Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sum up

I realize I never finished my carnaval break updates. Really that would just take too mush time. To sum up;
- Cuenca was very pretty but a ghost town cause everyone had left for the holidays
- The bus ride to the coast was gorgeous
- the bus ride up the coast was gorgeous
- spent the last few days bumming around on different beaches and playing in the waves
- spent the last few nights eating great dinners, playing boardgames, and drinking wine or capariñas.
- Flew back to quito, spent a day in Quito before busing back to tena
excellent trip overall. some of my best times in ecuador. I will upload photos as soon as these computers allow it.

The brigade has arrived


It is really hot today. Sun all day long. Hot humid and sticky. Yesterday was the first day of the neurologist brigade. Two EEG techs and two neurologist are here, next week more neurologist will come. It seems here that everyone and there mother has epilepsy, which is what an EEG tests for more or less. Yesterday was a madhouse. I have never seen that many people in the hospital, which is saying something cause normally the place is pretty crazy in the mornings. But yesterday morning the craziness was directed at me. Everyone thought I was a doctor and could get them seen. I was cornered by people telling me they or their child was sick and had come from far away. My place in all this chaos is to translate for the EEG techs, call the next name on the list, and help set up and take down when I can. Unfortunately none of these duties involve deciding who goes when, and I felt like an ass when I had to tell people to wait. Some of them walked three hours from some remote location and then had to take the bus just to sit in a waiting room for 6 hours and do the journey again that night. Having to tell people who had made such a journey that they had to wait was a hard thing to do. Luckily today was much more organized. We managed to see more people in less time and everything stayed relatively calm. Yesterday i was at the hospital from 740 am until 640 pm. Today I got to leave at 330 pm. Let's hope things continue to go this smoothly.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

locked out

I just got back from a great weekend of hiking and hot springs in papallacta. I was greatly looking forward to getting home early, having time to do my laundry before it got dark, and read a bit. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my house key with me this weekend, and as it is sunday, my family is up at the farm, and likely to not be back until 8 pm. Because of this I am chillin at an Internet cafe in Tena, with all my shit, passing the time doing nothing in particular.

anyway, back to this weekend...

Heidi and I left Tena friday afternoon around 4pm and got into papallacta around 7:30. Natalie came in from Quito around 8, and katie joined us around midnight after some slight bus confusion. Spent most of the night in the hostel hot springs and the rest making, and tending a fire. We got an upgrade on our room the first night since our original was not ready. This meant we got a fireplace. I loved having the chance to build a fire. It reminded me of being home. Having a fire was also very welcome because papallacta is freakin freezin.

Saturday was the day of our big hike. I have hiked in papallacta's nature reserve three time before, but have never gone past the first lagoons, which are about and hour to hour and a half hike in. This time we hike three and a half hours in. This hike is at very high altitude and with a lot of steep ascents along the way. This means it was rather exhausting. The hike brought us to a set of three lagoons and later a very large gorgeous lagoon. At this particular one we decided to stop and debate whether to chance it and continue to the next ranger station or to turn back. After a cheese, cracker, and cookie lunch we decided to turn back just to be sure we would ge4t out of the park before dark, because we did not know exactly how farm the station was. It rained the entire way back. We were soon soaked to the bone and freezing. Despite this we got very giggly from either exhaustion or the sheer lunacy of our situation. We booked it back and, because it was mostly decent, made back in an hour and a half. At the station we got a guy to drive us back to our hostel in his truck. We all hunkered down and squeezed together for warmth in the bed of pick up. He didn't charge us anything for the ride, and we ere changed and into the hot springs as soon as possible. The changing part actually took awhile since our hand were so cold we lacked some dexterity. Gracias a dios we had hot spring in our hostel and were able to warm up quickly.
After we could feel all our body part again we treated ourselves to a rather delicious diner, and some amazing hot chocolates, at the spa just up the road. Its about a 5 minute walk but we took a cab anyway. We were just that tired. Today we had a one last quick dip in the springs and caught a bus back to our respective cities.
Which bring me here, the only open internet cafe that does not even have the ability to play youtube vids. But at least here it is warm.

Monday, March 16, 2009

a train ride and some incan ruins to go with it

ok, where was I?

That sunday we woke up at 4am to eat breakfast and catch a bus to alausí by 5am. We wanted to take the train all the way from riobamba to alausí, but there was a mudsilde on the tracks between these two points. Oh well.
Getting on the train in alausí was a major cluster fuck of pushy tourist and pushy ecuadorians all wanting the best seat on the train to see la nariz del diablo bit of track. Heidi and I followed a coupld of other tricky people who used the method of sending one person to the train and one to get tickets. The train ride itself was not that thrilling. Had some good views and it was fun to ride and old-time train. The ride lasted about an hour and a half.
When we got back to the station we bought a bus ticket to Tambo from which we caught a taxi to ingapirca, the most important incan ruins ecuador. Roads were horrible from all the rain and our cab broke down after taking on a rather large pot hole. After about 20 minutes it started running again, which was good cause i certaintly did not want to walk the rest of the way in the rain. With a little luck the rain stopped once we arrived at the ruins. I love going to ruins. I don't why exactly, i kjust like to image what they were when people lived there; what they looked like, what people did in their daily lives, stuff like that. Had a good time walkig through the buildings and taking pictures. Did not stay for too long because we wanted to get to cuenca before it got dark. Took another cab back to Tambo, which had no buses to cuenca, so took a smaller bus to cañar. Tons of people along the way covered in flour or baking powder..not entirely sure. I managed to avoid that particular method of attack throughout the holiday. From cañar we caught a bus to Cuenca and got in around 6pm. So in the end it only took us 4 buses and a train to get to Cuenca, the city i have been wanting to see since i got to ecuador.

...and sorry still no pics :(

Friday, March 13, 2009

My introduction to carnaval and Riobamba

So this blog is about two weeks late, and i am only to going to write the first part now, but hey life is busy here in Tena man....wait that is a complete lie...im just lazy

Anyways, I had a week off for carnaval, and with it went on an awesome trip through the southern sierra(mountains) and southern coast. Started the trip in Quito on a Friday. From Quito I took a 4 hour bus south to riobamba. Amazing how much nicer the journey is when the road is paved the whole way and and you are going through the mountains not across the mountains. All of which is contrary to my usual bus route between Quito and tena. I got into to riobamba pretty late because the terminal in Quito was an absolute zoo due to carnaval travelers. I have never seen that place so crowded. At any rate, we had to wait for the bus for about an hour. Met up with Heidi(another volunteer at the hospital) in our hostel. She was coming from tena and we arrived at pretty much the same time. Really nice hostel and very close to the train station, the train being our primary reason for being in Riobamba.
Our original plan was this; get to riobamba on Friday to wake up early on Saturday to get train tickets for Sunday morning. The train would then take us to alausí and the famous piece of track called "la nariz del diablo". The attraction of this is that you get to ride on top of the train, see some beautiful views of the mountainside, and get scarred shitless by the steep decline and incline of the so-called "devils nose". So, we woke up early got breakfast and went to the station, which was still closed despite it being 930 with a supposed 9am open time. Instead of waiting there for it to open we decided to walk around and see a bit of the city in the daylight. Went to several plazas, a marketplace, and a few Churches. Throughout our walk we saw people setting up stands to sell foam spraying cans, colored powder, water balloons, and eggs all in preparation for their carnaval celebration. I was optimistic they wouldn't throw water at us because we were gringas. I don't know why i reasoned this. It was very foolish on my part. It did not take long before we were sprayed with foam, and then some more foam, and then some more. Soon we realized; one, we wanted to see the parade, second, we would have to by foam and fight back in order to due so. It was a lot of fun. We walked down the streets spraying everyone that sprayed us, and running from those attacking with paint. The whole city was one giant shaving cream/paint/water fight in which no one was spared. Grandmas, babies, people in nice clothes, people in cars or on motorcycles all got soaked. Heidi and i went through three cans of foam each. While very good at retaliation we were not successful at avoiding the paint. About two hours later we arrived at the hotel,and, to the amusement of other guest, soaking went and covered in various colors of paint. Washed up best we could, but it ended up taking three or four days to get the purple paint out of my eyebrows. Once clean and dry we had no desire to venture out again. We ordered in pizza to the hostel and split it with some other guess that also did not want to leave. after lunch we rejoined the festivities from a safer spot, the roof of the hostel. From the roof i threw water at passersby with no danger of getting wet myself. Almost every balcony or rooftop had someone throwing water. This continued the whole day. At one point it died down and Heidi and i dared to go to a look out point a few blocks away. Just as we were getting back we were hammered with water balloons throw from a car window. Later that night when we went to dinner we took a taxi there and back directly from hostel to restaurant door. We were traveling with very little clothing and its cold in the mountains. Therefore, we wanted to make sure that what dry clothes we had left remained that way.
It was a great first day to a trip i can say that much. It also made us aware that we should leave the house in raincoats until the festivities passed. which meant we had to be scared of water balloons for the next four days (with good reason, they can hurt).

.....and the stupid thing wont let me upload pictures. the internet in tena as a whole is going through and tough time right now.
...... more pictures to come soon

Monday, March 9, 2009

wasting precious time

Hanging out in good old selva net. Like usual the internet is going extremely slow. I wanted to make a few blog posts about my carnaval break trip. However, between day-long power outages, and general impatience for the internet connection, I have not gotten around to it. Right now I am wasting time hoping people will leave the internet cafe so the internet is fast enough to upload pictures.

hmm...not working
Maybe i should go work on that paper of mine....maybe

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Donde está la fiesta?..En Tena pues

Today marks the end of the festivals of the Napo province. Kinda like an independence day for the province except they celebrate it for about two weeks. This morning there was a grand parade of every school in the province it seemed. Imagine a parade three hours long of nothing but marching bands that have only drums. I had planned on missing this parade but found myself trapped when I entered town to use the internet. There were so many people that once I got off the bus I became a rather “captive” audience member. Last week they had another parade that was a much more interesting. More dances and more cultural. Today was just pretty military. I only took pics of the other parade.
Tonight the streets will fill with people for a big city-wide dance. They had the exact same events for the festivals of Tena. Went to that dance night, but I will probably skip this one. I think before I described it as a summer fest-type atmosphere meaning super crowded and filled with people who are mostly drunk off their asses.
At any rate I enjoy how everything is an excuse to party here and there is always something going on despite the fact that it is a pretty small city. A lot of Ecuador is like that I think. Walk around long enough and you are bound to find a parade, a protest, a dance, or a concert right there on the street.