Thursday, June 26, 2008

First of the Last....

When I was in high school, I walked Grandma Penny's red golden retriever, Edie. We'd walk to the field at Mt. Merci so she could run around and do her business. On cold, clear nights in January, the moon would bounce off the ice causing glittery star-like dances in the snow. I remember standing in the field and thinking I never want to forget this memory, so I would stare intensely at nature's prom and try to burn the image in my mind so I would always remember the sparkles and the bright moon. Today, I started doing the same thing because today marks the first of the lasts of my time here with only six days to go. I realized how I feel about this crazy city depends on the weather. Yesterday, I despised it as buckets of relentless rain tsunamied down out of nowhere and prompted me to think I could not wait another week. However, when I woke up this morning, the sun was shining and I could see two volcanoes from my bedroom window and three more from the roof and thought I am not ready to leave yet. I am always surprised by them when the rare clear day opens up the vast skies to reveal their stunning magnificence, especially Cotopaxi. I basked in the hot Andean equatorial sun on my bed where I organized my mess of papers. I felt like a carefree teenager living in the moment with her cd player and markers. Not sure where the good mood came from because I swing from eager anticipation to bittersweet anxiety about my departure. Maybe it is the constant emails regarding events at home I do not look forward to, the distress over being destitute with no job in sight, or maybe it is the sunshine beaming down on me, or the shameless and innocent (sometimes) flirting I partake in with my favorite Ecuadorian friend, or cheering for Liga in a room full of dear friends and Pilseners; I cannot be certain. My thoughts and feelings about Quito change from moment to moment... I guess the only thing I know for sure is I can always come back. In the meantime, I can do my best to imprint unique images in my mind from the volcanoes on a sparkling blue morning to the bustling streets and their "crazy shit" as Ashley so accurately puts it.

I know I haven't really written much about Ecuador or my time here; bear with me. I fear I might unleash a tsunami this summer or even maybe the moment I get off the plane in D.C. (David you are so brave!) As Quiteños so eloquently put it: VIVA QUITO! At least always in my mind right next to January nights in the field.

Fútbol a.k.a. Soccer


Thanks to my host dad and my lovely Ecuadorian friends (aloha Alex y Xavi), I have been introduced to the world of fútbol. It would be nearly impossible not to be a fan of La Liga and Ecuador while living here. I have had the amazing pleasure of seeing Liga nearly win the Libertadores Cup (one more game to go on the NIGHT before I leave, yay!) and watching Ecuador do a decent job against Argentina and Columbia. I even bought two jerseys today for the two teams I hope to proudly wear around wherever I go. My only previous knowledge of soccer was going to games in high school, which was really to see and be seen. I have to admit, I have become quite the fan and can't wait for the next game. I might have to convince my dad to order ESPN en español so I can watch the games throughout the coming year. WOOHOO, GO LIGA!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

“A serious lesson in history from ‘Lies My Teacher Told Me’”


Part of my “must do before I leave” list includes attacking the books and magazines residing on my bookshelf so I can donate them to the WT library and do not have to bring them home. I also have a few borrowed books I need to return to friends. I decided to attack those first, which led to my devouring “Lies My Teacher Told Me” by James Loewen this week.

My initial reaction was shock. I felt as though I had just found out I was “adopted” and everything I had ever learned in history class was an elaboration, misconstrued truth, or down right lie taught, no doubt, “to protect” me and my classmates from the truth. Now that I know Christopher Columbus was really a greedy, murdering paedophile (my words) who did not discover America or that the World was round but discovered gold and demolished entire indigenous populations and started a repulsive slave trade instead, I will never celebrate Columbus Day again. In fact, I might write a letter to the next President requesting we honor an actual American hero in his place.

The next topic to send my mind reeling regarded the Native Americans- the true “Americans” (again, my words). I knew a little of the truth from my high school AP English teacher who once asked us what the most devastating war ever fought on American soil was. Of course none of us got it right: the war against the “Indians” but at least he opened our eyes. Also, my previous knowledge was derived from being from New England and having part of my family’s heritage be Native American. However, the majority of the information I digested from this book was new. At one point, I put the book down because I realized, as I sat here in Quito, Ecuador, that I was perpetuating the first world imperialism the developed world so often disguises as “help”. By coming here to teach a developing population my language is another example of American “exceptionalism”. The worst part of the realization was that I didn’t even know what I was doing. I’ve also learned not to call countries such as Ecuador “developing nations”. However the greatest lesson I’ve learned by far is to invest in charity at home.

The book contains ten chapters full of insight that is bound to astound any uninformed American. I found the last chapter to be the most thought provoking, as the author introduces the question of American progress and our idea of “bigger is better”. I have always felt our idea of progress has led to widespread discontent because if one is always looking for better than nothing is ever good enough. If one is always striving for progress and better, than one is always looking to the future and never really is in the present. Of course progress is essential yet is our cut throat idea of it really the best way to approach progress or is it the most helpful to humanity and the environment? We’re usually portrayed throughout history as doing more good than harm but is that really true? Will our future be better than the past because we try to use optimism and blind ignorance to justify what happened back then, which unfortunately does not aid in analyzing how we can make changes in order to transform what we’ve done to create a better future.

This book was published 13 years ago and the author warns of many woes American society will encounter if it does not respect its truthful past. The cost of our ignorance and inability to critically analyze the present in light of the previous decisions takes away from our ability to learn from mistakes and triumphs. We are being robbed of our intelligence here. He discusses the impending issues of overpopulation, excessive consumption and waste, and the perils the environment will face. He also uses a quotation from Donita Meadows that shocking describes exactly what is occurring today, “in terms of spoiling the environment and using world resources, we are the world’s most irresponsible and dangerous citizens.” How humbling.

The author also brings to light our “vulnerability to economic and geological” factors especially in terms of dependence on foreign oil. Thirteen years later at $5 a gallon, we must wonder what it will take for us to realize oil is not the answer to our energy needs. Even Presidents Nixon and Carter were aware we needed to become independent from foreign oil. History shows the issues we are plagued with today could have been dealt with had we known the truth instead of being fooled to believe there were no crises.

We are plagued by all the issues he addresses in his book because we refuse to acknowledge we live in a finite planet with finite resources only highlighted by our issues with over fishing, food shortages, extinction of species, natural disasters exacerbated by climate problems, deforestation, pesticides causing death…”our economic development is silently killing the earth and making it impossible for other nations to prosper.” Great... Now what are we going to do about it?

Quit the sugar coating and tell us the truth so we can make the change from obsessive consumerism to conservation and sustainability. One does not need to have patriotism, optimism, and lies shoved down her throat in order to love her country. I can tell you first hand the shock of seeing your native land from another’s eyes is enough to open your own and start thinking about how to be better. One can love her country and be critical of it.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Playlist.com

Awhile back, when my sister and I were talking, she mentioned a cool service online where you could make playlists and listen to music for free. I have no idea why I waited until today to sign up, but I have to say it is super cool and you should check it out, especially if you are one of those who does not have your music with you at all times.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Closing Time....two weeks to go.

On Friday June 13th, I completed my service and finished my classes. We wrapped up by watching a scary movie to celebrate the date. For me, it has always been a lucky day because my parents got married on Friday the 13th, so I wasn't that scared despite really disliking scary movies. It just seemed appropriate.

Around 9 p.m. I was finished. Honestly, on the trole ride home, it felt anti-climatic and I went straight to bed as soon as I got home because I was exhausted. Saturday night, we went out to tapas and vino to celebrate, which made it more real. Surprisingly, all I could think of yesterday when I spoke to my dad was I made it. I did it. The year is over and I accomplished what I came to do. My dad was full of wonderful words for me but the ones that stuck with me for the day were "congratulations, not everyone could do what you did." I don't know about that, but I felt proud of sticking it out and of my work here. My last days with my students were amazing. I am so proud of them and their progress, and I was more than overwhelmed by their parting words.

For the next two weeks, all I have to do is wait for my paychecks, finish my site binder, and wait for my flight home. Nothing more is required or expected of me and it feels kind of nice. I am happily unemployed and no longer a volunteer but a traveler just passing time in Ecuador until my return home.

In the meantime, I am going to digest my experience and all that has happened here. I know it will take some time and probably won't even happen for months, but that is ok because all I really have now is time.

Congratulations Matty!

My dear friend Matt recently got engaged to his girlfriend Kelly. I just wanted to say best wishes to them.

"There is nothing more noble or admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as husband and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends."
- Homer, Odyssey

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Economist

This makes me hopeful... will someone so kindly pick up a copy for me? I will bring you chocolates :)
One of my favorite moments of the week is Thursday at 5 pm British time when the new cover of the Economist comes out. There is always something captivating about their choices in covers.

Americanism


(picture from the Economist.com)
So this week online at the Economist.com, there is an article about America's beer Budweiser. Apparently, a country from Belgium is courting the idea of buying the company that produces the beloved watered down beverage. I am definitely not a fan of watery beer (despite all the Pilsener I drink), but I am a huge fan of keeping the company in America. While it might not make much business sense, it does make patriotic sense. Protectionistic, yes. Ridiculous, maybe. But in the American spirit, I say keep it home....

read the article here:

http://www.economist.com/business/displayStory.cfm?story_id=11550973&source=features_box_main

Recommended blogs for good fun

For the days when you are super bored, please check out some of my favorite ladies on the internet:


http://sliceofpink.typepad.com/blog/

http://www.fanny.foodbeam.com/

http://www.foodbeam.com/

Play a color game

http://www.voiceofcolor.com/en/colorsensegame/index.asp

You can tell I am done with work, as I now waste my hard earned and very little dollars on the Internet.

Turns out, I am "desert spice" and some cool water blue thingy. Good times.

Good Quotations

"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves." — Victor Frankl


"One half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it." — Sidney Howard

Monday, June 09, 2008

"REALIZE THAT BEING WHO YOU WANT AND DOING WHAT YOU WANT TO DO IS SELF RESPECT."
- Karma Book

Saturday, June 07, 2008

happy birthday sunshine

"Going Once" Ani DiFranco

Ironically, one year laterish....

"going once, going twice
sold to the girl
who ignored all the advice
of all the people who knew better
she just stood there
on the front porch
waiting for her will
to come and get her

she was packed
she had a suitcase
full of noble intentions
she had a map
and a straight face
hell bent on reinvention
and she was ready
for the lonely
she was in it for
it only

going once, going twice
down the road less taken
with her diary and her WD40
and her swiss army knife
and her beer
and there was always
someone there to say
why don't you just stay
and hang your hat here

but she was packed
she had a suitcase
full of bungles and near misses
and she was swinging
through a jungle
of last calls and first kisses
and she was learning
about please
about huge humilities

then one day she looked around her
and everything up 'til then was showing
and she wondered: how did i get here
without even knowing where i was going?
now there's no getting out of this
and there is no going back
and it all seems so odd sometimes
and the odds all seem stacked

going once, going twice
sold to the girl
who ignored all the advice
of all the people who knew better
she just stood there
on the front porch
waiting for her will
to come and get her

she was packed
she had a suitcase
she had a map
and a straight face
she was ready
for the lonely
she was in it for
it only "