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


It’s 6:30am on a Saturday morning, and you are snug in your bed, sleeping off the imbibitions of the previous night.The distant sounds of the ocean are soothing your slightly pressurized skull. You’re dreaming of dancing salsa in the arms of a hot chico in the rain. And then this sound blasts you out of your happy oblivion:


What you are listening to, my friend, is a cover of the song “Jingle Bells”, apparently made witty by the fact that is being sung by a man imitating a dog. This charming holiday rendition is being blared from a series of horrible quality speakers on poles that are  interspersed throughout the town. Think yard speaker systems from Shawshank Redemption or Schindler’s List, or any movie with a prison/camp.

If you’ve spent any length of time in Montañita, Manglaralto, or many other villages in Continue reading

Barefoot Running Advice from Dr. Dad

I hate running. I hate everything about it. I think that running is tedious and stupid. But now I run. So what kind of idiot would participate in a sport that they actively hate? Well, I also deal with constant blackouts and brownouts, washing clothes and dishes by hand, and cold showers. Part of living in Ecuador requires learning to live with things that you always hated. No power? Buy a bunch of candles, and forget any ideas of stocking up on food to store in the freezer. Staring at a mountain of dirty laundry with a sinking doom feeling in your stomach? Get grifota, put on some good podcasts, roll up your sleeves and just zone out and do it. It can actually be quite a zen experience once you get over the Am I really, I mean really, about to wash all this with my hands? thoughts that are going through your head. Have to take a shower in freezing ice water? Sorry, I have no help for you there. I’ve been taking cold showers for 1 year, 10 months, and 1 week and 2 days, and I despise them just as much today as I did the first day I got here. There is no getting used to cold showers. The dread that comes over you as you stand under the shower head, waiting for the piercingly frigid water to hit your poor unprotected and vulnerable body never goes away. Oh the horror…

Continue reading

Mariposa (II)


A few months ago there was a butterfly migration through this area. Millions of butterflies, of 3 different species by my count, came floating through town for about 2-3 weeks. Some days they were so dense that is looked like it was lightly snowing flecks of color. My limited photography skills and camera capability meant that I was never able to get a good shot of them all together, but an afternoon spent chancing them around like a crazy person yielded at least one nice shot of a butterfly at rest.

Arte de la Calle (X)


One of the organizations in Montañita where I place volunteers for our program is the town primary school. The director and the teachers are all so friendly, but because of cut backs the teachers are alone in classrooms with sometimes 40 kids. There is no real playground, and many classrooms are just divided from eachother by barriers a couple yards high, which makes the noise intense at times.

But last year a local artist painted this gorgeous piece on the ugly crumbly part of their wall. It makes me smile every time I walk to the school for a meeting or to bring a volunteer.