Monday, February 26, 2007

Ecuador: Over and Out

And this is the last post for the first summer vacation I've had since I was about 15.

Silly Shots


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ecuador: The Rain Forest

Given that we found ourselves near the Amazon, Mike and I figured we should visit the rain forest. And, what the hell, we'ld go as cargo. Well this was mostly a bad idea as neither of us are too good with being told what to do by people less educated, and only slightly more knowledgeable in the area. Oh, yeah. There were the other dumbass toursits too.

That's not to say we had a bad time. We saw all manner of bugs, hacked vines, swung Tarzan style, fished for piranas. But that's the rain forest equivalent of Disney land. Next time we go on our own trip and see if we can see some real wild life.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Ecuador: Bullfight

Mike has been telling me for a while about the glories of the bullfight he saw in Mexico. It was a great battle between worthy adversaries. So when we saw that there was an opportunity to go visit one while in Ecuador we jumped at the opportunity.

The thing is ... well ... the Ecuadorian matadors were pussies. They never gave the bull a chance and the death blow was only after the animal was fully incapacitated. But we got a lot of good pictures, and saw two of the matadors helpers get gored, so it wasn't all bad.

Oh, and we learned that the VIP seats in Ecuador aren't so much about seeing better, as being seen better. I think we were surrounded entirely by Columbian drug lords.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Ecuador: Rafting with Gui

Well, looking for things to do around Ecuador we discovered day rafting trips. With Mike and my recent adventures in California and Idaho, we decided that we enjoyed rafting enough to go for a day trip. Of course a day trip means leaving hella early, and so we needed to find coffee at 6 a.m. This is where our troubles started, and where our friendship with the raft guide began.

Given that we where on a schedule and in a hurry, we went to the 24 hour coffee shop to grab some breakfast and caffeine. We impressed upon the staff our need to hurry, and made our order being assured that it would take only a minute or two to complete. This is where manana time screwed us over. 15 minutes later, and they where still trying to figure out how best to boil the water for the tea (don't even get me started on why the coffee house was out of coffee).

So quite agitated, Mike and I start trying to get the bill and to pay for our order in spite of it not having been completed. They apparently where unfamiliar with this concept, and accommodated begrudgingly but tempers had began to rise. And as we where arguing, our guide showed up looking for us and started to aid us in our dispute. He actually argued so strongly that the manager at the coffee house screamed pendajo after him as security wakled us all out.

After that we had bonded quite well with the guide, and Mike and I being the most experienced paddlers in our group grabbed a boat with the trip leader and proceeded to have a helluva good day. Rafting is really sweet when you don't have to do any of the prep work for the meals, and you get a couple of beers at the end.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Mike Buys a Pig

Now after our first trip to Sasquailli, we had debated on whether or not Mike's spanish was up to the task of getting in on the animal negotiations. This naturally lead us to debating his ability to purchase a pig, and then re-sell it without losing half of his investment. Always up for a challenge Mike went to work the next time we where at the animal marked.

And once he had purchase a cute little pig (for $8) the little bastard would not shut up. But we wandered our way through the market to head off to the guinea pig section. Mike's strategy was to barter the pig through cuy (cuy:guinea pig;beef:cow) becuase he had a repore with the ladies over there and thought that might get him a better deal.

All through the marked, everyone wanted to meet gringo's pig. And of course they wanted to know what he paid for it. Though no one in the vegetable market seemed to know all that well whether we got a good price or not. All of them agreed with Mike that we got ripped off, but no one had the right spirit in their laughter at it.

Anyway, once at the cuy baskets, Mike starts his charming thing, when out of no where a crowd develops, and an old indigenous woman grabs little piggy's balls and decides he's going to be a good breeder. At this point all hell breaks loose as the little old native is trying to wrest the leash from Mike's hand while offering some money. One of the cuy girls starts counter bidding. At the high point, he's offered 5 cuy (and since they cost $2 each that would be a profit), but settles on the cash from the indigenous woman for $8, coming out exactly even on the whole exchange.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Ecuador: Imbabura

Imbabura is near the town of Cotocachi. This is a town renown for its leather-works. And you can get leather jackets etc. very cheap (like $75 for a very nice jacket). You can also get them to custom make anything you want for cost + $10 labor if you have the time.

The mountain itself involve a mile of vertical traversal. While there's nothing technical (it's just a hike), that's a lot of ground to cover, and next time we'll use this as a good warm up. But this one was fun and summited, so I was happy we went.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Ecuador: Otavalo

This one was the gringo market. Well, not the one where you buy gringos. I haven't found that one yet, but rather the one where all the gringos go to 'experience a native market'. I actually heard a middle-class texas woman go 'do you fellas have any banana crisps. Y'know like these dried banana things'. And of course she said it in the middle of some of the most amazing fresh fruit I've ever seen.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Thanks 'Fred'

With the death of my 360, and it's subsequent resurrection in a new body, I've had some issues with re-enabling Jayne's pac-man addiction. Since I technically have new console, and since the games are DRM'ed she's no longer able to play them.

Now in all fairness to 'Fred', he was very helpful getting this issue resolved (or at least moved up the chain), but I couldn't understand his explanation of why I wasn't losing any rights when I overwrite the games on my system with a fresh download on a new account. And I asked for his name, so that I could call back later when I could verify my rights had been lost (John, his supervisor nicely explained how I wasn't losing any rights in a way that I at least bought). When he told me his name was 'Fred' I laughed and told him that if he didn't want to tell me his real name than I couldn't do much about it.

He took me calling him a liar better that I would expect someone honest to take it.

Ecuador: Sasquilli

Ah, Sasquilli. My first third world animal market. And the birthplace of an interesting bet. Oh, and the 'tortiallas' (basically cornmeal with onion fried in lard) are awesome. You just can't stop at one.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Ecuador: Ambato

After Cotopaxi, we had to redirect our efforts, as I wasn't going to be going up Chimborazo (the highest point in the world measure in distance from the center of the earth). So we heard about Tunguraua erupting and decided to try to go see it. We got as far as the town of Ambato before we were told we shouldn't go any furhter.


Friday, February 02, 2007

We Interrupt our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Maybe Ecuador later today. For now, well I got my xbox back and I played online Halo for the first time yesterday in quite a while and...

I just won my first online ranked match Woot!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Ecuador: Cotopaxi

And now for Cotopaxi. It's the second highest peak in Ecuador, and by far the prettiest. Summiting means starting on the ice at midnight and reaching the top before sunrise. There are some beautiful sights to see when you're looking at the night sky from above the clouds. I've never seen anything like it. And sunrise up at that height is amazing as well. Unfortunately my training wasn't as hard as I needed to make it, so I petered out before summiting. Well it'll drive me harder for next time.