Friday, May 31, 2013


This week Eva has been doing some major teething; 6 teeth are breaking through her little gums at once. This led to her first ever fever and a little malaria scare I talked about on Wednesday. Because of all that, we've been keeping it low key at home for the most part. I managed to get some surf in on Memorial Day. Eva added the word "bath" to her vocabulary. (By the way, we got Eva's stats while at the doctor and I thought I'd write them here before I forget. Height: 31.5 inches, Weight: 23.5 lbs, 95th percentile for both). Anyway, that's all I've got for today. I hope everyone has a fabulous June! My favorite portrait from last week was of little Claudia looking sassy in front of a beautiful backdrop. You can find all the portraits here.

Summer Booty Workout

I got a couple of suggestions to talk about how I stay fit with a toddler (no, chasing her around surprisingly isn't enough, haha) but I thought I'd save that for next week when I'm (hopefully) not as busy. For now, I'll share the booty workout I did yesterday, which left me nice and sore. This workout is for anyone who wants a nice, round booty... and has access to a gym (or at least basic workout equipment). Remember to keep your glutes engaged throughout all these exercises. I wrote this pretty quickly, so let me know if you have any questions.

1. Deadlifts 4 sets- 2 heavy/low rep (8-10), 2 light/high rep (15-20)
*PS- I know you can do more weight than this chick is doing.

2. Deep Squats 4 sets - 2 heavy/low rep (8-10), 2 light/high rep (15-20) ASS TO GRASS!

3. 3 SUPERSETS (alternating legs): Split Squat (10 reps), Donkey Kicks (30 reps)
*Let me clarify... This is what one complete superset will look like: one set of stationary lunges with your left leg forward, followed by one set of donkey kicks with your left leg in the air, followed by one set of lunges with your right foot forward, ending with one set of donkey kicks with your right leg in the air.
Split Squat:
Donkey Kicks:

4. 4 SUPERSETS: swiss ball hamstring curl (15 reps), Frog Legs (30 reps)

Hamstring Curls:
*If you don't have an exercise ball, you can substitute this exercise with a stiff-legged deadlift.

Frog Legs:
5. 20-40 minutes- Incline Cardio
Basically, I want you to go at least 2 miles at an incline. If you're running, don't let the incline drop below 5% (higher is okay, though). If you're walking, don't let the incline drop below 10%.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

big surf and big sharks

Day 31, Friday: A vivid memory

It was a gloomy, chilly day in the Galapagos Islands. Even as a geographer, I was surprised by how cold it could get on the equator at sea level. But every year, around mid-June, the sea decides to switch things up and bring cold water from Antarctica all the way up the west coast of South America. These south swells also brought surf to new parts of the island- places I hadn't visited in the previous weeks when the swells and warm weather came from the North.

A group of students were headed on a snorkel trip near one of these spots, called Barahona, which was about a 45 minute boat ride from town. It seemed that all the local surfers' best stories could be traced to this spot, and I just had to check it out for myself. Three of us decided that we would ask "Cuatro," our panga driver, to drop us off at Barahona before taking the students to snorkel. 

We were dropped off somewhere behind the spot, with nothing but our boards. It was difficult to see what the surf was like until we paddled our way closer to where the waves were breaking. I began to get more nervous with each stroke of my arm. What did I get myself into? The waves were at least double overhead, with steep, plunging peaks and wide open stand-up barrels. They were perfect waves, but they were a bit advanced for my level of expertise. I sat at the shoulder and managed to catch a couple, which relaxed me a bit. But I was still uneasy. I was mostly afraid because there would be nowhere for me to go if I felt like I couldn't handle it. Not only was the shore in front of us riddled with sharp volcanic rock, it was illegal to step foot on this part of the island without advanced permission from the government.

I joked around with the other two surfers and tried to hide my nervousness. I watched one of them, known as "Pulga," get barrel after barrel. Just when I started to feel (almost) completely at ease, a crowd of frigate birds started circling overhead. One by one, they dove into the water for lunch. Next, I began to notice splashing at the ocean's surface. There was a huge school of tuna chomping down on the fish the frigate birds were likely eyeballing. If I hadn't yet taken ichthyology or any other marine science class I might have though it was cool or even cute; but I had, so I knew exactly what it meant. Tuna don't typically hang out near the surface like that, and if they do... they're probably shark bait. Sharks tend to feed from bottom up, and often they'll "herd" a school of fish to the surface to trap them and eat them. Either that, or they'll wait for a large school of fish to do the same to other smaller fish and use it as an opportunity for dinner. Either way, I knew that school of tuna almost certainly meant sharks were lurking. And it didn't take long for me to spot one.

As a "clean up set" came through (waves that are bigger and break a little further out than the other ones), I paddled a bit further out. Just when I was about to duck dive a wave, I saw a HUGE shark dart across the swell. That image, right there, will forever be in my mind. It certainly wasn't the first shark I've seen surfing, especially in the Galapagos Islands where they're everywhere, but it was the entirety of the nature of that day that made my heart begin to race. The scenarios played out in my head. If one of us were bit here, we would basically have zero chance of making it. We didn't even know when the boat driver would be back. We had no way of communicating with him. Even if we made it through the long boat ride to town, we'd still have to be airlifted to a hospital somewhere.

Of course I knew there was nothing I could do at that point and it was pointless to worry. I just continued to play it cool and secretly breathed a huge sigh of relief when I saw the boat driver again.

I didn't get any pictures that day, but here's one I took off my friend's facebook page from the same spot, but different day. It was bigger the day we went out:
And with that, hooray! I made it to the end of the Blog Every Day in May Challenge. :)

Letting Go? What's that?

Day 30, Thursday: React to this term: Letting Go
I don't know what it means to "let go." I don't think I've ever "let go" of anything in my life. I've talked about hoarding memories before, but my inability to let go of things goes beyond that. I'm talking about personal relationships- about being hurt and let down. I have forgiven in the sense that I can move on with friends who have caused me pain; but the fact is... no relationship has ever been quite the same after such an incident. Why? Because I can never let go of it. It is always at the back of my mind, haunting me. After such an incident, I forever put my guard up with that person. Is that so wrong? People always talk about letting go- How it's the right thing to do. I've always just seen it as the stupid thing to do. I know I'm probably wrong about that. People are probably happier after they "let go" of things. But I'm just incapable of doing so, and I can't pretend that I am. I've tried, but apart from some memory-erasing scheme a la Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind... it's just not happening for me. Sorry I can't offer more. I loved Bonnie Rose's take on letting go, for a different perspective.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

malaria season

I just returned home from a trip to the embassy clinic. For the first time in her life, Eva had a bit of a temperature. It was only 99 degrees (with an under-the-arm thermometer), but since she's never gone above 97.5 I had her checked for malaria. Three people at the embassy have contracted malaria in the last three weeks. I don't think they were taking their meds, but there's always a risk, even for people who are. The rains have finally calmed and the mosquitos are in full force.

Malaria is a crazy disease. It is one of the top three killers worldwide. It kills 1.2 MILLION people every year. 58% of this number represents infants and small children. (source) The majority of people who die from it are those who can't afford mosquito nets and bug spray, much less antimalarials. It's pretty crazy to think that with everything else going on in the world, so many people have to die from a mosquito bite. The locals here are paranoid and will often go to the hospital if they feel a bit "off" or even have a simple headache. Every sickness is assumed to be malaria, just in case. If you choose to wait for other symptoms, it could be too late.

So when I took Evita's temperature last night I went into full mom-o-chondriac mode. Fevers are the most common first symptom. We went to the clinic first thing in the morning. The nurse pricked her tiny finger and drew a few drops of blood. I waited anxiously for 20 minutes or so for the results. No malaria, thank God. Her white blood cell counts were also normal, and there is no sign of infection or virus. We did discover what we think to be the culprit, though. While the nurse was examining her, we pried her mouth open (she never lets me do this) to see what was going on in there. ALL SIX of her top teeth, canine to canine, are beginning to cut through her gums. Pobresita.

I'm so relieved that it was nothing, but it really made me think about all the mothers who lose their sweet, precious babies to malaria every year. Over half a million. Every. Year. To something that can for the most part be prevented and treated. Heartbreaking. I'm thankful for organizations that help, but I wish there was more that I could do.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Without this, life would be meaningless.

Day 29, Wednesday: Five songs or pieces of music that speak to you or bring back memories. 

1. When I was 14, my best friend and I snuck backstage at the Warped Tour (San Antonio '02). Don't get the wrong idea, we were definitely not the groupie types. We headed straight for the main stage. We were ON the stage, off to the side for No Use for a Name, NOFX, Me First and the Gimmie Gimimes, and Bad Religion. We waved to our friends in "the pit" below, and they shook their heads and gave us a smirk. When Bad Religion played Generator, the pit WENT OFF. As fun as it is to actually be in the pit, it is pretty amazing to see from the stage. After the set, Dr. Greg Graffin (the lead singer) went up to my friend Rikki and said he noticed us singing every word to every song. Duh, BR was our favorite band. It was one of the best days of my life.

2. This is my other BFF and I's song. We used to always listen to it when we were cruising around, up to no good. We still do whenever we reunite. I love the lyrics and the beat. Whenever I hear it I think of her. :)

3. This song pretty much sums up my political beliefs.

4. Basically ANY song from Sage Francis resonates with me. He is the best lyricist ever, which doesn't surprise me since he has two degrees in journalism. This is one of my favorite songs of his (well, technically from his side project the Non Prophets).

5. This song will forever remind me of dancing my heart out in a little beach bar called Beto's on Isla Isabela in the Galapagos Islands all summer long. Such a happy, carefree song about the beauty that can be found in everything, even things that seem ugly or difficult.

This was probably the most difficult question for me to answer so far. I love music. Music gets me through my morning runs... through my ups and downs... through life in general. There are so many songs that give me chills when I listen to them. How was I supposed to choose just five?

Sea Caves at Low Tide

Today's prompt for the Blog Every Day in May Challenge is "just pictures." I planned on posting "just" the pictures from our little hike last Sunday, but decided they were worth an explanation. A while back shared some photos from atop the Sea Cliffs at Coco Beach. Well, last Sunday it was very low tide (which makes the surf not so great) so we decided to go on a little hike below the cliffs. We didn't go to Coco Beach, this time; we went to our secret surf spot, which I took a vow not to advertise on my blog- not that there are a million surfers fighting for waves in Dar, but whatever. The hike ended up being pretty awesome. There are tons of sea caves exposed with lots of critters to observe. We saw bats, starfish, crabs, and even the fossil of a giant clam. Here's what our journey looked like:
The cliff we had to scale down and up... a bit sketch.
I can't begin to describe how horrific this cave smelled.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Dear Reader,

Blog Every Day in May: Day 27, Monday: A letter to your readers
Dear Reader,

I almost gave up on the Blog Every Day in May Challenge today. Although I've already answered prompts I didn't feel like answering before, I really, really didn't feel like writing a letter to you. But the challenge is almost over (thankfully) and I feel like I might as well stick it out. I'm very sorry if you disliked this whole idea to begin with. Some days I thought it was pretty dumb too. But I've made some new blog friends through this project, and have gotten to know old friends a little better- so I think it was worth it. I'm stoked it's coming to an end, though. I'm even more stoked that it means June is almost here.

JUNE- The month that I get to go home and see family and friends for a bit. I can't begin to tell you how excited I am. This is the longest I've ever been away from the United States and I think I'm in for some reverse culture shock. Things move so slowly here that I can't imagine what it's going to be like while I'm visiting. There are so many things I know I'll "forget" I can do while I'm there- like go through a drive-thru for food, buy all my groceries at one supermarket, carry a purse, WALK ANYWHERE. Oh man... it's going to be so weird, yet so awesome.

I don't really know where this letter is going. I don't really know if this even counts as a letter. Does putting "Dear Reader" and signing my name at the bottom make it a letter? Or is it the content? Really, this whole blog is addressed as a letter "to the sea," but it rarely meets either standard.

Oh, have any of you spent time in Dubai? I have a stopover there on my way to and from the United States but it's very short. On the way there I arrive at 11:20pm but leave at 9:05am. I kind of want to see some part of the city, even if it's just to watch the sunrise somewhere. Sleep isn't really an issue. Any suggestions or would it be basically impossible? On the way back I have a longer stopover so I'm planning on going up the Burj Khalifa.

Do you have any questions for me? Anything you want to see more/less of on this blog? I don't really know how else to end this letter. Thanks for reading.


PS- Today is Memorial Day so I thought I'd leave you with a song dedicated to those who have served. I love how Rancid has a few patriotic songs; it's uncommon for punk bands.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Weekend Pics & Links

Day 26, Sunday: Something you read online. Leave a link and discuss, if you'd like.

I've never done one of those "links to love" or whatever posts so I figured today would be a good day to do one, since I haven't read anything lately I really feel like discussing in detail. I figured I'd add a few pictures from the first part of our weekend first, though.

  • Erica (my tocaya) just wrote about wearing shorts in a sweltering hot yet conservative country. I totally feel her pain, although I've never actually had a cab driver take photos of me (that I know of).
  • As someone who studied Evolutionary Biology and law, I thought this article titled Survival Strategies of Governmentus Omnipotus was absolutely hilarious. And a little scary.
  • Speaking of science, have you seen the Top 10 Newly Discovered Species of 2012? Pretty neat.
  • I enjoyed reading this article from Bonnie Rose on how to grow out long hair; but I realized that apart from never shampooing it I can probably never do any of these things and I desperately need hair extensions.
  • And finally, I've been eyeballing this bracelet on Etsy for a while now:
As you know, I'm obsessed with maps. I love this bracelet because you can customize it with five different locations. When I get a little extra money for accessories I'm planning on making one with South Padre Island, Kailua, Oceanside, Galapagos, and Dar es Salaam (the five places I've lived).
Do you have any good reads from this week that you'd like to share?

Friday, May 24, 2013


This week flew by. Evita is turning into quite the little human. She now points at me and says, "Shhhh" if I tell her off... (Oh Lord.) She's also been saying "two" after we say "one," and pointing at things saying, "dat" (that) when she wants them. Yesterday she finally said "agua" a few times or the first time. She's been better about wearing shoes, which I'm glad about because the adorable ones we bought her a while back won't be going to waste. She's even letting me put bows and headbands on her again (sometimes). This has been a pretty quiet week (activity-wise) and I'm actually okay with that. My favorite portraits from last week can be found on All in a Daze (a sweet little boy enjoying bath time) and The Stork and the Beanstalk (a rad ship back piece and the painting that inspired it). You can find the weekly portrait linkup on Che and Fidel.
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