Coming soon: The Return to Ecuador

I’ve been craving humitas lately – those soft, cheesy, sweet cornmeal cakes steamed in a corn husk. I miss eating popcorn and tostado (corn nuts) with my soup. The popcorn here in the States – even the stuff I buy at the Farmer’s Market – just can’t compare with Ecuadorian popcorn. And I’d love to have a chirimoya. I saw them in Whole Foods market one day, shipped from somewhere in the tropics. I would have to shell out about $8 for a taste – as it should be – you pay for every bit of petroleum used to get that thing up here, to a place where no one has heard of a chirimoya. I wonder if Whole Foods made any profit on those. (Aren’t you tempted to google ‘chirimoya’ now?)

It’s been nearly two years since I returned home from Ecuador. Maybe it’s time for a visit?

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Humita, wrapped in a corn husk, and an Ecuadorian tamale – usually served with coffee or hot chocolate.

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Cuenca’s Gringolandia: A place to escape Trumpamerica? (Or whatever America you want to escape)

Will it be Canada or Cuenca? I have to admit, this is a post I’ve been working on since shortly after I arrived in Ecuador – more than a year and a half ago – well before Trump announced his intentions. But I figured this was a good time to publish this. US citizens have been on a roller coaster ride this fall, and spate of nervous jokes (on both sides of the political spectrum) about fleeing the country if Trump became president has not abated. (And I know there are some out there who will flee a Clinton presidency.) So, would it be Canada or Cuenca? I’m not going to say much about Canada – although, I do realize it’s hard to resist a country run by a prime minister who cuddles panda bears.

This post is about what life is like for North Americans who have already fled to Ecuador. If you arrived at this page because you’re considering retiring – or perhaps, fleeing – to Cuenca, maybe it’ll give you a bit of perspective about life as a North American in Ecuador.

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Typical abode for expat North Americans in the heart of Cuenca’s Gringolandia.

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Transform Black Friday into Opt-Outdoors-Day – who’s on board?

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The Poudre River in Fort Collins, the day before Thanksgiving (or, rather, the day before Black Friday craziness begins)…Also the day before snow.

A couple of weeks ago the major outdoor retail chain, REI, announced that they would close their doors for Thanksgiving AND Black Friday, pay their employees, and encourage everyone to go out and enjoy the great outdoors. I think this is awesome, and I applaud this move. In fact, it makes me want to do all my Christmas shopping at REI, so maybe that was the point. But how many people really care?

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Galapagos Part 3: Every shade of blue

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A juvenile sea lion awaits us on the dock of South Plaza’s Island, a small islet near the larger Isla Santa Cruz.

The Galapagos will always appear in shades of blue in my mind. While the drier island landscapes are painted in red and orange, or draped by lush, low forest canopies of green and yellow, those are simply accents against a pale blue sky, and deeper blue ocean. As the world here in the Northern Hemisphere gradually turns gold and red with autumn and a new school year is ramping up (well, ok, it’s been ramping up, and at this point, is going full speed ahead), I wanted to share one last set of Galapagos photos – shades of blue, some lush green forests, and quirky animals. Warm thoughts  and images to carry us through frigid days ahead (those of us who are winter-bound, anyway!) Continue reading

Galapagos Part 2: Bartolomé and North Seymour Islands

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The colorful volcanic landscape of Isla Bartolomé in the Galapagos. The tall spire at the other end of the bay is ‘Pinnacle Rock’.

Imagine cruising into a tiny, protected bay, where the water laps gently on the rocks. Your vision is saturated with shades of blue, from the sky and the water, and shades of red, brown, grey and purple of volcanic cinder cone – you begin to feel like you’re on another planet. This is the small islet of Bartolomé in the Galapagos.

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Pilgrimage to the Galapagos – First impressions

I felt as though I had walked into an episode of National Geographic. There it was, the famous blue-footed booby, less than 5 feet away, contentedly situated atop a small rock, and staring at us with alien eyes. He didn’t even blink as cameras shuttered and beeped. I’m guessing that this particular booby – and every booby on North Seymour Island – is already featured in thousands of photo albums and Facebook pages.

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The blue-footed booby, along with the giant tortoise, are the iconic creatures of the Galapagos. Although, iguanas and sea lions are prominently featured. And if you’ve ever studied biology, you’ve heard of Darwin’s finches. Yes – that’s right – the Galapagos Islands is the place that inspired Charles Darwin to formulate his theory of evolution. I’ve met enough people who don’t quite know where the Galapagos are, that this warrants a short geography lesson before I go much further. Continue reading

Oh, wait…What did I just say?

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Learning to communicate effectively in another language is like putting together pieces of a mosaic. There are so many little details to consider – sometimes you’re able to see the beauty in the big picture, but you may not understand exactly what it all means. (Photo from the Quito Basilica – Feb 2015)

“I have already lost my meal,” I say as the waitress walks up to the table. I don’t realize what I’ve said until she looks at me a little funny. Of course, I really meant to say, “I have already ordered my meal,” but the Spanish verbs for ‘to lose’ (perder) and for ‘to ask for, or, to order’ (pedir) are too close in my head, and I constantly mix them up. If you’ve spent any amount of time trying to communicate in another language, you’ve certainly had moments of enlightenment where you realize exactly how silly you probably just sounded.

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