Monday, June 18, 2012

The Ninth Month

Benjamin was nine months old at the end of May. I kept meaning to take pictures of him on his special polk-a-dot blanket, but the last few weeks have been pretty crazy, and I was without a camera half the time because Rusty ran off to the jungle with it. And now it's too late, since he's almost 10 months old! So here are a couple of fairly decent recent snapshots:

Both of these pictures were taken at the Marcum's house. That's where the boys and I have spent about half our time this last month while Rusty went gallivanting off to the jungle on two different short-term trips. The picture on the right was taken with my iPhone! Pretty decent picture for a camera phone.

I spent a good part of Ben's ninth month trying to help him get over a stomach bug. He threw up and got bad diarrhea from some bad food we ate at the graduation ceremony we attended at the EQEB. Most of the rest of our family got sick, too. And then it took me awhile to get his digestive system back on track. We had to pump him full of probiotics and really watch what he was eating for awhile. Thankfully, he seems to be doing a lot better now. I am definitely going to be more careful about what I let him eat when we are out and about from now on.

Last week, I took Ben back to the doctor for a check-up, and he now weighs 8 kilos (about 17.5 pounds). We also got him caught up on his shots, finally, at least until his first birthday. I'm pretty impressed with the clinic I've been taking him too. The doctor we saw actually speaks English! What a blessing it is to be able to communicate about medical matters in your own language. I don't think I'll ever take that simple fact for granted again!

Ben finally mastered crawling during his ninth month, so now he is on the move! He "bear-crawls" more often than not, up on his feet instead of on his knees. He's also now pulling up on things and climbing stairs. And there are lots of stairs in our house, so we stay busy trying to keep him out of danger! He's definitely eager to explore his world and seems to have the uncanny ability to find the most disgusting thing in the room to play with, whether that's someone's shoe, the trash-can, or a dirty sock! Of course, at this age, everything goes in the mouth. Ewwwww! No wonder it took us so long to get him healthy again!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Ecuador: Interesting Facts

Photo by iriann on Stock Xchng
  • Ecuador is roughly the size of Colorado, and slightly bigger than Britain.
  • Its capital city is Quito. Click here for interesting facts about Quito.
  • The highest point in Ecuador is the Chimborazo Volcano at 6,267 meters (over 20,000 feet)
  • The national language is Spanish, spoken by about 90% of people. Ecuador is the second-smallest Spanish-speaking country in South America. There are about 13 indigenous languages still in use today by the various Indian tribes, less than half of what is believed to have been spoken at the time of the Spanish conquest.
  • The time zone in Ecuador is Greenwich Mean Time minus 5 hours. We don't do Daylight Savings Time here, so what this means is that right now, we are the same as U.S. Central Time. In the fall, after the U.S. "falls back" one hour, we will be the same as U.S. Eastern Time. For your convenience, there is a clock in the sidebar which lists the current time here.
  • The currency in Ecuador is the U.S. dollar! That's right, you don't have to worry about changing money when you come to visit us!
  • About 95% of Ecuadorians claim Catholicism as their religion -- another by-product of the Spanish colonization.
  • Ecuador has one of the highest youth literacy rates in South America, estimated at 95%.
  • Ecuador's major exports are petroleum, bananas, flowers, and shrimp.
  • Ecuador is one of the world's most bio-diverse countries, which is pretty incredible, considering its size. It covers less than .005% of the earth's surface, yet contains 10% of all plant species and 17% of all birds. And this is just on the mainland -- these figures leave the Galápagos Islands out of the equation entirely!
  • Speaking of birds, Ecuador has more than 1,600 species of birds! By comparison, the U.S. and Canada have 700 between them, and Kenya in East Africa has between 800 and 1,000, depending on the source. If you're into bird-watching, come visit us!
  • Ecuadorians call their country "four countries in one" -- the Galápagos Islands, the Pacific coast, the Andean mountains, and the cloud forests and rainforests on the western edge of the Amazon basin.
  • Major environmental issues in Ecuador include deforestation, oil exploration, and mining. For the Galápagos Islands, organized tourism has created a major problem. One of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, the islands are "in danger of being loved to death," according to the Moon Handbook on Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands.
Most of these interesting facts come from our two guidebooks, Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands by Ben Westwood (Moon Handbooks), and Culture Shock! Ecuador: A Guide to Customs and Etiquette by Nicholas Crowder, both available at Amazon.