29.12.17

Missed a few due to being on an incredible adventure in Ecuador, so in turn, this is going to be a bit of a massive update (and at the same time just the tip of the iceberg).

What was Beautiful:

Just before we left, my Flamenco teacher organized a studio show to showcase her students. I was grateful to be part of it but the advanced students blew my mind with their grace and skill.

Then we flew to Quito and drank in the colonial architecture – including a Gothic cathedral with Ecuadorian armadillos, marine iguanas, crocodiles, pumas and monkeys in place of gargoyles and a Jesuit church basically covered in gold – sat in the square, surrounded on all sides by mountains – drinking mochaccinos and people-watching. In a way, it doesn’t feel new because I’ve been to quite a few Latin capitals at this point but it really gives you the opportunity to dig into the details and difference and I love that.

Our hotel was an old school hacienda with a well (!!!) in the courtyard outside our room and beautiful wooden beams throughout, local handicrafts put in use / displayed everywhere.

From there we rented bikes and I found out upon arrival that I had been upgraded to a Husquavarna 701 – truly a beautiful machine. I wasn’t all that worried about not being able to touch the ground until much later when I ended up stalled in a steep uphill curve (in sneakers, in the rain 🙄) but the combination of grace and power in that motorcycle is something I personally aspire to.

The Galapagos islands were as amazing as promised and I delighted in my first sightings of Mola Mola sunfish and playing with marine iguanas in the surf, as well as spending more time with hammerheads and various other sharks.

And finally, we headed down river to Napo Wildlife Center in the Ecuadorian Amazon. This was an add-on leg and neither of us expected it to be the highlight but we loved the Kichwa Anangu community, the incredible diversity of the plants / animals / insects, etc. , a chance to practice different camera techniques and learning about all the various species in the area.

We brought the audio recorder to Ecuador so even when it wasn’t in use I was on the lookout for new sounds and that made me experience the boat, the rainforest and even the airport hotel in a new way.

The full list of wildlife sightings is:

  • Frigatebird Various Finches
  • Blue-footed Boobies
  • Red-footed boobies
  • Magnificent Frigatebird
  • Flightless Cormorant
  • Agamie Heron
  • Great Egret
  • Black Vulture
  • Snail Kite
  • Spotted Sandpiper
  • Hoatzin – beautiful, but very common where we were
  • Greater Ani
  • Short-Tailed Swift
  • Neotropical Palm Swift
  • Ringed Kingfisher
  • White-throated Toucan
  • Grey Antbird
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Crested Oropendola – beautiful song and neat nests
  • Yellow-Rumped Cacique
  • Blue-grey Taninger
  • Brown-Black Grosbeak
  • Common Squirrel Monkey – had a neat interaction with this one
  • White-fronted Capuchin
  • Black Cayman
  • Sea lions
  • Mola mola (!!!!!)
  • Scalloped Hammerheads (!!!!!)
  • Galapagos Shark
  • Silky Shark
  • Galapagos Bullhead Shark – found only in the Galapagos
  • Torpedo Ray – rare, and found only in the Galapagos
  • Eagle Ray
  • Stingray
  • Marine Iguanas (!!!!!) – found only on one side of one island in the Galapagos
  • Yellow puffer
  • Box puffer
  • Mexican hogfish
  • Harlequin Wrasse
  • Parrotfish
  • Barberfish
  • Sea turtle
  • Common Dolphin
  • Red-lipped batfish
  • Octopus
  • Spotted Moray Eel
  • Shrimp
  • Nudibranch
  • Crabs
  • Line-spotted fish
  • Damselfish

What I’m Grateful for:
My amazing flamenco teacher, Ana Montes, who has suffered through trying to teach me how to clap and walk, amongst other basic things that have suddenly become important.

Being on this Trip of a Lifetime to explore Quito, Otavalo, volcanoes, the Galapagos and a bit of the Amazon.

My new job, that has paid me for all of this vacationing, even though I’ve only just started.

What made me Laugh:
Pictures of (my) dogs, children in the market, children at the flamenco afternoon, river otters, monkeys, my own dog and cat monkeys being super excited to have us home.

What I’ve been up to:
Dancing, travelling through Ecuador, crossing the equator!, trying to remember my Spanish, holding space.

What I’m reading this week:

Radio Handbook Manifesto, to try and learn a bit about podcasting.

Celebrate your accomplishments. Remember to look back as well as forward.

How American Women Helped Win World War II in the Wake of Pearl Harbor

Using star maps to identify whale sharks.

Patagonia and REI have posted about Trump’s decision to reduce the size of the public land allocation in Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante parks. Tragic stuff but it feels like just another drip in the ocean during this administration.

And speaking of lost land, Ecuador is drilling for oil on edge of the pristine rainforest in Yasuni. At the Guardian. 😩

And speaking of the Amazon, I fell into several rabbit holes learning about the people;  Uncontacted tribes of the AmazonAmazon AwakeningInto the Amazon (a photo essay) and what felt like all of Wade Davis‘ writings and half of Wikipedia. 400 indigenous groups live here.

Why Birds Matter also proved more interesting to me after looking at birds for a week.

Plus two actual books that were incredible; Yiddish for Pirates and the Orenda, and a LOT of poetry.

and Watching:

Islands of Change Galapagos. My dive master is featured in this episode as he is one of the local success stories of a fisherman converted to ecotourism and guiding.

and Listening to

What “namaste” really means. At the Allusionist podcast.

 

02.12.17

What was Beautiful:

The scallop eyes, above, from the Atlantic. “Look at a full, living scallop, and you’ll see a very different animal. And that animal will be looking right back at you, using dozens of eyes that line the fleshy mantle on the inner edges of its shell. Some species have up to 200 eyes. Others have electric-blue ones.” The sea never ceases to amaze me.

Also the urban stand of birch trees close to my office:

What I’m Grateful for:

Time with my sister, dogs, balance, visits to the sea, Rainier Ravens, real conversations, friends reaching out, PTO, adventure.

What made me Laugh:

Flamenco hijinks, impromptu dinner with a friend, chatting with a new friend about books in a bar, and every day the dogs.

What I’ve been up to:

Along with packing for the expedition to Ecuador’s jungles / volcanoes / oceans / old towns, ramping up at my new job, prepping for a 5k holiday run and a Flamenco studio open house show, my Raven’s holiday party and a Death Cafe, I’ve barely had time to think.

What I’m reading this week:

Have we always been depressed? Yes. The answer is pretty much yes. But that doesn’t mean we can’t achieve radical happiness. at Literary Hub.

Using elephants to demolish homes which forest officials claimed were illegally built in the Amchang Wildlife Sanctuary in Guwahati, India…and thereby co-opting elephant habitat. at the Atlantic. I’m really (still) not sure how I feel about this.

How Wolves Shape the Natural World, at Literary Hub again. Reminds me of this TEDx video.

Fertility rates are declining super fast. I’m surprised and yet I shouldn’t be this paragraph amalgamates almost everyone I know (and doesn’t include the many who, like us, have forgone children altogether); “In 2017, things have changed. Emma ended up breaking up with the guy she thought she might marry because he turned out to be kind of a deadbeat, so she didn’t have that kid she hoped to have in her 20s. Olivia got a great job… which has really long hours, and she really loves the job and she loves how comfortable it has made her and her husband’s life, but there’s no way she and Bob can care for a kid right now: life is just too busy. And Harper? Well, Harper and her husband were enticed to take a few extra vacations by generous credit card rewards programs and super-low mistake fares online, so they used up their vacation time and their disposable income, and so a third kid just isn’t in the cards anymore.”

About Real Rent, a type of reparation project for the Duwamish tribe. This is an amazing idea and I’m so glad it exists.

“Savoring is a mindset that doesn’t wait for life to get perfect to enjoy it. It believes that life is worth it, no matter what the state” at Darling Magazine.

My friend Eagranie writes about connecting to Syrian refugees through food at Saveur.

About Lagertha, the Viking Shieldmaiden. Someone told me last night that I looked like the portrayal of her in Vikings.

The Enduring Power of Aunties is a great read, even more now that I’m going to be one.

The effect today of blasting the Bikini Atoll coral reefs. It’s not what you think. At Medium.