The Ocean Gives and Takes

In the 2 years I’ve been here, I’ve been warned over and over to be careful swimming in the ocean. The waves get really big. The currents are strong. There are riptides. But it’s also beautiful and people don’t let that keep them out of the water. I’ve been told, if you’re in trouble you wave arms until a sufista or someone on the beach sees you and swims over with their board to help you to shore. But this informal kind of vigilance sometimes fails.

This week in Olón, two children were pulled out by the current. No one saw them disappear into the waves. No one heard them call for help. No one saved them. Continue reading

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Up Ruta del Spondylus

False starts. Back tracking. Forgotten items. Everyone have everything now? Okay. Let’s go! ¡Vamos chicos, vamos! Bags in the trunk. Boards on the roof. Friends in the back. My chico behind the wheel. Music on the speakers. Driving north from Manglaralto.

Montañita: The streets are crowded with waikis and surfistas; the music thumps from nearby hostels; all is buzzing with energy. Cut through, cut through. Olón: The Santuario church and orphanage is perched on the point, looking like an ark left after the flood subsided; a big futból game going on in the pueblo; a cheering crowd is in the street. Cut though, cut through. Curía, San Jose, Las Nuñez, La Entrada: The villages get smaller and the houses get bigger; mini-mansions for the extranjeros and guayaquileños ricos with big walls to keep out the locals. Dodge the donkeys and the street dogs who lay down the road and watch us swerve around them without a care in the world.

Then climb, climb, climb. Up through the jungled hills. No people, no villages. Just lush green and the ocean off in the distance peeking out at us through the valleys. And then down. The waves roll beside us as we coast along, back, Continue reading

The Drag Queens of Manglaralto

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The New Year celebrations here in Ecuador include 3 days of mischievous hijinks leading up to the 1st. Some of you Catholics out there may know of the “Massacre of the Innocents” feast days. The king Herod heard about this baby king of the Jews upstart in Bethlehem, and when the magi double crossed him and didn’t give the baby Jesus, he went on a rampage and killed every kid in town under the age of 2. So goes the story…

To mark the date, kids here dress up as red devils carrying spears with bells jangling from their ankles, and run around poking people and demanding your pocket change. I suppose it’s to represent the angry murdered children. Think of Halloween, but all the kids are dressed as demons, they attack you in the streets and restaurants instead of at your home, and take your money instead of candy. But after dark, things go a little differently.

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Somewhere along the line, this tradition seems to have evolved into something more bizarre. At night Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in Pictures

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This gallery contains 12 photos.

Click on any picture to go to fullscreen.   I’m so grateful for this amazing year, and for everything I was able to experience. I’m grateful for all the people who have been a part of my life, for all … Continue reading