Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Latin American Cargo Pants

I mentioned a few posts ago that somehow I have managed to drop a few kilos here in Ecuador despite a diet of fried things three times a day. As a result (hey I'm not whinging) I had to take my two pairs of cargo pants to be taken in.

Now we all know Cargo pants are meant to be loose, but mine were so loose that I could take them off without undoing them so I take them to this woman and through some bad spanish and some miming I indicate I want them taken in a tad so they don´t fall off. She smiled, whipped out her chalk and started drawing all over my pants with relish. I then leave them there and return to pick them up a few days later. I take them home and put them on, the first pair are now absolutely skin tight, mostly around the arse before tapering off at the bottom. The second pair, similar situation but worse, I actually have to lie down to zip them up where they are then welded to my backside. My two most comfortable items of clothing now feel like something I would wear out clubbing with a pair of stillettos.

But then again it's my own fault - I should have taken a good look around before taking them to be adjusted. Here in Latin America for the ladies its all about the backside. Large and ( v occassionally) small, but always perky (think J-Lo) these chicks bums are there to be showed off in tight pants, and the tighter the better. God only knows what these girls think of us gringa girls in our dowdy boyish baggy cargo pants but in my case my sewing lady probably thought she was doing me a favour, bless her. And thanks to just how tight they are I´m sure I'll be thinking of her everytime I wiggle my way down the street in my specially customised Latin American Cargo Pants.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Strange Ecuador

Since I've been in Ecuador I've noticed some weird things....and I'd like to share the wonders of Clown Bins, Clown pictures, inflatables and badly taxidermied animals just for starters..... stay tuned for more strange Ecuador as I come across some more fabulous examples.

In the Jungle

Before Eduardo and I choose to be tear gassed at Inti Rami we spent a couple of days in the jungle in an amazing place called Bellavista. There we joined the ranks of the seriously obsessed bird nerds (usually old people who are hard of hearing and have bad eyesight which makes it a tad difficult to see the birds). Ed came close to joining their ranks as you can see, clutching his "Birds of Ecuador" bible he thinks he has spotted a purple spotted masked trogon. He seriously needs help. In the meantime I am modelling the very latest in footwear for the jungle. Gum Boots, perfect for keeping all sorts of nasty creatures and water out whilst keeping the foot nice and sweaty.

The best thing about Bellavista is the geodome that we stayed in. Build entirely out of bamboo it is perched on the edge of the huge reserve. Eduardo and I got to sleep in the very top of the dome which gave us 360 views of the valley but also entailed a hairaising climb up ladders and things to get there. (Certainly went a long way to cure my fear of heights).

Monday, June 27, 2005

I've never been tear gassed before......

But I was on Saturday! Let me tell you its not at all pleasant.

So here we are in the little town of Cotacatchi which is near Otavalo and one of the sites for the famous Inti Ramy fiesta that goes over 5 days. Me and Eduardo cruised over there with Marco and the little boys to check out the action. Now the other fiestas in the other towns basically seem to involve dressing up in weird outfits and dancing drunkenly in a circle more often than not holding a live and outraged chicken aloft in one hand and waving it about. Strange, yes, but also harmless.

I was expecting the same as we wandered down to the main square in Cotacatchi but just as we got close I look up to see about 60 guys dressed up in big black cardboard witches hats painted with silver stars, swastikas etc and brandishing great big lumpy bits of wood, chains, whips and wearing strange furry chaps on their legs - like cowboys. Not only do they look strange but they are running straight towards us and another similarly dressed group. Then I hear what I think are fireworks until I hear someone say 'bombas' and althought I'm not sure what 'bombas' are I know they cant be like everyone else I start to run like the devil away from the square.

Next thing we are inhaling the most vile gas that burns the eyes, the throat, the nose....the 'bombas' contained tear gas. As I splutter and cough I notice that HEAPS of people are lighting up cigarettes, strange cause not many Ecuadorians smoke. Then Marco runs to the nearest shop, I assume he is buying water but he emerges with a packet of fags and proceeds to light up too. Apparently its the best thing for it. I chose to stick to the water.

As for why the Police were chucking bombas, the weird guys in the black hats are from rival indigenous communities and each year drink their body weight in alcohol and then fight each other in the square. Sometimes it has got so out of hand people even get killed............weird, horrible bloody fiesta. Hand me some booze and a live chicken and I think I will take my chances in the dance scene instead.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Love is like a butterfly

la la la, any opp to sing (or quote) a bit of Dolly Parton is good for me.

So I have finished school in Banos and thanks to the efforts of the oh so lovely and patient Cristina, my teacher, I think I am much improved in the espanol department if I dont mind saying so myself.

So we vamosed from Banos yesterday bidding farewell to our host family. It was actually quite sad, the kids gave me and Ed bibles as farewell gifts (!!!) and then they all traipsed out into the street looking sad to wave us off.

So now we are in the gorgeous sub tropical cloud forresty tiny town of Mindo, where the birds are the size of insects and the insects are the size of birds. It took two long bus trips to get here, and during the first some kind person decided to relieve Eduardo of his wallet. How lovely for them to guess he really didnt want that 60 bucks and a credit card, its actually astonishing that they managed to get it as it was in his back pocket and he was sitting on it at all times, just proves that most of the time you travel on pure good luck alone.........

But life goes on and now we are revelling in the wonders of Mindo. We are staying out of town in a rustic wooden barn conversion complete with verandahs, hammocks, a river, friendly dogs, enormous brightly coloured butterflies and in the early evening the most astonishingly small and jewel coloured Hummingbirds who come down to the verandah to feed. They are all different breeds so they are all different sizes and colours. The smallest one would have been half the size of my thumb and moved at lightning speed. They actually look and sound like insects (maybe blowflies) when they flap their wings. As for the butterflies, they are the size of birds, and come in rainbow colours too. We walked out to a butterfly house this morning which was so nice, you can even feed them little bits of banana and let them sit on your hand, it sounded a bit lame in theory but in practice I was a convert!

Pablo, the groovy and laidback owner of the place we are staying at is taking us on a tour of the forest tomorrow to spot birds with a nice early start of 6am! It seems that birds are early risers, who would have thought??? And therefore we need to be early risers too. But hopefully it will be worth it, there are Toucans in the jungle here and I would give anything to see one, but I tell you what if they dont look just like Sam and Toucan from the Froot Loops box I think I will be disappointed.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

This sporting life

Our new family have four kids and are pretty clean living, as a result Eduardo and I are leading a much healthier life than we ever imagined possible.

Basically our family love sport. Basketball, Football (or as the latinos spell it Futbol) every day. Sometimes just us and the kids but yesterday it was the whole family. I think they got someone to mind the shop and before I knew it I'm running around with Mum, Dad, their kids plus a couple of other kids from somewhere playing a very vigorous game of soccer. Of course I made a total arse of myself quite literally, by tripping over the ball and then landing arse first on top of it. However even though Eduardo accused me of not trying much it was kind of fun. the other advantage of such a clean living life that I've actually lost weight despite the almost constant presence of fried things in my diet - I even had get my pants taken in.

But I shouldnt get too comfortable, come the weekend Eduardo and I will hit the road again and I will be responsible for myself - eating lots of bad food, drinking lots of red wine and certainly for me there will be no more futbul. Perhaps I shouldnt have had those pants taken in so tight afterall......

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Eduardo and some of the kids from our new family. Cute little Dario and the naughty but fun twins Gabriella and Kaila. Posted by Hello
Yes its just been a whole heap of photos of me in my ponchos so far so without further ado heres me modelling another. Note that matches perfectly with the greens on the mother of a very active volcano behind me. (Note that white stuff near the summit aint all cloud...) Posted by Hello
The sun shines in Banos - finally! Posted by Hello
Don't be fooled by this smile (or the disgusting orange and cream outfit mmm mmm). This is at the Quilatoa Crater where I am freezing my arse off and have no idea that I will be walking (and crying) for the next 5 hours. Posted by Hello
Two friendly dogs in the little village of Chugchilan. Later....the sound of me itching my flea bites could be heard accross Ecuador. Posted by Hello
Jonathan, Eduardo and Jackson.Three carnivores trapped in a vegetarian paradise at the Black Sheep Inn. Posted by Hello
Yes here I am modelling yet another poncho from this winters collection and a rather attractive grey horse called Molly - don�t be seen this winter without one ladies. (the horse that is). Posted by Hello
Ahhh Eduardo and I are all blurry in the altitude of Chugchilan at the Black Sheep Inn Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Happy Days are here again

Well Eduardo blows back into town and what do you know out comes the sun and the rain seems to be banished for the time being. (Apart from our very first morning when we had to walk to school with our backpacks on that is when it was bucketing...)

So now I am seeing Banos in quite a different light - I am now a student at Mayras Spanish School and tp my suprise I am actually enjoying my classes, though I especially love the break when we all climb up to the roof of our building and sit in the sun with coffee and have a gossip (in espanol of course) with our teachers. Today we had a crazy conversation that spanned topics such as Ricky Martin, Bananas in Pajamas to astrology and once again...cuy reading.

Eduardo and I are also living with a local family here in Banos which sheds some welcome and different light on the place after the 5 days of rain and gringo cafes I had indulged in previously.

This time our family is big - they have a very cute little son who is 7, identical twins (girls) who are 9 and an older daughter who is 11. To make things weirder they own and run a hotel so even though we are living with a family we are still staying in a hotel room. Our family also own a furniture shop which is downstairs so its all quite bizarre but I´m sure will be handy if I'm ever in need of a nice Nick Scali style couch or a bed with tigers carved into it.

Yesterday we made the most of this spectacular weather and hiked up this big hill that sits behind the town - the ground is flat and then it just rises dramatically up and up - there is no slow incline to get used to the thing. Of course I struggled up but it was worth it - the view was incredible and so nice to be in the sun. Later Ed and I hired a cab and whipped up to another view point where we could finally see the mother of a volcano that sits behind this town. Thanks to the clear day we got to see it rumbling and smoking away. Quite awe inspiring but scary at the same time.

On another note something else that was not awe inspiring but was most certainly scary was the drink my family served this morning. I was all sleepy and thought it was cofee and took a big gulp - it turned out out to be hot fruit juice with some cereal strirred in ............. let me tell you it was so disgusting I almost lost my huevos.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Rain Rain Rain

Here in Banos.

On the upside:

We are residing at the foot of one of the worlds most active volcanos which could blow any moment - which gives me a tiny frisson of excitement when I wake each day.

On the downside:

Its been raining for 5 days straight

I don't think I've experienced this much rain on a holiday since the entire Browne family (plus obligatory kid from up the road tagging along) made their ill fated journey to Coffs Harbour one year only to have it rain buckets every single day leaving us stranded in the cramped confines of our hotel / motel room for a week (or was it two?). The only highlight of the holiday was becoming the proud owner of a shiny green pet rock and sniggering at Leif Garrett on Countdown with my brother.

Its a similar feeling here in this oh so tiny town dedicated to adventure of the outdoor kind. Instead of mountain biking and climbing volcanos the primary achievement of my trip to Banos so far seems to have been finally finding the time to pain my toenails silver.

They look very nice............ and I might just be going completely barking mad.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Eduardo swims with the sharks Posted by Hello
Me and some fat friends Posted by Hello
Me and my very own popstar in the Galapagos Posted by Hello
I also love Lobos Posted by Hello
They have a stupid name, bright blue feet and the silliest mating dance I have ever seen. What can I say...I truly love boobies. Posted by Hello

Photo Time

At this moment in time we are residing at the foot of an active volcano and trying to blog, email via satellitte and its all a bit trying. If you want a good laugh at some photos do check out Eds blog and Jonathans hilarious blog which can be found under the link called J Yo. Check out me on the cover of Cosmopolitan modelling the latest marine iguana.