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    Otavalo From Above

    Otavalo is home to the largest artisanal craft market in South America. The Otavaleños (people from Otavalo), especially the indigenous Kichwa community, are known for their textile work and the market is made up of stall after stall of clothing, bags, blankets, hats, belts, jewelry, and artwork of all kinds. This central plaza is always packed with vendors, but on Saturdays the market spills over into the nearby streets taking up as much as a third of the town. The crafts mostly appeal to tourists while the nearby animal market caters to locals. When I visited, there were still plenty of tourists (such as myself) around taking photos of the…

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    So Much Moss

    When I visited my brother and his partner last Fall, I’d never been to a temperate rainforest before. They live in Vancouver, which is a city known for its proximity to wonderful hiking and skiing, but neither of them are hikers, nor skiers. In fact, they’re pretty indoorsy people. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, just north of the city, is a nice compromise when you’re looking for natural beauty accessible by public transit. We had skipped this particular attraction the previous year when our mother was with us because she has a fear of falling. The suspension bridge for which the park is named is 450 feet long and strong enough…

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    Can’t see the forest for the baobab trees

    I don’t have much to say today. It’s a sad, bad day and I’m tired and scared and in shock. I’ve been avoiding the news and social media. I set a goal for this month to help me start writing again. I’m trying to post a photo and write a couple hundred words on this blog every weekday in November. Today is a weekday — a sad, bad, weekday — but a weekday nonetheless, so, here I am, writing a post about baobab trees. The thing that struck me most about baobab trees was how solitary they are. The climate they live in is dry and their root systems are…

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    Once in a Lifetime

    I’ve been home from Senegal for about a month now, and I still haven’t written anything about that trip. Instead, I’ve been helping my mother move, reading novels, running daily, working part-time at the Museum of Science in Boston, and generally trying to be a good and happy person. My 3-week trip to Senegal feels like it was years ago — but isn’t that just the way of it as we grow older? Time speeds up and events slip into the distant past at a horrifying rate? Anyway, it’s about time I wrote something about Senegal. Let’s start with: It was fantastic! I mean, look at this photo of me…

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    This Time Next Week…

    I’ll be in Senegal! I’m spending three weeks traveling around this West African country and visiting my friend, Kristen, who is volunteering with the Peace Corps there. Kristen and I have been friends since high school, and I’m excited to have her show me around the country she’s called home for the last year and a half. Neither of us speak Senegal’s official language (French), but she’s fluent in Wolof (the language of Senegal’s largest ethnic group) so I’m going to be relying on her quite a bit during this trip. We’re planning to spend some time in the village where she lives and works — I’ll get to meet…

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    Adventures in Public Transit

    I don’t like to ask for directions. Ever. And as a result, I try never to leave my house without a plan. Now, this does not mean I never wander or decide where to go serendipitously. I just plan to be serendipitous. In fact, one of my favorite things to do in a new city is meander down the streets, and look at architecture or find a secluded cafe, which I can pretend no tourist before me has ever encountered. I’m comfortable wandering down random side streets despite my discomfort with asking for help because I love maps and I fancy myself a person with a good sense of direction.…