Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Oh, Ecuador

I don't know why, but right now, I feel compelled to write a bit about this beautiful place in which I've chosen to live. It's raining now as I write this, as we go into our seventh month of rain this year, the rainiest since I arrived here in mid-2001. (I'm glad I can say it's the rainiest year; gad, I'd hate to think what a rainier year would be like.)

This place (Ecuador) is about the size of Nevada, if you live in the States. While Nevada isn't the largest State by far, it's a fair sized chunk of territory, and so is Ecuador.

For a relatively small country though (and it's a lot, lot smaller than its neighbors, Colombia and Peru) it's got just about every kind of geographic setting and climate you'd want. Deserts, beaches, jungles, booming white water rivers, 20,000+ foot mountains, volcanoes, big world class surf, and of course, the unique (really) Galapagos - it's all here, plus Quito which is a cool city.

OK, it's not France, or some other nifty place that I'm sure you've seen, but the place meets my middle class needs, that's for sure, and I'm having a good time, so what the hell, who needs France?

What makes Ecuador more interesting though, are its people, whose personalities run the usual gamut, saints to sinners, and blah, blah. The thing is, if you look at this country at a macro level, at what I call its national psyche, you (or at least I) see a massive case of national low self esteem. Ecuadorians simply don't believe in/don't trust their social/governmental institutions, be it the Congress, justice system, the military, cops, media, or whatever. Ecuadorians expect their institutions to be weak, ineffective, corrupt and failed - and their expectations are met, just about every day they wake up and read the papers.

There's a standing joke (used in other countries too) that everything's cool in Ecuador; the only problem is that there are Ecuadorians here... I don't know, I've lived in seven different countries in Latin America (and by "lived", I mean three years or more in each and every country), and aside from, maybe, Honduras, I've never seen a more severe case of national inferiority.

Oh, well, I like to think that's something that outsiders who choose to live here, like me, can help change. These guys need a more positive attitude about their country and its ability to change/improve, and maybe people like me, who've adopted the place can lead the way. Let's hope so, anyway.....

I Wonder If I'm Overdoing the Chocolate Thing...

Ooogg. I've got a chocolate stomach ache for the second time in five days, from sampling/tasting various chocolates. These chocolate projects I'm involved in have picked up momentum (as in, requiring more time/work, not generating income, at least not yet), and part of alll that entails tasting various chocolates I've come across.

As time goes by, I'm getting more educated (I was going to say more sophisticated, but that's a bit presumptuous) with respect to cacao and chocolate, tasting the various kinds of cacao and chocolate, well, that goes with the territory. The funny thing is, while I like chocolate, I don't consider myself a chocoholic, as they term it. And past a certain point, it, well, I get a stomach ache.

But what the hell, it's for the cause, you know?

Anyway, the two projects I'm involved in, the chocolate cafe idea for local customers/consumption here in Quito, and the chocolate manufacturing/export business both continue apace, sometimes slow, sometimes fast, but both going onward, which is good.

I just need to pace myself on the tasting part of thing, that's all...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I Woke Up This Morning So Mad (About Illegal Immigration)

I could've spit.

I was thinking about the massive demonstrations by illegal immigrants and their supporters in the States. The arrogance of these people is intolerable, and the U.S. government needs to put an end to it. I've heard various politicos, including Bush say that, gosh, with SO many of them, it's just impossible to do anything, so let's make citizens of all of them!

Right, great, yeah, that'll put a stop to the problem, and illegal immigrants are a problem. I just don't accept the old, "humble, hardworking little guy trying to realize the American Dream" paradigm. Illegal is illegal, damnit, and as far as I'm concerned, we need to put a full, full stop to this wave of arrogance and lawbreaking (and not talking about that asshole Bush, his cronies, and his administration; that's a whole other story). I'm talking about the millions of people who've walked, flown, swam, or whatever, in the the United States without a visa.

Anyone know what a visa is? Why, that's where you get the permission of a country's government to enter the country BEFORE you enter the country. Quaint idea, isn't it? Well, it happens, folks, that I DON'T think it's quaint; it's the law, and guess what? It's the law in all of the countries that have chosen to turn a blind eye to the thousands or millions of people who have bailed out on their countries and violated U.S. law, including Mexico (whose President, Vicente Fox once said, outrageously, that the U.S. was "coresponsible" for all of the illegal Mexicans in the U.S.), every Central American country, Ecuador (where I live, and where I worked hard to get a visa to stay, live and work) and lord knows how many other places which are using the U.S. as the escape valve for the people who can't or won't get a job at home.

I've always been against illegal immigration because it's, well, illegal, and every time it happens, it represents an abnegation of responsibility by the dumping countries (Mexico, et al) to their own citizens, to generate jobs, decent health and education systems, and, oh yeah, how about honest government?

-- And please, please, spare me comments about Bush; I've already said he's an asshole and I mean it. I would dearly love to impeach the SOB, but then we'd end up with Cheney as Prez, for god's sake, so....

Anyway, on the II issue, I don't know how many of the illegals we can practically deport, but I think we should try and throw as many of them out as possible.

The demonstrations of the last week or so, complete with thousands of Mexican flags are simply the latest example of how bad the problem has become in the terms of numbers, but now, in terms of their very public attitude toward the U.S. government and America in general: Hey we're here illegally, you need us (NOT), and if you try to enforce U.S. law, we'll threaten you and work to disrupt your economy and society.

Well, guys, that's it, you're outa here, as far as I'm concerned. And oh, yeah, message to Mexico: We're not coresponsible for YOUR problem and by god, we're going to get serious about throwing YOUR people out of OUR country and putting a wall up to keep more of YOUR people from getting. Mexico and other countries in the third world and their citizens, ALL of them, should be left to stew in the juices of their own inefficient, ineffective, failed and corrupt societies; let them work things out on their own. Lord knows we've tried to help them over the years, and all we've seen is more corruption, fuck ups, and oh yes, the usual tantrums regarding sovereignty, gringo imperialism, and etc...

Well, fuck you all, especially the Mexicans, and don't ever, ever, ever, send any more of your illegal people our way; your inept, hypocritical, and corrupt mismanagement is no excuse, ever, for dumping your people on the U.S. Grow up, take care of your own people, and don't think that the U.S. is so weak as to do nothing about all of those Mexican flags (and the flags of other countries) in our streets; we won't stand for it.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Each Day Is A Rollercoaster, But

That's life, as it's served up, I suppose. I'm to the place where I sleep with K every night, and I spend more time in her apartment than I do my own, to the point where we've talked about living together, but we don't, and she says we won't until I get divorced (which should be sometime later this year). Still, as I write this, alone in my place, I do enjoy the small freedom I have to do this, this blog (about which she knows nothing), and to watch tv, which she doesn't like me to do when we're together.

Sometimes I'm torn between my desire and love for her, and the other, simple need to be alone sometimes, to do things like this blog, which isn't any more important a thing than recording what's happening in my life on occasion.

I read other people's blogs, and it's marvelous, the poetry, the articulate opinions I read and I think, "Boy, I wish I could write like that", - but I don't, I just write about the ordinary things that happen here and between me, K, my kids, and on occasion, others around me.

I will say that, as time has gone by, the pain and sorrow I felt when I first started writing this thing (actually, it's predecessor over on Xanga) has eased/ faded somewhat. When I finally get around the divorce, the pain will flare up again, I bet, but then that's to be expected.

My life's still in transition, obviously, and I think I have a tendency to worry too much about, well, everything from my sex life to my financial life, to my future life (that is, the next few years, not the afterlife!). And I always put a negative cast, kind of like Woody Allen: I'm doomed, no matter what; really positive attitude in short.

The thing is, in reality, I don't have much to complain about. I've got my health, a good relationship with a good woman, a sex life better than anything I've had in years and years, three great kids, a bit of money, and some interesting economic possibilities that have nothing to do with what I've done in the past (perhaps the best thing of all, about all of this).

I have that tendency to do the reverse of what most positive people do, that is, I worry about the small stuff and don't worry about the big things. So far, I've been lucky in that the big stuff hasn't blown up on me, but the small stuff gives me stomach aches, lost sleep, and on occasion quarrels with K. I really need to learn how to stay off the small things and not get pissed/worried about them.

Well, tomorrow's another day, I suppose...