Goodby old friends

Old hiking boots

Old hiking boots

I have purchased new hiking boots.

It is time to throw the old ones away.  I have worn them out.  The treads on the bottom are almost gone, and they are actually a little bit dangerous in the wet.

When I look back on the places these boots have taken me, and the things we have experienced together…


Several Toronto Winters….Walks on the concrete sidewalks of many cities ( Toronto, Vancouver, Tokyo, Seoul, Quito, Loja….) Hikes in the backwoods and trails of 3 different continents, down into the mouth of an inactive volcano, or hiking up the side of another.. walking at night over the continental divide, horseback riding in the andes, exploring caves,wading through streams, hiking up mountains, motorcycle rides, walking on beaches to see the sunset on one side of the Pacific, or the Sunrise on the opposite side…

There are a lot of memories in these boots.

My new boots are lighter, and the treads seem to be more high tech.  It will be interesting to see what memories they will help me create.

Travelling Back to Canada

I have just booked my tickets to travel back to Canada at the end of July, when my school contract ends.

A few things have happened since my last post that make it very important that I make this trip.

First I had an encounter with a monkey, that required an operation on my arm and a couple of days stay in the hospital.  I may write more about this experience… but it is such a scary memory that it is difficult to do.  I really don’t ever want to see that much own or someone elses, ever again.

The most important development is, that while I was in the hospital here in Ecuador, my dad was in the hospital in Canada.  I don’t have all the details of what happened, but he is now home and my parents are waiting for an appointment with a specialist to discuss details.

It has become a priority that I spend some time with two of the most important people in my life.  The big concern is that my visit is a help and not a hindrance.

Right now I am at a “between” point in my life… I had planned on making a move ( the wanderlust in me )   It is possible, if I need to, to stay in Canada for an extended period of time, or I could be on my way back here in August.

If I stay in Canada the question is what to do for employment…. (anybody know of any job openings…. preferably in the KW area.)  If I leave the question becomes, where would I go.

Except for the rain, I really like Zamora.  It is a nice small friendly city.  I know people and I know how things work.  I feel comfortable.  The problem is I don’t think I will ever be able to make enough money to do more that survive ( nicely) here.

 Loja, on the other hand has potential to make a better life.  I can teach.  I can do photography.  I have some good friends.  The problem is the weather.  Loja is in the mountains and it gets chilly.  It isn’t cold by Canadian standards ( + 10 might be as cold as it gets) but the problem is, that the outside temperature is the inside temperature… everywhere. I have never been in a building that had any form of heating. A lot of buildings do not even have hot water.

Due to a mud slide on the Loja-Zamora road, I had to spend 3 unexpected days in Loja.  It was good because I got to spend it with some friends, but it sucked because I was not prepared…

 So where does this leave me.  I am thinking about the coast… warm, sea, sand.  The problem will be making an income.  I have a few weeks to talk with friends who are coasties and see what I can do.

Should I start to commute?

I have been working with a friend from Loja exploring the idea of setting up a commercial photo studio.   If I continue through with this, there are a few problems I will have to deal with, including where to live and my dog Buster.  Actually Buster is a bit of an issue that I will leave for another post.

Right now I live in the lovely little city of Zamora which is nestled into the foothills of the Andes on the edge of the Amazon basin. Except for the rain, the climate is nice.  Warm but not overly hot most days, cool, but not cold most nights.   A jacket is needed for the rain but not for the temperature.

The studio would be located in the bigger city of Loja which fills a valley higher in the Andes.  I lived there for a year.  As cities go it is OK, but it is chilly.  I like wearing sneakers and with all the concrete floors and lower temperatures, I always had cold feet.

One thought is to live in Zamora and work in Loja… a possibility.

The distance between Loja and Zamora is about 60 Klm… a small commute in many parts of the world.  It is about an hour motorcycle ride for me, and weather is good extremely enjoyable on a motorbike.  The problem is that of the hour or so ride on the bike 10- 20 minutes are going over the top of a pass where the wind comes straight at you from all directions, it is usually in the clouds with a cold rain, and low visibility.  The good thing about this road is it is in great shape, there is minimal traffic, and the drivers are respectful of others around them.

Andes Moutains

View from the road between Loja and Zamora

I have never done this drive at night… and I don’t think I want to.  The sun sets every day at 6PM so realistically The latest i can leave is 4pm…

The Bus ride is about 2 hours to Loja… a 1/2 hour shorter coming back ( uphill vs downhill) The bus is also slower because it can’t take the turns as fast as my bike or cars.  The cost of the bus is $2.40 each way.

Another option would be to live in another town near Loja that has a better climate and less elevation change.  Vilcabamba, Malacatos and Catamio come to mind…

We will see how this all plays out… and in the back of my mind are the messages I am getting from my friend Kris to come and live on a beach in Thailand…

thursday sept 27th

Thursday 27 September 2012

16:19 Went and bought my bus ticket to Yantzaza. There isn’t a 6am bus on saturday, so I had the choice between the 5 or 8…  Since I need to be there for 9. The 8 doesn’t cut it.  I have to go for the day to teach another day to the teachers.

5 am it is…. Now I have to figure out how to get to the bus station that early.

Wednesday 26 September 2012

12:53 Just booked my flights back to Ecuador. I will be in Ontario from the 15th to the 27th.
by Glenn Specht via Facebook

17:50 Wondering how many students will show up tonight… Two big football games tonight between local teams and teams from Brazil
by Glenn Specht via Facebook

20:14 Booked my return to Ecuador today. I do not understand how airline pricing works.

I ended up using but the exact same flights varied between $50 to $500 more depending on the site.

Just to see if it made any difference I played around with the return date ( I don’t have a date in mind, but I like to have a return paid for, in case….). By changing it a month I ended up with different routing… And a saving of over $125

In my routing it was important to me that I did not fly through the states… Having to clear customs twice is not my idea of a good time. And I also get to fly a longer distance with Air Canada. Hopefully the areoplan miles I get will add to the ones I have to get me some other flights

Tuesday 25 September 2012

16:18 He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands, his head, and his heart, is an artist. –St. Francis of Assisi
by Glenn Specht via Facebook

21:48 Information- secrets- what do I know…..

In the past day I have been given information  about people both here in Ecuador and at home in Canada that may change their lives… Both for good and bad. I have been asked not to pass on this info, for various good reasons.

I always look at life changing and challenging  events and wonder how I would deal with them.

I hope that I would be strong, but when I look back on some and see the way I collapsed I am not so sure. Is this why I am more of a leaf on the river then a fish swimming against the current?

Some times I  try to make changes, to control things, but it seems to come in spurts, and then I float along based on the currents.


Monday 24 September 2012

15:07 First day back at school for a new cycle, and as usual the boss has thrown a curve at me.

I wanted to teach 6 hours a day, he has given me 5.  Ok not a big deal.  But he is trying to arrange another 2 hours with some teachers, at their high school.

I could use the coin and it will be interesting. We will see how this works out.


20:38 End of the first day… It gets tiring about now. I have the students doing a writing exercise so I fill the time writing this. I find that one of the most important things is to give students time to do the work….

Sunday 23 September 2012

7:49 I am waiting for a bus to take me back to Loja from Yantzaza. I have a bit of time…as usual I am way early

I have enjoyed my week here, it was warm, and relaxing…. Except for the stress of trying to deal with my domain renewal.

The teachers here were good to work with. They have a tough road ahead. They have to bring their English skills up to a very high level, without the infrastructure and training to accomplish this goal.

I try to help them as much as I can but in 20 or 30 hours you can’t teach skills that take years to acquire.


Places: Loja – Loja, Loja, Ecuador
        Yantzaza – Yantzaza, Ecuador

8:08 I am off to Canada in less then a month. I would like to say I am looking forward to it, but I am not.

The idea of seeing my parents is really good, and I am excited about that,  and it will be great to see friends again!

Just the thought of traveling, and the hassles of that are not exciting. I figure it will take me about 36 to 48  hours or so to travel from loja to Waterloo. This includes an overnight bus ride, waiting in airports, and a change of planes.

I am concerned about my change of planes… It is only 40 minutes which means I might make it, but I doubt my luggage will.  

I still have to book my return to Ecuador. This is something I need to do in the next week or so.

And then there is the funding. It never fails… Whenever I try and do some type of foreign exchange the cdn dollar VS the currency I am interested in is never in my favor.

The currency of Ecuador is the us$ and the cdn $ keeps climbing. Arrrrrgh

13:15 I arrived back at my casa in Loja safe and sound… To a nice cold rain.

As I sit here I realize I have not found the place I am looking for… Yet.

And what am I looking for? A place where I can be me, be comfortable and happy.

20:28 I am back in Loja…arrived to a cold rain. Getting ready to start another cycle of teaching in the AM
by Glenn Specht via Facebook

Saturday 22 September 2012

20:19 Planning my short visit to Toronto. i will be cleaning out a storage locker on the 16th of October..anyone interested in helping in exchange for free stuff? 🙂 Then I will be looking for a couple of places for couch surfing between the 22nd and the 28th…. also will be wanting to get together with people.. 🙂
by Glenn Specht via Facebook

Friday 21 September 2012

20:38 It was a warm day today…hot actually… High 30’s. I went for a walk in the morning that ended up being longer then expected.

I am a little “pink like a gringo”… Nothing serious but the sun can be intense here. Staying hydrated is critical for me… I learned my lesson about that from my run in with kidney stones… I won’t let that happen again!

I had a talk with my students tonight about continuing to teach them…they would like me to be here in Yantzaza. As I sit here in the park on a nice evening, I think I would like to make it work… Just not sure how.

It is interesting how dogs and people interact in Ecuador.

There are dogs that are pets… Usually lap dogs, that are carried or on a lead, but these are rare.

There are guard dogs… They are usually tied up or kept within a compound.

And then there are the dogs that run loose. The majority. I don’t know how many are street dogs and how many just wander from homes. They are street smart, they can deal with traffic… Most of these dogs do not interact with people, and people do not interact with them. No one pets these dogs, and they do not look for affection. Not sure about how I feel about this, but it seems to work for all.

Sept 09

Saturday 8 September 2012

It has been a feast for the senses so far this weekend in Loja

Last night I went to a concert by a 60 piece orchestra. They were good… Unfortunately the hall they play in does not match the talent. 

After we went to central park to experience the fireworks. The way fireworks are set off in this festival you don’t just watch them… No matter where you stand there are in front, behind, and above you…. And sometimes beside or below you.

I am now sitting waiting for a show to start at the Loja fair. I am very impressed with the production ( lights  stage and sound) basically as good as or better then you would find at events at Dundas square.

We left the show early… The talent did not match the venue….


Friday 7 September 2012

Today is a football match between Ecuador and Bolivia. It is a big deal!  A major part of the population is wearing yellow… Ecuador’s colour…Ecuador won, on a penalty kick.

Street Vs Studio

I used to be very proficent in the studio.  I would have a really good idea of what I had captured as soon as I pressed the shutter.

There where surprises, both good and bad, but generally I was consistent and compitent.


Not so with street photography.


Some images I don’t have a clue what I have until I see the image on the computer screen.



I was grabbing a shot of these three ladies…and I really didn’t see the gentlmen in the background. The story this image tells is much different then the story I thought I was photographing.


The same day I was also shooting fireworks, Ecuadorian style.


I was constantly adjusting shutter speed and watching my mettering to not be too over exposed.  I had to keep it manual exposure. I don’t think any the auto modes whould have given what I wanted.

( which raises the question, What did I want?  I wanted to show the mood or feel for the event that was happening around me.  I didn’t want perfect shots, I wanted a feel or mood)


Here are a couple that I think show this.  I did not know what I had until I looked at these on the computer screen.










Did I achieve what I wanted…. I am still not sure.  I did get a few shots that I am happy with.



sept 07

Friday 7 September 2012

9:54 Just booked my flight to YYZ… now working on my return to GYE
by Glenn Specht via Facebook


I am taking donations of Areoplan points from anyone who has some extra they can’t use before they expire…..



Thursday 6 September 2012

8:15 I had a talk with the boss yesterday. It looks like I have next week off.

The second week I am now supposed to be teaching in Yantzaza… Which is a business and mining town in the Provence of Zamora.

I have never been there, and it is further east , towards the amazon then I have been before. I am looking forward to it.

20:11 Last day of classes for a week, or more.   Really not sure what I will do with the time, but I am sure I will enjoy it

Today, before and between classes, I took some pics of the people getting ready for the fireworks tonight. After class I plan to go photograph the fireworks, which is way different ( and sacrier ) then fireworks in canada

Wednesday 5 September 2012

20:14 Found out I may be teaching for a week three hours east of here ie much closer to the amazon
by Glenn Specht via Facebook

Tuesday 4 September 2012

18:10 I still don’t know what I am doing next week.

I may either be teaching in Zamora or have the week off. If I have time off I am thinking I might explore some more of Podocarpus park. I have been thinking that camping or at least hiking would be cool.

The problem is lack of equipment.

I have started putting together a survival kit.
I usually always travel with a rain pancho I picked up years ago in Vancouver, which is great for wind and rain.  I have used it many time to protect myself or my gear

I also carry a flashlight… Wind up and solar powered.

With this idea I bought a compass today. I used to always have one in my camera bag, but I am not sure where it went. It did set me back $15, but it is worthwhile to have.  I will be practicing it’s use to make sure how to use it if I need it.

20:10 Ah crap.   I just found out claim for my trip to the hospital is being denied… Preexisting condition, hadn’t had my insurance long enough….. This will affect my plans
to head to Toronto.

23:12 2nd of 5 nights of fireworks…. loud in this valley… setting off all the car alarms…oh the sounds of Loja
by Glenn Specht via Facebook

Monday 3 September 2012

10:53 Things I learned this weekend.

Beer mixed with coke doesn’t taste bad… It actually improves the taste of pilsner…the Ecuadorian beer.

Scotch causes heart burn.  I used to have problems with heartburn… Sometimes really badly. Haven’t had this issue for a while. Had scotch on Saturday and felt the burn…and am still feeling it. I guess no more scotch for

11:01 Things are really hopping today in loja.

It is the first day back at school for primary and high school. The centro is filled with kids and parents in their clean uniforms.

In the poorer parts of the country there is a rule that children needs shoes to attend school. There are some gringos who have a project to provide shoes to those who need them. The charity and good works of “some” of the expat population is interesting.