Brass Kunckles and Birthday Cakes

Hey all.

It's been a week since there's been anything new on here, hasn't it? Seeing as how this is in fact called the "Daily Life Blog", that is a little more than shameful. Sincere apologies all around.

Right now it feels like my sinus cavity has been punched a few times by someone wearing brass knuckles while his friend poured molasses into my lungs and is now sitting on my chest. And I'm not the only one who is feeling like this, so things are pretty good down here, as you might have guessed.

Aside from that delightful update on the health status of the Manna house dwellers, I'm at a loss for where to start with recapping the past few weeks. And so I turn to the trusty Manna camera to do the job for me. Thanks Manna Cam!

(And ps. Happy Birthday today to Sarah Scott!)

Tuesday sports day at the library; nothing like an obstacle course competition to release pent-up library energy.

The picture doesn't actually do it justice, but when Dana and I saw the hills alight with glowing red sunset shadows on Tuesday evening, we very nearly wept from the grandeur of it all. Very nearly.

Wednesday at the library is Theater Day, taught by two friends from a local Theater company. The kids are in absolute LOVE with Wednesdays.

Just look at those engaged faces! Like I said, LOVE.

Chet Polson celebrates his 22nd birthday with a cake that braved 2 forms of Ecuador's public transportation with me.

View from Pichincha.

Mike Gabrys, Dana, Sarah Scott, Serena and Chet Polson strike a one-legged (?) pose up on Pichincha.

Sarah and Chet bond on Pichincha.

Serena and Dana love each other and Pichincha.


The Girls and The Quito

This past weekend, Jos and I planned a girl's weekend in Quito for the four of us. We rented 2 rooms in a hostel and spent the weekend wandering through our beloved city as (slightly more informed and jaded) tourists. Serena and Dana joined us Saturday night for a nap, some dinner, and a lot of dancing, per usual. When there's a live cover band singing a medley of Beatles, Led Zepplin, and Doors songs, one has no other option. One must dance. Please enjoy the pictoral account of our weekend.

On Saturday morning, Jos and I had bagels and fresh fruit juice for breakfast and wished our house had potted plants in our window sills.

We spent a late morning in silent awe inside a church painted in such decadent colors it felt as though we had walked into a sorbet coated, South American Versailles.

We walked through a tent city protesting PetroEcuador's presence in the rain forest.

We climbed two huge metal balls in a park. And then some spray painted helium canisters because they looked lonely.

We ate a lunch of red bananas, pineapple, freshly baked wheat bread, and avocado-black bean-onion-tomato-lime salad on our little hostel balcony.

Then we took a nap and readied ourselves for a classic-rock jam session with 100 of our closest Ecuadorian friends...

On Sunday, Dana reorganized some of the cement parking aids...

while Jos found herself a handsome boyfriend at the mall.

Then we all watched Transformers 2: Rise of the Fallen. And we LOVED IT. Seriously. It was hysterical.

At 9pm, we hailed a cab, piled all our bags into it's trunk, and let out collective sighs every few minutes as we drove our tired, city-dazed little souls back to the boys, the summer vols, and the fresh-aired valley.

Sigh. We will certainly miss this place.


Mindo is Lindo

Mindo: Adventure weekend in a cloud forest.

Our home away from home for the weekend, Casa de Cecilia.

My Swiss Family Robinson dreams come to fruition.

Most of the group heads out to zip-line, while...

Dunc and Ryan enjoy a Pilsner by the river.

Early morning contemplations on the porch are very serious.

The girls talk around the breakfast table.

An ideal breakfast. Followed by pancakes.

Scott, Meghan, Michael and Ryan learn about coffee roasting.

Roasting Coffee Beans!

Coca beans ready to be shelled, roasted, ground and spread on our pancakes.

View out the back of our hostel.

Scott, Taylor, Meghan and Ryan sit on one side of the truck bed...

While Dunc, Michael, Mari and I sit on the other.

Getting the "hold on really tight" speech before tube-rafting.

Everyone's ready for the river. Especially Dunc and Meghan...

Summer has begun

As I mentioned before, our first session summer volunteers arrived last week and have since taken over the apartment, or as I like to refer to it, The Hostel. (People tolerate my little phrases and oddities down here because I have interview editing power). While they're all currently out working hard (hosting programs at the library, shadowing at the local clinic, teaching English with Jos in a local neighborhood), last week we got to play tour guide and drag them around to our favorite tourist traps in the city.

This meant that they climbed the Basillica, toured the Plazas in old town, lounged in Parque Moya, ate lunch at Sazon de la Abuela in Conocoto, experienced the Guayasamin museum, hiked to the waterfall in Selva Alegre, and did science experiments at Mitad del Mundo (the equatorial line). All us jaded PDs got to experience these things (which we've admittedly done more than a few times between family & friends visiting, spring break, and our own wanderings) based off a meticulously planned schedule created by one Dana Conway, our summer guru.

Since Serena and I took the kiddos to Mitad del Mundo, those are the pictures I have to share with the blog :) There was even a llama sighting, which made me very happy. Have you SEEN their eyelashes?! Incredible.

(summer vols pose on the fake equator, which is actually 240 meters off from the real one)

(the summer crew on the ACTUAL equatorial line, as dictated by GPS)

Ginny balanced an egg on a nail! And got a certificate for it :)

(Serena does a balance experiment on the equator)


Incan Water Balloons

(Today's guest blog comes from Dunc Fulton, half of the Texas constituency in the Manna house and Eliah's cuarenta partner, like you needed reminding... Enjoy!)

"One of the great parts about living in geographically diverse Ecuador is the proximity of numerous travel destinations. To enjoy the mountain scenery up-close over the recent holiday weekend of Carnaval, Eliah and I escaped the busy Manna-life to go backpacking down the ancient Inca trail.

(stop along the Incan trail)

Even though we enjoyed the peaceful mountain hiking, it came to an abrupt end as we were confronted with a strange Ecuadorian tradition on the Monday of Carnaval, when it becomes socially acceptable to throw water balloons at any passing person, whether 7 years old or 70.

After finishing the trail, we rode in the back of a pick-up truck down to civilization. Passing through rural Ecuadorian towns, we were suddenly surprised by the full force of the water balloons. Hit once, twice, three times, we were quickly plastered with more water than we had encountered our entire weekend camping. Using our ponchos for defense, we all became helpless lookouts yelling “bombas, bombas!” whenever more balloons sailed in from nearby houses, passing cars, or roadside kids.

(Eliah chases balloon-toting Ecuadorian children through the town square)

Finally arriving somewhat soaked in the town of El Tambo to wait for our bus, we realized that the madness wasn’t over. The town center was in fact a hotbed of children, teens, and store-keepers armed with water balloon and shaving cream. While most of our group was content to fight back with water bottles or the occasional balloon we managed to catch, Eliah was interested in taking a more assertive stance. By chasing children around the town square, sneak-attacking trucks filled with alert teens, Eliah proved that gringos can hold their own too. Even the crafty shop-owners, who would dart out to spray shaving cream before retreating, found no respite as Eliah would just follow them inside for revenge.

(Eliah and a face full of shaving cream)

Although I felt safer remaining on the defensive than the soaking wet Eliah, I too was forced to learn a lesson. As the bus approached, I smiled, since prolonged attention had allowed me to stay dry. All of a sudden however, I heard a noise above, and looked up to see a bucket of water being poured from the nearby second floor-window, completely engulfing me in water. I guess the gringos went 1-1 that day.

(Dunc and Eliah run away from a truck water-balloon launcher and 2nd story buckets of water)