Ecuadorian president Lucio Gutierrez says he won’t become an authoritarian figure, like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. He also says he’s not pressing for amnesty for his Army buddies who helped him overthrow the president in 2000. And, finally, he claims Ecuador won’t be de-dollarizing in favor of a common Andean currency.
I honestly don’t know why I keep reading stuff like this–“10 Appalling Lies We Were Told About Iraq.” It just makes me mad. Or madder, I should say.
Not only was the war in Iraq unnecessary. And not only did innocent people die because of what I believe to be the Bush administration’s attempt at strategically re-shaping the middle east.
But as time goes by and no WMDs (not to mention Iraq-al Quada ties) are found, it’s becoming obvious that Bush and his handlers lied to the American public about the reasons for the war. Of course, as Tom Friedman has noted, Dubya couldn’t just say the obvious: “Some radical Islamic nation has to feel our wrath after 9/11, and since Hussein’s a tin pot dictator, it might as well be Iraq. We gotta show these crazy bastards that if they fly planes into our skyscrapers, it’s gonna be an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
The other night I attended a Corpus Christi celebration in Parque Calderon, Cuenca’s central square. Mostly this celebration involved quasi-official-looking Ecuadorian men setting off HUGE amounts of fireworks (and often lighting them with their smoldering cigarettes).
Specifically, a 40-foot-tall, steel-framed cross was decorated and adorned with various fireworks–spinners, shooters, you name it. Said fireworks were then ignited and proceeded to shoot out from the cross and into the blue-black night sky–but often, they headed downward, into the several-thousand-strong crowd (of which I was one) which had gathered near the structure’s base.
At one point, a man holding a newborn was brained with a bottlerocket. (And Ecuadorian bottlerockets, you should know, are big and bad and potent and extremely unpredictable.) A few particularly menacing eruptions were met with near-riotous crowds of people fleeing in the opposite direction.
The highlight of the show, though, came when an errant bottlerocket careened off course and broadsided the top of a magnificent palm tree. The dry leaves, within minutes, had burst into flame.
Shouts to call the “bomberos” (firemen) could be heard emanating from the crowd. And soon, Cuenca’s finest volunteer squadron was on the scene; they’d unfurled their hose and quashed the conflagration before you could say Dios Mio! And during the time they were attending to the scorched palm tree, I’m happy to say the fireworks continuted to be set off all around them. And the bomberos didn’t care.
The Ecuadorian approach to public safety amounts to this: it’s every man for himself. Don’t wanna get brained with a bottlerocket? Then don’t stand too close to the fireworks, idiota.
Mike W. points out that Jordan M. has been charactersitically modest regarding her bovine creation. She didn’t mention that she was profiled in the Augusta (GA) Chronicle last week.
My friend Jordan M., I’m extremely proud to say, has designed and decorated a cow that’ll be in Atlanta’s upcoming CowParade!
Her very cool design is called “Pollen Cownt”–photos of the (quite demanding, due to the sheer size of the bovine) painting process can be seen here.
Many congrats to Jordan, whose design was one of only a few selected from over 500 submissions.
Here’s a quick re-cap of my recent travels: two Wednesdays ago, some friends and I made our way up to Quito, where we enjoyed culinary delights unavailable here in Cuenca. Namely, Indian food and bagels. Lots of bagels.
Then we headed north, to Otavalo, home of Ecuador’s most famous indigenous market. (And we stayed in one of the finest, most economical hostals I’ve encountered: Hotel Riviera Sucre. I recommend it highly.)
After Otavalo, we visited La Esperanza, south of Ibarra, and did some hiking. Then it was off to the coast: Esmeraldas, the biggest northern coastal city (and home to much of Ecuador’s black population), and Atacames, a popular, delightfully-cheesy resort town. We hung out in Atacames for about five days. During that time, I fell ill but recovered in time to survive the grueling 13-hour bus ride back to Cuenca via Guayaquil.
And so now we’re back home and our new classes have started and we’re back in the swing of things.
Back in Cuenca
Had a great time. Details on the trip soon. Our new term starts tomorrow morning…
No Postings for the Next Week-and-a-Half
I’ll be away from the Web for a while–some friends and are are leaving tomorrow to do some traveling. Our (very tentative, very flexible) itinerary includes Quito, Ibarra, and Esmeraldas. Should be fun.