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Secrets of a River

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Two weeks ago, Saturday afternoon, the Wilf and I set off for another trip, this time a little shorter than around Christmas. We headed to Celica and stayed the night at a hostel which was by the main square. After suffering through the 'comforting' sounds of the night (motorcycles buzzing, people shouting and singing with alcohol-induced confidence and vocal talent), we woke up early and got a lift from the owner of the hostel and his son. The old man took us to his favorite spot on the river, which ran in the valley next to the town, and led us to an astonishing river pool. The water was crystal clear, with tadpoles swimming around the bottom. Wil even tried catching some with a stick, but had no luck. On the other side of the river, two giant boulders sat in the water belittlingly. On the stones we could see a giant iguana, which to me was an extraordinary experience, because before I had only seen them in movies or on the cover of National Geographic. After posing for photo…

Divine comedy and friendship

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“Gee but it’s great to be back home, home is where I want to be.” – Simon & Garfunkel
So there I was, posing for a photo on the bank of a magnificent river pool near the Peruvian border, thinking about my life, my goals, my ex-girlfriend and my future, and all of a sudden a deep sense of peace came over me. Everything went quiet in my mind. I could only hear the merry chirping of the birds, the sound of water flowing into the lagoon and Wilfred’s voice calling out, “Ollie, a little to the left. No! Go back. There. Stay there.” I felt calm, happy and peaceful. And I realized, I felt at home, because even if just for a few seconds, that was where I wanted to be: in nature with a true and sincere friend.
Lately I had been feeling morose, mainly because I felt homesick. The problem was that I had looked at pictures of Budapest and I realized that my home wasn’t Budapest anymore. I knew, if I had flown back, I wouldn’t have been happy. I wouldn’t have felt like I had finished what I star…

El Gringo valiente (The brave Gringo)

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Over the three-day weekend my friends and I went to Quilotoa. I had already been there once, but it was half a year ago with my dear friend Charlie, but this time it was during the rainy season, which made the whole experience very different.
We set off Thursday night, and arrived near Latacunga at six in the morning, from which point we took a taxi to Quilotoa and was there in an hour. After checking into our hostel we decided to go down to the lake. Let me just say that it looked closer than it was. “Nature lies, people!”
Walking down was challenging enough already, but Erato told me that going up would be even harder. The cold wind mixed with the dense humidity cut through our clothes like butter.
Once we got down, Brian, Beth, Erato and myself went kayaking on the volcanic lake. After paddling around for a while, it started raining, which dampened our lively moods on the water (pun intended). Once we successfully guided our kayaks back to shore, we set off back to the top of the …

Hard-boiled eggs and Metaphors

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Have you ever felt like a specific action or event could be a metaphor for your entire life or wherever you are in life at the moment? (How you got to Memphis - if you will) 
Sunday morning, I woke up craving hard-boiled eggs and toast. (Sometimes I get these cravings, much like a pregnant woman, and I will spend an hour searching for it in stores and preparing it.) I got some nice rolls at a bakery and returned home to boil the eggs. I had never boiled an egg before, but I figured it couldn’t be that hard. I placed three eggs in a pot with some water and set the pot on the stove. In the back of my head I seemed to have remembered that eggs need ten minutes, so I set the timer on my phone and went to the living room to read. 
When my phone rang, I went to the kitchen, took the eggs out of the water and put them into cold water, just like I saw my father do it numerous times before. I left them to cool down for about three minutes, during which I cut the rolls in half, buttered and to…

Dating Tom Sawyer

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“Let’s go and wash the car” Erato said, with fake enthusiasm. So we did. We got in and went to the edge of town to a car wash, where hoses were installed every three meters, and buckets and brushes provided by the company. Erato started by hosing the car off, meanwhile I watched from a relative distance. “Do you want me to help?” I asked. “Nah, you wouldn’t be able to do a good job, so just keep me company and I’ll wash the car.” I shrugged and continued conversing with her. After a while I asked again, for hosing the car off every two minutes with high pressured water seemed like fun. She didn’t let me again. The next time she wanted to use the water, I used the phrase “can I please”. Before I knew it I was happily doing what she was told by her mother to do. Only once I had the vacuum cleaner’s hose in my hands did I realize that she Tom Sawyered me. She made me think of her chore as a privileged way of spending one’s afternoon. Well played Erato. Well played.

Liberation of the silent Junkie

“Hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again…”
I’m not saying that having no internet in my apartment has been the best thing that has happened to me in Ecuador, because my Latina girlfriend would kill me, but it is most certainly in the top ten. I am part of the generation which can’t remember a time when the internet wasn’t around.  When I was a little boy, my parents had dial-up internet. Then, as we moved to our new apartment and I turned eleven, we got proper cable internet. And by the time I got my first smart phone, we had Wi-Fi installed throughout the house.
When I went to high school, some of my teachers started using programs like Quizlet, or posted our homework on a blog. As the world of the internet grew, my generation got more and more attached to it, with Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and all the others slowly consuming all of our time. We talked without speaking, we heard without listening, and listened to songs that voices never shared.
It wasn’t u…

The battle of The Restaurant Terrace

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It was a quiet and peaceful afternoon in the town of Vilcabamba. The hooligans were all blithely dancing in the town center so in the side streets tranquility hung in the air, like mist above the North Sea. One could almost hear the implied theme song written by Ennio Morricone.
The sound of a single shot fired and the subsequent horrified scream erupting from the throat of an innocent lady disturbed the sheriff and his deputy in their lunch. They both snatched their foam riffles and looked around. They walked to the door of the Mexican restaurant  and simultaneously jumped out, with their backs to each other, unaware that they were reenacting the last scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Foam was sprayed everywhere. Water bombs were thrown and dodged. Buckets of water flew through the air… And brave men and women fell on both sides, because the floor was so wet.
The battle of The Restaurant Terrace was a short one, but no ammunition was spared and nobody was left dry. Later…