Newley Purnell's home on the web since 2001

Month: October 2003 (Page 1 of 4)

Off to the Jungle

I won’t be posting anything here until Tuesday. Jill A., Mike F., and I are leaving tonight for an Amazon jungle expedition. We’ve got Monday off school, so we’re getting out of dodge.

We’re heading to Tena, a town notheast of here, in the rainforest. And from there we’ll book passage into the heart of darkness–possibly do some trekking and stay at a jungle lodge. We hope to spot some monkeys and interesting birds and perhaps even do some piranha fishing.

Typhoid Fever Hits Cuenca

(Preliminary note to my mom: don’t worry. I’m fine.)

Typhoid fever–yes, Typhoid Fever–has hit Cuenca.

A Spanish teacher at my school came down with it a few days ago. She was hospitalized briefly and she’s recovering now. And two people who’d had close contact with her also tested positive. They’re being treated with antibiotics as a precaution and haven’t produced any symptoms. Other teachers are getting tested just to be sure.

Luckily, I got a typhoid vaccine a couple years ago; it’s good for five years.

More info on typhoid, which is potentially fatal, is avaiable here.

Korean Cat Washing Practices

Aaron Tassano, a friend I know through my New York pals Nick M. and Russell W. and Reeves H., is teaching English in Busan, Korea. And he’s blogging up a storm. An especially hilarious posting from a few days ago:

Cats are only in Busan because they eat rats. The cats here are wild and can be heard nightly fighting in the streets. There are no rats, fortunately, because that’s my most feared animal. Though the cats are mangy, a little like rats.

I asked the student if he still had the pet cat.
“No…,” he said, stopping. Looking for the right words. “I…used to give bath…to cat.”
“You bathed your cat?” I asked.
I started to wonder what happened to said cat…
“Did it like the bath?”
“No…it hated bath.”
“But you kept giving it baths.”
“Yes…I give bath…every night.”
“Every night?!”
“Yes. It’s…” he made a motion as if to pet the smoothly washed coat of a cat “…very soft after I give bath to cat.”

You can read more here.

Mad Props to Beaufort, SC

This should be of practical interest to approximately .001% of’s readership. Nevertheless, if you’re looking to buy a vacation home, check out my adopted hometown, Beaufort, South Carolina.

MSN Money says it’s one of the top 10 American towns for “second-home investments”:

You know Beaufort, even if you’ve never been there. You’ve seen it in movies like “The Big Chill” and “Forrest Gump,” and you’ve read about it in the pages of “The Prince of Tides” and “The Great Santini” by one-time Beaufort resident Pat Conroy. Fishing, shrimping and a National Historic Landmark District are features of “The Queen of the Carolina Sea Islands.”

(Thanks to Mike W. for the heads-up.)

Checking in on Bolivia

I’m not writing about Bolivia very much these days, as events there have slowed down; Indigenous protesters are giving Carlos Mesa, the new president, a grace period to see how his new policies shape up.

But Randy Paul and John Smith are keeping tabs on what’s happening in La Paz. I recommend checking out what they have to say; in the meantime, I’ll continue to weigh in every once in a while.

Update (Wed. afternoon): from Jordan M.’s dad (by way of Jordan M.) comes this excellent political cartoon making light of (no pun intended) the natural gas issue.

A Party for the Ages

A brief anecdote: Last Saturday night, I attended an unbelievable party at my girlfriend Jill A. and my buddy Mike F.‘s apartment. It was perhaps the best soiree I’ve been to here at latitude zero.

Jill and Mike live with an Ecuadorian woman; she’s friends with a great number of gay men from Cuenca. The party consisted of the four of us–and about 25 gay Cuencanos (and, briefly, approximately 10 Ecuadorian lesbians).

The highlight of the evening was when a bunch of guys (no, I wasn’t one of them) turned the living room into a catwalk and strutted their stuff, two by two and one by one, to the delight of the thronging crowd. (“Estamos modelando!!” they exclaimed repeatedly.)

Most of the self-styled runway models had ditched their shirts. And all of them were grooving to the tunes thumping out of the stereo: lots and lots of Madonna and a little ABBA thrown in for good measure. It was an extraordinary scene. Gay culture is very underground here, where the Catholic church and Latino notions of masculinity reign supreme, and I’d never seen such outward displays of flamboyance.

An Oldie But a Goodie–Just in Time for Halloween

If you’ve never seen this, feast your eyes on Japanese Cat Costumes. (Scroll down for photos.) Simply unbelievable.

Ecuadorian Arms Trafficking

Last May, I met an American woman who lives in Riobamba. She said rumor had it that a munitions plant explosion there this time last year was no accident: lots of people think it was orchestrated by the military in order to hide evidence that the army had sold small arms to Colombia’s FARK rebel group.

Now comes more info: Reuters’s Amy Taxin says continuing scandals threaten to undermine “the role of Ecuador’s military as a calming, central power broker in an unstable nation.” She writes:

In the latest scandal, two acting sergeants were detained on accusations of trafficking arms to rebels in August and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe last week said a rocket launcher used in a Bogota attack belonged to Ecuador’s army.

Ecuador’s Amazon Jungle: Oil Spills and Nuclear-Enabled Headhunters

A couple interesting items from another poor Andean nation: Ecuador. Home sweet home.

First, the AP’s Gonzalo Solano brings us up to speed on the ChevronTexaco trial. The American gas company is being sued by an Ecuadorian Indigenous group for polluting the rainforest.

And second, a story that’s too good to be true–mainly because, well, it’s fake. Joseph Addison, writing in Wayne State University’s student paper, claims that…are you ready for this? No, seriously, are you ready?

Addison says a tribe of “headhunters” in the Ecuadorian rainforest is in posession of a nuclear bomb. And they’re threatening to detonate it unless the US stops cutting down the jungle. Quoth Addison, in a article I really really really hope is tounge-in-cheek, but which I fear is not:

Problem is that when a story is truly terrifying, we aren’t told because we might stop shopping, causing our economy to crash.

This is why the mainstream media has not reported the Jivaro tribe and its A-bomb.

The Jivaro people are a primitive tribe of headhunters that dwell in the Ecuadorian rainforests of South America.

According to an article entitled, “Amazon headhunters: We have the bomb,” which appeared last week in the Weekly World News (the only mainstream press with the guts to tell this story), a Soviet-era bomber disappeared in the Amazon jungle in 1961. It was carrying a 28-kiloton nuclear bomb.

The headhunters found it, and they have made a demand: America must stop the destruction of the rainforest.

Um, Joe: you missed one crucial thing: the Weekly Word News is a fake newspaper, a completely fictional supermarket tabloid.

Bolivia News Round-Up

The stories from Bolivia this Friday afternoon have one common theme: coca.

Writing in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Daisy Pareja, a journalist who grew up in Bolivia, reflects on her home country’s future. She concludes that coca is–and will continue to be–the major issue:

…the (coca) farmers are said to be growing many times the amount of coca they can possibly use for any legitimate purpose. Washington’s concern is that the excess is going to cocaine traffickers. Under U.S. government pressure, Sanchez de Lozada was eradicating coca fields. This loss of the cash crop for extremely poor farmers was what really led to the rioting, though the opposition to exporting natural gas from Bolivia’s abundant reserves to the United States and Mexico helped fuel the protests.

It is now President Mesa’s turn at the wheel. If he delivers, we will all be pleasantly surprised for the first time. If he doesn’t, then we are back to hoping the next president will.

After all, the coca is always greener with another president. And the one after that. And the ones after that.

Miguel Centllas reports from La Paz: “The news is starting to slow down a bit. Mesa’s honeymoon’s now in earnest, though different groups still press their demands.”

JoinTogether, a clearinghouse for drug and gun news, has a nice summary of Larry Rohter‘s article in yesterday’s New York Times. Rohter speculates on what Goni’s ouster means for the US-led war on drugs:

United States officials interviewed here minimized the importance of the drug issue in Mr. Snchez de Lozada’s downfall, blaming a “pent-up frustration” over issues ranging from natural gas exports to corruption. But to many Bolivians and analysts, the coca problem is intimately tied to the broader issues of impoverishment and disenfranchisement that have stoked explosive resentments here and fueled a month of often violent protests.

And finally, Andres Oppenheimer, who’s quickly becoming one of my favorite pundits, questions the future of the American drug war:

…the death of up to 80 people in street protests last week and the subsequent collapse of former President Gonzalo Snchez de Lozada’s elected government raises questions about the wisdom of maintaining a U.S. policy that demands the forced eradication of coca plantations without offering equally attractive solutions to poverty-stricken peasants.

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