i love watching the shadows the clouds cast over the city.
during my last few months in ecuador i am trying to focus on the things i love about living here. the mountains, the clouds, the old architecture in the Centro...these are three of the things i will miss.
i spent a lot of time this week thinking about this quote from the Bhagavad Gita (found in the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert): "It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else's life with perfection."
and also about dear matirose who sent me a hilarious esther pearl watson comic, some tea, and two of her fabulous prints. i especially love this one:
precious. thank you mati for thinking of me and sending me a package just because...
have a great weekend! i'm off to give a collage lesson to some old church ladies who want to make cards for a fundraiser.
a current work in progress which i am sharing only as a buffer from the next images...
here are a couple of shots of the giant cockroaches we saw in the jungle. why am i sharing them with you? last night i had a dream that baby powder attracts them and someone had poured it all of our apartment which was therefore swarming with bugs! eek. then, in attempt to get rid of them i got powder all over myself. followed by cockroaches. and then i woke up.
thank you for all of your interesting (albeit disturbing) stories about travel and home visits. since moving to ecuador we think a lot about things like cultural tourism, eco-tourism, artesan rights, etc. there is such a fine line between helping, supporting and learning and offending, infringing, and exploiting.
and speaking of artesans, when my parents were here we also visited Calderon, a small city right outside Quito that is famous for making dough figures. above are some heads and below some bodies.
i also owe some thanks...
first to tiel for sending me a little surprise of tea and beads. (no photo as we drank the tea right away.)
and also to denitsa who sent me one of her amazing figures (mine's a bunny!), two prints, and a cute-as-pie apron her mom(!!!) made for me. i feel honored. i love corresponding with denitsa and she always makes me smile.
i have been to the ecuadorian jungle twice and each time we visited a native house and each time we had long conversations afterwards about how we felt about the the visit.
i enjoyed visiting a schoolhouse and talking with the students during our first visit.
i felt less comfortable when we entered a family's home to learn how to make yuca bread. the yuca bread tasted delicious and the family greeted us warmly but it felt a little invasive for our whole group of tourists to just climb up into their home. we hated that instead of all of us eating lunch together were were served and ate first and then the family ate the leftovers.
our second visit felt better. we visited the home of one of the employees at the lodge where we were staying. he was at work while we were there but our guide is close with his wife and children as could be seen by the huge smiles on their faces when we approached the house. this time we didn't enter their house but just met the family, learned how to use a blow gun and my face was painted with "ink" from a local fruit.
if felt better, but still a little weird. has anyone else had similar experiences/feelings while traveling?
i realized yesterday that i forgot to write about one of my favorite amazonian birds. these birds are officially known as hoatzins but their common name is "stinky turkies." apparently there stomach is filled with fermenting leaves due to the fact that they chew their cud like cows which leads to them smelling a bit like cow manure. animals avoid eating hoatzin's due to this smell. we couldn't smell them at all depsite getting quite close several times.
i was first told about these birds by my friend Belen, who has a large bird phobia, so i expected them to be ugly. they are actually very beautiful.
something for those who sew:
a leaf sewn shut to protect the bug inside.
and a little reminder that people also live in the jungle.
we saw many beautiful butterflies out in the wild (such as the one above) but most were hard to photo as they flew away quickly. the best photos came from the butterfly farm we visited.
we saw hundreds of chrysalids (which i just learned is the plural of chrysalis)...
including some that looked like they were made from gold.
as much as the fence reminded me that the butterfly house wasn't true nature, there is something about this beautiful butterfly with the geometric patten of the fence as a background.
these butterflies evolved so that when their wings are close they look like an owl's eye. when open they are blue and black (the first photo is a small example of one open).
tomorrow i venture to the new drug treatment center in the southern part of quito. i am not looking forward to starting the regular hour long commute but am excited to learn my way around the new neighborhood.
it seems you are not yet sick of jungle photos. that means i will relive the trip for a few more days. fine by me. :)
we visited a parrot lick, where hundreds and hundreds of parrots gather every day to eat clay off the side of a hill. there were several types of parrots but they were all predominately green which means that until we got close it wasn't clear how many birds were really there. (for a better view of the birds click on the photos.)
if you look closely you can see some of the blue-headed parrots which are the flashiest parrots found in this part of the amazon region.
we saw several different types of herons,
toucans (doesn't this photo look like a watercolor?),
and a bunch of other beautiful feathered creatures.
have a great week! check back for butterflies tomorrow...
i am afraid of heights. oh, yes i am. and the more i feel there is a potential to fall and die the more scared i am (which actually sounds quite logical, no?). yet, i managed to push through my fear and climb up to this rather high cascade walk (about 30m).
the scariest part was climbing up the stairs. once on the walk way i could just look ahead while fiercely grasping those blue ropes and only occasionally looking out to take in the beautiful view.
unlike brave jordan, i tried not to look down.
and you can imagine how i felt when the next day we climbed this taller tower (43m). the photo isn't great, but i think you get the idea.
does this help?
anyway, i liked the second tower better because it was built around a big old kapok tree and just seemed to blend in with nature better. sitting up top was like being in a VERY tall tree house.
it is amazing how many plants live off of this tree. we saw some great birds from the towers...
are you getting sick of jungle photos yet? if not, i'll share the birds with you in the next few days.
miss lisa told me about nina katchadourian and here mended spiderwebs series. i know many of you weren't fond of my spider photos, but i think you would still appreciate nina's art. afterall, there are only webs in her photos, no actual spiders.
i have more spiders and spider-like creatures i want to share (if you are brave enough to handle it) but i will spare you today. instead, here is our best monkey photo...it's a squirrel monkey, a very a appropriate name for a small monkey who enjoys jumping from branch to branch, tree to tree.
i could sit and watch these little acrobats for hours.
we saw four types of monkeys on this trip and they were all adorable. the largest monkies in this part of the amazon (and maybe in the whole amazon region?) are howler monkeys, who make incredibly loud noises that sound more like a lion than a monkey. there were many times when we were hiking or taking a canoe ride and we would hear their "growling" off in the distance.