Rio Grande

“Los ojos! Los ojos!” Exclaim his admirers, in every market, village and bus ride, and Rio just eats it up. If by chance someone isn’t praising his beauty, he starts waving to the passerbys, as if he just claimed the crown of the Miss Ecuadorian Pageant. The attention is great for all of us, Melissa and I are used to a much different kind of attention, such as a blatant silent stare or increduous efforts to get into our pocketbooks. Rio attracts quite a different crowd and making connections has taken on an ease that is quite refreshing. 

  Travelers often find themselves in the paradoxical position of being outsiders with the intention of having an insider experience. In times past these experiences have resulted from some combination of luck and charm. In general babies perform universal behaviors, so when someone on the bus sees Rio waving or breast feeding or trying to walk, they immediatley relate to the same experiences they have with their own children. All of a sudden we are no longer outsiders, we are part of the global village and cultural differences are forgotten. Conversations then have a common thread and flow freely, it’s really great! So, all that being said, we have now figured out how to fund our travel bug, Dohse Baby Rentals: “Tired of being ignored by the locals or worse given a grimace and a smirk? For only $100 a day you can rent a baby to instantly have the “in” you’ve always wanted!”  

 Other aspects of traveling with a baby have been quite challenging. Sleep training has all but gone out the window, and though Rio seems to be enjoying himself and has adjusted quite well the the nomadic lifestyle we can tell he notices. The third time we packed up his bed he gave us a bit of a fight and tried to pull it back out. We’ve found that he has a three hour time limit on buses and a 12 minute limit for eating at restaurants. By now he’s eaten all kinds of market food and has traveled on trains, planes, buses, taxis and even dune buggys. He’s slept as high as 12,000 feet and can sleep through pretty much anything, including all night Quechua festivals. Most of all he has made plenty of friends, and it’s a complete joy to see him interact with so many people and see all the cultural differences and boundaries set aside for play.      

                

 

Finding Stories

I believe that even google with all of its storage space, information and acccrued knowledge does not have enough energy to record the vast amount of stories that have been written in our world. Sometimes I imagine God a brilliant,crazy haired, cigarette smoking, eccentric, madly typing the stories of every individual that walks our planet; overpopulation, in fact, is just the unintentional consequence of Gods over-efficiency at the typewriter and infinite creative ability. This image is accentuated by travel, especially as we move further away from the familiar. Sometimes every hour feels like it could be a short story in of itself. Updike, Salinger and Marquez have got nothing on the divine orator.     The last week has taken us into new and wild places, where we can only speculate at the stories of some of the people we cross paths with. What I wouldn’t give to be able to, not only know, but to feel their history, worldview and life experience. All we get are snippets and to be honest that’s probably more than we deserve. Even the snippets though are fascinating.     The story of the owner of an old spanish colonial ranch that has been passed down through generations who struggles in her relationship with the indigenous people that surround her. Or the Quechua painter who in the 70s started a new art form that has become renown worldwide by his son, yet he still humbly paints away in his home town which is so small and isolated, that even the locals haven’t heard of it.

    
 In Quito a young gay man who worked at our hostel explains what happens when he holds hands with his boyfriend at a club and about his joy over the new law that passed, called “free union” which is equivalent to the civil union laws of the U.S. All of these stories could easily make millions as a New York Times best seller novel. Really, they are incredible and yet they are just another beautiful life being lived. This is true everywhere, it’s just revealed with ease in the midst of foreign contrast. This is true of those who lost their lives in Charleston and as we travel it would be easy to ignore the sorrow that is felt back home, but alas, we cannot and we hold the memory of their stories in our heart as we sit in the market and eat empanadas or ride the bus over the highlands. Kyrie Eleison.

Note: All text highlighted in blue leads to a link with more information about that place or activity.

  

Quito

The city in the clouds. From the airport we wound our way through the fog at one in the morning into the sleepy town of Quito. Under the watchful eye of the virgin of immaculate conception we unloaded into our hostel. The smells of the panaderia nearby wafted into my nostrils along with a heavy wave of nostalgia transporting me back 14 years to my last stint in South America. I wasn’t expecting such a visceral memory and tears welled up in my eyes. Our room at the Community Hostel was on the third floor and was pretty much all windows looking out towards the Basilica de la Vota Nacional, a neo-gothic church made famous by its syncretic use of local flora and fauna in its architecture, for instance, in  place of gargoyles condors and tortoises keep gaurd.       We of course hit the ground running, with a three-hour walking tour starting at 10:30. Rio slept in the ergo like a champ as we explored the highest capital city in the world. Rio, in fact, has been a champ the entire time. He is a little more easily bothered when Mamacita leaves the room, however if she is in sight he is making friends fast and sure and we have already been given a phone number from a local woman at breakfast for a play date!    We have already  been faced with some of the, shall I say, joys of travel? First thing we did upon arrival is give Rio a drink of water offered to us, only to immediately freak out because we were not told if it was filtered or not, thankfully it was and our trip will continue as planned. Next, our iPad was disabled while traveling which I will tell you has almost made me swear off Apple forever, as I spent an entire day visiting internet cafes to fix it. Lastly, tonight we took a taxi that didn’t have the “safe” orange license plate and after Melissa and Rio unloaded the driver promptly kept driving with me still inside. Melissa was certain that a kidnapping had just taken place and I was uncertain exactly what was happening, turns out, he was only finding a better spot to pull over out of the way of traffic, it just happened to be around the corner well out of sight from Mel and Rio.

Over all though we are adjusting quickly and it is joy to be out of our comfort zone and facing new learning environments. We are already getting a sense of how the exploration section of our trip will need to have  a slower pace and we are glad that most of our time here will be spent in one location. Banos is next on the list where we are told we will find waterfalls and hot springs!

Note: All text highlighted in blue leads to a link with more information about that place or activity.

Video Diary #1 : Packing Phase

As part of our blogging experience we will be keeping a video diary, the following link is the first episode taken the second week of May. This will be a tool for us to express our feelings in a more personal way it will also serve as a platform to show some video of our experiences. Check it out!  Packing Phase

“>Packing Phase