Monthly Archives: June 2012

Proud Parents

Dear Vaughn and Luke,

You Did It!! We’re curious what you will remember from this time in your lives, curious if you’ll think this stint of school in Ecuador was worth it. As you look back on it, please take into consideration what your dad and I saw…

We saw our two precious boys, who have come along on this adventure without any idea what exactly it was, trust us enough to let us drop you into two different schools where you knew no one, understood nothing, and asked you to go back into that situation every day for months. And you did.  You went to school everyday not knowing what anyone was saying, trying so hard to keep up, to understand, to learn a new language, even just parts of a new language. You both made new friends and defended yourselves against bullies. You got back up and you got back up and you got back up and you got back up – and it worked! It mattered! You play together now in a mix of languages, one of which you didn’t even know existed just a few short months ago. You can’t walk down the streets here without one kid or another calling out your names and asking you to play. People who didn’t know what to make of you at the beginning now like you, love you, and try to seek you out. You’ve grown stronger and smarter, more kind and more brilliant in our eyes every moment of this process and we pray that you’ll come to see yourselves that way as well. We cannot imagine being more proud of any completed school year you will do, thank you for seeing it through to the end and giving it your all the whole time! You are the bravest people we know.

We love you Vaughn and Luke, de todos los tiempos y con todo nuestro corazón.

♥,

Mom and Dad

 

Vaughn’s first moments home from his last day- off went the uniform and on came a big smile and proud thumb’s up!

 

Vaughn’s first day of summer break, enjoying a neighboring school’s last day parade.

 

Luke’s Graduation Videos:

 

Categories: From Bo, From Jamie | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Parque Cóndor

With only a couple weeks left in Cotacachi, time is starting to move fast and it’s packed with huge events like the boys finishing the hardest school year I pray they ever have, Inti Raymi’s fanfare- and fear, and the Cotacachi anniversary celebration. Amidst all of it though, one thing we all agreed HAD to be done one more time before we left was a return visit to Parque Cóndor just outside of Otavalo. It is a non-profit refuge for birds of all kinds and plays host to two Andean Condors, which is the national bird of Ecuador and the BIGGEST we have ever seen! Birds that can be rehabilitated are released back into the wild, those that cannot are treated like kings in this high Andean paradise and some even treat visitors to see them in flight up close and personal during one of 2 exhibitions a day, 11:30 and 2:30 –not to be missed if you’re planning a trip up there.

It was our first visit to Parque Cóndor back in February when we were just scouting out this area that really flipped the switch in our hearts to choose this as our home for our time spent in Ecuador.  Volcán Imbabura, that we see out our window from the apartment, seems so close from there with steep green pastures and fields that defy modern agricultural practices. And from the park’s high vantage point you can look out over Lago San Pablo, into the bustling market town of Otavalo, and even, we now know, down into Cotacachi’s green valley.  It was a joy to return to this special spot and soak up its tranquillity one more time…

Categories: From Bo, From Jamie | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Awesome Father’s Day Gift

Jamie and the boys worked very hard to create this amazing Father’s Day gift. I liked it so much I had to share it with you all. God, I love my little family and thank you Jamie for making it all work!

Categories: From Bo, From Jamie | Tags: , | 13 Comments

Plans Change

One year ago life was pretty good.

It was early summer in Crested Butte. The boys were enjoying the long warm days and time with friends and family, Jamie was looking forward to her cousin’s wedding and to doing another show, I was getting in biking shape and work was as good as it had been in years. Things were all right and the plan was to keep building our lives more or less like we had been.

But, plans change.

Under the surface of our relatively steady lives, and maybe in part because of our relatively steady lives, there were the makings for some major change. In fact, within six months, we would announce that we were going to leave all that we knew: friends, family, home, work, toys, favorite activities and even our dog, to live a different life in a different land, at least for a while. There was a unique window of opportunity that might not come again to follow this dream and to be closer to each other in a new way.

We had thought hard about making this change and done what seemed like a lot of research on the logistics. The plan was to start in Ecuador, travel around, find a place we liked, live there for six months and then travel to other parts of South America for another 8-12 months. We looked at our finances and estimated that if we could live on a very lean budget (1/3 of our monthly budget in the US), that we could make our family sabbatical last for 18 months. After our “down time” in Ecuador, we hoped to visit and spend weeks and months in Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. With that as the plan, we were off!

But, plans change.

In the ensuing weeks and months, we learned a few things. While Jamie and I are willing to put ourselves through some crazy stuff, we have limits when it comes to our boys. We now realize that although it’s possible to live on 1/3 of our previous US budget, it’s not preferable. We still like to eat good meat and sleep in quiet, “undank” rooms with a low chance of bug infestation. We’ve used many resources to aid us along, but there is no “Lonely Planet” type manuel of instructions that addresses our family-with-young-kids-on-a-prolonged-family-sabbatical demographic. We are writing our guidebook as we go. So yes, we have learned how to live with less, but we’ve also learned to appreciate who we are and what we want!

Usually, what we want when we are thousands of miles away from home with our young boys costs more money than we budgeted, sometimes by a lot.  In fact, on top of our newly defined culinary and lodging sensibilities, we have also determined that more than eight hours on a bus with our boys is a recipe for disaster; one of us is likely to crack, or at least throw up. Alas, the alternative of flying from country to country also turns out to be much more expensive than we’d read! The result of these lessons and other now better understood realities is that it is time to change our plans again.

We will be leaving Ecuador in a few weeks, which is about a month sooner than we’d thought, and heading to the Caribbean coast of Colombia for a few weeks. From there, we hope to make it down to Peru for some more time in the Andes and then onto Argentina for some trains, good steak and wine just as their spring arrives. It seems then that Bolivia, Chile, Brazil and Uruguay have been placed back into the some day maybe category again. After all this, roughly 6 months from now, we plan to be back in Crested Butte gearing up for a great and very snowy winter.

But, plans change.

And that’s okay with us. The point was never the plan, the point was, and remains, to follow this dream and grow closer to each other while we do. Which, as it turns out, makes for one really good plan; one that hasn’t changed.

Categories: From Bo | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Mojanda Lakes

As one of the “must sees” on our list for our time here, it was with no small amount of excitement that we woke the boys up before dawn to begin this Saturday’s aventura trip. We were met by a friend of a friend by the name of Milton who drove us up to the lake and then hiked with Bo to the peak. The volcano peaks around here are So High that they are almost always covered in clouds, if you get a clear shot it’s likely going to come in the early part of the morning- hence our breakfast and dressing in the dark.

Aside from being a beautiful beautiful beautiful spot that graces many a poster and has called to us to be seen for a while now, there is also an interesting legend surrounding this area. The story goes that ages ago an Incan prince and princess, though madly in love with each other, were denied permission to marry. As the most dedicated legend-lovers do, they decided that they could not live under that verdict and threw themselves into the crater at Mojanda. The death of their love somehow formed the two main lakes of the area: Caricocha (man lake) and Huarmicocha (woman lake). There is also a much smaller lake up in that area known, not as child lake, but as Yanacocha (black lake).  It is very unclear to me how that lake fits into the legend…

In any case, it was a visit worth the legend and the wait as I found it to be one of the most serene, beautiful, and quietly powerful places I’ve ever seen. The boys and I enjoyed hiking around the perimeter of the main lake, Caricocha, and hiking up the peak trail and getting lost in its tall grasses, peering for a glimpse of Bo and Milton at the top. Bo and Milton did make it to the top, and in record time!  The peak itself is called Fuya Fuya and crests at 4,263 m (13, 986 ft); Milton takes tourists on this hike 2-3 times a week and told us to count on it taking around 3 hours to reach the top. Milton is not accustomed to hiking with Bo Stambaugh of Crested Butte, CO and much to his surprise they made it up and back in less than half that time.

Here’s a gallery of photos from the boys’ and my ramblings, Bo’s hike to the top, and some of our ride back home which I took from the back of the pick-up (how Vaughn, Luke, and I MUCH prefer to travel these days)  😉

Categories: From Jamie, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Vaughn’s First Blog Post: Indigenous Fútbal

After a busy weekend, neither of us felt like going anywhere. However, I knew that if I didn’t take this chance to see the championship game among the Otavaleños in a remote village, we’d regret it. Vaughn (age 6), not being familiar with the concept of regret for cultural experiences forgone, started to dig his heels in after the third time I asked him to come with me. Thankfully Jamie, in a moment of inspired-mom-creativity, whispered to Vaughn that if he’d go with me, he could take the pictures and tell a story to go on the internet.

So here we are! Below are the pictures, taken by him (except when he’s in them) and his words explaining them.

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Indigenous Fútbal is what this story is called because they won’t know what we’re talking about when we say fútbal.

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No, I didn’t want to go to soccer because it bored and annoyed me. Then, mommy said I could hold it [the camera] and so I felt good.

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This is my mommy giving it to me.

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Dad, you know who that is! It’s you getting the backpack ready.

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That’s the fake corn in the stairs. [It is fake] Because mom said.

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Here’s my shoe.

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Okay, that’s a pig face. I see a lot of these around.

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When we got to the field we saw trophies and people.

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Then people playing soccer. They call it fútbol.

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At the field a guy was holding a big stick with lots of cotton candy. We took little bites of the cotton candy. Well there was one big stick, but I didn’t get the big one; just a small one.

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I was happy kinda.

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We walked with lots of people. The men with long hair were drinking beer. They kept asking daddy if he wanted more beer. He sometimes said, “Si”.

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They were putting music on.

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Yea and the lady was putting ribbons on people.

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I was drinking water because I was thirsty from eating empanadas.

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I took a picture of this dog. It makes me think of Lucy, my dog.

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Because other kids were tumbling in the field, I did too.

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The sun was sunsetting.

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I was trying to get a picture of the ball flying so high.

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We started to leave to find a taxi or a truck.

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But then we saw some niños playing fútbol.

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I went and said, ¿Puedo jugar con tigo?

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They said sí!

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We started playing and wining by kicking to the goal. They say “gooll”.

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We found a truck actually and I was trying to take a picture of that house, but there was steam [dust] in the picture.

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The truck was so fast. I was holding onto a pole so tight.

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Cows and police were in the way. They kept walking and then the truck stopped.

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We were in Quiroga and waited for the bus that goes to Cotacachi.

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On the bus I looked at my fake money. I got it from the cotton candy.

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We made it home with my fake money. So that was good.

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Categories: From Bo | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

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