A Travellerspoint blog

March 2012

Police Corruption and Futbol Fans

all seasons in one day 70 °F

So far, we have traveled for 6 weeks in Ecuador, feeling safe in most every town or city we have visited. Still, police corruption has been a common theme in many of our discussions with Ecuadorians. We had a firsthand peak at the type of police corruption we’d heard about during an 11:30 AM Quito vs. Liga fútbol game we attended in Quito.
From the start of the game, we found ourselves entertained by a group of incoherently drunk men swaying about in the row ahead. They cheered for Quito, slopping Pilseners and spitting curses into one another’s faces (it was an intercity rival game). About halfway into the game however, the group moved closer to us, leaving their most drunk member with drool running from his chin onto his round belly, passed out from an early day of drinking. Soon enough, the men were asking about us… where we came from, why we had chosen to cheer for Quito etc. They passed 32 oz. beer cups between all of us and were happy to have us cheering for their team. Finally we asked about their tired friend. They answered, “O, he’s a cop, we actually just met him last night.”

The man’s story goes (details are hazy, as he was inebriated while relating it):

The man had been drunk driving the night before when he was pulled over by a cop. When the cop proceeded to announce his fine, the man offered the cop free admittance and drinks at any of the major nightclubs in Quito, at which he held some administrative position. The cop gladly accepted, and while on duty(?), accompanied the man and his friends to the bars for the rest of the night. The drinking continued through the early hours of the morning until the cop was finally belligerent. Earlier on in the binge, the men discovered the cop to be a Liga fan, so when sufficiently drunk, they dressed the cop in a too-small Quito jersey and they all went to the game to continue the festivities.

So the passed out man we were concerned about was a potentially on-duty police officer/Liga fan, left mostly unconscious by the drunken enemy he should have apprehended the night before.

“The police are corrupt here, very, very corrupt” the men concluded. And so there it was.

Posted by AmyERichards 14:08 Archived in Ecuador Tagged in police futbol game drunk quito ecuador corruption liga cop Comments (0)

Traveling vs. Vacationing

Traveling and being on vacation are two very different but confusingly similar things. Both are characterized by physical displacement from home and consistent use of varied forms of public transportation, usually across long distances. Both traveler and vacationer might eat new foods, take hundreds of pictures, spend money in ways she normally would not and stay in a hostel, hotel, tent or boat although she pays a mortgage or rent already somewhere else.

Aside from these very important similarities, however, traveling and vacationing have always seemed to me worlds apart. While I’ve spent a great deal of my life traveling, I’ve never made it to sipping cocktails on a cruise boat, or to any of the definition “getaways” one might take.

My family’s first travels were to national war memorials, forts, battlefields and burial grounds. After we’d exhausted all of these sights on the east coast, we moved onto the natural world, and firmly shook hands with our first park ranger, on what was to be a long journey through the U.S. national park service. None of these trips, sorry mom and dad, ever felt like vacation. While they were supremely educational, chock full o’ adventure and, at times, treacherously long, the pb&j-for-lunch, hotdog-for dinner grind, just never matched what I imagined a vacation to be.

Vacations were what other kids’ families took. They returned with purchased, paper-framed photos of their families in bright printed clothing and sunglasses, all thumbs-up on the beach. They made their marks in the hallway with peeling skin and braided hair. Meanwhile, I returned from family trips with scrapes and bug-bites, junior park ranger badges and photos of me in a tent somewhere with a scowl on my face.

So while I grieved to my parents for years that we should go on a “real” vacation someday, I pressed on to my own travels, applying for a passport my senior year of high school, and promising myself I would travel somewhere different when I turned 18. So I applied to service trips, and began a long cycle of volunteer, study, work, conference and seminar traveling, apparently in order to avoid ever having to go on vacation. Suffice it to say, I never got the itch to do a “real” spring break in college: all the other stuff was just, well, more interesting, than vacation.

So now we’re here, in our extended travel, which some people might call a vacation. But at the end of these days, we’ve never really had a chance to relax, because there’s not enough time in the day, and we never really get to indulge in cocktails or fancy dinners, because there’s not really room in the budget. Rather than spending our time at these activities, we walk miles, we pull weeds, we plant, we sit atop our backpacks in backs of pickup trucks on switchbacks through the mountains, we sleep on living room floors and eat crackers and take cold showers, because, well, it’d be no fun if it was just a vacation.

Posted by AmyERichards 21:06 Archived in Ecuador Tagged travel vacation trips family backpacking versus Comments (2)

So Far in Ecuador...

Because we've been behind about filling you in on Ecuador, here's an idea of what we've been up to the past few weeks...

View To the equator and beyond! on tltisme's travel map.

Crossed the Equator three times!
Felt up some furry walls at market in Otavalo and was given a furry bed at a horsefarm for two nights...
We happened upon an indigenous feria in the middle of northern highlands indigenous teams championship... I asked if T.L. might be able to practice with some of the players, they threw him a jersey and let him play... in front of a few thousand people...(T.L.'s the one without the long black braid)
We played the 7 dwarves all week with 2 Canadians, 2 Belgians and our Maestro (Doc), at the Tungurahua Tea Room, our WWOOFing site in Banos.
We flew... across a gorge and waterfall outside of Banos


Stayed at an Ashram with the Hare Krishnas in Tumbaco, outside of Quito.
Supported Deportivo Quito vs. Quito Liga at Estadio Olympico Atahualpa, Quito
Surfed these couches...
Played with monkeys...rather, the monkeys played with us, and stole our things.


Had and defeated parasites...
3 pills $2.80 2 days=0 parasites

3 pills+$2.80+2 days=0 parasites

Climbed in, down, up and around a crater lake in Quilotoa.
P1010377.jpgP1010326.jpg2 miles wide, 820 feet deep

2 miles wide, 820 feet deep

formed during an enormous eruption 800 years ago in which lava flows reached the Pacific

formed during an enormous eruption 800 years ago in which lava flows reached the Pacific

P1010383.jpgThe trail around the crater rim, Ecuador's version of the knife edge

The trail around the crater rim, Ecuador's version of the knife edge

Got jacked up on IV fluid after dehydration set in from a nasty intestinal bacterial infection...
Went to the beach and learned to surf... at least T.L. did!
1-P1010667.jpg1-P1010671.jpg1-P1010677.jpg1-P1010699.jpg1-P1010703.jpg"tres por un dolar!" the kids chanted
Ate many deliciously cheap meals...
large, delicious pork lunch=$2

large, delicious pork lunch=$2

Markets, markets, more markets...
Climbed the clocktowers of Quito's awesome Basilica!

We're currently both in good health and couchsurfing with a Peace Corps volunteer in the campo outside of San Isidro, and still have a few weeks in Ecuador to go!

Posted by tltisme 07:58 Archived in Ecuador Tagged markets flying hiking soccer futbol gardening furry Comments (0)

And on that farm, he had a pig…

At my appointment for travel vaccinations in December, the doctor cautioned against my going near or touching animals, while in South America. I must have said that I would try not to, but I guess he wasn’t listening when I told him I was traveling to work on FARMS. So, after six weeks into the trip, we have spent our fair share of time around animals, sorry doc. We’ve become veterinarian assistants of sorts, even.
Our first hands-on experience with animals was at the Finca Campo Bello farm in San Agustin, Colombia. There, we helped to feed and bathe the pigs and clean out their pens, alongside Edimer every morning. What does cleaning pig pens entail? Mostly poop-scooping, hosing and sweeping. Of course, by the time one side of the pen is clean, the pigs are already pooping where we’ve just swept. I mean, they are pigs.

While feeding time was exciting, the final morning tending to the pigs was most worth recording. Edimer suspected that one of the female pigs would be ready to give birth, so we prepared her with disinfectants and gave her a clean, private space to give birth. And then, we waited. We attempted to evaluate a number of different pig gestures, expressions and grunts, and bet on what we thought meant certain birth. But then, Edimer decided, she was taking too long… something must be wrong…

He suggested one of the pigs may have died in the womb and was blocking the birth canal, a possibility that would kill the rest of the piglets inside and possibly the mother. The next step was to invite friends and neighbors over and compare the sizes of one another’s hands. The one with the smallest hand won, or lost, depending on how you look at it… the privilege to stick his hand in and retrieve whatever was blocking the birth canal.

So Edimer’s slight-handed friend put on a thin plastic glove and plunged his fancy fingers into the depths of a grown pig lady’s passage. Elbow deep and straight-faced, Edimer’s friend gave no hint as to what might happen next. After some more maneuvering, he removed an empty hand, covered in slimy fluids. He and Edimer took turns smelling and sticking their fingers in the dripping goop, and decided there indeed was a dead pig inside. Edimer ran quickly back to his house and retrieved a hormone to induce birth.

He injected the mother pig, and within a few minutes, we saw tiny pink pig hooves…a pig belly, and a head, moving! A live baby pig! Edimer speedily cut the umbilical cord, wiped the pig of its slime, and applied it to a plump pig nipple. This, followed by 3 more live pigs, made 4 baby pigs suckling at the teet… after many hours of wondering and worrying and waiting.

Besides the fact that they were very small, they were not particularly cute: save one redeeming trait: their cute curly pigtails. But no, Edimer promised, the tails must go! Why? Aesthetics, he shrugged. So each pig would have to have its little tail snipped, and I would be the one to hold it upside down by its little pig legs while it succumbed to this tragic fate. So 4 squeeling pigs later, and Edimer had a collection of mini-pigtails in his hand. He put them on his neck to show us how he’d make a necklace with them- that, or chicharron, right? Well, he conceded, “no valen nada” they’re not worth anything, so he tossed them into the compost heap.

We saw 4 baby black pigs recently on a hike in the highlands of Ecuador: their tails were intact. They looked so happy.

(many pig pictures coming)

Posted by AmyERichards 10:36 Archived in Colombia Tagged animals farm pigs birth san_augustin Comments (1)

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