Monday, January 2, 2012

the last hurrah!

Finally back home after 36 hours of traveling.  I have only a few days in Hinsdale before I go to Colorado, so I am busy busy busy!

A recap of the last week and a half in Ecuador...

December 23rd--My family FINALLY came to visit!  I waited at the airport with my host family for what seemed like a lifetime until they finally emerged.  When I collided with Martha in an embrace, I somehow managed to fall on the floor--entertaining everyone at the airport.  It was a great reunion.
December 24th--Mario drove the family to Otavalo for a day of shopping at the artesenal market.  We also visited the equator.
December 25th--We had lunch at the house with the entire family.  In true Tassie fashion, a ridiculous amount of photos were taken.  Here are a few:

Juanchito and I

María Elena, Orlando, and Me

Soilita and Juancho

my entire family

the moms

the brothers

the sisters

the dads

Martha and I, Quito behind us
December 26th--Family trip to the Galápagos!  It was basically a repeat trip for me, but I still had so much fun.  Hey, I'll take another trip there whenever I get a chance--it's the coolest place I've ever been.  Way more turtles this time too!  No need to share more photos...but here's the whole group!

December 31st--Back in Quito for NYE with my host family.  Cameron and Trena joined the party, which went from 9PM to 3AM New Year's Day.  Some photos:

Tassie and Trena

Pao and Dani


Hermanito Mario

Pepe bailando con María Elena

Cameron bailando con Orlando

MaríaElena and Orlando

Orlando and Pati dancing

gringos cansados

hugging at midnight after the toasts

my mother was crying

Julio and Juancho, ready for fireworks



sleepy vale with diego

quemando el año viejo
video of of the most dangerous fireworks shows I have witnessed
the video is filmed right outside the house...and please excuse my potty mouth!

ja ja Juancho....SArita #2? 
diego and vale

At 2AM, we were quite worn out and it was time to say the goodbyes.  O my o my was it hard to say goodbye!  I've never been good at them, and it was even more difficult in a different language because I  am less able to adequately express what I was feeling.  So there was some crying--I hope they understood how much I'll miss them!  But I told them that they would surely see me again soon!

January 1st--Woke up at 6AM, left for airport at 7AM for 1030AM flight.  Flight delayed until 3PM.  Pepe interrogated in Miami.  Spent the night in Miami.
January 2nd--Woke up at 5AM.  Home at 2PM.  CHICAGO IS COLD!!
back home with sally!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

fiestas de quito

It's the time of the year when Quito explodes with celebration.  These guys already like to party, but during the Fiestas de Quito, they party harder.  The festivities started on a small scale in November, but they culminate on the 5th and 6th of December.

Bullfights are a very popular part of the fiestas, though killing the bull is now prohibited.  So they just taunt the bull to the point of exhaustion, stab it, and then take it out of the ring to kill it behind closed doors.  I would prefer that the bull be put out of its misery.  I wish I had photos/video of the bullfight I went to yesterday.  The stadium was packed with people in Panama hats (which are actually from Ecuador) drinking sangria out of goatskins and yelling.  The actual bullfight was interesting.  It starts out with about 6 guys teasing the bull to get it to run around.  Then, men on horseback come out and stab the bull from the horse.  Then two separate guys come in and stab the bull from the front (an amazing feat of agility, I must say).  Then, finally, after the bull has been stabbed at least 5 times, the main bullfighter comes out--he's the "artist."  He does some nice, graceful swooping motions with the cape to tire out the bull.  By this point, blood is running down the side of the bull's back, his tongue is out, and he's breathing heavily.  And then the fighter stabs the bull one last time, and the bull is led out of the ring by red flags on poles.  To his death...

María Elena and Orlando ready for the bullfight
Azucar in the background!
And a wonderful 21st birthday to finish off the Fiestas de Quito.  Mario took us to breakfast at the Magic Bean, a wonderful gringo restaurant in la Plaza Fosh. 

sooo full
con mi hermano Mario
And the birthday continued with a sushi lunch with some friends...I don't know how I fit so much food into my belly!  And then back to the house for some cake and cuarenta!

un cumpleaños maravilloso!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

photos from the amazon

Hello friends!  I'm back in Quito after a month-long field trip to eastern Ecuador's Amazon.  We stayed the entire month at the Tiputini Biodiversity Station (TBS).  I saw some of the most amazing, rare things in the world, but I sadly don't have photos of most of it.  Here are some good ones I did get:

giant strangler fig tree  these parasitic trees literally strangle their there's a smaller tree that used to be inside that huge one
golden orb spider
painted grasshopper
José, my favorite guide, and a spiny palm
you can't touch caterpillars in the amazon...
tree frog

a pygmy marmoset, one of 10 monkey species found at TBS
a classic emergent tree, the ceiba

the scariest of all Amazon's creatures!
helicopter beetle
TBS canopy walkway
way up there in the canopy
beautiful moths eating minerals on the riverbank
seining for fish in the Tiputini River
ants harvesting wax bugs (that white stuff)
huge wasp building a nest right by our cabins...great
super mega bat, a fruitivorous bat
a naked man hanging from the tree!
nope, just a 3-toed sloth
hello mr. spider monkey
another pygmy marmoset
pretty fungi

sweat bees!  crawling all over me because i was stinky
canopy tower...some great views and birds up here
black-headed parrot from the canopy tower
swamped canoe at the lake
common piping guan from the canopy tower
leaf cutter ants
champagne fungi

I followed Amy, a primatologist at TBS, for a few hours one morning.  I was supposed to help her with a playback experiment with titi monkeys: we were planning to play the calls from another troop and record the response of the troop we were following.  Unfortunately, the troop we were following responded to a nearby troop's calls before we could run the experiment.  We couldn't follow through because we would have no way of knowing if the titis were responding to our playback or the calls of the other calling troop.

titi monkeys calling that morning...that's amy recording the calls, ellen and eushavia look on

It's good to be back with my host family in Quito.  I'm trying to stay busy and active so I don't get bored.  I have one more test and a presentation, but other than that study abroad is over.