Saturday, December 27, 2008

macarena, goat milk, booze, change and travel

Hey guys, I hope everyone had a super great Christmas.

Mine was pretty mellow, went to a family dinner on the 24th which was uneventful except that at one point, the Macarena came on the stereo and every single person in the room knew how to dance it. From grandparents to toddlers, it was hysterical. Lucky for me, I happened to be outside smoking and got to watch through the window.

On the way to the internet I passed the goat lady and realized that I haven´t written about her yet. There is a woman who comes into town with 3-4 goats on a rope and takes up residence on a corner a few times a week and you just take your own pitcher or cup or jar or whatever and ask for some milk. $.25 or $1.00 or whatever, and she milks the goat into your cup. I haven´t been brave enough to try it yet, but I love seeing her. It´s not like we´re in the country, we´re in the middle of the capitol city of this country. I keep not having my camera when I pass her, but eventually I will and then I will take photos and post them for you.

Where I live is a mixed residence. Phil and Ruby have one small apartment style with a tiny living room and bedroom and bathroom. The kitchen is more out in the common area. I have a room with a bathroom and there is another apartment where Ruby´s daughter lives with her husband and two kids. They shower in Ruby and Phil´s bathroom even though they have their own and I could never quite figure out why. I was told they can´t shower in theirs and so I thought it was broken or something but Ruby told me the other day it´s because it is so full of booze that no one can get into the bathroom at their house. That cracked me up. Gaby works for the police force and does most of the organizing of their big events, including those for the president, etc, so vendors are always sending her presents. Many of them, apparently, bottles of booze. But so many that you can´t use your own shower? Pretty funny.

I don´t know about other South American countries, but in Ecuador, you can hardly ever use big bills to pay for things. And by big bills I mean $10 and above. There is this constant game being played about having change. Some days you play really well and come home with a pocket of small bills and change. They are really big on dollar coins here. Sometimes you play too well and at the end of the day have like $17 in change so then you try to get rid of it, cause your pants will fall down with so much change, but then you suddenly find yourself with only 2 $10´s and a $20 but you need to go use the internet and it wont cost more than $.60 and you can´t pay for that with a $10 so you have to go find something expensive enough to change a $10 to buy. It is a pretty entertaining game. I got stuck the other day cause I put my hand in my pocket to assess my change situation and felt a pocket full of change and so left the house to run some errands. But I had forgotten that part of the change I had received the day prior was $.20 in pennies so I didn´t actually have hardly any money with me at all and had to promise to pay later and went home for money, but only had $10´s and had to go all over trying to get it changed to go pay my $.37 bill. Instead of starting each day with a "til", which would make sense, each day is started with $0.00 and money is accumulated from there. One time Geoff and Mark and I were at the post office and bought $18.75 worth of postage and I gave him a $20 and he had to go all over to get change to give us the $1.25 and was annoyed that we didn´t have correct change. It is all in all a pretty fun game.

So there are some thoughts I´ve written down in my notebook to share with you all.

Right now my energy is in figuring the best way to get to Cusco, Peru from Quito, Ecuador. Last week there were $99 flight specials to Lima but it looks like those are done so it is looking like a bus journey. There is an international bus that will go from Quito to Lima which is 36 hours but looks like a pretty safe border crossing and secure for luggage and such. It´s meant to be a big and comfortable bus that doesn´t stop for everyone on the highway the way that other busses do. So probably I´ll end up with that one, though 36 hours on a bus is an awful lot. I´m also looking into domestic flights within Peru to get me from the border to Cusco. Cause even after I make it to Lima, it is a many many hour bus ride from Lima to Cusco. Although it is through the Andes so I´m sure it will be beautiful. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

The place I´m looking at volunteering is
if you want to check it out. It looks super great and all the stories I´ve read on the internet about people who have worked there are all amazing. So, it is looking like that is the next step in my journey.

Love you all!


  1. MJ, I finally had time to check out the webpage. Laurel is right. This is perfect for you. How did you learn of this opportunity? I am thankful it came your way. It is truly inspiring. Your talent will be immediately utilized. I love reading the blog; it feels like an auto-tuner for my soul.

  2. This place looks like they are going to be loving you and your talents right quick.