30 May 2006

plans, directions, and um...a photo album.

here is a close to leaving time update on things.

first up on the horizon is the arrival of a bunch of kids from my church on june 6. they'll be sleeping here, and they'll be here until i leave ecuador.

june 9th is the start of the world cup, and oh boy am i excited.

at this point i think monday june 19th will be my last day at work, although that might change. i'll leave quito for south of quito.

on june 25th i meet janae in lima, peru, and we fly to cuzco together. there we spend 5 days trekking to machu picchu, and a couple other days in cuzco until she flies out july 5.

after that i'll spend several weeks taking the trip i outlined before. i think my mom and jan bretz will meet me in buenos aires around august 11 or so, and we'll be around there or maybe rio de janeiro for a week or so, and we'll come back to the states from there around august 18 or 19th. and then i'll be in that country for awhile.

while i'm at it, sonic youth is playing with the flaming lips in council bluffs, iowa august 25, and you'd better believe i'll be there if i can get tickets. my birthday is august 22 if i can't and any of you are feeling crazy generous. but if you can't score them and you're late, arrested development season three comes out on dvd the 29th. and i'll accept late gifts. : ) (i'm kidding, though...i'll probably buy them so that'd be a real bummer!)

so that's the look of things from now until then. here's hoping i can do about 2 million things between now and leaving. it's going to be a crazy and stressful time for me, but hopefully worth it.

28 May 2006

my weekend in riobamba

this weekend i went to riobamba. janae says the name is cool, but not as good as jipijapa. i don't know...take your pick, really. here's what some of it looks like from the hotel.

on saturday i walked around the town. pretty much the entire place becomes a street market on saturday...they sell EVERYTHING. it's like wal-mart, but even cheaper! and nobody gets hurt. this guy sells car parts, electronics, kitchen appliances, and toilet seat covers. there is probably also very literally a kitchen sink in there somewhere. see if you can find it!
here's a lady selling bananas. want some bananas?

this kid sells chickens. i asked if i could take his picture, but you can tell he wasn't so excited about it.

while i was walking i stumbled across a wedding in the cathedral, so naturally i sat in the back with my dirty jeans and took pictures. in ecuadorean weddings, the bride and groom get chairs. if you've ever been to one of mike's weddings, you see where they're coming from. hiyoh!

but the real reason for the trip was the train ride to "el nariz del diablo", which for those of you who don't habla español means the....nariz del diablo!!! no, i'm just kidding, it means the devil's nose. which is a pretty appropriate name for a big craggly mountain peak when you think about it, because noses are really pretty precipitous anatomical features anyway, but this is the DEVIL'S nose, so it'd be...way worse. this picture illustrates that i rode on the roof with all these people. it also illustrates how hard it is for me to take a level picture. i suggest tilting your computer screen.
mr. doug martsch, will you sing us this caption? "my new friend jens looks / just like david bowie / but he hates david bowie / i think bowie's cool..." thanks, but i don't actually know if jens hates david bowie. i do know he's german, and i do know he thinks ecuadorean beer tastes like water. i know quite a bit about jens, really. we met at the hotel and had dinner together before we took the train ride together.
this is what the andes look like. being on the roof made the scenery more accessible, but it sort of made me hate that my camera couldn't take a picture of everything all at once, preferably in 3-D. ultimately i decided that i prefer windows limiting my view.

here is the devil's nose. a guy next to me suggested the devil get surgery. i can only assume the people who named it thus have actually seen lucifer's proboscis, and this is the closest any geographical feature on earth comes to approximating its craggly....ness. and now you know!

so that was my trip. or some of it. i took too many pictures to show you all of it.

25 May 2006

did he just say "added bonus"?

today was, i think, the best day i've had at the hospital. earlier this week ximena (my immediate boss) promised me she'd let me be the person who responds to "scalpel!" by handing a doctor a scalpel (in spanish it's instrumentista, but i'm not 100% about how that goes in english), and that promise came true today. this was very challenging and stimulating and fun (memorize the names of all those instruments. now in spanish. now learn to recognize the english names when said by someone who doesn't speak english.), but it got WAY better in the second or third surgery of the day when this 11 year old girl who'd caught a spiney branch while falling from a tree she was climbing came in to get the resulting cut that extended from below her knee to above her hip cleaned out. (i'm a pretty big fan of that sentence. i'll make you a map if you get lost.) at the beginning of that surgery, my new hero dr. vallejo declined the offer to get an intern to assist him by saying, "no, jeremy can do it." so i got to assist the surgery, and it was the best ever. i'm saving you all details and photographs. send me candy and thank you notes.

as an added bonus, this bus taking a bunch of high schoolers to mitad del mundo (remember?) crashed with some other cars, so the OR was jumping all day with a whole bunch of trauma injuries. i was in all kinds of heaven. the last surgery of the day, i had the hang of things really well, hopefully to the point that they'll let me do it again.

23 May 2006

i bet even john galt was lonely sometimes.

today i got to leave work early to go with several of the nurses to visit a friend and co-worker, sandra. today is sandra's birthday, but she hasn't been at work for awhile because she's five months pregnant. with triplets. i've never met this woman, and was only invited because these people like me and they're nice. when i met sandra, she said she'd heard a lot about me, and it was obviously not the worse part of things she could have heard.

it was really great to be included, and to have so many people obviously thinking i was an ok person to have around, and to meet more people, and see the inside of more houses of quiteños...it was just really great.

that's pretty much all i have to say about that.

22 May 2006

medicos 1 - 0 rochesters

quito (AP) -- it was heartbreak in the andes on saturday as the medicos edged rochesters in the hospital tournament. dr. edgar barros grabbed the lead for the medicos on a second half corner, surprising all in attendance and giving the medicos a very unexpected advantage against the run of play.

indeed, the rochesters had seen much of the attack in the first, half, with several chances glancing just side or narrowly saved by intern doronski, the impressive keeper for the medicos. american import jeremy howe in particular looked dangerous for rochesters, seeing his rebounded header narrowly saved and his feed to a wide open gonzalo mena amount to little despite mena's opportunity at an open net. the rochesters could simply not make these and other chances tell despite their having the majority of possession and attack.

after the goal the rochesters continued to attack but could not find the equalizer, and as time wore on the team seemed to grow tired and frustrated--finally the ref blew the final whistle, and a relieved medicos team did their best to strut off the field despite knowing they'd been outplayed throughout the game.

19 May 2006

el clasico

one of the great sporting traditions is the rivalry. bulls/knicks, nebraska/oklahoma, sampras agassi, etc. but there are also local rivalries--think yankess/mets, for example. in soccer, the inner-city rivalry match is called a derby. since it's soccer and soccer fans are crazy weirdo passionate freaks, these rivalries are often ugly blood rivalries.

there are lots of things to talk about right now in soccer, because this is a huge two months for soccer (the biggest on the horizon is the world cup, which starts june 9th), but today i'm talking about only one in particular. (lucky you all, because i've already written and decided not to post two several page essays about all the soccer that's happening right now. you would have been bored.) and that is tomorrow's match in the inter-hospital tournament, which is already being dubbed "el clásico".

that's right, it's the OR against the doctors. this one's been marked on the calender since the start of things some time ago, i can assure you of that! the OR (my team, called the rochesters) is currently tied for first place after losing our first game last week, and we can assure qualification to the next round with a victory. but more important than that is being able to brag to the docs all next week and beyond if we win, and not having to hear about it from them if we lose.

so it's a big game tomorrow at 4:30. probably bigger than the champions league. probably bigger the world cup. rah, rah, rah, rochesters!!!

14 May 2006

happy mother's day!

up to now i haven't written about things not in some way related to south america or my being here, but i think mother's day is probably about the best possible excuse there could be.

so let me tell you about how great my mom is. i'm sure you all have excellent mothers, too, but i think i got particularly lucky in the mom lottery. she has always been willing to sacrifice anything for my brother and i, and i've never once doubted that she loves me. she has always been completely dedicated to helping me achieve whatever kind of success i was after at every point in my life, whether that was soccer games, english assignments when i was home schooled, or really anything i was going after, even if the help she gave might have made her unpopular with me at the time.

i feel like after God probably my mom has most shaped who i am today. so if i ever do anything good to you, you can think "nice work, donna!" and if i'm ever mean, you can think "he should pay more attention to his mother!"

happy mother's day mom--thanks for everything!

13 May 2006

visa. it's everywhere you want to be.

remember how my card got stolen a few weeks ago? janae left me some money, and my mom got the card from the bank and sent it on to me. for the last week or so i've had exactly 63 cents, but finally the ecuadorean mail service decided to give me some love, and as you can see i am now rolling in the cash money. it'll be nice to be able to visit a museum or see a soccer game or just get on a bus. or, like, buy food.

this is easily the biggest development that has happened in the last couple weeks. i'm so happy i think i might celebrate by eating buffalo wings tonight. somewhere has to have good wings here!

thank you mom and janae!

11 May 2006

all's well that begins well. if you start at the ending.

as i type this, i'm sitting in sweats and listening to radiohead (kid a to present). i feel really great.

just before now, i took one of those showers where you can feel every drop of water washing the day right off you. every nerve is reporting some euphoric feeling that is not only good but also better than the moment before it. all my sore muscles slowly, slowly relaxed and the aches just dripped off and flowed down the drain.

the trip back home, though, took about an hour and 45 minutes instead of the 25 minutes it usually takes. this included approximately one hour sitting completely stationary at an intersection in a special version of gridlock that you just can't get in the states.

the hour before leaving, we were re-soldering copper pipe joints that had leaks. i am very sad to say that these joints were mine. it occurred to me that maybe darryl didn't know how to solder at all.

just before we tested the plumbing, the missionary whose house we were working on (dan) told me he didn't know i was so multi-talented, referring to the soldering. i nervously said "we'll see!"

about an hour before i started the soldering, don asked me if i'd be comfortable doing it--it was about to rain and we were running out of time to finish everything. i said i'd feel better about doing it if someone was watching me. he said darryl could watch.

an hour previous to this, i was assisting don (darryl's neighbor) and telling him that when i was about 14 my grandpa (a plumber) and my dad and i did some plumbing on the house we'd just moved into, so i had some knowledge of the doings. we heard thunder and noted we'd better hurry so we could get to the soldering outside.

the hours before this i'd been cutting pipe and prepping joints for soldering, and chipping cement away with hammer and chisel to make a way for the pipes to go from the new water heater and into the house--the kind of activity that always leaves my hands and wrists and fingers and forearms terribly sore.

this morning i woke up at 5:45 like always and thought to myself how glad i was that i didn't have to get up just then.

a couple days ago dan was talking about having to run copper pipe and asked darryl (the owner of the guest house here) if he could come, and i said i'd be happy to come and help.

08 May 2006

i promise not to mention my girlfriend in this post.

in general i try to keep this blog pretty free of my "deep thoughts" (on God, life, politics, etc) or really any thoughts other than those on the facts at hand. this could be because i get a very uneasy feeling about reading other people's personal thoughts on public internet sites, or because i don't want to bother people with these thoughts of mine, or because i don't want to be bothered knowing people know those thoughts of mine, or because articulating these thoughts in a non-obtuse way is more difficult than making jokes about the unfortunate thing that happened to me yesterday. there are any number of very plausible explanations, but today i'm throwing them all out the window and writing a 100% "awkward honesty with strangers" blog entry.

today it's may 8. i got here at the beginning of march. that means more than two months of my time here are already gone. i'll be done with the work part of my trip by the end of june, which means i have less than two months left to be here in ecuador. this would be cause for quiet reflection on what i've learned and done if it didn't make me want to frantically clutch at every second i have left before i go back to the states.

when i came here i came looking for challenges, hard times, and opportunities to learn and grow and hopefully overcome one or several obstacles inherent in the culture jump, the language jump, the different living arrangements, the new job, etc. i wanted to be uncomfortable--i was frustrated by my tendency or ability (depending on how you look at it) to establish a routine and get comfortable with my life and with what was hard about my job or whatever. comfort is nice, but it's also a nice way to miss some or most or all of life--novacain is comfortable (well, not the injection, but afterwards). so i packed up my things, closed my eyes, and jumped.

and now i'm here. i have learned my job, made lots of ecuadorean friends at work and come to fit in with the culture (at least in a minor way), improved my spanish, and even though there's a whole city and country to learn about, i've even established a routine and become...comfortable again, at the expense of who knows what exciting adventures. this is disappointing and frustrating to me. (lest it sound like i'm bragging about accomplishments, let me point out that the runner who just kicks the hurdles over instead of clearing them still finishes the race, albeit less gracefully, and perhaps without winning.)

so naturally, at this halfway point of my trip i'm looking for some new way to grow--to force myself to grow, despite my human nature's stubborn insistence to avoid every possible difficult experience. for the last several weeks i've gone from working on finding ministry opportunities here in quito to working on getting a transfer to a hospital in shell, which is south of here, in the amazonian jungle. the clientele is a little less affluent there (they're mostly indigenous), and the medicine is a little less formal (a joke i've heard is that in shell they say "can we save him?" and at vozandes quito (where i work) they say "where are his papers?"). the experience will by all accounts be a valuable, incredible learning experience, so it seems like a good deal.

i originally asked to go at the beginning of may, but two things have mainly slowed the process down: logistic preparations which could either be attributed to preoccupied administration or just some complication about where i'm living, and my own hesitation and nervousness about leaving something comfortable (my friends! the city! internet access!) for something unknown, which means i only prod the administrative people in question every week or so instead of every day like i would if i wasn't a little ambivalent about the trip. if you are a reader who comes here because you know me very well at all, you can guess which one of these shortcomings is more frustrating to me. i've set aside four months to do something difficult and new and challenging, hopefully to the benefit of people who need help and therefore Christ, and yet timidity and this love of the known has me hesitating. boo! (i guess if you couldn't guess which frustrated me more, i sort of gave it away there.)

so hopefully soon you'll be hearing about me going to a jungle hospital, and i'll be telling you about all the great things that are happening there. if not, you can all look shamefully at me when i get back to the states. : ) if you're a prayer, you know what to do--help!

06 May 2006

it's not a map, it's a to-do list!!!

one of the very exciting reasons i wanted to take this trip down south was for the possibility of a trip through the rest of the continent (or some of it, anyway) after working in the hospital. i'm starting to nail down my path, and i thought i'd show you all a little of the plan and some of the juice. the whole thing begins when i meet janae down in peru to see machu picchu at the end of june. well, i'll probably hit some of lima before then unless janae talks me into waiting and seeing it with her. after that i'm going to lake titicaca (hehe!!!) in peru before heading south down into chile, hopefully splitting my time pretty evenly between their coast and their mountains. i'll for sure also stop in valparaíso and santiago. i probably won't get any further south than that before i head east into argentina and buenos aires and all the fun that argentina has to offer. then i'll head up north to see the iguazú falls at the argentina/brazil border. the dotted line is dotted because at that point my trip will probably be more determined by money and time more than my desire to see any or some of brazil, paraguay, uruguay, and bolivia. (since there's no such thing as the south american union, border crossing down here isn't quite the passport stamping formality and fun it is in europe, and currency exchange is more complicated than...no currency exchange in europe.) brazil seems the overall least likely to be visited, as pretty much any non-coast city there is hard to get to and probably not as exciting as other places you could go in that time. so that's the plan--here's some sights i'm hoping to see:

  • here's machu picchu, one of the main reasons for my taking this trip at all.

  • this is lake titicaca. it has villages like this floating on reeds in the middle of the lake. it's also the highest lake navigable to large vessels, which means it's big and high. this picture doesn't really capture the size or height, but don't worry--i'll go get a better shot and show you later.

  • chilean patagonia.

  • this is plaza de armas in chile. chile is considered by many to be the most european country in south america.

  • buenos aries--it's a big city. and steaks (some of the best in the world, reputedly) are $5. i think there might be a few more draws than steak, i'm just saying--i don't need them.

  • here's the iguazú falls. a friend here describing them to me told me the falls made her believe in God. they're over 260 feet high.
  • 02 May 2006

    like your aunt's boring slide show, but you can leave without feeling rude.

    i had too much fun not share some photos. so here are some photos. enjoy!
    this is janae and i up at about 4500m elevation (the city is 2800 if you'll recall). i think i'm pretty good at self-photos. i'm assuming this doesn't say anything about my personality or character because i like that better than the alternative.

    this is janae getting ready to take a walk in the clouds. this is also approximately the farthest we were ever apart in waking hours.

    remember the view from the statue? here's that view at night. i think it's good both ways.

    if you need more money in puerto lópez but you don't have a bank account there, you have to go to jipijapa. your lonely planet guidebook probably tells you something different. mine does. don't worry about that, though--it's LYING TO YOU. say jipijapa with me. jipijapa. these are some of the most excellent people we met on the bus. to jipijapa. i think we all gained a deeper appreciation for digital cameras and for how much better buses would be with disco balls on them. i suggested this to the bus driver, and he agreed it would go well with the killer dance music we heard on the way to jipijapa.

    the atm in jipijapa didn't work. based on the security guard's suggestion that we wait a "momentito" while it sorted itself out, this is not an unusual experience in jipijapa. janae took a picture of me waiting. i'm actually just looking frustrated and very unhappy for the picture--i was having a really good time. note my beach wear as evidence of our doomed intentions to go to a beach that day (before the bank fiasco). we're dumb. after we got tired of sitting on the ground and taking pictures of each other, we went and bought some ice cream and gave it to kids in the park. janae felt their parents were not as concerned as they should have been--apparently child abductions work differently in ecuador. one thing that's not different--kids like ice cream here, too. (future child abductors of ecuador, take note. or please don't.)
    this is taken at the mitad del mundo. if you took any high school spanish, it's serving you correctly if you think that means "half of the world". in this picture, janae and i are standing in our respective hemispheres. that seems like it should mean something. weird, huh?

    this picture, also taken at the mitad del mundo, needs no explanation or extrapolation to tell you what it is or how awesome it is. he evidently was, and it definitely is.

    this picture doesn't really have anything new for you, but i'd like to point out that i'm dating the girl there in this picture. the RIDICULOUSLY good looking one.