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Monday, June 27, 2011

the Jungle Hike

We left around 2 to start the hike. It was AWESOME. We saw so many beautiful things!! We were in huge rubber boots and pants and packs, and we all got soaked at least to the waist. Some people got soaked head to toe...more on that later. But we saw lots of cool stuff as we waded in the river. Lots of water falls! One waterfall you could climb into and the pool that fed the flow was deeper than Kevin is tall! So about 6 feet deep! He climbed up there and dunked to establish this as truth. Then a few other people tried. Chelsea got scratched up but she made it and so did lauren! It was hilarious!! And then we kept walking. It was overcast, so it was pretty dark the whole way… I started feeling like the sunscreen I had put on was rendered useless by the leaves. The jungle is so amazing, it’s like going back in time to a place where tribal people were running around. It was mostly virgin forest, so Joaquin, our “trail boss” had to pave most of the way with a machete. But at long last, we saw the nurses and the Nuckolls in a pool and we knew we had arrived. (they took the shortcut the killya sikis)

So we set up camp, and went down to the pool for a dip in the water. It was cold! But so much fun! There was a rock face sticking up and a little mini waterfall going down into deeper water… needless to say we did a LOT of jumping off of that rock face. It was so awesome! And so is slopping around in the mud in bare feet! We went back up when we were too cold and got changed and played a few games of banana grams before dinner. After dinner we played more games, and more games, and more games. We had cards, we had banana grams, and we had phase ten, not to mention all the mind and puzzle games we could think of that didn’t require cards. The gazebo type thing we were sleeping in was really hard… and we all only had one blanket and a sheet that we hiked in ourselves. No one slept well. It’s like fall asleep on your side, wake up, hip hurts, roll over, go to sleep, wake up, other hip hurts, roll onto back, go to sleep, wake up, back is aching, and start the whole process over again. I tried sleeping on my stomach but then I woke up because my arms were totally asleep. But all of us had the same problem. So it wasn’t so bad. I will definitely sleep well tonight!

The next morning we played more card games waiting for breakfast, then we went on another hike, this was supposed to be shorter, but it was definitely longer and harder than the hike in. but it was way cool! Joaquin showed us around and showed us different types of medicinal trees etc. there is this vine that grows that makes a great poison for monkeys. Another tree that tastes like Tylenol. Trust me. We tried it. OH and ants that taste like lime! Yes I ate one. Aren’t you so proud? Also there is this sort of bamboo that is related to sugar cane, but it’s REALLY sour. We had fun sucking on that.

There was this huge vine that apparently they use to tie canoes together with, it was HUGE and really smooth and slippery, so of course we all had to try to climb it. So I didn’t get very far, but i'm better at rock climbing... so there. It was super hard! And I got a few bruises and scrapes to prove I’m tough :D

So after that hike, we all shuffled back to camp and played a few games before lunch. We were all SUPER worn out and the sun was coming out, which makes it death-hot in the jungle, and more so on the road where there’s nothing to cover you. so we took the short way back to camp. But that meant 2.3 miles on the black top trying to get back to the compound… which was absolutely miserable. I almost got heat exhaustion because I was in my heavy and slightly wet jeans and those stupid rubber boots, which are great for the forest but not really for anything else. Anyway eventually Todd came along in his pickup and rescued us, but when we only had the .3 miles left lol. But then we had to quick wash our boots and change because we were going to monkey island! Okay it’s not actually called that… it’s called Malecon or something. But the town has this law about not harming the Capuchin monkeys (think Dexter from Night at the Museum) Which means that the monkeys were EVERYWHERE. It was really cool, though. But you had to be careful because they’ll steal stuff from you. Margaret almost lost her soda, but we blocked her in time, if rose hadn’t had her camera safety cable around her wrist, it would’ve been gone, and David had a roll of bread taken from his hand… but David did it on purpose because he wanted a monkey to take something so close to him. Although Kevin sat on a bench and a monkey climbed over him to hop onto a tree. It was hilarious! And one of the stray dogs that Margaret and Catherine named Sandy started rough-housing with three monkeys, it was so cute!! All of us got ice cream which was DELICOUS and this cheese-stuffed tortillas that were also really good. Much better than bugs and bark, which is most of what I had to eat before that.

all in all... it was a tiring, miserably hot, long, interesting and wonderful trip here in the amazon.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Kausangimi!

It's friday! my second one here at the field school! I've been in country for two weeks! Amazing! I am so, so, so glad that I speak Spanish. Okay, so I took it in High School and Middle School, but I understand a LOT, which is really really helpful. It's sort of interesting because it's like I'm learning Quichua through Spanish. Which is really interesting because I'm learning a foreign language through a foreign language that Yes, I understand pretty well, but obviously not as well as English. It's great because most people are bilingual and you can ask in Spanish how to say something in Quichua, but at the same time, often once they know you speak Spanish, they respond to you more in Spanish. Or they use Spanish to explain things when you don't automatically get it the first time around. So it's a step, but also a crutch. it's interesting.
But I finally have my research project set. and it's really something that I feel like I can accomplish while I'm down here. I'm doing a translation exercise by translating a story of how the Hiluku bird came to be. I have two recordings from two different women. So I'm going to translate both and when I'm done I'll do a comparison between variations in style and story of the two tellers. Not groundbreaking, I know, but it's entirely possible to accomplish in 6 weeks, which is basically all the time we have left.
there is about a 5 day break at the end of this month, so it looks like we're going to go to Guayaquil and go to the coast! they have PIRATE SHIP cruises. they're only an hour but how awesome is that?! Plus the Temple is down there, that would be amazing to be able to go through in Ecuador. so it should be really fun!
I really love on the weekends going to Tena, which is the town about twenty minutes from us. It's 60 cents for the bus and usually about 7 dollars for a Taxi, but there are a whole bunch of us going all at once so we split the taxi so it comes out about the same. still, we usually take the bus to Tena and take a taxi back. it works better that way. But seriously I love Ecuador. The people are friendly and ready to help (if they understand what you need anyway) the weather is GORGEOUS (we're at the tail end of winter, so it's not as blazing as i thought it would be) and i'm having so much fun with the people that i've come down here with! Best study abroad ever, pretty much. And yeah, we have a lot to do, i mean we have 3 hours of class in the morning and sometimes more class after lunch and a lecture after dinner, but it's all pretty interesting. i have a lot of things i need to read, but i'll get that done. and we have fun! We go on the River, we go to Tena, we go on hikes in the jungle, we play cards and banana grams, and we made clay pots and bowls this week! we painted them today! i'm kind of proud of mine :D we will fire them probably on Monday and glaze them too! it's just really cool!
no sunburns, if you're curious, and my bug bites are healing nicely :D
Fridays are sort of movie nights that we've established. We have a screen and a projector in the dining room for class, so last week we watched Mega Mind, which was freaking HILARIOUS, i'd never seen it before. but tonight we're going to watch How to Train Your Dragon. Last night we watched Thor, and last Saturday we watched Pirates 4 :D DVDs are super easy and cheap to get in Tena, which is super boss. although the Xmen First Class i got was in German or something... grr. oh well it was only a dollar.
anyway! that's my life right about now! There's a tarantula that lives on the bridge between my wasi and the common area, but he pretty much doesn't bother you if you don't bother him, which is good. and some bugs are the size of my face, and some are teeny tiny! it's just really interesting. but anyway until my next interesting adventure... Ali Punzha!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It's wednesday right?

Day three at the Field school! I can’t believe how much I’ve learned in so short a time! It really is a break-neck pace, but I suppose that’s because we’re here for two months, and most people are only here for a month. But it’s so amazing!
Last night we went to a field to play Frisbee and soccer and ended up playing with some natives, which was so much fun! They picked up how to throw a Frisbee pretty quick, considering I don’t think they’ve ever seen one before. But on the walk there and the walk back, all I could look at were the stars. They were so beautiful, and there were so many of them! We saw the Big dipper, ursa major, the southern cross, and many others. We also tracked satellites as they were flying through the sky! We saw the milky way stretch out across the sky, and the moon was so bright we didn’t need flashlights to guide our steps. It was amazing! But then we got back to the compound and the gate was locked! So a few people scaled it and managed to get to the other side without impaling themselves and got the man with the keys to let the rest of us in. we were only slightly worried that we’d have to sleep in the jungle that night.
Anyway! Today we had an awesome culinary adventure. We were talking to this woman Elsa, who was teaching us Quichua, and someone mentioned chocolate. She immediately took us to a Cacao tree and had one of the taller guys pick a bean. She chopped it open for us and told us to suck on the seeds. They were covered in this slimy, jello-ish membrane that was white. But we all sucked on it and it was delicious! Super sweet and sour. The texture was a bit weird, but it was really tasty. She told us not to bite into it, though. That’s where the actual chocolate is and it’s super bitter. What you’re supposed to do is suck on the seeds and let them dry in the sun, and then you grind them and make chocolate out of them. Needless to say, our seeds are on a plastic bag on the ground, still drying. Although it’ll take two days she said for them to dry completely, and that’s only if it doesn’t rain.
But we learned a LOT of Quichua today, as well as a lot of ethnography and culture. Especially about shamanism. Out here, spirits are in everything. They’re in the jungle, the river, the rocks, the mountains, etc. and the mountains sort of run the circle of life. The mountain spirits only have so much goodness to share with the humans, and they replenish the suerte by killing or taking people. No kidding. When they were building the highway out here to Tena, the foreman had himself lowered into a cave to make a deal with the mountain spirit. He promised he would offer up a dozen of his men in exchange for permission to build this road. And apparently there was a landslide during construction and 13 men died. After that, building went right on schedule. Creepy, right? But people attack each other with spirit arrows. And if the person you attack is too strong, sometimes the arrows bounce off and hit someone more vulnerable, like an old person or a baby. So if you are doing too well, and receiving too many blessings and suerte from the mountains, your immediate family is a greater risk of dying, either to replenish the mountain suerte, or because of jealous spirit arrows.
It works sort of like hot water in a building. There’s only so much to go around. And so if you have to take a cold shower, you’ll blame whoever took up too much hot water. Except the water heater kills someone and that’s how it heats the water again… if that makes sense. Dr. Swanson made much more sense than I’m making. But that’s okay.
In other news, I got my first few bug bites today. Probably because I didn’t put on more bug repellant at lunch. But I’ll definitely remember tomorrow! I only have a few but they’re super itchy. It’ll feel nice to scrub them in the shower tonight. But I am doing so very well! My nicknames now include Gilly (short for Gilligan) and Paku-siki (red-butt). I was trying to say that I have red hair, but the Quichua women kept saying I have yellow hair. It’s not red, they said, this is red, pointing to my bright red binder. They don’t really have a word for orange, so I suppose yellow will have to do. Still, I find it interesting.
Anyway, I believe that is all for now, so until my next adventure, I bid you adieu.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Field School!

I'm here at the Andes and Amazon Field school! We've already seen so much, but no break for us. we dived right into classes this morning. last night we had dinner as well as a sort of orientation, and then had free time in the evening. so all us mormons got together and had FHE. this guy Eli set up a tightrope kind of thing right in front of our dorms, so we play on that every once in a while. then i went to bed, cuz i was REALLY tired. the drive from Quito to Tena was SO BEAUTIFUL!! the pictures i have do NOT do it justice. it was the most breathtaking thing i've ever seen. and i've seen a lot of things. the jungle is so beautiful, rich, and dense. the greens are so beautiful and the colors are so bright. and we're right on the river, which makes everything around us just flourish with life.
we also had the nerdiest conversation EVER in the back of the bus on the way down. basically we discussed biology, zoology, biodiversity, geology, linguistics, languages, language processes, culinary techniques, and botany. best. conversation. ever. i think everyone around us was annoyed yet impressed with our repetoir.
anyway. so this morning we had breakfast, and then a lecture for a few hours, then we had a break before and after lunch, and then our Quichua class for about three hours. now we're about to have dinner and after that a bunch of us are going up to a soccer field to play ultimate frisbee :D it's going to be AWESOME. hopefully we can get some Tangos while we're in town. that would be sweeeeet. tangos are these cookie/candy things that are SO delicious. i'm totally going to bring some home. but i might eat them all on the plane.
anyway! it's so amazing here! i'm so excited to be here! and there's so much yet to do!

until next time...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Arrived!

I’m here! I’m here and it’s already so amazing!! Our plane was delayed, so I didn’t even get my bag until about midnight local time. And Customs was basically, fill out a form and put your bag on the xray machine. And that’s about it. But I was so excited when I got into the tiny terminal and saw a man with a sign that said Cate Mumford on it. At least I knew I wouldn’t have to try to catch a taxi at midnight.

There was a really nice Russian couple that was on the same charter as I was. They were really sweet. They said I was too brave for my own good. Haha. Well, I guess to them I was apparently in a third world country by myself. I was sort of worried, actually, because I figured everyone was already in bed, an di would see them at breakfast in the morning. However, as soon as the charter pulled up to my hotel, there they were: David, Matt and Tyler. They had been waiting something like two hours, but my flight had been delayed. But they made sure I knew I was in the right place. We went to bed basically right after I checked in.

And this morning we went to church! There are enough volunteers that come down apparently that there is an English Sunday school. So we went to that. Man I understand so much Spanish, but when I open my mouth I want to speak Chinese! Crazy! But church was awesome! And we made a new friend, Catherine. She’s going to play cards with us. Everyone’s changing right now and we’re going to play cards until Kevin gets here and then go get something to eat! Breakfast this morning was SO DELICIOUS!!! Fresh squeezed pineapple juice!!! And fresh fruit and granola! YUM! I’ll finish this when I get back from playing cards

OKAY! So. We waited for Kevin to come and we played Mao. It was a super intense game! And then we went to a bakery type thing for lunch/dinner and they had REALLY good bread and carne empanadas. And papas refritos. Which are like potatos, peas, and meat rolled in a ball and deep fried. SO. SO. SO good!!! So bad for you… but we’ll be eating super healthy at the field school when we leave to there tomorrow. And then we came back we started watching Sherlock Holmes on David’s computer. We haven’t finished yet, but I finally got the password for the internet so I figured I’d better use my time wisely!

Until next time I have internet and stories to tell!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Come aboard, explorers!

So, here's the deal. I'm leaving to do an amazing study abroad in Ecuador for 9 weeks. I leave tomorrow far too early in the morning. I'll arrive in Quito and start my adventure!! I will keep you posted on my Daily Escapades. And no, my title is not spelled wrong. Within ten days of me coming back to the US, my new last name will be Daly. And i think it's fun making puns about my soon to be new last name.
ANYWAY!
okay, so you may be asking yourself why on earth am i going all the way down to South America. Well. If you're asking this question, i hope you live a long and fulfilling life never crossing the borders of this nation. I, however, have a greater sense of adventure. Not only will this be an amazing chance for me. Once in a lifetime, really, since I won't be going back there at any time. This is my last hoorah before graduation and marriage. So my last big adventure on my own. We'll be in the jungles of Ecuador studying the local languages and peoples. I personally will be focusing on an ethnographic survey of placenames, inspired by the incredible ethnographer Keith Basso. If you haven't read anything by him, you really should. he's amazing. Wisdom Sits in Places is one of my very favorites.
I don't know how good of internet i'll get out there, but i will try to post at least once or twice a week if i can. I should get some good stories out of this and i hope you have fun sharing them with me!!

Welcome to the Jungle. no. literally. that's where i'm going.