duly responsive. 

There is a similar scene in A Few Good Men, where they're all drinking colas and Tom Cruise holds a baseball bat, only proving the rumor that he is, indeed, The Good ol' American Boy we've all been waiting for.  

Incidentally, the closest I've ever been to experiencing one of these moments was in New York, with Kathryn, sweating while I open and reopen the copy machine, hating the staple as an invention, hating depositions as time dependent, and hating windows for having separated me from lovely Manhattan.  I also felt silly in my nice clothes.  So there. 

Ecuadorian Foods and Drinks I've Tried...jealous?

So, the little guide book offered about 6 different foods that epitomized Ecuadorian cuisine.  Of course, as with any country, there are regional favorites and regional exclusives as well.  Here are a couple of things I've been glad to try, along with my best description thereof.  By the way, I know cheese isn't vegan.  While veganism isn't at all impossible here, restaurant veganism is pretty darn close.  

Llapingachos-small mashed potato cakes mixed with some cheese and spices, cooked for a time on a comal, or flat grill.  They were served with some fresh salted cabbage and chopped beats.  
Tomate del Arbol-not a tomato at all, but instead a pretty sour fruit that grows on, you guessed it, a tree.  By themselves, they're pretty offensive, but in juices....muy rico
Guanabana-also called soursop, made into a juice.  It had sort of a general fruit flavor, somewhat like limey pineapple
Naranjilla-juiced.  Taste similar to a limey orange.
Mote-basically hominy, fresh cooked and warm, served with roasted corn kernels (like the last pieces in a bag of popcorn), aji (like salsa or pico de gallo, always, always with red onion), and lime
Empanadas de verde-empanadas are generally small, turnover-like pastries, generally with a sweet but sometimes savory filling.  Empanadas de verde have pastry made with the pulverized flesh of green (not very sweet) plaintains with a small filling.  Mine had a small bit of cheese as the filling.
Humitas-tamale's Ecuadorian cousin.  Corn meal mixed with cheese (or sweet stuff) and steamed inside corn husks.  Generally served as a late afternoon snack along with coffee, hence Cafe con Humitas.
Pitajaya-the fruit of a cactus.  I think this might be the Ecuadorian version of Dragon Fruit, although I wouldn't bet my life on it.  The ones I've eaten have been yellow on the outside, and fairly threatening looking.  Like something from the mario brothers they haven't made yet.  By the way, there's a bar here that's fashioned after the story of those pesky brothers.  Pitajaya tastes pretty mild in comparison with it's appearance.  It almost tastes like a watery kiwi without any of the sour.  The inside is white flesh with black seeds.  After having eaten three in my first couple of days here, I was informed that said seeds can cause problems with bathroom business.  I've had no trouble as of yet.
Sancocho-this was a vegetarian Colombian stew that some friends made in the hostel.  Evidently, it's a really popular dish in Colombia, as all those thereafter have recognized it with nostalgia in their eyes.  I shared a bowl of the stuff over a conversation of the ethics of vegetarianism with a Colombian acquiaintance.
Babaco-this is a fruit which has a fairly sour taste.  I still have yet to find out the secret behind any artful use.  We'll keep pressing.  I saw tons of these guys growing in Patate, the small valley town I just left.  
Arepas-speaking of Patate, this is a local favorite.  My first afternoon there, I was concerned to even ask about them, as my assumption was that anything a town would take pride in collectively would have to have some sort of meat hunk in there somewhere.  The next morning, on a walk, I stopped and asked about them.  They're similar to tamales in the way they're built.  It's basically some sort of sweet squash breadlike thing, with sugar, dates, or raisins, which is wrapped and grilled or baked in a banana leaf.  Really simple, but really quite nice when you're hungry or traveling.  
Aguardiente-this liquor's ingredients say the following: Alcohol, agua.  Basically, rubbing alcohol and tap water.  This is the favorite (Trópico brand) of Rodrigo (of tiger massacre fame) and Don Jose Miguel Abad Carrión (of Spanish roots racism fame).  We would put a bottle away with a little help from lime slices and a little peer pressure.  
Caipirinha-estilo Ecuatoriano.  This included the aforementioned aguardiente with a little panela (block of unrefined brown sugar) and lime.  Served in a gourd of some type by a Colombian friend Andrés in Residencial Sucre.
Quimbolitos-similar to the Humita, which is similar to the tamale, these are wrapped in a banana leaf rather than corn husk.
Pilsener-the national beer of Ecuador.  Not by our choice, but by our lack thereof.  There's Brahma, Club, and in some markets a can of Heineken ($1) or Budweiser ($1.25).  Que desmadre!  Pilsener's not bad, and is generally served in 24 or 26 oz bottles for around $.75 (in a mercado) and $1 (in a restaurant).  In all honesty, it's actually quite nice (in a Spanish textbook kind of way) to simply order a beer, rather than having to get complicated with brand, size, etc...There's generally a single beer, a single size, for a single price.  In fact, I went into a bar during one of my first nights here (spent in the touristy La Mariscal area of Quito), and there was a single, just one, tap behind the bar.  "I'll have that," I said.  
Corn or Flour Tortilla-actually, I haven't, in over two weeks, had either one of these.  Evidently, the carb of choice is rice, which is served with any cut of meat you could imagine.  I've actually had indian naan twice, and not a single damn corn tortilla.  Plenty of corn elsewhere, though.  I know you're games, Monsanto.  Hey Monsanto, patent this!  (Followed by obscene gesture...a gesture which, now that I think about it, is probably patented...blast).
Locro-this is a simple but really nice and filling potato soup.  It tastes like onions, some cumin, coriander, potatoes, pepper, water, and a thickener.  They throw some cheese and an avocado on top most of the time.  Along with a nice ají, or salsa, this can be a super cheap and filling meal.  Of course, there's yaguarlocro, which is the same nice, simple soup, marred by the appearance of blood sausages swimming around, unwanted like 7th graders at the 5th grade graduation pool party.  Scram, pricks.  Nobody's impressed.  
Chochos-perhaps my favorite thing so far.  Basically, there's a bowl (generally made of something akin to tissue paper filled with the following, in order from bottom to top: some sort of white bean or pea, which has been soaked in a salty water, but maintained it's structural integrity, roasted corn kernels (like the bottom of the popcorn bag, only larger and less tooth shattering), fried plantain chips, french fries, a pico de gallo-like stuff, with red onions, tomatoes, herbs, and lime juice, and some spoonfuls of ají.  Add a lime and you're in business.  Served as a walking snack, chochos are actually quite substantial, especially at $.50 per handful and a half.  

Friday, March 13, 2009

Dream 3/13/2009

I gave myself a quite gnarly haircut. I cut my beard first, and the pieces I cut were color coded. The closer I got to the skin, the darker blue the hair would become. This allowed me to know when to stop shearing. The cabeza caused quite a bit more trouble. I didn´t have the luxury of color code, and consequently, made many errors.

Then I was playing basketball indoors. The league was the NBA´s summer league. I was on the blue team. It wasn´t the Magic, becuase they were playing the Lakers. They were destroying the Lakers, so said the paper scoresheet. At one point, it was 30-11. I assumed Dwight Howard was having a monster game. I was really abominable at basketball. This was the most realistic part of the dream. The basketball was cold and dense as a ball of clay. I knew that this represented my low skill level. I was slower than most people, but surprisingly, could post-up quite easily. We were playing the Celtics, though they wore pink uniforms.

Then there was a gorilla. I was in my old backyard of the house on Sir Philip. I was carving his face out of a collection of carrot sticks. All that was visible to me was the base of the carrot sticks, all of which were beautifully geometrical. Each stick was longer than I could imagine, and the space between each stick was minimal. I was first carving a tiger. I really thought I nailed his upper lip. Then, when I was shaving the area for the eyes, the piece became a gorilla. The carrots turned black. Amongst the planes of the black sticks opened the eye of the gorilla. It was so dear. I told him, through body language, that I loved and respected him.

I began to talk or think about bridges. I was very concerned that those to whom I was speaking would be stuck in the literal, unable to consider the concept of a symbolic bridge. I remember hearing what sounded like an echo, that someone understood this concept. In an ill-thought out attempt to show the aforementioned symbolism, I jumped on a white rope ladder. As I climbed up the rope, I collected the rope in my arms so that no one could follow me. I climbed 41 feet. This was sufficient, I thought. A bengal tiger appeared. This might have been the bengal tiger that Don Rodrigo killed in the jungles of Ecuador, but I´m not so sure.

The tiger wanted to get me. This was clear when he made a lunge for the rope ladder. I was spared by a measure of inches, which is to say not many inches. I looked forward, and found that there was a treehouse just feet in front of me, which is to say not many feet. Clearly, it had become my destination. Here comes the tiger again. This time, he makes the 41 foot jump, and grasps the rope. I´m reaching for the treehouse, and find that I have a difficult time pulling myself onto the platform. (I was doing pullups all day yesterday, each time I entered or left my room at the hostel. Possible.)

Next, I´m under the awning of ivy by the back door of the Sir Philip house. There is a bioengineering experiment on display. It has something to do with engineering the DNA of bugs in such a way that they cannot leave what has become their homes. The first piece of evidence for the efficacy of said engineering involves a praying mantis who looks metallic. A scientist, I assume, takes the little feller from his cage and drops him to the ground about 8 feet away. As expected, the little sucker screams back to his cage. The second example is a lady bug in a bowl. The bowl has about an inch of water in the bottom. The lady bug is unable to climb to the precipice of the bowl after 24 tries.

I´m upset by all of this. My neighbor seems to feel that I´m uncomfortable, and tells me that his research was the beginning of all of this. He seems to regret that now. He wears a sucky khaki hat and a jean jacket. His face is similar to that of Bill Ayers, and he wears thin, silver, wire-rimmed spectacles. He tells me his experiments began with corn meal and that he never thought it would come this far.

Spanish Textbook Moment in 3-D

I´m at a cafe, having cafe tinto (coffee made with water instead of milk) and a humita (similar to a tamale). I witness the following.

A man, probably around the age of 40, arrives at the cafe, which is in a centro comercio (similar to a mall). He´s wearing a dopey helmet, which aside from being ill-fitting, is also being worn in a manner which exposes the entire forehead.

His Amiga works at the cafe. He stops by to see if she´s working today. She is, and so he rides into the cafe to show her his bicycle. It´s brand new and it has all the gadgets.

Create a dialogue in which Lupe, the waitress, asks Fabian questions about his new bicycle. Each question and subsequent answer should include at least one of the new adjectives from our new chapter´s vocabulary list.

Angry Words and Subsequent Reflection

This is something I wrote in my journal a couple of days ago. I figured the good always comes with some bad. Apologies for the language...whaddya gonna do?

"Last night boozing with Don Jose Miguel Abad Carrión and Rodrigo. DJMAC´s computer buddy arrives, and has a few drinks with us. He comes over and begins to act like a total fucking asshole. He´s busting my balls about Afghanistan, Iraq, Bush, if I had a major part to play in making those things happen. He accuses me of being here in Ecuador as a conquistador. He yells at me becuase I left my camera card uploading on Flickr while I was away. He thinks that I´m stealing internet and duping José, despite the fact that I left a note with my name on it and asked Ricardo and Rodrigo, who both said it was no big deal. He tells me that José, being from Loja, is the only one who should teach about Loja, not a Northamerican.

I want to kill this piece of shit.

I tell him that maybe, in the womb, I should have chosen the place that I wanted to be born, as presumably he did.

I tell him he´s the first person in all of Ecuador to make me feel uncomfortable here.

I tell him I have no respect for him.

I tell him sarcastically that the money thing is no big deal; that I have hundreds of thousands of dollars in my room, a result of my being from the States. I tell him I´m here to indoctrinate vulnerable peoples with the values of Americanismo. I tell him that I think I´m better than him, a more complete person than him, that furthermore, I´m better than José, and all Ecuadorians.

He didn´t get the sarcasm. ¡What a fuck!"

A few hours later, this:

"So, it´s hours later, and all´s well. That guy can eat shit. He doesn´t have a damn clue about me, or how I view the world, or anything substantial. He only knows the country in which I was born, and have lived for 25 years. ¡Pues, vaya con diós, cabrón!"

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Words from Don Rodrigo

There´s a wonderful man here in the hostel who I´ve mentioned before named Don Rodrigo.

Every night, he drinks either a large or a small bottle of liquor called Trópico, which is aguardiente.

Last night, he told me he murdered a tiger, skinned it, and ate it´s flesh. I told him I thought that was pretty radical (in the strictest definition) and he made a genuine apology for having done so. Evidently, when he was in the jungle as a Sargeant in the Intelligence division of the Ecuadorian army, he was forced to kill a tiger in order to survive.

I dídn´t know Ecuador had tigers. I still don´t know if they do. Please do not tell me if they do not. I prefer to think that they do. If they don´t, maybe you should consider the possibility that Valiant Don Rodrigo slayed the very last one in all of Ecuador.

We accept your apology, do Valiant Don Rodrigo and I, over un trago de Trópico.

Teatro Nacional Sucre Jazz Show

"So, I´m pretty sure March is Jazz Month in Quito. The Teatro Nacional Sucre has a variety of shows, many of which appear to be well worth the $1 ticket price."

This is the thought I had while looking at Jazz Month events in Quito at the Teatro Nacional Sucre. The thought was substantial enough, with a little help from a wonderful Canadian friend, to persuade me to get out on the town and check a show out. We ended up seeing three very distinct acts of music, not all strictly jazz. ¿But who´s counting?

Anyway, I found the first band to be very jazzy. They did the cyclical solo thing, from keys to bass, to sax, and finally drums. I think they´re cause was hurt by the smoke machine, though it was an experience that I´m not very acquainted to, and thus was nice.

The second group was entitled Afro American Music. In the states, I would have assumed this meant Muddy Waters, BB King, Leadbelly, or something of the like. Here in Ecuador, I took the title "American" to include South American as well. Thus, my expectation was that of some sort of fusion between Ecuadorian and African music, an expectation that had me fairly excited. Turns out, it was Muddy Waters, BB King, Leadbelly style blues music. The feller was a guy, who looked like Mike Leach, who had started a school in his native Argentina (Buenos Aires) that taught about the history of North American music in the south, Mississippi, Louisiana, etc...It was pretty nice, and the audience did their best to stay on beat with the clapping and whatnot. Their best was not good enought. ¿But we had fun, and that´s all that matters, no? They closed with a song sure to get the crowd hyped. Unfortunately, it was a song by a white guy, who I guess did his best (at first) to mimic African American music. This man, of course, is Elvis Prestley. We sang, as a crowd, "Shake, Rattle, and Roll." ¿Qué linda?

The last group was a national Big Band group, complete with horns of various types, a guitarrista, drummer, keyboardist, and many others, about 40 in total. Their music was fitting for a scene out of a mobster movie, where the waiter brings a special table just for me and my lady, and of course Joe Pesci and his lady (who, after minutes into the date, already can´t stand him...what a great friend, that Joe). It was really nice, with solos and singing and all.

Anyway, I found myself really enjoying the music, yet, not feeling lost in it, as sometimes happens in concerts. I think this might be partially attributed to the setting in the place, which was a group of chairs in which we sat and listened. Maybe I´m just a goofball, and can´t stop thinking about goofy things. With goofballery in mind, here´s a list of people that were playing instruments with the Big Band group. Doubly (maybe triply) talented, these folks.

Joe Pesci
Patrick Swayze
Manny Pacquiao
Notorious BIG
Lou Diamond Phillips
The Cheshire Cat
Slumdog Millionaire
Hakeem Olajuwan
Jaws, from 007 fame.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Finally getting the monkey (visa) off my back.

I never realized how nice it would be to get my visa crap in order. I feel like I know Quito now. Specifically, I know two parts of Quito. It's like Moore Hill and then Riverside. I don't know a damn thing about 183, where Leander is, or how to get to Canyon Creek.

I know La Mariscal, around the area of Avenida 6 de Deciembre. I also know Quito Viejo, specifically the 4 square blocks around the Hostel. Calles Venezuela, Mejia, Bolivar, San Francisco, etc...ya conozco todos esos.

Right now, I don't feel overwhelmed in the least. It'll be nice when this feeling occurs in a place that I'd like to live, somewhere further south.* At least for the next few days, I'll feel comfortable in Quito. For this I'd like to say thanks. Thanks, nay, many thanks, to family and friends in wishing me well and having faith that I'd maneuver well down here. Whaddya know, it just might have worked.

All that said, I still don't have my visa finalized. I know, tricky tricky. I actually have to go in one last time (fingers crossed) on Monday to pick up my passport and other documents, all of which should be processed.

*Speaking of the South, here's the travel plans for the moment.
Tuesday, head from Quito south to Ambato. Either stay in Ambato or head to Patate, a small farming village surrounded by volcanoes, or Salasaca, a small pueblita known for its weavings.
Theeen (think Wayne's World), to Banos, a place with hot springs and probably tourists.
Theeen, either head to Rio Verde, or further south to Riobamba.
Theeen, keep going west to Guarunda.
Theeen, from Guarunda to a little town called Salinas, which evidently is run purely on a cooperative basis. Wow. This could be the place to find work...any kind of work.
By the way, for those of you with the google map, there's a coastal town of Salinas. Eso no es. I'm going to the town in the Central Sierra. Eso es.

Curious as a cat, that's why they call me whiskers.

Think on the following two things.

1. I'm wondering how it sounds when I make mistakes in my spanish speaking. Specifically, I wonder what it must be like for a native speaker to hear me make the mistakes I'm making in my speaking. These, for the most part, are of a grammatical nature. I would rather speak with some fluency and speed than meditate on the grammar and speak like a roboy. I end up using incorrect conjugations, although my point is rarely missed in entirety. I wonder how different it sounds from the way it is when they speak in English. Will I ever know what it's like to listen and know the sound of mistake-ridden Spanish? Pues, quien sabe?

2. I was sitting on the balcony reading. People passing by below look up and stare. Some smile, some laugh, some scowl. Que sera, sera. Todo bem. As I'm looked upon with a scowl, I feel an urge to speak English. I don't know what the hell I'd say, but I just want to go on a rant about critical pedagogy, texas longhorn football, how to posterize an image in photoshop, etc...

This got me thinking. Keep in mind, I'm reading Pedagogy of the Oppressed. When I'm looked upon with a screwface, I think I feel delegitimized. I feel dehumanized. I feel as if I've been looked at as powerless. As mindless. As worthless.

My desire to speak English has a dual root structure. One, I'm instantly showing them that, in English at least, I'm a legitimate and complete person. In doing so, I'm highlighting something that, in all likelihood, they cannot do. This complicates our relationship, because now I'm more skilled at something than my counterpart. Additionally, my rattling off about what I know, regardless of how trivial it may seem, gives me experiential legitimacy. It makes me a human being. I am legitimate, human, wielding power, mindful, and worthwhile.

This, to me, is Freirian to the bone. Through dialogue, my counterpart would begin to see the depth in me, and I in her or him. We would likely disagree, but never again could she or he legitimately look at me as less than human, or less fully human.

The only other time I've felt looked at in such a dehumanizing manner is by panhandlers sometimes. Specifically in Atlanta. There was a woman who was angry with me for not giving her money, which I think she saw as dehumanizing. However, her inability to realize the profundity of my situation was equally dehumanizing.

Anyway, think on it. Freire, you sneaky sonuvagun.

An Uncomfortable Situation, Indeed.

So I'm sitting in the kitchen at Hostel Residencial Sucre, having a conversation with a feller from Colombia. He's quite serious, and the rate at which he speaks, and evidently expects me to understand, is quite a bit more rapid than the speed of Quito traffic, whose story is told daily in a somewhat endearing cacaphony of honks, whistles, and Daddy Yankee.

We're discussing what we're here for, and I begin talking about my goals here and where my inspirations lie. Inevitably, Pedagogy of the Oppressed comes up, amongst other sources. I'm doing my best to convey to him the idea that I'm still coming to terms with my identity and how that will effect my message in my teaching. We're talking about sexuality, gender, race, class, geography...the same stuff I've talked with many Austinites about. Of course, the trip from A to B is about as graceful as rollerskating in the pouring rain on a hurdles sand. We're getting there, but my knees are gonna be wrecked manana.

As we chat, Don Jose Miguel Abad Carrion comes into the kitchen. Chances are, he was somewhat goofy from aguardiente, our local favorite spirit. He gets word that we're discussing indigenous peoples here in Ecuador and elsewhere, and he begins to brag, chest bulging, about his roots in Loja, a town in Southern Ecuador. He tells me the following things while glowing with pride.
1. Loja has Spanish roots.
2. The Spaniards came and *bleeped* all the natives, producing babies in many cases.
3. Names in Loja are really nice - Cuevas, Torres, Sanches, Carrion.
4. He has alot up there (in his brain).
5. Many people of Ecuador are 'gente baja,' low people. He seems to be talking about intellectual and cognitive abilities.

These five things have come out every night I've been here, especially when he gets goofy in the booze. He is talking about not having a single drop of indigenous blood in his roots, another point of extreme pride. The Colombian feller is quite annoyed by this. Actually, annoyed is a euphamism. He's pretty pissed, and probably pretty disgusted.

He tells DJMAC about how he's proud of his indigenous roots, and the culture thereof that still remains in his family and in their lives. DJMAC can only respond with a simple, 'no,' and a swipe of the hand through the air. My Colombian friend, politely asks our permission to leave, which we grant of course.

So, it seems pretty clear that DJMAC is appealing to what he assumes is a very prideful thing in my life, which is to say my European roots. I feel as if he wants me to think more of him than other Ecuadorians, as if we share something in common that makes us transcendent than most of the population of 'gente baja.' I really don't know how to respond to this. I've never been in this situation. I don't want to speak of indigenous people in a condescending manner, as if I'm here to help them out of a situation, because that's not why I'm here. But I do want to be involved, if only as a student of culture, with all different types of people.

I want to tell DJMAC that I couldn't care less about his Spanish roots, and maybe even that I resent most of the things the Spaniards have done to Mexico and other parts of the Americas. I want to tell him that he probably has more in common with the indigenous Ecuadorian than any Spaniard in the old country. I want to tell him all of this, though he has been good to me, and he clearly respects me as a friend.

So what do I do? Nothing glorious. Nothing showstopping. I simply tell DJMAC that I'm all mixed up. I tell him I have impure blood...that I'm part of the mestizaje, albeit a mix of different elements than Yupanqui, Inca, etc...I tell him that I am interested in the cultures of Ecuador, both as a united Ecuadorian people as well as a potpourri of indigenous cultures, who over the years, have combined with each other, and with Spaniards, Americans, Asians, Islanders, and others. I tell him I would like to learn Quichua. At the end of this mini-diatribe, which occurred over the course of probably 15 minutes (see above metaphor which describes my current speaking troubles), DJMAC puts out his hand and says simply, 'Mi Pan.'

Looking back, he was probably drunk and not too interested. Who knows? Anyway, I found the whole situation to be very uncomfortable, though I think the experience was one of learning more than anything else.

Some Vignettes from Quito

So, I had a few short stories that I found of interest here in Quito. I thought I might share. These are from my journal.

"There's a guy here in the Ministerio de Gobierno with a rattail down to the middle of his back. In the crowd, there's an 8 year old with one that barely reaches his collar. Heroes.

I went to the Museo Nacional del Banco Central de Ecuador. Basically, the equivalent of any national museum, which houses artifacts important to the history of the corresponding country. I made some drawings cause they wouldn't let me take photos. Good stuff...really good stuff. Artifacts from 3 and 4 thousand years ago. All different cultures with descriptions of each one's contribution and how these are reflected in their artistry. Most everything was made of clay.

On speakers plays what I assume are various traditional songs, chants, etc...

Then comes the colonial's called Genesis. Oh boy. Compared to the darkness of the room which housed the pre-colonial business, this area seems to be lit by the light of JC himself. The music makes me think he's gonna appear at any moment. That'd be embarrassing, eh?

From the vista de la terraza, I see two borrachos peleando en la calle. La policia llegaron y les pegaron a los dos crudos. Se reinieron despues. In the morning, from the same view, I see a drunk guy puking in the street. He's having a bad one...a walk of shame, if you will.

While sitting on the Plaza de San Francisco, I witness an argument between two women. One woman is working at the bathroom stand, where the public pays a certain tariff to go wee-wee. I don't know what the argument is about, but one woman called the other 'cochina, mocosa,' and more unspeakables. It was really good stuff.

Today sitting on the plaza I witnessed an older gentleman, with a glorious bronze, digging in the garbage. In the middle of his searching, which didn't seem to be going well, the poor gentleman's trousers fell beneath his knees, exposing his underbreetches. Did the gentleman cease his search, you ask? That'd be a hell no, friend. Hell no.

I walked over to Plaza Santo Domingo to check it out. It's a couple of blocks down the road. As I approached, I heard singing and music coming from the direction of the Plaza. As I got closer, I noticed that a group of uniformed performers were singing, accompanied by instruments of various types. In the moment of climax of the song came the words, 'somos policia.' Turns out, the National Police of Ecuador have a soft side for music.

I'm sitting in the Hostel reading Pedagogia del Oprimido, and I just realized that the hostel also serves as a whorehouse. Of course, this is a guess, though it's based on the following evidence, which is incontrovertible. It's three in the afternoon. Three couples have entered, used the back corner room, and each has subsequently left. Furthermore, the last lady has just come out of the room after a minute, purchased a condom from Don Jose, and returned with a smile on her face.

Saw a guy steal a carton of cigarettes, grab a 2 by 4, and run away. He was being chased by a sanitary worker with a rag covering his neck. I wonder if he knows it's already brown as hell. The owner of the little stand from whom the cigarettes and the lumber were robbed is also chasing the ladron, although she's a bit on the hefty side, and her speed is therefore compromised. The ladron seems to prefer to deal with her rather than the ragged sanitary worker, whose shirt is orange and who wears blue jeans and honcho boots. He also has a mustache. The duena, or owner, finally gets to the ladron, or thief, and grabs the block of wood. He acquiesces, and as soon as he does, he is chased down the street and cursed by Raggedy Sanitandy. Up the street the ladron proceeds, the box of glory in his hands. He has a mustache as well. He looks very much like a 'some day you're gonna die laughing characters from Roger Rabbit.

Last night, one of the guys who runs the Hostel Residencial Sucre, Don Jose Miguel Abad Carrion, got really drunk. He drinks every night with his buddy of many years, the former Sargeant in the National Army, Rodrigo Lanas. DJMAC is very proud to be of European roots in Southern Ecuador. SNARL is very proud to have indigenous blood, Yupanqui, amongst others. They argue about this all the time. Anyway DJMAC was really drunk last night. Somehow, he found his way downstairs into the middle of the street, and was hollering about this and that. It seems he recently lost a girlfriend, and is quite broken up about it. Fabian, a fella from Argentina, today poked fun at DJMAC's drunken blunderous rampage, and it was clear DJMAC was somewhat embarrassed. He calls me his 'pan.'

Sitting on the balcony of my new room today, I witnessed a new one for me. A woman was walking with her daughter. All of a sudden, Ma (presumably) pulls Daughter's (presumably) pants down, places one hand behind her knees and another in the middle of Daughter's back. Ma sweeps daughter off of her feet, with the plane of her back perpindicular to the ground. Daughter starts pissing onto the sidewalk. Daughter finishes pissing onto the sidewalk. The piss hurries to get to the drain in the street, hoping to someday make it to the middle of the Earth, I assume. Pants up, piss evacuated, and Ma (presumably) and Daughter (presumably) head off into the hills of Quito Viejo. That little girl clearly had no respect for public property.

Okay, ladies. We have a tie. It seems that the boys team couldn't hold it, either. Today, I saw a similar situation, albeit this time with a collaborator. Grandma (presumably) shielded Son (presumably) along with Ma (presumably) while Son leaked his lizard onto the sidewalk. Piss didn't change it's role. That little boy clearly had no respect for public property.

Boys, 1, Girls, 1."

More to come.