Finding Bartleby

Apr 9

An evening at home. Summerland, California

Apr 5

Santa Clause Lane.

A tree house in Loja, Ecuador.  I was sitting in the passenger seat making our way through the city when I spotted this nifty structure on the hill before me.  I pointed it out to my friend from Loja who was driving and she responded, “It probably belongs to spoiled children.” Lucky them!
Mar 25

A tree house in Loja, Ecuador. I was sitting in the passenger seat making our way through the city when I spotted this nifty structure on the hill before me. I pointed it out to my friend from Loja who was driving and she responded, “It probably belongs to spoiled children.” Lucky them!

Mornings in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
Mar 24

Mornings in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

Flying over Panama.
Mar 21

Flying over Panama.

A memory map I made that documents my travel route through Ecuador.
Mar 13

A memory map I made that documents my travel route through Ecuador.

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I fell asleep to a strange bird call and a warm tropical breeze flowing through the window beside me, making the curtain flutter and suspend in mid air. With it came the fresh scent of mangoes and guavas from the trees outside and surprising silence from the largest city in Ecuador. We were a little out side of the sprawled and growing city, on the other side of the river. We had taken at least two seemingly endless bridges over the various rivers that run through the city to arrive at my friend’s aunt’s house.

In the late morning, I awoke to a torrential down pour. As I pushed the curtain aside and looked out the window, I saw Ecuador in the daylight as if through a layer of television static. It was dark and gray and fuzzy with moving water all over. The room I slept in was cozy and welcoming, decorated with the colorful and intricate handicrafts that her aunt makes. In this same room, the night before, we stayed up late and talked of our previous time together in Italy.

That was where we all met, in Florence, Italy- in a small apartment just outside the city where my friend and I were to be room mates. At that point, the communication between us was a bit of a struggle as I and my friend’s Aunt spoke Italian but my friend did not, my friend and I spoke english but my aunt’s friend did not and my friend and her aunt spoke spanish but I did not. Even though we communicated in a round about way in three different languages, we still had a lovely, but brief time together. They were very kind to me and took an interest in me and my culture. I was very thankful to have the immediate gut feeling that this was going to be a good thing. My friend and I had a fantastic year in Italy, but it was in those short hours that I first spent with her and her aunt that I realized both of these women had a passion for life and people.

This time around in Ecuador however, a year and a half later, as we sat on the bed in the lovely room at her Aunt’s house late at night, we could speak together in the same language- Italian, which later made for quite a spectacle in Guayaquil when ordering food or discussing excursions options. All in all, I found that it bonded us together even more. We shared common interests in art, beauty and adventure and our Italian was a living talisman of this truth. The beautiful thing about sharing a bond like that with wonderful people is that whenever you reunite with them, no matter after how long, it feels as if no time had passed at all. I was fortunate enough to find this with my friend and her aunt. It was magical, and so was our time in the enchanting city of Guayaquil. And as for the passion for life and people I previously mentioned these women have, I soon came to realize (and even to a greater extent in the later parts of my trip) that this was a common trait in almost all Ecuadorian people. People looked happy with friendly looks in their eyes, they almost always returned a smile, they wore bright colors and flowers in their hair and there were many young families with children and ones that spanned several generations out and about in the cities.

I became very curious about this happy feeling I found in myself and the people here, so I began a focused course of observation and came to a conclusion. The major contributing factor to the Ecuadorian people’s joyous spirit I believe, is the abundant and breath taking natural beauty that surrounds them. In every city I visited there, I searched for barren earth, but I couldn’t find any, only green, green, green and even brighter green. This is due to the uncanny fertile nature of the soil in the country which produces the most bio-diversity in one area than most other places on planet earth. I believe it is Ecuador’s immediate proximity to nature’s magic that sparks a true love for life in its people. The bright colors that you find in nature are reflected in the architecture and urban planning. Buildings and walls are painted with vibrant colors which evoke visions of the surreal environment around you.

When I explained this to my friend, she spoke to me about the slogan I saw when I first arrived at the Guayaquil airport, spread above the entrance to customs, and one I would see through out the country, “Ecuador Ama La Vida.” (Ecuador loves the life). In bright colors alternating in rainbow writing, this national slogan of identity was coined by the current president Rafael Correa to remind and encourage his people that you can do whatever you want to do if you put your mind to it and work hard. These words proved to be truer and truer as a continued my stay in Guayaquil and through out Ecuador, the spirit and the dedication of the people to their country really impressed me.

Finally, the rain stopped and almost immediately after the sun came out with an unabashed force. Outside it was hot, humid and wonderfully tropical. Inside, we stayed cool and comfortable preparing for our day trip around the city. We laughed as we tried on each other’s hats. My friend’s aunt put on a cowboy hat and looked in the mirror and said, “Texas!” It was that same light hearted fun that carried us out the door and on to our next adventure together.

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Mar 11
My Adventures to Ecuador and Back. Part Two; Day One Guayaquil.

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(Somewhere in Ecuador, along the Pan American Highway).

When people think of Ecuador, they think of rain forests, the Galapagos Islands and warm water. I am here to tell you that there is so much more to see in the country, if you just give the rest of it a chance.

As I planned for my trip of two weeks in which I was to visit a friend from there, I had grandiose visions of a weekend in the islands, a trek through the Oriente and maybe squeezing in a trip to Monte Picchu. Our first couple of Skype sessions consisted of me asking, “Can we go to the Galapagos for the weekend? How about Yasuni Reserve too?” - and her politely responding, “Okay, well I have family all over the country so we can take the bus and visit different places.” For a minute, I was a little disappointed with her plan. She mentioned cities I hadn’t read of in my travel guides or ones far from the “Must See” list that I so quickly got my heart set on. For a few days after, I mulled over my choices. After paying for an expensive ticket, should I go into micro-managing control mode and plan the whole trip for both of us based on my up-to-date guide books? Or, should I take a blind leap of faith and let my friend show me her country through her own eyes? Even if that meant maybe not experiencing what the tourist marketing told me I should absolutely be experiencing?

In the end, the universe made the decision for me. On the way to LAX I had a weird premonition that I forgot something. As I searched my bag frantically I realized it felt really light, and that was when I figured out that I had forgotten my Rough Guide to Ecuador. After a few minutes of panicking, I decided I would search for a guide in the airport and also when I got there. It would all be okay. I was going to have to best trip ever.

There was no guide to be found anywhere. So, when I arrived in the Guayaquil airport late that night after twenty hours of traveling riddled with delayed flights, customs procedures and visa applications, I was so happy to see my friend waiting for me at the exit that I forgot all about my guidebook. There is nothing better than a familiar face to greet you in a foreign country that you have never been too. She had with her a young man whom she was dating. He took my bag and we walked to the parking lot. His name is Lennon. Like John Lennon? I asked in a friendly way, trying to get to know him. No Kati, my friend interjected and told me, like Lenin Stalin. Lenin’s parents are communists. With this humbling experience, I realized that anything was possible, maybe even an unforgettable trip with out an itinerary.

As we stepped through the door into the Ecuadorian night, the humidity swept over me like the fluffy steam of a fancy resort sauna and the trees that I saw looked nothing like any of the ones I had seen before in my life. They were neon green with long branches and vines that hung from them that looked like the ones Tarzan uses to swing through the jungle. As we drove through the night in Lenin’s Chevy pick up truck, we crossed long bridges over wide rivers that seemed to flow forever into the distance. The city lights danced around me like fire flies and the view was as enchanting as it was never ending and ever changing. I couldn’t wait to see Guayaquil in the daylight which was only a few hours away, but first sleep was calling my name.

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(The city lights of Guayaquil).

Mar 9
My Adventures to Ecuador and Back. Part One.
In Ecuador, somewhere along the Pan-American Highway.
Mar 8

In Ecuador, somewhere along the Pan-American Highway.

Feb 19

Late winter surf session

Feb 18

"Without substantive changes to burdensome environmental regulations, the well-being of fish will continue to be placed ahead of the well-being of our Central and Southern California communities that rely on critical water supplies to survive."

- Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), the No. 3 Republican in the House, said in a statement Friday.
http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-obama-fresno-20140215,0,2145242.story#ixzz2tPk46UG0

Feb 15