Tuesday, September 28, 2010


There comes a time in every traveler’s experience when she feels not just alone, but lonely, uprooted, worn by the wind with insufficient strength to stand proud and an emptiness throbbing from the inside out. Her reasons that used to suffice to explain the many anomalies of her existence are somehow lost, no where to be found...“Why here?”, “Why this place?”, “Why do you remain here?”, "What do you want?" Moving alone, she is her own source of her answers - she has that power and responsibility - so when the source runs dry...what is there?

“…O white moon, you are lonely,
It is the same with me,
But we have the world to roam over,
Only the lonely are free.”

Sara Teasdale, from Morning Song

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Quitos of Guayasamín

“The Pichincha mountains are a pure expression of my mood; sometimes it arises a pink Quito, filled with light; at times, a black Quito, a red Quito or that Quito from where breaks out a red that flows until the very deep.”

Images from the Capilla del Hombre by Ecuadorian artist Oswaldo Guayasamín.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Snow on the Equator

Any travel guide about Ecuador will make note of its spectacular and diverse climates. Ecuador has no seasons – only different altitudes. It is possible to have breakfast on a hot and humid beach in Manabí, lunch in eternally spring-like Quito, afternoon coffee from a thermos at a natural park in the snow dusted Andes and dinner in the Amazon basin. Although this is generally known information and has been told to me time and again by every Ecuadorian with whom I have traveled, I am surprised to see snow in September and surprised to see my breath in August on chilly nights in Quito…

The morning after one particularly chilly night I accompanied a friend on a filming trip to the subtropical forest of Baeza, an hour and a half outside of Quito. We drove through a mountain pass dusted in snow and cloud…an hour later we were filming butterflies, orchids and waterfalls in our short sleeves, skin toasted by the warm sun.


Graffiti, La Floresta, Quito

Monday, September 13, 2010

Arte Urbana - Plaza del Teatro Sucre

One Sunday a month the Teatro Sucre in downtown historic Quito hosts a cultural event. This month was Arte Urbana (Urban Art) and featured various music groups from Colombia and Ecuador (one local group from Otovalo rapped in their native Quechua), skate, break dancing and live graffiti art. ¡Chevre, el evento!

¡Toma! Pewee torrero league

No injuries incurred...it was a small bull.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Band Rehearsal

In Spanish, band and orchestra mean two different things, just as they do in English. However, an attempt at a literal translation is confused by faux amis. For example, if this blog were written in Spanish, I could not title this entry ensayo de la banda; It would have to be ensayo de la orquesta although the group has no string section and is in every sense of the English term, a jazz band.

Walking into the auditorium of the Colegio Cotopaxí in Quito was like entering a time and space warp. It was an enclave of my own version of America, directed by a retired gringo conductor, who greeted his audience in English and gave instructions in English (phrases that only a veteran conductor would use such as “Take it to the woodshop!”). The music reminded me of something that Mr. Eicher, my high school Wind Ensemble instructor, would have chosen to play at the Mid West clinic in Chicago – something modern, complex, musically intellectual but generally unpleasant to listen to. I felt like I was back in high school as I sat watching one of the few jazz ensembles in Ecuador rehearse.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

In God's Country

...OR SO I FELT beholding the valleys below, lost in a golden sea of grass and its metallic sheen of wind and bright altiplano sun...

We climbed to an altitude of nearly 3,800 meters one Sunday morning - first in jeep (away from Quito, past Quinche and up through small cobblestone mountain roads) and later on foot (a steep incline through pastureland and the thick grasses of the high plateau) - to the ruins of Quitoloma. From the crest of this páramo is an expansive view of the valleys below and their roads trailing east, the serrated mountain peaks to the south with their peaks lost in clouds, and the blue horizon of Quito to the west. A pre-Incan people had used the site as a fortress. Remnants of their walls remain, crowning the highest hills, scattered stones hidden in the high grasses speckled with lichens the color of sage.

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