Wednesday, July 14, 2010

T-Minus One Month

I know, I know, I haven't written a blog in a couple weeks, and I'm sorry, but I just don't want to write a post that just tells you what my daily routine is, Uber boring. Need to keep our faithful readers somewhat interested...

Time is winding down for me in Baños. Today marks exactly one month and I will reunited with Dalene who I miss ever so much, and reunited with my passport country, which to be honest, I don't miss much at all.

To say the least, it has been extremely difficult to be apart from Dalene for this long, but we both knew it would be. The cochroaches in the apartment have become my new flatmates but do a shitty job of keeping me company, so I resort to offing them.

Say hello to my little friend

Again, thankfully for Skype I am able to see Dalene (when the internet is working), but I don't know how many times I have just stared at her for a few seconds, then told her to get her ass on a plane and get back here. Overall the decision for me to stay (and Dalene to go) was the right one and we have no regrets. My time here has been ever so rewarding. The experiences, the kids, the volunteers (well most of them), and the family at the BIB have been incredible.

Anyway, here is what has happened over the past couple weeks:

- I got my Visa extension!!! After 4, 8 hour round-trips to Quito, I finally was handed my passport with the extension in it. RELIEF!! Of course, needless to say, the other volunteers and I went out and partied to celebrate.

Yo y Sam

- I decided to take on instructing Yoga classes for the children. With the help of Cecilia (a volunteer from Spain) it was a huge hit and we ended up having 2 classes instead of 1 because of the amount of kids who signed up. The kids seemed to really get into it, although I am still having to teach them the meaning of "tranquilo" at times.

- On the weekend some other volunteers and I decided to take off for a day trip to Rio Bamba.

waitin' for the bus

The city sits at the base of extinct Volcan Chimbarazo. On a clear day the volcano is supposed to be magnificent. In fact, the volcano has the famed reputation of being the highest point on earth. Because of it's longitudinal position the volcano actually sits higher than 7000 ft than Mt. Everest. So if you want to get as close as you can to the sun, this is the mountain that you need to climb.

Although touted in the tour books as being a delightful city with beautiful scenery, we were not fortunate to get a clear day and so the distant views were not spectacular.

We had only a day to spend here, and we stuck around town. We got to experience the mercado mayorista which turned out to be just a huge vegetable emporium and not the market we were looking for. So we eventually found our way back to the centro and were able to take in what beauty Rio Bamba had to offer. On Saturdays the streets shut down from traffic and vendors line them for about 6 square blocks. They sell EVERYTHING, from fruits and veg, clothes, batteries, nail clippers, and animals.

Oops, wrong market

Chris and Sam, we found it eventually

Yes, they sell everything...

Animal market

One thing about traveling is that you have to have patience and an eye to see the beauty that every place has to offer. Given how long I have been traveling, it takes a lot more to amaze me. But being open to new places and aimlessly wandering does have its benefits. We were able to capture some cool shots of the city, and some art in the form of wall graffiti.

Having spare time on the weekends means that I need to find things to do. For some reason I had a craving for chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting. Sam had told me that her sister's birthday was on Monday, so that was the only excuse I needed to get my ass in gear. The result was awesome!! Too bad that her sister couldn't have enjoyed a piece with us.

As a result of this, the BIB will be hosting a Birthday day for all the kids at the BIB and guess who's baking the cakes. Uh huh, this guy.

We have a busy month ahead of us. The BIB is planning a yard sale at the end of the month and a benefit concert. Classes are in full swing because school is out and the kids want to take English lessons. The classes are nearly packed and finding a desk space is pretty difficult these days at the BIB. Some of us are thinking about escaping for a quick trip out to the coast, which I am really hoping happens. I would like to see the ocean one last time before I make my way home.

Sam has done an awesome job painting some of the furniture in the library. Amy and Chris have taken on a handful of English classes, and new art projects for the niños. Sam and I have tackled an Inter-cambio (an exchange for English and Spanish speakers to improve on their language) on our own and it actually went pretty good, at least we think the crowd enjoyed it.

We truly are FAMily here.

Until next time.


Thursday, July 1, 2010


Well, this is Peter, the sole writer of Hecktic Travels, for now at least. Dalene has left big shoes to fill based on all the warm compliments from our readers, but I will do my best to keep you in the loop of my solo adventures here in South America.

It was 9 days ago today that I said a difficult, tearful, emotional "hasta pronto" to Dalene in Quito. Life is very quiet without her around. I am often talking to myself (at least way more than usual) and our small apartment, which now is just my apartment, feels incredibly larger and empty. But thanks to technology, I am able to talk with her daily, and today I got to see her and the family back in Canada.

Life in South America is different. I should be used to it by now right? Wrong. I tolerate it, but unfortunately I still don't accept it. As you heard in the last post from Dalene she was left stranded at the airport because of a mess up by Santa Barbara Airlines. You can imagine my surprise when I returned to Baños after saying goodbye to her, thinking that she was safely on a flight. WRONG. I was not happy she had to spend a night alone in Quito, and run around the city by herself to figure out how the hell to get to Miami. But fortunately all worked out for the best and she was on a plane the next morning.

In order for me to stay until August, my tourist visa required renewal. On the first trip to Quito, the immigration officers told us that it would be almost $200 cheaper to return when there was 8 days or less for my current visa to expire. I was at 10 days, grrrr. So I decided to return the following Tuesday for a day trip (4 hours each way on bus). When I finished with all the paper work, they told me I had to come back Friday. Huh? This isn't done yet? Wow, so now I return to Quito for my 7th time to hopefully get my Visa finished. If they reject it for some reason, I am in a world of trouble because Friday is my last day left on my Visa. Everything will fine.... Won't it?

So after my visit to the immigration office, I decided to take a little trip over to the SBA Airlines office to find out what was going on with our flights - specifically, why Dalene's got cancelled and if she'll get a refund, plus to confirm my flight in August. Well I found out that my flight is voided too. What a great company to deal with! They take our money and have given us nothing but a headache. Anyway, fortunately they have said they we "should" get a refund, but none-the-less this is a real pain that needs to be taken care of.

Finally, this one is my fault, but I was hit with a(nother) bout of food poisoning. Pretty lucky that this was the only the 2nd time in the whole trip, but the stupid thing is that it is the 2nd time in Baños, and from the same restaurant!! Casa Hood, you will not get me a third time... Oh well, that came and went and I am feeling back at par.

On last Sunday La BIB's volunteer crew embarked on a trip out to nearby Viscaya to visit the weekend home of Veronica and Ricardo (brother and sister who come to La BIB). Situated next to a trout farm in the middle of the mountains, it was meant to be a great day of rest and relaxation. The weather did not disappoint either. The sun was shining for the first time in a long rainy season and gave us an incredible view of Mama-T.

Mama Tunguraua isn't quite done yet....

Karl (volunteer) with Veronica and Rodrigo (no tienen miedo!)

So much for her being asleep. A huge ash and CO2 plume was released by her all day and allowed us to capture some spectacular photos.

When we arrived at the trout farm to catch our lunch, this was the day my food poisoning set in. Veronica kept pleading me to come over here and look at this or that, come on the swing, come to the river, but all I could think about was not being ill. I found a nice bed rock and lied down to try and feel a little better. The others played on the swing, went down to the river, and of course caught our lunch

Ven Pedro!!!

Que divertido!

After a 1.5 hour nap, we had to leave to go to the house to eat, but that was the last thing on my mind. Pobre Pedrocito (Poor Petey) Veronica kept saying, and her Mother was kind enough to make me a home remedy of onion water which is supposed to help the stomach. Not so much, but bless her for trying to help me out. Lunch looked amazing, full plates of trout and rice and salad, how I WISH I could have taken part, instead the bed was the best thing for me. I think everybody else was jealous of my relaxing time, so everyone partook in a siesta after lunch. After the group lunch and siesta, we had to make our way back to town to catch our ride back. All in all a beautiful day marred a little by food poisoning. Another example how the community has opened their doors to us to really make me feel like family.

We finally are going to have a full house at La BIB this week, after being low on volunteers. We get a new volunteer today and one tomorrow. And with the return of two others, we are not being pulled in so many directions when the kids are in session (although I kind of miss it a little). Jessi, our librarian, can finally feel like things are under control, and we can do a lot more fun activities with the kids because we have more creative minds to think of new ideas. I am actually putting together a yoga lesson for the kids and as well for the volunteers, we'll see how that works out!

I am starting to believe that teaching is my thing. I have been told that my teaching techniques are really instinctive and I work really well with people. It might be going to my head, but I think that maybe I should pursue this. I would love to keep up my Spanish, and possibly there is a need for Spanish or ESL teaching wherever I end up. I can now understand the satisfaction that teachers get from their work. What I am receiving from these students learning, I have never received in the form of a paycheque or bonus. Back to school for me? I never thought I would say it, but maybe.....