Twist. And have fun!
Monday, April 27, 2009
Twist. And have fun!
Sunday, April 26, 2009
That's him entering at the bottom left...solid homerun trot!So despite missing seven and half innings we saw the most important hit of the game, downed a few beers, found a new sporting hero to cheer for, but even more important than that, because of my hero's homerun, got to witness 30,000 screaming fans chant and sing in unison, which is my favourite part of sport and is always equally exciting no matter what country it takes place in. And then to top it off, we got to participate in the time honoured Korean sporting event tradition of putting plastic bags on our heads! YES!!
Sports! Gotta love'em!
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Meeting at SD Quito's training facility a couple of hours before the game, a few hundred Quito supporters clad in azul y rojo (blue and red) begin the rouhgly 2 km walk over to the stadium, singing and dancing along the way, picking up stragglers so that by the time we reach the stadium we are in the neighbourhood of 2000 people. What makes this even more interesting is everyone knows we're coming so we are met and escorted in by police while getting jeered and yelled at by Liga fans. It was quite a scene, which was excellently captured by a gonzo journalist here.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Aside from the incredible lay out and the beautiful location, the reason The Dragonfly makes the list is because of the times we had inside. We celebrated openings, births and imminent weddings. We drank, and sang, and danced. And most of all, we laughed!
Friday, April 17, 2009
You can of course take a bus from Quito almost directly to the village, but the true experience lies in the hike, where you get to traverse a trail that peaks at about 14,500 ft. before descending into the village where you get to drop your weary body into the hot springs after four hours of hiking. And sure the hot springs are more than enough reason to drag my sorry ass off the couch or away from the computer for a while, but it is the hike that makes this whole experience cathartic.
There are two nice things about this hike - obviously not including said hot springs - that make this something to do time and time again. First is the proximity to where we lived - it is roughly an hour bus ride to the drop off point from our loveable little barrio, Guapulo. Second, despite it's elevation, it is a relatively easy hike that even the most inexperienced hikers (or out of shape as the case was with me) can do. In fact, the hike is one of the first things visitors get to do after a few days in the city. Nothing says acclimatization like at stroll at 4000 metres.
I'm not sure there is anything more humbling or awe-inspiring than to be at the roof of the world and take in the expanse in which we find ourselves. It is not so hard to believe way up here, that this is a place the gods once roamed....
And then to be surrounded by mountain lakes walking around a new peak every so often, only to be blown away once again at the sights, is something I hope everyone gets to experience at least once in their lives. It makes you truly appreciate the gifts we have here on Earth and that they can be enjoyed at 4000 metres or at 1 metre, but that they just need to be enjoyed. Fully.
And so to be able to wake at a not too early hour on a Saturday morning, and some six wonder inducing hours later, find yourself soaking in hot springs with your friends, all in a similar appreciative mood, is truly a little taste of heaven here on Earth. And really there isn't anything else I can write to do justice to the experience....
Sunday, April 12, 2009
This was followed by a typical South American bus ride south, traveling along one lane roads with two lanes of traffic while negotiating cliffs rising from the road literally an arm's length away, while avoiding the periolous drops directly on the other side. Made for some interesting manuveuring and hair raising corners. I had never been happier to hop into a taxi than I was when we reached Loja. As our final destination was about another hour or so south (or so we were told) we hopped into said taxi, and by the end of the 35 minutes I was wishing I was back on board the bus. To say this guy was anxious to get back was an understatement, and he seemed bent on doing it as quickly as possible, or die trying (happily taking us with him as it seemed we had totally inconvenienced him by paying him too much money to drive us out there).
For five days we did our very best to make sure we slowed our pace as best we could - except when our guide was encouraging my horse to gallop to everyone's amusement but mine - I've never been one for horses, but these small sturdy horses made me feel like I was riding nothing more than a pony, that is of course my steed decided full bore was a good pace!
We followed this up with a much nicer ride back into Loja for our flight to Guayaquil, and fulfill our beach portion of our trip. Of course, not truly realizing our scheduling, and the difficulty of arriving in the late evening, we were left with no choice but to put our faith into strangers to locate us a driver willing to drive us out to the coast, a not so easy 3 hour jaunt. After watching the Argentinian team come through the airport and the stir that caused, it only took us about 20 minutes to secure a ride - once again proving to me that there is so many more good people than bad on this planet of ours. This quick turn-around was however followed by another hour of driving around the Guayaquil suburbs (not exactly a must-see tour) as our driver first had to pick up his sister at her friend's house and drive her home before we could get under way. In the end a small, and interesting price to pay.
The destination this time was Montanita. And I don't want to get into it too much here as this place gets it's own spot on the Top 10 for one of the coolest things I've gotten to experience in this short life, but I will say now - SWEET ASS BEACH TOWN!
From Montanita it was a short ride up the coast to our next destination, a place not on any map but certainly a place that rates mentioning, Alandaluz. This complex/nature reserve/hostel has nestled itself nicely on the gorgeous western coast. We were surrounded by birds, bugs, and the freshest, most brilliant food we had yet to find.
But unlike our other adventures in arriving to our destination, nothing could have been finer on this occasion. We hiked our way out to the main road and within about 10 minutes hitched ourselves a ride in the back of a pick-up for a ride of a lifetime. Wind blowing, sun shining, all the while winding up and down the coastal hills and occasionally getting a glance at the coast from above. Most of us know the thrill of riding in the back of a truck, now add the incredible scenery of coastal Ecuador. Simply amazing.
The view from the truck at 60 km/h!
We spent a few nights here with the express purpose of getting out to "The Poor Man's Galapagos", Isla de la Plata. And had it not been for Bobby the Booby and some dude yelling "Penis" at inappropriate times, this could have been one of the biggest wastes of time and money in my time in Ecuador. The poor man's Galapagos is an overstatement, and an afront to the thrifty the world wide. Aside from a shitload of blue footed boobies, there is not much else out there. Yes the island and it's scenery is amazing, but when things are advertised as something akin to the islands of the Galapagos, expectations run pretty high. But like I said, thankfully the tragic Bobby the Booby made an appearance and kept it all interesting.
Bobby, is that you?
In the end, it was an action packed magical two weeks - historic Cuenca, crazy rides, chilling with Pachumama (Mother Earth) in Villcabamba, hanging in one of the true gems of Ecuador in Montanita, and a chance encounter with a bird whose story can't soon be forgotten by all who were there - sorry, it just could never be put into words, and really never should.But if I can manage to squeeze that much out of tiny Ecuador in two weeks, I am looking forward to what I manage to find in grandious Canada and so many other places over the next 80 or 90 years....yes, I am living to at least 125! I visited the fountain of youth!
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
The cherry blossom is the sure sign that spring has arrived, and if you find yourself in Vancouver or Washington, D.C. in North America you are treated to the wonderful site of these flowers in full bloom on a large scale. Or better yet, if you are in Japan, where these beautiful spring trees are thought to have originated, then around just about every corner your senses are overwhelmed.
If you didn't know any better you would think there was a certain level of pride within the population regarding the yearly bloom that captures the attention of anyone who wanders about. And I certainly was a part of the ignorant group that figured everyone loved these trees, because who wouldn't, but the truth is, many don't.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
And fortunately for me, there have been more than enough strange and incredible adventures over the last two years, that one day the dream of actually being able to write about it, and maybe even expound on the meaning of it all, will be realised. But in the meantime, you'll just have to settle for this.....
After spending our first few days in frigid Beijing - the Chinese may have invented gun powder and fireworks, but are way behind on insulation - we took a ride out the Wall. To say we were traveling back in time is not an over-statement as we went from the congested and polluted Beijing of 15 million people to the countryside dominated by mountains, the Wall, and some hardy ladies selling Great Wall knick-knacks - post cards, t-shirts, books of photos, crayons(?), chopsticks, the list could go on. And yes, I bought a shirt if to prove I did it because according to Chinese history, those that walked the Wall were heros. I've always wanted to be a hero! But mostly I bought so our 'friend' didn't have to walk any farther.And what a walk it was. Ten kilometres - which really makes one appreciate the enormity of it all - scrambling over stones put in place hundreds, even thousands of years ago, all to protect the capital, although that eventually didn't work - I have a new appreciation for what a bad-ass Attila-the-Hun was, because even just walking on the Wall with no one around was tough enough - going against a Chinese army sitting on top of this Wall that sits atop a mountain range?? Bad ass!
For me it was difficult enough huffing and puffing our way over stairways that have worn away after hundreds of years and steep inclines I could barely carry myself over, let alone even think about hauling some ancient military equipment.
But a beautiful day of hiking and the sheer magnitude of this structure is reason enough to get this experience into anyone's top ten, but what really made this experience was the opportunity to help my good buddy with advertising for his landscaping company....
Wellscape - No job too small! No job too Great!