"Every planet has its own weird customs. About a year before we met, I spent six weeks on a moon where the principal form of recreation was juggling geese. My hand to God. Baby geese - goslings! They were juggled."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

News: Sick, erupting volcano, dying rabbits and food

It's been a while! I'm still here, day 43 as a volunteer and going on month five in Ecuador. I haven't written much because it's been a very tough past few weeks.

The Friday my friend Jen (hey Jen!) left for Quito after visiting me and dropping off a care package from my parents in Illinois and my family in Ohio, I started getting sick. Really, really sick. I had a bad cough that wasn't productive at all, meaning I couldn't get out the gunk in my lungs. I coughed until my throat hurt and I'd almost throw up because it was so violent. And even better, a day after that started my nose went haywire oscillating between being stuffy and being ridiculously runny. When the cough wouldn't go away, I called the PCMO (Peace Corps Medical Office) for help. The doctor took in my symptoms and had me find a cough syrup in Riobamba.

Interlude: On the way home from that trip, it was perfectly clear (for once) and I finally saw Tungurahua exploding. That's erupting volcano #7 for me (Colima, Kilauea, Santiaguito, Fuego, Pacaya, Stromboli, Tungurahua).

So the cough syrup made me cough...a lot. My host thought it was trash and I had to explain it was good I was getting it all out. Unfortunately, the cold or whatever it was lasted over two weeks and I kept myself in bed for over one week. I'm not sure what it was, or if altitude has anything to do with it, but I'm guessing it does. I'm happy to say I was sick at 10,400 feet asl and recovered, finally.

Equally disappointing, though, is that while I was in bed, two or three days were beautifully sunny and warm. And now we're in a cold snap... or maybe it's just normal. It's been raining and cloudy the last 8 or so days and I do believe today the sun peeked out for a minute before disappearing again. It's been in the 50s in my room... like 10 C maybe?...and in the 40s outside at night. I've had dreams it's snowing outside - I wonder if it ever does? Apparently not but I'm not so sure. And it's true you get used to it, but 50s are rather cold for just hanging around. I miss the 60s when it actually felt hot. No matter how much I put on, my hands are still icy cold. Makes you not want to get out of bed in the morning, but when the alarm sounds and I move to turn it off, I puncture that little cocoon of warmth and that's it...might as well get up. You know after being in the cold and you shower, your limbs feel all prickly and painfully cold despite touching boiling hot water? That's how it is here. So... I don't shower every day.

Oh right... the other disappointing news that makes these past few weeks extra tough. While sitting on the balconey reading one day, I saw a little white ball of fur hopping around below. I went to catch it, this little white bunny, and immediately wanted to keep it. So I offered my host $10, the very premium price for grown rabbits here, and kept it for four days until it unexpectedly died. It was one of sweetest creatures I'd ever encountered and I was sort of expecting it to live for seven or more years, so I wasn't at all happy... if not totally distraught. My host plopped another tiny bunny in my lap while I was eating breakfast the next day, and this one had a lot more spark than the last one so I thought the first was just a fluke. But in four days, that one suddenly seized and died too without any hint of impending death. I cleaned out the cage and set it outside. I'm done for now as much as I'd love to have a rabbit.

And then I spotted another tiny escaped rabbit. I caught it, put it back in the cage outside, and when I went back upstairs, saw it hopping away again. I went back, caught it, put it in the cage, and hid around the corner to watch. Within seconds, it squeezed its head comically through the fencing, fell four feet to the ground, and promptly began grazing. I walked away and let it.

Ironic interlude #2: I just spotted another escaped rabbit, this one fully grown. It didn't run as fast but it was smarter and a lot more difficult to catch. It kicked...hard. All muddy because it's been raining the last two weeks. I'm suggesting free range rabbits.

Outta end on a happy note eh?



Oh! At my favorite grocery store in Riobamba, I've made quite the amazing culinary discovery. They carry basalmic vinegar (for $3 a bottle, about the same in the U.S.), Mac 'n cheese (both the American version for $2.73... ouch... and the Ecuadorian version for about $1.50), Oreos, peanut butter (in a bag), chifles (plantain chips but I've grown a little sick of them now), candles (I've looked all over and finally got them! great because of power outtages and slight warming effect), and other fun treasures. The element of choice doesn't exist here like it does in the U.S., and though people get along just fine, obviously, some things that I really enjoyed back home are hard to find or impossible to find here. It's really exciting when these 'long-lost' things appear.


  1. I'm so sorry about your bunnies. You really need to come out here for a day or two and get warmed up. I mean it. Get in contact with me and we'll figure something out.

  2. hey! well, sorry you got so sick and about the bunnies...sad indeed. but, totally sweet that you saw tungurahua!

  3. Strix - I do! i just requested more malaria meds from the PCMO so hopefully I´m good to go for 4 July if they arrive in time...

    Jen - agreed!