Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Mudda

My mom turns 60 today. And it breaks my heart that I can't be in person to celebrate with her, but being the wonderful compassionate and understanding mother that she is, she doesn't tell me that she's heartbroken that I'm not there, either.

My mother has always been an inspiration to me, more than because of what she's accomplished, but her consistency. Her generosity exceeds all, her kindness and the world's best laugh are enough to win anyone over. She is always thinking of others, even in her Alone Time. I know this, because she's told me.

Since my teen years, we have gotten over so much, and have since been able to truly accept each other for who she is and to love the other unconditionally. She is my very best friend.

From her I have my laugh, smile and too-thick hair. My love to cook and dance and plan and sew and read and teach and try new things were all gifts she gave me.

In my darkest moments, when no one else "gets me," I know it's my mom who will come the closest in trying to.

Happy Birthday Mom, I love you. Te amo. Ich liebe dich. Canda munani. Je t'aime. Ti amo.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


If the opportunity to live in this amazing place weren't enough benefits, there are plenty of perks that come along with an English-teaching position at the university. For example, I get a breakfast buffet every morning, even the weekends, if I feel the desire to come in the mornings. Internet service, although unreliable and slow (it's this way everywhere on the island), is at least free. There is a decent book exchange for us nerds who like books, lots of books. I get to meet and make connections with superb professors and doctors, usually native Ecuadorians, as well as googles of international students and volunteers. Next week the semester group arrives and I've decided that I will take the Evolutionary Biology classes with them, for free. There are also outings and trips with these student groups.

Recently, I got to go on a six-hour boat trip to Isla Lobos and Leon Dormido to snorkel. Gear and lunch and snacks were included. All for free. It's not so expensive to arrange this trip on your own, but it never happens often, since there is a minimum number of passengers needed, guide fees, etc. The other teacher and I were fortunate to be allowed to join a small student group who was studying geology and evolution in Ecuador and the Galapagos. So on top of the spiel we heard from our friendly guide, we also heard some insight from the two professors.

I saw my first jellyfish at Isla Lobos, although not much else, other than sea lions, obviously. At Leon Dormido, we circled the towering rock formation twice, then snorkeled through the channel twice. The current was calm and still, and the water pretty clear. The first run I saw several Galapagos sharks, although they were swimming close to the sea bed, at that area around 47 feet. I spotted a few Pacific sea turtles, and fists full of fishes.

After we exited the channel, we loaded back up on the boat and went around to drop off at the same spot, because swimming with the current is so much more enjoyable. The second swim was much more exciting, as black-tipped reef sharks were swimming only a few feet below and around us! Then we swam on the outside of the rock, the sea bed nowhere in sight, only the sunshine like columns in the aqua water. As we returned to Puerto Bacquerizo Moreno, we saw in the distance, a few dolphins jumping over the waves. A perfect ending to a perfect day.

Not too bad considering I'd still do this job without any of the above-mentioned. My students are great, funny, interesting, and dedicated. I tell them that my goal is for them to have fun while learning English, and maybe that's why they are so open-minded to the silly games and creative projects that I thrust upon them.

People always say about work: do something that you love; but shouldn't this be true of everything we do? Do it all with love?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Odds and Ends

I washed an apron that my grandmother gave me, and wondered when was the last time it had been scrubbed by hand. It is drying on the line, in the fresh sea breeze.

I went swimming yesterday, and as I first dipped my toes into the tide, a baby sea lion rode the wave ashore and flopped over to me and kissed my leg with it's mouth. It felt like the muzzle of a dog, whiskers and all.

I ate chocolate today, only because it was melting and needed to be gotten rid of.

I am typing up the lyrics for the first song I'll present to my class this week, "Stand By Me," the acoustic version by John Lennon. I decided to set a goal of singing a song in Spanish at a karaoke bar by my birthday.

I walked with the other teacher all the way to Loberia and back, because we were in too deep a conversation to jog, as planned.

I played "Telephone" with my classes today and found out just how big of giggle-boxes they really are. (Huge.)

My word of the day is, "la caseta de perro" which means doghouse or kennel. Dogs here run free, or are tied to stakes, or are barricaded on top of the roof so as to stay out of trouble.

I decided to take Evolutionary Biology classes starting next month with the international semester students. For free and for fun.

My makeshift garden has one surviving tomato plant, lemon grass, aloe, three pepper plants, and some basil. Oh, and the mango tree is coming along nicely, as well.

I have yet to buy fresh bread from my favorite panederia, because I know I won't be able to resist those chocolate-iced and filled doughnuts.

I have pictures and postcards and my new calendar from my nephew plastered to the side of the dresser. And some of my signature 'look-up-the-tree-trunk" pictures.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Everything Is Round

I made it back to Quito last night! After nearly twenty hours of airline travel, layovers and connections, the first thing I did was sleep for twelve hours. It was some of the best sleep of my life. While traveling such long distances, I yearn for a bed above all else. Oh, to sleep in a horizontal position! Not in a constant state of motion, no children kicking the back of your seat, no turbulence, no constant announcements over intercoms, and not having to take all my bags with me when I go to the bathroom. Just peace and pillows and the cat-like stretching of my toes.

I had a wonderful month in Kansas with my family, friends, and relatives, though I didn't get to see everyone I had hoped. I di, however, get to eat amazing BBQ and make beer with my dad and see my nephew on his 3rd birthday and visit my grandmother twice and play with my cousins and get too many documents done and taken care of and cook and bak until I got burnt out and have long talks over coffee and go bowling and watch basketball. This may not sound like much to you, but to me it meant the moon and more.

Saying goodbye to everyone this time was more difficult because it was so different. Things have once more changed. I am to get married soon, I have a new contract with the university, I don't know when I will come home again. And while I try to keep in my mind the thought that every day lived could be your last, it is unspeakably strange and heartbreaking to create a worthy farewell. I am terrible at it. I do one of two things: either I bawl and blubber like a snotty-nosed kid, I cling and I whimper and I stain loved ones shoulders with mascara. Or, I try to remain in control of my tear ducts and appear totally indifferent, unconnected and therefore ingenuine. I would prefer something that lies in the middle of this wildly swinging pendulum. So it goes...

My unexpected trip home was meant to happen, or at least that's what I tell myself of everything, in order to feel grateful for the opportunity to learn from the situation. It put me close to my family for the holidays, it allowed me to get some things in order that I have been needing to do, it enabled me an opportunity to see how my relationships have changed with friends and family back home, and to take that into account.

People grow and change, there is no stopping them. It is like trying to forbid the leaves from turning into such vibrant colors, and then lazily falling to the ground where they will crisp, crumble, and mulch. Such is the way of life and who would want to stop such a beautiful thing?

That said, I am beyond grateful for all the wonderful people who are still in my life. For those of you who are no longer, I will miss you and I wish you the best.

For everyone who helped me (even those of you who think you didn't, let me assure you that you did indeed) I want to thank you with everything I've got. I am not nearly as independent as I'd like to think I am. I am like a spider, held up by a web of unconditional love and support in every sense of the word.