21 February 2013

Bucket List Revisited

I've been wondering for a while how my bucket list was holding up. I feel like I should always be adding to it and checking things off.  So I pulled out the bucket list I wrote in January 2010 to see what I'd done in 3 years time and it's not too shabby.  I was able to check off 7 things done in those 3 years, the highlight being "get a dog" with my soul-pup-Ceri.  I also added a bunch of things.

All the italicized bolds in the "Done" column are things that I did in 2010-now and all the italicized bolds in the Undone column are things I've added since writing out the original list.

The thing that surprises me the most?  There is nothing in my undone list I want to cross out!

So without further ado....


From Childhood:
UndoneDone
  • Learn to figure skate (when I was 7 it was become a pro-figure skater; it's been downgraded)
  • Swim with dolphins - April 2010
  • Visit the Galapagos and see all it has to offer - June 2009
  • Visit the Grand Canyon - July 2005
General Travel (all the go-to's include touring the areas in general):

UndoneDone
  • Go to Antarctica
  • Go to Croatia
  • Go to Maui
  • Go to Kuaui
  • Go to Morocco
  • Go to Madagascar
  • Visit all 50 states
  • Go to Barcelona
  • Go to Scotland
  • Go to New Zealand
  • Go to Germany
  • Go to Greece
  • Go to Thailand
  • Go to Singapore
  • Go to Tokyo
  • Go to Turkey
  • See the Pyramids
  • Visit the Taj Mahal
  • Go to Banff
  • Go to Mt St Helens
  • Go to Patagonia
  • Go to Argentina
  • Go to Australia - October 2012
  • Go to Switzerland - November 2011
  • Visit Oregon Wine Country - May 2010
  • Visit California Wine Country - July 2010
  • See the Great Wall of China - October 2000
  • Go to Spain - July 1995
  • Go to Paris - July 2006
  • Go to London - July 2006
  • Go to Japan - September 2000
  • Go to New Orleans - June 2004
  • Go to Glacier Park - Long ago in a galaxy known as my 2 year old brain (aka 1982); want a repeat
  • Go to Mt Rainier - October 2006 for the first time; then other times after that
  • Go to Yellowstone Park - Long ago in a galaxy known as my 4 year old brain (aka 1984); want a repeat
  • Visit San Francisco - August 2009
  • Visit Boulder, CO - March 2003
  • Visit Washington Wine Country - September 2007
  • Go on a safari in Africa - November 2000
  • Go to Ireland - I'm an overachiever since I've been lots of times starting in May 2006 with living there
Events to Experience:
UndoneDone
  • Attend the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, OR
  • Ski in the Alps (preferably French, but I'll take what I can get!)
  • Attend the US Open (tennis)
  • Attend the Olympics in the USA
  • Attend Carnivale in Brazil
  • Take a bike tour of some wine country
  • Drive across the USA
  • Hug a panda
  • Ski in Montana
  • Hug a koala - Australia October 2012
  • Throw a suprise party for someone
  • Attend Wimbledon - July 2006 (Agassi's last Wimbledon - and I was there for his last match....)
  • Attend a bullfight - July 1995
  • Ski at Whistler - First time in March 2006, then a bunch of times after
  • Ski in Colorado - March 2003
  • Attend the Olympics in a foreign country - February 2010 @ Vancouver for 2 Women's Ice Hockey matches and Women's Curling USA v Canada
Life Learning and Experiences:

UndoneDone
  • Re-learn the violin (cause quitting at age 6 was premature)
  • Get a Masters Degree
  • Learn to surf
  • Take a wine tasting class
  • Own a house with a hot tub (bonus points for at the same time as any doggie)
  • Get a dog - October 2010
  • Learn to kayak - White water in September 1998; sea in June 2005 and I'm not good at either
  • Go white water rafting - September 2007
  • Go camping (Girl Scouts doesn't count) - September 1998
  • Learn to play tennis - Around the summer of 1987 although I'd like to take classes again
  • Get a Bachelors Degree - June 2002
  • Own a house - March 2008

02 October 2012

India to Australia? I think I missed something...

I've always thought of this primarily as my travel blog, and apparently I'm sticking to that.  Last time I updated I was in India for work and it was March 2011.  Now that it's October 2012 I'm in Australia working, but I'm here for a nice long vacation.

I'm very excited for this trip - it's been a year in the planning and plotting and we should have fun.  Sure, I've lived my normal Seattle life - running around like a madwoman to sporting events, dog stuffs with Ceri, random little vacations (if you consider places like Hawaii and Montana roadtrips little), working, relaxing, etc.  But now I'm back to the epic adventures I sometimes find myself taking.

The ironic thing is that Australia to me seems so EASY so far.  Sure, we're taking planes everywhere, we're in a country with different customs, currency, etc.  But Australians speak English, I got a SIM card for my unlocked Android phone, and Australia is no more/less safe than the US.   What's different?  So far, the fact that it's October and "going into summer", the trees that are amazingly awesome, the accents, and some of the brekkie spreads.

I can't wait... Maybe I'll keep you updated during/after - only time shall tell.

(No wonder I won't ever make a living blogging...  15 months between posts)

22 March 2011

Kulfi, Dal, Biryani - YUM!

Indian food is divine. There are certainly some boring dishes I've tried and things I just didn't like, but what I've liked, I've loved. I remember loving the food when I was here way back in 2000, and it hasn't disappointed in the Andra Pradesh even though the food's different than that in Tamil Nadu.

Biryani is a Hyderabad staple. Apparently the city is known for it, and my oh my, is it good. Think of super long spicey marinated chicken with rice and spice and yogurt to cool it off occasionally. It's a little bit of heaven. I knew I liked biryani before I came, but having sampled "so so", "ok", "good" and "best" biryani (cause one must do a sampling of different preparations of the city's famous dish), I can seriously say that I love biryani. I'm not sure I appreciated the subtleties in the rankings that were provided by the locals giving me recommendations or feedback, but the difference between "so so" biryani and "best" biryani was noticeable even to my amateur palette. Basically so so was super spicy but without as much flavor as best which was both super spicy and super flavorful.

I've learned that I love dal anything. Dal = lentils. Lentils are not prepared well in most forms I've known before other than lentil soup. But dal whatever is good here. Nomnom.

And finally, there's my newfound love of cardamom. I was trying to figure out why I loved a few of the Indian desserts more than others, and then it dawned on me that the common ingredient was cardamom. But what really sold me on this, was the Indian equivalent of ice cream known as "Kulfi". Kulfi is a super custardy frozen dessert. It has many flavors but the "default" flavor is a nutty, cardamom-y, milky delicious confection. I vowed on facebook to make some desserts featuring cardamom when I get back to the USA, and my memories of Kulfi will hold me to this. I'm an addict. Thank god I didn't find it till the very end of the trip when the team here took me for Kulfi.

All in all, I realize my spice tolerance has gotten better. I can handle spicier foods than I thought I could and like them. But I also think that Indians really balance hot spice and flavor spice well. The food has been a real treat this visit.

NOM YUM YAY!

19 March 2011

Holi & How to Carry a Flat Screen on Your Motorcycle

Saturday I spent the day riding around touring Hyderabad with my "little" driver Giri. (Andrea asked me "Why little?" and he really is little - he's my height and is a total stick.) Giri was a great tourguide - he started off a bit hesitant to give me facts and point out things, but when he did, I kept asking questions or I'd ask him what something I saw was. Eventually, he figured out I wanted to see stuff - any stuff - just not shopping.

In all, I did see stuff - tourist attractions, historical monuments, temples, mosques and life happening.

I started off my day with Hyderabad's Salar Jung Museum. After paying the "foreigner" fee (which most places here have - 150 rupees for foreigners instead of 5 rupees for Indians) I wandered the museum. It was actually a rather nice museum. You have to consider that a lot of Indian history and artifacts has been carted off by other cultures or has been destroyed. It's only recently (think not even the whole past century) that they've started caring for their historical objects. And as such - the Salar Jung Museum was dang impressive. The painting styles of the kings' portraits were less detail oriented than their European counterparts. The relics and remains were fascinating and they had a huge collection. However, my favorite room was the one with the fabrics and my favorite piece was the Veiled Rebecca. The Veiled Rebecca statue was unbelievable. The pictures I've found online don't do justice to how fabric-like the veils are and the detail in that statue. I was dumbfounded. If you have an opportunity to see one of the versions of the Veiled Rebecca, do.

From there I went to Charminar, but seeing as I don't like heights I opted to not climb it - especially since it was over 100F and stuffy and ridiculously overcrowded. Frankly, the outside was prettier anyways. Holi was running rampant in that part of the city (eventhough it was technically the day before Holi) so the market was packed with tourists and everything was totally crazy. It's a very impressive sight none the less, but the area was enough to overwhelm the senses.

Next off to the less densely packed Chowmohalla Palace which is actually still used for functions, but much of it is starting to crumble. They've only recently refinished it so it truly shows you how things were let to fall apart and be stolen from. They've redone most of the majestic palace rooms into museum rooms talking about the history of the kings of Hyderabad as well as the general history of Hyderabad. Interesting stop.

We drove by a few things I wasn't interested in going "to" because frankly, the view from the car was better than the view from the bottom - such as the massive Buddha statue in the middle of the lake Hussain Sugar. I also just did a drive by of Mecca Masjid since I wasn't in the proper attire to visit a mosque and there was no way I was putting on more clothes since I was dying of heat.

We finally ended the day at Birla Mandir. It's a great Hindu shrine carved out of all marble and situated in and among some rocks on the top of a hill in Hyderabad. I had no idea Hyderabad was so hilly.

All in all, my tourism of Hyderabad was successful. In one day, I made it to every sight on the Hyderabad must see brochure I found - except for "Snow World" (seriously) and Golconda Fort (which I ended up seeing Monday with the team I'm working with here anyways!)

Through writing all of this, I'm not getting to the meat of why I love travel. I honestly do enjoy seeing the history, culture and art of a place, but it's not what fascinates me and what I think about afterwards. It's more of a foundation so I can understand the life that's happening all around me. And life really happens in Hyderabad...

Driving along random side streets in Old Town Hyderabad the walls were painted with pretty pictures of random stuff - from Hindu gods, to Gandhi, to flowers, to other colorful patterns. Along the top there was a border of about a foot tall repeating reminders to the locals. Things like "No Make Urine" jumped out, blending hygeine into a very prominent display and also reminding me that's why the historical areas don't have the same look of upkeep as their counterparts in America (along with being way older) or even Europe.

I mentioned Holi - and Holi was in full swing this past weekend. Holi is sometimes referred to as the Festival of Colors and is a celebration of the start of spring. It stems from the Hindu faith. Indians celebrate it by dousing each other in colors - primarily powdered colors like super neon pink. Many of these colors end up leaving permanent stains on your clothes, and you can see it on people's hands and in their hair for days afterwards. Driving through the streets, you'd see pockets of people "playing Holi" - chasing each other with handfuls of powder, already covered in splotches of pink, green and orange. It was ridiculous and looked so fun - but alas, I didn't figure out a way I could "play Holi" myself since I didn't know anyone who was participating in the festival.

The most ridiculous semi-Holi related sight I've seen, and a traffic miracle (given traffic in India, it takes a lot to surprise me) was the duo on the motorcycle. Speeding down the road, we passed two guys on a motorcycle. Both were barefoot. Helmets are never worn here - it's "too hot". And both were covered from head to toe in Holi colors. I think that alone wouldn't have shocked me - I knew it was Holi; barefoot and helmetless is pretty darn normal for motorcycle riders here; and traffic always entertains me. But this duo managed to find a way to stand out to me. Sandwiched between them, they had a brand new Samsung 40" flat screen TV in a box. I failed at snapping a picture in time, because my jaw just dropped. I've seen odd things carried in the little motorized yellow rickshaws, on mopeds, motorcycles and bikes here (think super long 2x4s, a bunch of 6 grocery bags hanging off the side, etc). But I did not expect to see a very expensive new piece of large electronics squished between two guys on a motorcycle who were colored pink. A favorite moment of mine.

There's more life that I see going on around me, but nothing else super specific to that Saturday and this post is getting awfully wordy. So I'll write more about the food and other observations later.

Namaste!


17 March 2011

Working in India

The year was 2000 and I was in India for 5 days - specifically visiting Chennai, Kancheepuram, and Mahabalipuram. I was but a naive student traveling with friends and living life fully. I thought I'd learned something about the culture, but not nearly as much as I know now.

The year is now 2011. 11 years of education, work and cultural awareness later and I'm back in India. This time I'm in Hyderabad for 10 days to work.

The experiences are vastly different - because I'm different, the country's different, and I'm visiting different areas.

In the past 11 years I've tried a lot of (bastardized in the US) Indian food from many regions of India, and grown to love much of it. I've worked with and become friends with Indians from India and Indians from America which has led to random conversations about norms, holidays, traditions, culture and the country. I've become more confident and outspoken too. So I'm looking at a different part of this huge country with different eyes.

I still see some things I remember - traffic that would make a New Yorker cry, COLOR everywhere, and many contrasts of life. The smiling little girl I met in 2000 outside Mahabalipuram is reflected outside my posh-apartment window in the happiness that is a community of metal huts.

I'm staying right next to the offices in a corporate apartment that's massive. It's the 4 bed, 4 bath penthouse apartment with a view. The living room alone is bigger than my first Seattle apartment. It really makes me want to throw a party and have my friends over and watch Ceri slide around on the stone floors. The apartment comes with service beyond your wildest dreams - a book to write down food requests to be filled the next day, daily linen service, laundry service, a driver whenever I want, and a cook for breakfast and dinner.

Yet looking outside my window, I see the contrast - that of finished beautiful office buildings mixed with vacant lots and half finished apartment buildings. The road I walk on to work would be a 4 lane road in the US, but here it's 4 lanes of chaos where most people go in the proper direction if it's convenient and it's filled with pedestrians, bikes, rickshaws and cars.

Embracing the contrasts is part of the culture shock. The security guard was shocked that I'd walked to the office eventhough it was a mere 2 blocks from the apartment - only because I walked in traffic like everyone else. My coworkers are shocked by my love of spice, eventhough I can't take it as hot as some of them.

And this is why I love to travel, to visit and see things that are so different and so mundane... like the head bobble that replaces the nod, the direct eye contact without shame of staring at the blonde girl with red skin on the road, and the shock of being genuinely thanked with a smile for providing me with service.

13 January 2011

Ceri Antics: I broke my puppy's sit

Ceri has been with me for almost 3 months now. In that time I've laughed a lot and cried a little because of Miss Ceri. I'm smitten, in love and enamoured with my puppy.

We do a few things in our time together - snuggle, train, go potty and play. However, with me being pretty sick these past few weeks and my lungs hatting more than bare minimum movement, I'd been skipping training like a bad puppy mamma. Little bits here and there, but she was way ahead of the curve for a 4 month old so I figured she'd be back to norm for her age when I got healthy.

Tonight was the first night we put in a full training session - we went back to basics to reestablish the clicker. And y'know what - my puppy's sit is broken. She was cycling trying to remember the words. It was absolutely hysterical. She eventually remembered sit, but for me it's funny cause she does it on command without training time and without treats all the time for me in our everyday getting along - like when I put the harness on, at the front door, and all sorts of other times. But that clicker came out and Miss Puppy could not remember what sit meant for the life of her. I was doing it just to remind her that clicker means food which she obviously remembered with so much excitement her brain switched off.

So, we're back to basics. She's got a pretty good vocabulary: Ceri, sit, down, off, touch, leave it, drop it, backup, dance, stay, go... Some are way better than others; but some are also super hard when you're a squirmy 5 month old puppy!! I mean, c'mon - I'm making her stay 4 feet away from me when I put a big pile of kibble on the floor and she can't move till I tell her "go". That's a good puppy so when she misfires, we just do it again.

And most importantly - I'm having fun. Whether my puppy nails every "backup" and "stay" or forgets how to "sit" or "touch" - she makes me laugh and grin. And then it's time to snuggle on the couch - the trick she taught herself that she's most proud of.

19 November 2010

Ceri Antics: Tug of War with Mr Couch

Meet my puppy. She's now a 3 month old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Ceri. She's 3.5 lbs of squirm, dracula teeth, the cutest fluffy ears and puppy facials.

Every other day she does something new that makes me laugh so hard I have to sit down or fear for my bladder control.

And for this reason, it's time I share some puppy antics hilarity with the blogosphere.

Ceri and I just came in to go to bed. As is common she likes to carry her leash upstairs for me (don't ask how we started this but it makes her prance).

Today when we got up the first flight of stairs into the living room she dropped the leash to chase something under the couch. She then proceeded to follow me up to the 3rd floor by grabbing her leash.

However, Mr Couch decided go get her back for trying to gnaw on him. Mr Couch had his big leg with Ceri's leash wrapped around it. Ceri was still in her harness with the leash attached and was trying to pick up the handle end so she wouldn't get it snagged and could carry it to me. Mr Couch had other plans and held that leash in place. This in effect meant Ceri played tug of war with herself.

She was so confused because I was not on the other end of that leash, but there it was showing resistance.

Good job Mr Couch - thank you for making me laugh at Ceri.

No Ceri's or Couches were harmed in the making of this antic. Ceri is now out of her harness and her leash is put away and she's starting to doze off in her crate.

22 January 2010

My Bucket List

I'm approaching the big THREE-ZERO this March and somehow this makes me think of the things I've done and want to do. I'm generally very good about going for my dreams even if they're totally nutty. Most of them are travel related - things I want to see or exeperience - some are life related... A lot of this list is more recent - aka post-college - however there are a few distinct memories from childhood of things I was convinced I must do, and since I've decided they were worth it. Let's see what's on my bucket list and what I've done....

From Childhood:
UndoneDone
  • Learn to figure skate (when I was 7 it was become a pro-figure skater; it's been downgraded)
  • Swim with dolphins - April 2010
  • Visit the Galapagos and see all it has to offer - June 2009
  • Visit the Grand Canyon - July 2005


General Travel (all the go-to's include touring the areas in general):
UndoneDone
  • Go to Australia
  • Go to Morocco
  • Go to Madagascar
  • Visit all 50 states
  • Go to Barcelona
  • Go to Scotland
  • Go to New Zealand
  • Go to Germany
  • Go to Switzerland
  • Go to Greece
  • Go to Thailand
  • Go to Singapore
  • Go to Tokyo
  • Go to Turkey
  • See the Pyramids
  • Visit the Taj Mahal
  • Go to Banff
  • Go to Mt St Helens
  • Visit Oregon Wine Country
  • Visit California Wine Country
  • Go to Patagonia
  • Go to Argentina
  • See the Great Wall of China - October 2000
  • Go to Spain - July 1995
  • Go to Paris - July 2006
  • Go to London - July 2006
  • Go to Japan - September 2000
  • Go to New Orleans - June 2004
  • Go to Glacier Park - Long ago in a galaxy known as my 2 year old brain (aka 1982); want a repeat
  • Go to Mt Rainier - October 2006 for the first time; then other times after that
  • Go to Yellowstone Park - Long ago in a galaxy known as my 4 year old brain (aka 1984); want a repeat
  • Visit San Francisco - August 2009
  • Visit Boulder, CO - March 2003
  • Visit Washington Wine Country - September 2007
  • Go on a safari in Africa - November 2000
  • Go to Ireland - I'm an overachiever since I've been lots of times starting in May 2006 with living there


Events to Experience:
UndoneDone
  • Attend the US Open (tennis)
  • Attend the Olympics in the USA
  • Attend Carnivale in Brazil
  • Take a bike tour of some wine country
  • Throw a suprise party for someone
  • Drive across the USA
  • Hug a panda
  • Hug a koala
  • Ski in Montana
  • Attend Wimbledon - July 2006 (Agassi's last Wimbledon - and I was there for his last match....)
  • Attend a bullfight - July 1995
  • Ski at Whistler - First time in March 2006, then a bunch of times after
  • Ski in Colorado - March 2003
  • Attend the Olympics in a foreign country - February 2010 @ Vancouver for 2 Women's Ice Hockey matches and Women's Curling USA v Canada


Life Learning and Experiences:
UndoneDone
  • Get a Masters Degree
  • Learn to surf
  • Take a wine tasting class
  • Own a german shepherd
  • Own a house with a hot tub (bonus points for at the same time as any doggie)
  • Learn to kayak - White water in September 1998; sea in June 2005 and I'm not good at either
  • Go white water rafting - September 2007
  • Go camping (Girl Scouts doesn't count) - September 1998
  • Learn to play tennis - Around the summer of 1987 although I'd like to take classes again
  • Get a Bachelors Degree - June 2002
  • Own a house - March 2008

29 June 2009

The Overnight Walk!

I did it. I walked The Overnight Walk for the AFSP. http://www.theovernight.org/fundraising/yvette

It was an experience. I feel like a total champ for doing it and it's still kinda unbelievable. To quote a friend's message to me on Twitter "EPIC WIN" and I totally agree.

I flew into Chicago Friday night and met up with Carrie and Laura at the hotel around midnight as they were getting ready to go to bed. Being the person on west coast time, I was the lucky one - they were the tired ones.

We slept pretty well. I shared a bed with Laura - it was a bed that ate humans and made them into a sinkhole for the next victim. We called it the butt-trough since it created a nice divit right there. It was impossible to get out of and you definitely were made to snuggle by the bed even in the room w/o air conditioning - not so nice.

We didn't do much Saturday day time since we knew we'd have to walk walk walk our little tushes off that night. We got food and watched crappy TV and packed and prepped. Eventually we went over to Soldier's Field to get ready for the walk.

It was in the upper 80s and hot hot hot. I was carrying a rainjacket, hydration system and another layer that went unused. There were people lying in the grass, sitting around, checking in and talking and crying. Nearly all of us wore colored beads where each bead color recognized our connection to the walk and reason for participating - supporting the cause, struggling personally, loss of a friend, loss of a parent, loss of a spouse, loss of a sibling, loss of a child All were represented and sometimes in heartbreaking combinations.

We checked in, got our beads and ate our dinner watching the people and chatting. We're a bit twisted so there was much laughter from our corner And a bit of swearing and anger directed at our lost friend.

Then opening ceremony happened which was nice - just enough talking to get you ready to walk without enough to bore you. I missed some of the speeches though looking over at a group of people wearing a shirt with 4 different lost loved ones names on them - one lost as recently as June 11, 2009. Whoa.

Then we set out for our traipse around the city. We started by walking the waterfront area which was very pretty up to the pier. They had rest stops for porta-potties and water about every 3 miles. There were also snack breaks and a midnight "dinner" of sandwiches for us along the route. At first we were all bunched up and going so slow, wondering how we'd ever hit the 3mph pace. Carrie, Laura and I were determined though and we stuck together.

There were lots of groups walking together - families and friends. There were also a lot of solo walkers. After the first 3 miles I felt great - still going. Then the rain started - and it pretty much lasted the rest of the night (other than the last 2-3 miles). That wasn't horrid since it was so hot, but it wasn't what I was really looking for either. We kept on walking. We eventually turned off from the waterfront path and went through some parks over to the Chicago zoo. By this point Carrie's knees were starting to have a mind of their own and get a little funky. We kept walking. Walking walking walking. I made a really bad and really uncreative song about walking. They made me stop singing!

A few rest stops later Carrie was really sore and her knees were going to mush - literally - I felt them. We kept walking. The last mile before the dinner point, Carrie and Laura caught a van and I kept walking. I met up with a group - it was a solo walker, Amy from Chicago, and 2 of her friends who had joined her for a few miles. We walked, shared stories and laughed. Amy had lost her brother in November 2008. We got to dinner and I re-found Carrie and Laura, but lost Amy and crew.

Carrie decided to get back out and walk - she's as stubborn as I am! So walk we did. Laura by this point was also unable to truly tie one of her shoes since for no apparent reason (she trained better than I did by a lot!!) her foot was swollen and irritated. About midway through this 3 mile leg, there was suffering going on. I was a very determined shuttle van catcher making a committed sad walker face and signal. Y'see, not only did they have the greatest volunteers directing us through intersections and manning the rest stops, they also had volunteers in sweep vans picking up injured, exhausted or otherwise walkers. There were "unhappy walker" symbols to make to these vans. I made a very serious sad walker face to grab a van for us and we hopped in. Carrie's knees were no longer truly knees - at least the one I felt/squished. Thank god for great medical volunteers and sweeper vans.

We'd seen lots of dehydration victims along the way and were constantly being encouraged to hydrate. We did.

Laura and I got out at the next stop and decided to walk through downtown Chicago, letting Carrie catch the bus she'd take back to Soldier's Field to meet us later. I happened to see Amy again, this time without friends, so Laura and I adopted her. We picked up another of Amy's random Chicago-an friends around 2am in the middle of downtown Chicago - fantastic. At the final rest stop I lost Laura but I was stubborn. I was exhausted, well aware I'd be sore, but dammit - it was 2:45am and I was going to finish. Yes I was. So Amy, myself and Amy's friend (also a Carrie) set out walking... A little over 3 miles to Soldier's Field and we were routed back out to the waterfront. There was the most beautiful view of Chicago behind us, but my muscle control at this point was such that where-ever my head looked, my body turned. Aka, I knew I'd better not sit down or I wasn't going to get up and keep walking. Plod plod plod.

Finally, we heard cheering in the distance. Amy's girlfriend found us on the path just about 3/4 of a mile from Soldier's Field to encourage us to keep going - we were almost there. Holy hell I needed the cheering and encouragement of the volunteers to keep going, I needed to meet Nancy (Amy's girlfriend) who told us how close we were.

And then we saw the path into Soldier's Field. It was lit with luminary bags - white paper bags that we'd all gotten to decorate as memorials before the walk. I had 3 - one dedicated to Susan, one dedicated to my cousin Dustin, and one dedicated to all the families and friends who'd lost people but weren't there with us encouraging life in the middle of a random Saturday night. I made it I walked 16-18 miles (not sure how much I rode the van for - probably about a mile making my total 17 miles). We left Soldier's field at 7:30pm and I made it back in just before 4am. I smelled rank and I hugged everyone in sight.

It was a crazy experience. I'll do it again next year (minus the over hydration (see my previous post) that I experienced yesterday post walk.

We saw so many people all going through loss. We saw so many people cheering us on. We were all cheering for those left behind to survive and help other people not commit suicide.

We walked through quiet neighborhoods, beautiful waterfronts, the midst of downtown, old town drunkenville, parks. We put up with the length, rain, overly hot and humid weather and oncoming bike traffic. We did it - everyone. There were people of all ages and fitness levels walking. I saw a woman leave the walk only a few miles in - she was really old - definitely grandma aged. She started the walk not knowing how far she'd get just walking for the experience of it - and the pride of knowing she'd raised money for the AFSP to help educate about suicide. We saw walkers at the end who'd finished at 1am (no clue how - so not me!). It wasn't a race, it was a steady plod. a) I couldn't race 1 mile let alone 18 and b) it was the friggin' middle of the night!

I tweeted my experience on Facebook and Twitter.

The silliest quote of the night was from Carrie. "I'm wearing plastic, he's drunk. Who's having the better night?"

I can't put most of what I felt into words. Just know that it was worth it to me. It was so worth it I look forward to fundraising and walking again.

Even the fundraising experience was priceless - mostly because of all the emails you guys sent me. The encouragement and support had me in tears so often - made me feel like a truly loved sap.

Thank you everyone. For your love, your support, your understanding, your donations, your cheerleader skills when I was training or just a few days ago when I was tweeting the walk away.

Much love!
Yvette

Yvette "likes" weird sicknesses

So since I apparently "like" (only in the sense of have frequently) weird illnesses, maladies and plagues, my body decided to give me another one. I mean finding out about mild lactose intolerance the "hard way", then being told I had swine flu when it was just good ol' flu wasn't enough for the past month. I mean going to the Galapagos with sunburn in the midst of that and elevation sickness weren't enough. No no no...

So I'm the girl who's stubborn and only 1 week after my 103 fever I flew to Chicago to participate in my walk thingy - the Overnight Walk benefitting the AFSP. I walked the whole damn thing (see my next post which will come shortly after this about that experience). I drank and porta-pottied my way through Chicago in the middle of the night to stay hydrated in the 70-86F weather.

There's my propensity for dehydration when I travel or exercise since I tend to over-caffenate and under-water myself. I was hyper concious of this taking on lots of Gatorade and a moderate amount of water during the walk. I didn't think I was drinking when I wasn't thirsty, but apparently...

I WAS!

After walking the 18 miles, I was exhaaauuuussted. I got done around 4am and we promptly went back to the hotel to crash. I smelled nearly as bad as my swimsuit from the Galapagos (see Confessions of a Skanktastic Swimsuit for context) so I claimed a shower. I climbed into bed around 5am and suddenly - without warning - realized I felt like crap and a few more fundamentally vulgar words. I was shivering madly, covered in a sheet and a blanket (considering the night before it was only a sheet and I was hot, that was a lot). I apparently was also whimpering periodically since Laura asked me what was wrong Head to toe in goosebumps I finally gave up and layered the down comforter across myself multiple times so as to not overheat Laura. I finally fell asleep for an hour.

I woke up sweaty and overheating - no surprise since I had the blanket on. I felt feverish and nauseated. I didn't wanna drink. I was shaking uncontrollably, weak and dizzy. After Laura got me sitting up and ice packed down, I finally thought "hospital time" so asked if I should go and they both emphatically agreed. At 7am I was in the ambulance on my way 3 blocks away to a fine Chicago ER. Carrie and Laura walked to meet me.. they WALKED after the night we had. I love them too!

So we get there and I was confused - I kept thinking I was dehydrated because I had all the symptoms... There was just one problem. I knew I'd consumed a metric ton of gatorade and water. Like holy hydration due to paranoia. But it felt like dehydration. Confused, naucous, whimpering, wanting to die rather than sit through that I got into the ER (with a very cute dr and a frazzled nurse) and eventually found out after being IVed and sitting around with Laura lying on the floor that I was OVER hydrated.

Overhydration is when you thin your blood out with too much liquid - especially water. So your blood levels get off whack for transporting oxygen On top of that your sodium level goes WAY down which causes an imbalance in cell osmosis since your cells start trying to re-sodium your blood stream etc to make up for your low sodium levels. It's a lot easier to treat than dehydration (eat salt and don't drink water or any fluid that doesn't contain salt, rather than a rehydration IV), however it feels vastly similar in symptoms.

Yup, I overhydrated. I still laugh and think it sounds ridiculous. I also know I was an idiot to think I was dehydrated, but whatever.

The hospital fed me saltines and told me to go eat potato chips all day and 24 hrs without water (if I needed to decotton my mouth I could swish and spit with water).

I'm finally off my water restriction and onto a mild water restriction where I'm supposed to drink as little as possible and stick to things like Gatorade as much as possible (Gatorade has electolytes like sodium).

So yeah, the sad thing about this is going to the ER and feeling like I'd rather die than sit through the way my body felt (ironic after a charity walk for suicide prevention - trust me, irony recognized), well, that entire fiasco made me miss my flight to NY yesterday. When I went to reschedule I had the realization that the rest the dr recommended was also probably a good thing and not something I was likely to get if I went running off to work and play hard in NY and then traipsing up into New England. So I'm missing my friends bigtime and wishing I could spend time with my peeps, but instead I'm in the Chicago airport on my way back to Seattle. Y'see, the cost of the flight change was reasonable for flying back to Seattle. It would've more than doubled my flight cost to do NY & VT. So that trip wasn't meant to be and I'll be visiting peeps at a later date for some good ol' friend time. I'm a sad Yvette in that I get ridiculous illnesses however I'm also starting to feel more human so that's probably good.

23 June 2009

Sociology of Spanglish Charades

It's been over 12 years since I last spoke Spanish. I don't count my holas in Cancun a few years ago at all - that place is annexed by tourism to English speakers.

My 2 weeks in Ecuador were filled with my atrocious Spanish. Every time someone would speak to me in Spanish I'd understand what they said and then on top of clamming up when trying to respond I just couldn't remember the right words. My vocabulary has gone to hell and hearing a word I'd remember what it meant but trying to pull that same word out of my brain was utterly futile. It was a very humbling experience; it was a very fun experience. It was insanely frustrating to my perfectionist side, embarrassing a lot of the time, slow, awkward, entertaining and a whole other gamut of emotions when trying to communicate.

Every Ecuadorian I talked to though was the most gracious person dealing with me - the bumbling American tourist who could partially butcher their language. They spoke slowly, repeated things, corrected my Spanish with the most manners ever and encouraged me more than anyone's ever encouraged me - to talk and learn their language. It was incredible - it was like they embraced me because they could tell me many many things and they wanted me to talk too.

I avoided speaking as much as possible. Except I spoke daily because it was just the way to get by - I found myself the translator so many times - most of the time doing more translating into English than Spanish, but sometimes just asking a simple question in Spanish. And sometimes I was translating for complete strangers in the hacienda or in the market.

I think the most amazing day of Spanish for me was when I went out in the Imbaburra Province with my bilingual guide Hans who had the most amazing grasp of English of any of the Ecuadorians I spoke to. He found out within 15 minutes of meeting me I understood him when he spoke Spanish so the entire day was an immersion in Spanish for me. It was probably one of the most amazing tours I've ever been on and that was no little part of it - the fact he was so warm, so inviting me into his culture, his community, his language - that made the day sparkle.

Then there were the other experiences I had speaking Spanish - and by other I don't mean bad, I mean utterly and totally hysterical. These were times that all put together rival the skanktastic swimsuit I wrote about last night....

On the ship my experience with Spanish was vastly different than when I was in the Andes. I wasn't the lone English speaker surrounded by Spanish. I got to speak English 90% of the time. However the only person in the "crew" who spoke English more than a few choice words (ie - shark, sealion, boat) was the national park guide - the other 7 crew members spoke Spanglish - Spanish with a smattering of English. They did it to varying degrees, some speaking at you regardless of if you understood it and others being very quiet.

I think of all the English speaking tourists on the ship, I probably understood the most. I know some of my shipmates were at varying states of learning Spanish, but I was talking to the crew at times. And my oh my - the crew was a cast of characters. Other than the pain-in-the-ass but really smart and a great storyteller national park guide, we had 7 other crew members - 1 woman in the entire group and the rest men. There were a few that stood out and come to the forefront of my story now because of my interactions with them.

So first of all I'll introduce Carlos the Engineer. Carlos dealt with all the mechanical and electrical woes of the ship. He also passed out life jackets, made sure we got in and out of the dingies safely, went snorkeling with us one day, spoke no English, helped Carlos the bartender / assistant captain get me flippers, hugged everyone on the ship, and talked at you in Spanish with tons of charades going on regardless of how much or how little you understood. He'd beam at me every time I went by to refill my water bottle cause I'd stop and have a 2 min convo in Spanish with him and he got to teach me some new words (which I won't write here cause I can't spell 'em - I learned sealion, snorkel, cactus, mask, flippers, dingy and a few others).

The second person to be introduced is Carlos the assistant captain who we saw in the role of bartender and dingy driver more than anything else. Carlos was on the younger side of our crew and he was really quiet. He'd stand at the bar grinning every day during happy hour, he'd monkey around the ship getting bananas down for banana pina coladas, he drove the dingy like a madman (his was the dingy to be in - so much faster than Gallos), and he only ever got really excited about the soccer game that happened when we were on our tour - he talked to me about that for quite a while when I had to ice my ankle after a snorkeling flipper stuck under rock incident.

Thirdly I'll introduce the least known character who provides the comic relief - Johan. Yes, like Hans I met an Ecuadorian named Johan. He was one of our cooks and we really never saw him other than at snack time when he'd give us our food / drink like little elementary school kids. He spoke less English than both Carloses combined and was very quiet - generally in the kitchen.

Finally, for names sake, our guide was Luis who spoke English fluently and was a pain in the tookus, but had the ability to be rather entertaining too. He also liked to try to get people to dance during happy hour. As my last post shows, I gave in right away since I'm a sucker for dancing.

So with this cast of characters in mind, my last 48 hrs on the ship progressed into what could only be described as the oddest set of occurrences I never expected on my vacation to the Galapagos.

Ecuadorian men are fans of the women and like the bad stereotype of the Latin man, just go with that image for a bit - but place it on the characters I've given you the briefest description of.

Now, on the last full day in the Galapagos, with only one night left on the boat, I'm walking along the beach relaxing, looking at sealions and mocking birds, enjoying the sun since I knew I had enough sunblock on. Luis is walking with me. All of a sudden this conversation occurred (much to my shock as Luis and I had a tenuous truce after our early snorkeling fiasco which I don't plan to write about here):
Luis: I have a question for you. Just one question. Hear me out.
Me: ooookay......
Luis: Do you like the crew?
Me: Yes, they're all really nice and helpful.
Luis: Do you like one person better than the rest?
Me: Nooo... They're all really nice. They're good people.
Luis: Are you sure there isn't just one?
Me: Yes, Luis, I'm sure.
Luis: I'm not so sure... but you're sure?
Me: They're all nice but there isn't one I like better. I promise...

At that point I'm holding back the peels of laughter that just want to emanate from my body. Am I back in elementary / middle school - seriously? Am I 12 again? Really? Did that pre-teen conversation just happen between 2 adults?? And I was part of it? And oh dear lord....

I tell Danielle; we giggle like preteens which is the only appropriate reaction to that other than the "seriously, are we 12?"

Later that day I'm reading out on the back of the boat after we eat lunch. Johan comes up to use his cell phone (yes, there was good cell reception in the islands even from the boat). A conversation occurs in Spanish which I'll translate / paraphrase here. Again, remember, I'm in the middle school twilight zone of the Galapagos - a place that occurs somewhere near Espanola Island when there's a woman on board who speaks some but not much Spanish and a bunch of lonely sailors.

Johan: Hi, I'm Johan.
Me: Hi.
Johan: Your name?
Me: Yvette.
Johan: Are you having a good trip?
Me: Yes.
Johan: Would you like to see the stars tonight?
Me: What?
Johan: Would you like to see the stars with me tonight? [yes, the clarification happened and was needed]
Me: Ummmm...
Johan: They're very pretty at night - the only light. Would you like to see the stars.
Me after stammering and forgetting all Spanish at the twilight zone I just realized I was in: I don't know....

End scene with Yvette walking (in my mind running) away.

Johan remained on deck and I hid in my cabin for a bit. He kept walking by the open window and smiling at me. Danielle was my bodyguard.

I ventured out on deck again wanting to get more air than our cabin provided and reclaim my reading spot, knowing Danielle would be along promptly. Johan passed by and asked if he could take my picture. With a big smile and a firm "no" he headed on his way and left me to my book.

Later that night I was out on the back deck alone again - dumb Yvette. I'd finished packing and left Danielle in our cozy snug little cabin to figure out her own packing thing. Most people went to sleep when the boat started moving and we were going, but it wasn't choppy so sitting on the deck in the gloriously fresh salt air seemed like a good idea. The crew knew I was there but left me alone - Johan just waved in passing, the captain asked if I was having a good night, Luis said to sleep well. And then overly friendly Carlos the engineer came by. He paused to say a few words and then continued on. But on his way back he stopped and asked if I wanted to climb to the top of the ship (generally off limits) and watch the stars with him. Holy f-in' a! Seriously? Amidst sparks of giggles (so glad my face wasn't visible most likely due to dim lighting), I strongly declined and he carried on his way. And, I'd like to add, there were no stars out with all the cloud cover that night. I sat out on the back deck for 45ish mins and not a single star was to be seen that entire time. Star watching? Pshaw snort giggle etc. Yes, I gave in to being 12 and laughed my ass off.

The next morning, still biting back laughter at the thought of the twilight zone Luis sat with Danielle and I as we were waiting to get off the ship. Carlos the bartender was around. Luis tells me in English to begin with but ending in Spanish... English part "you should learn Spanish"; Spanish part "because then he'll [Carlos] carry you away forever". I choked laughing as Carlos turned bright red. Luis never figured out I understood Spanish. I'd translated for Carlos a handful of times and had a full conversation with him about how I learned Spanish and about his obsession with football. Oh Luis, to think you never knew how many of your entirely inappropriate comments I understood. That one was just the icing on the cake!

Follow this up by our trip to the airport where upon getting all checked in by Luis and Johan, Luis goes around shaking hands and gives me a hug. Well this apparently caused Johan to grow some cajones really quickly because next thing I know he goes in for a hug (or so I thought) and plants a kiss on me. Shock. Shock I tell you. Just plain old shock. He hugged everyone else and all I could get through my head was "seriously? wow, guess he found his guts again..." along with more laughter.

Oh yes, sailors really do need to get off the boat more. Like seriously.

So there's my sociology experiment that says even when you can't communicate very well with people they still can confound you. And yes, I understood their words - I just was confounded by the surreal experience of being in the gorgeous galapagos with the random goings on of that 24 hrs. I was never creeped out; no one crossed lines; it was just beyond hysterical to me at the time and even to this day. I knew all I had to do was put on my swimsuit and I'd be safe from all advances.

Ahhh... now those are some memories of speaking Spanish in Ecuador I'll never forget. The brilliance of my tour with Hans, and the ridiculousness of Carlos, Carlos, Johan and Luis in the Galapagos. Thanks Ecuador. And thank you Senor for teaching me Spanish for 5 years so that at one point I was fluent - because it left enough Spanish in me to this day to know when I'm being randomly hit on - or to understand the history of a province... in SPANISH!

21 June 2009

Confessions of a Skanktastic Swimsuit

The living situation on the "yacht" (you'll see the reason for the quotes shortly) that we sailed around the Galapagos in were entertaining. It was a really nice little boat for 16 passengers, 7 crew members and 1 guide. However it was not luxurious by any stretch of the imagination - just comfy and pretty and well maintained for the most part.

We lived on all 3 layers of the ship. There were 3 cabins on the bottom, 1 on the main level and 4 on the upper level. They all contained bunk beds, a little shelving unit, life jackets and a bathroom that would make anyone clausterphobic. (Let's just say that even us short people didn't sit straight on the toilet cause then your knees hit the wall/door.) There was limited floor space - enough for 2 people to stand in but you definitely had to warn your roomie if you were trying to go around them cause a lurch of the ship (or just clumsiness) meant you were gonna touch in passing.

When trying to figure out the AC in the room we discovered just how tight our quarters were when Danielle from the upper bunk managed to kick me in the head. Ahh - memories of the many ways we nearly killed each other... This was a classic case of her kicking me and both of us nearly hyperventilating due to laughter, but the main one is yet to come.

Modesty went out the window within moments of entering our cabin. This being Danielle's and my first time spending more than a few hours together, it was all or nothing. Phrases like "warning, nudity ahead" were common. There was no bathroom discretion - note there was no standing room in the bathroom except the shower.

Now the other thing about these cabins was there were 2 temperatures - pleasantly warm with a sea breeze and humidity that kept the floor wet at all times or freeeeeezing with the little AC on full blast that didn't really help the humidity factor enough to dry out much of anything. Our towels never really dried (making the animal art they made from it everyday on the first half very cute but kinda gross too).

There were 2 main common areas on the ship. Most of the main level was a seating area and dining area and then on the upper deck there was a bar with another seating area. There were also a few lounge chairs out on the front deck but I avoided that area due to sunburn concerns. I was tomato-y enough already.

Now, I mentioned the towels not drying... And the intimacy of our cabin. However, this made for one unique situation for us. This may get gross and TMI for some people, but I find the memory still makes me laugh so hard I can't breath so I feel compelled to share...

So everyday we'd go snorkeling - generally 2 times per day. And we wore wetsuits we rented that hadn't been washed in who knows how long and were umpteen years old. Whatever. Afterwards I'd hang my swimsuit "to dry" in our bathroom knowing it wouldn't ever get dry. Everytime I put it on I groaned at the wet intimate areas which caused more giggling. About midway through Danielle took pity on me and used some of her clips to hang my suit out to dry after hers had dry. This meant hanging the suit in the main cabin rather than the bathroom in the open window so it'd pick up the breeze. Brilliant right? And thoughtful!! Man, karma had it in for us or something.

We came back from lunch to the most rank smell ever in our room. Ok, so it's questionable if it's worse than the duffel bag they gave Danielle to pack in (which of course we both smelled like the idiots we are - some people never learn that when one person says "eww - smell this" you really don't want to smell it not once, but twice). We walked in and gagged and laughed at the raunchiness that was our room. We thought Danielle's duffel had been let loose but it was safely in the rather smelly lifejacket cupboard growing something. And the smell emanated. I can't describe just how bad it was. I thought "maybe swimsuit?" but didn't take a good wiff thinking I would've noticed it just that morning when I wore it. Finally I gave in and smelled the suit and promptely ended up sitting on the floor crying from laughing because, yes, it was indeed my swimsuit.

I promptly swore I'd never wear it again and then realized we were going snorkeling later that day and there was no way I was letting my skanky swimsuit keep me from from the water. I washed it out in the shower with some detergent which calmed the smell but by no means got rid of it.

For the rest of the trip that suit was washed after every snorkel and still the smell lingered - not as pungent but definitely present.

When snorkeling, I only saw one shark.. most people saw a dozen. To this day I know I never would've been hammerhead bait because I smelled like rotten meat and they like it fresh. That's probably why I didn't see a shark - they swam away quickly when they smelled me coming.

The suit came home with me (my shoes did not - the shoe smell was a whole other story and Danielle and Amy are fighting their shoes - I didn't need another smell battle so mine are still growing somewhere in the Galapagos creating a biohazard). The suit is now hanging in my laundry bathroom. It's been through the washer 3 times. It doesn't smell. I'm still however never going to be able to put it on without smelling it and laughing.

Yes, I wore the skanky swimsuit. Maybe that's how I got iguana flu??

16 June 2009

Puppy Love

Sealions are the puppies of the sea (except the bulls). Arf arf!

When you first see a sealion being lazy on the bench at the "bus stop" where you pick up the boat you may think "wow, look how close we are..." Oh little tourist, you have no idea how close you'll be.

Sealions are everywhere - on nearly every island - they breed like rabbits. The bulls (males) have a harem of women who produce 1-2 babies every 9 months (same as a human gestation). We met our first inquisitive sealion when our guide made the arfing sound and a baby came to explore thinking his mamma had come back full of nummy-yummy milk (babies are left alone for ~3 days while the mom feeds etc - so they're anxious when feeding time comes around). Lil' McSealion-sons was a precocious lil' sealion looking up on of the girls skirts. I thought this was abnormal - woe is me.

Their cute lil' faces are really that cute in person; their whiskers tickle when they sniff you and their noses are wet with saltwater and slobber.

They aren't all cuteness and joy - they can smell rather... nasty! Like a farm really - mmm - manure.

However, then one waddles up to you on land and looks at you out of those big eyes with that cute lil' snout and you forget that it smells literally like shit and you say "awww". And if the sealion's really smart it does a little back bend thingie that is sealion yoga of "take my picture" and the tourist melts.

Now, after you've been thoroughly sniffed on land and deemed "not mamma" you then get to meet sealions at play. On land only the babies are curious - in the sea, you're everyone's toy.

Go swimming anywhere near a sealion and they'll say hi - right in your mask! Feel a tug on a flipper? Nah, that's not a shark - that's a sealion. They nibble on each other all the time and when you're snorkeling, you're just another playmate. They twine about each other and you so quickly it's disorienting.

My favorite was the utter joy of playing tug of war with sealions. At the time I was mildly broken having gotten my foot trapped under a rock in a cave. I decided to ride the dingy since I couldn't really kick. We ended up in a little cove that was protected from the ocean with about 6 sealions at play. Gallo (the sailor driving the dingy) had me toss the rope in to play tug-of-war with the sealions - they fought each other to have the rope and we pulled 3-4 sealions around at any point in time. Swollen immobile ankle forgotten I jumped in so I could see them playing tug of war better with me and I was at one end while they were at the other. It was utter delight - except I couldn't laugh or smile cause then I ended up with either a mask full or a mouth full of seawater... So I drank a lot of seawater.

Now I don't want a puppy - I want a sealion. A cute lil' prosh lil' sealion.

09 June 2009

From the Galapagos Con Amor

I´m in the Galapagos. I´m not speaking nearly as much spanish but I´m one of the only gringos on board who speaks any so some of the crew on the ship likes that.

I´ve been here for 4 days and we have 4 more left. It´s been fantabulous so far. I´ll regale everyone with pictures pictures pictures when I get back (I already have about 8gigs of pictures some of which are crap so be warned).

I´m not even sure what my favorite thing has been. I think the playfulness of the sealions when you swim with them is one (yes, nose to nose swimming). I think the crazy blue footed booby mating dance is ridiulous. I think it´s far far far too hot here. I´m not at all surprised that within 24 hrs I had massive sunburn and I had to buy more sunscreen.

The boat´s interesting - part luxurious and part cramped. The bunks make me laugh quite a bit since they´re so much tinier than Semester at Sea. But they´re big enough to get by so that´s all I care about. I don´t think I´ll ever desalinate though.

Our average day is 2 or 3 hrs of nature walks and 2 hours of snorkeling. I´ve swam with sharks although I haven´t actually seen one while swimming which makes everyone laugh since Amy and Danielle have both seen many many white finned sharks.

And those are my firs timpressions of the Galapagos. I´ll write more later when I have pictures to post with it. And yes, I love my underwater camera case - it´s coming in amazing for pictures. I definitely have at least 3 stellar pictures from that alone - sealion, angel fish and turtle.

Adios amigos mios.

03 June 2009

De Agato Ecuador a Rhinebeck NY USA

Buenas tardes from Ecuador. I´m in San Pablo Del Lago at Hacienda Cusin and I´m having a fantastic stay here.

I spent my first full day in Ecuador getting used to the altitude and being partially sick. I also hiked for 3 hrs which probably didn´t help things.

Yesterday was my second day in Ecuador and I took a 4 hour horseback ride up to see a volcano up close and in person. Sadly I have no pictures from the ride because it was rather treacherous and I was more concerned with staying on my horse and having it not break a leg than taking pictures. I´ll show y├íll on Google Earth where it was.. Vulcan Imbrabura.

And today was the most whirlwindy of all. I went on a guided tour of the province of Imbrabura. Each town here is known for some form of artistry. I´m not a big shopper and I didn´t bring much cash with me so I didn´t come away with all the beautiful things I saw but I learned a ton from my bilingual guide Hans. He made me speak Spanish all day much to my dismay / embarassment because 5 minutes after I was in his car he found out I actually truly understand it and wanted me to practice. It was incredibly endearing really albeit I´m braindead now.

The weirdest thing is what makes the title of this post..... I went to a town called Agato today that´s about 30 mins from where I´m staying here. It´s famous for the weaving and the master weaver of the town gave me a demonstration that I can´t possibly describe othe rthan it´s truly authentic, takes crazy concentration and precision and looks incredibly hard. He makes everything from scratch in the Andean style. Well after the demo I went to his shop where there were some newspaper articles. One of the articles was about how he did a demo at the Smithsonian. And the other was a set of articles from when he, his daughter and his wife went to the Rhinebeck Crafts Fair in 1989. Yup, that´s right. This little old man from Agato Ecuador that weaves everything from scratch in the most beautiful way and his barefoot spinning wife who fed me popcorn have been to RHINEBECK. Holy small world after all!!! I was so floored with excitement I could barely explain to Miguel (the weaver) in Spanish that he´d been to my hometown. It was sooo neat and his wife was adorable and gave me a hug for it.

Ahhh this is a good trip already. Tomorrow I´m back to the capitol of Quito and then Friday I fly to the Galapagos with Amy, Danielle and our tour group for aweek!!

I´ve already seen condors and eagles and kestrels and lots of random farm animals and volcanos... yet I´m still excited for the Galapagos.

Adios de Ecuador.

04 May 2009

Copy of the update email sent out for those reading along here...

Hi all,

I just wanted to remind everyone of what I'm up to with training and preparations for The Overnight Walk to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

I know you guys got my email in late February or early March explaining how I was taking nervous, stressed out, anxious energy and doing something that I saw as positive with it. So here's my update...

I've been walking a lot. Around the time I sent the emails asking for donations towards the walk I joined the gym because I might be slightly nutty but sanity kicks in when the thoughts of walking in the spring in Seattle crossed my mind; no way was I doing those mushy rainy training walks! I joined a foofy gym where I go 3-4 times per week (when I'm home!) to walk around 3 miles - sometimes more. I keep meaning to swim instead one of these times, but I like reading when I'm walking.

It's really hard to get out there walking. Last weekend when I was about 2 miles into a planned 10.5 mile walk I just wanted to catch a bus home - then I remembered Susan and how she'd kick my butt if I gave up on her. So I kept walking. At about 2.5 miles I was like "grrr" and nearly turned around to cross the street to catch said bus so I posted a message via twitter/facebook and my friend Cathy emailed to tell me to "keep walking"... so walk I did.. I didn't quite make the 10.5 miles cause I hit a smelly stretch (yay city walking) and turned around early, but I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised I made the 9.5 miles that I did.

This weekend walking was much easier - even in the torrential downpour since what I realized in the last 7 miles of last week's walk was that there are people rooting me on for doing this. There are lots of people like y'all who are my cheerleaders. And I'm a team player so I'm doing this for all of us. And yes, I'm a sappy cheeseball, but the truth is that this walk has been eye-opening to me for the amount of support I have. So don't forget to look around and remember your own support or remind someone going through trouble that you're there to be a silent cheerleader since that's so much of why I'm doing this Overnight 20 miles of excruciating excitement and pain.

So that's my blabbering update.....

If you want to keep up with what I'm doing let me know and I'll email out more random updates. Or check out my blog which I'm trying to update every few weeks with progress: http://yvettemn.blogspot.com.

You guys have been amazing with your support and I thank everyone who sends me well wishes or donations or thinks happy thoughts or shakes their head and smiles at me. And those sending donations along to the AFSP, well, I'm working it out so my donations are being matched! Yes, that's right - all my donations thus far (and higher) are being matched! So double thank you's for donating.

And if you were putting off donating to do it later - http://www.theovernight.org/fundraising/yvette.

Hugs & thanks,
yvette

21 April 2009

another Overnight Walk related post

So I'm still prepping/training/whatnot for the Overnight Walk in June in Chicago. I've met the fundraising goal the AFSP set and now I'm just fundraising since it's worthwhile.

I'm still training - granted it's been haphazard with the ski season winding down and travelling to CA for 9 days. But I got back out there this weekend and did an 8 mile walk and a 2 mile walk in the pretty Seattle weather we had (might as well enjoy it while I can) and tonight I'm heading back to the gym to walk s'more (I'd do it outside but it's knitting circle night so by the time I'm done with that it'll be dark).

I definitely would say I'm having motivational issues when it comes to anything > 3 miles in distance just cause it can get a bit tedious. Then again, Saturday my iPod Shuffle was out of juice so that probably didn't help matters when I started feeling blah around mile 2 of what was supposed to be 10 miles. But a lil' pick me up from Facebook and remembering everyone - friends, family and coworkers - who's donated their support or their words of encouragement made me stubborn enough to go on.

I'm babbling... so to summarize in bulleted list format:
  • The donations and support from every corner of my life has been phenomenal.
  • Outdoor training is good - when I bring music!!
  • Getting back to the gym tonight finally.
  • I think life will be calmer in the travel / crazy department and thus I can get back to an actual routine.
  • Thank you donors and cheerleaders!!!

01 April 2009

training (and inadvertantly skiing) update

So I'm still training for The Overnight... that crazy 20 mile walk I'm doing. http://www.theovernight.org/fundraising/yvette

It's going ok - I wouldn't say swimmingly but I'm not failing by anyone's definition even my own (and I'm my own harshest critic). I took a week off when I was working 13+ hr days and I haven't gone out on weekends due to skiing (yay!). I'm finding the gym to be a trying place to walk long distances unless there's good TV on. But it's Seattle and it's not nice out so I'm doing it there since boring is better than dark, wet and miserable. I can't wait for the days to dry out more regularly (and get longer) so I can do more walking outside. I definitely have some plans to walk to the local office (rather than driving to the further away office I actually work in) and to walk to the bus and do weekend farmers market walks (which I do all Spring-Fall anyways). I've definitely spent a lot of my weekend long-walk time skiing - but hey - the snow's been SUPERB! And that's cross training, right? ;) Except I think I want to mix up my weekday routine to have a bit more cross training there rather than always straight up walking.

16 March 2009

Walking for a cause

So Cathy requested that I mention how my walking training for the AFSP is going... and here's where I'm giving it!

Background:
When Susan died, I lost it utterly. An old college friend contacted me about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and how they have a 20 mile Overnight Walk to raise awareness of depression and suicide. This year it's the last weekend of June in Chicago. We leave at dusk and end our walk at dawn - bringing suicide into the light so people can talk. I thought about doing it for a long time but figured I'd never manage the logistics since it's literally 2 weeks after I get back from my Ecuador / Galapagos vacation. Except then some of Susans other friends decided to do it and form a team in her memory - so one morning I decided to go for it and sign up! Ever since I've been raising money. I need to raise $1000 in donations to be elligible to officially walk and I'm nearly there. My personal goal is $2500. http://www.theovernight.org/fundraising/yvette

So that's the background.

Now I'm working to get the endurance up to walk 20 straight miles through Chicago against my body's desire to sleep. I know I can do it. We have about 10 hrs and there are pit stops every 2 hrs with porta potties and water. In the middle they serve us lunch/dinner/snack/something.

I joined up at the new gym that opened down the street when it was still on it's gaining enrollment sale. I've gone just about every other day - only missing a day for skiing (mmmmm). So I've done a lot better than before.

I'm not a fast walker - never have been - and I hate running. But the difference is I *like* walking. So walk I have been. I can easily maintain a 20-ish min mile which is far faster than I have to go for the walk for a few hrs. I'm not sure yet that I can maintain it for 20 hrs. But I have a plan and I've stuck to it. I plan to walk 350 miles (ish) including the last 20 in Chicago in order to get ready and do this. This is around my vacation. I've walked 14% of that so far - aka 15 miles. I'm behind what I was supposed to be for training - but a big chunk of that is yesterday & today since yesterday I spent the day skiing and today I spent it recovering since I couldn't move my neck after a nasty fall. I expect to get further and further behind due to skiing in the next few weeks (since next weekend I go to Whistler).

And that's how it's going. I'm super excited and glad that I'm doing this - both the training and the actual walk.

Good for ya Cathy? *grins*

26 August 2008

The Middleman

There's a new show on ABC Family entitled The Middleman which is bloody brilliant! It makes fun of every scifi and sitcom out there in a way that's seriously not expected of ABC let alone ABC Family.

I watch the ironic, the cheesey and the embarassing when it comes to TV. There are a few TV shows which I recommend including Heroes, Weeds & Chuck, however, the one that has gone unmentioned from pop culture is The Middleman which America's pop culture has left un-named.

I'm amazed by the ability to make me rewind because I missed a single line of dialogue. There are many movies and tv shows out there that make me happy (ie August Rush which made me smile like a silly woman reading LOLCats) and even a few other ABC Family shows that should be deemed craptastic that I still deem worth of a slot in my TiVo recording, however this one is actually good. No seriously, I may giggle madly at post on icanhascheezburber.com but this is better because it seriously makes fun of both hour long soap operas, scifi geeky comedies and punaliciousness all at once.

It subtitles locations in a way that would normally be deemed cheesy and trying too hard, but in context makes so much sense. The puns are punalicious (quoting from the Seattle-ite on Project Runway - yes I'm admitting to my bad tv watching habits); the pop culture references are sublime; and the jokes don't try to hide themselves behind intelligence. They're just funny - they don't disguise the humanity, hillarity or geekiness behinde it. I guess the main thing going for this show is the unexpected embrace for geek-ity along with reasonably good puns and the fact that who the hell watches ABC Family???

I actually recommend it... SERIOUSLY!