Salad.

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A tiny salad next to a pulled pork sandwich and mashed potatoes.

Salad.

Ok. So back in Texas, I’m not big on salad. I’m more of a steak fajitas with melted butter kind of guy. It actually kind of annoys me that they give me little side salads with so many meals, it just seems wasteful.

However, when traveling, I find that I start craving the stuff. Right now I’m on a tour of ecuadorian beach towns, which has meant lots of delicious seafood, mostly fried with rice, almost like paella. This stuff is delicious.

Amazingly, though, when I showed up at Amalur restaurant in Canoa last night, there was nothing I wanted more than a house salad. Ok, so I negotiated with the waiter to get a chicken breast added to it so I’d feel like I was eating people food. Still, the raw vegetables themselves were delicious.

There’s something about salad, too, that reminds me of home. It’s probably the fact that I rarely get to eat it here, since even if it’s on the menu, it’s unclear how safe it is to eat, because you don’t know how the water is that they’re washing it with in whichever random town you happen to be in.

I remember even in Canada, where I spent month after freezing month for work several years ago, it was really difficult to get vegetables. I remember ordering chicken breast and asking for extra vegetables on the side. What did I get? Potatoes and rice. Those were my vegetables. Piled high.

This in a country where they think a hamburger’s going to kill you if you can’t use it to play hockey.

So, a salad last night, and tonight, I’m going to venture to a vegetarian restaurant. I know, I pretty much swore off of them after a vegetarian puerta cerrada debacle in Buenos Aires (had to go out and order a steak afterwards for second dinner), but I’m ready to give it a try. I had a cheeseburger for lunch, anyway.

Photo is a tiny salad, next to a delicious pulled pork sandwich, eaten in Baños, Ecuador. I ate at least six of these at the local microbrewery.

Rock Climbing in Banos, Ecuador

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Rock Climbing Banos
On Saturday I went climbing in Banos, Ecuador, with Henry from Natural Magic. I highly recommend this group, as I also received excellent kayaking lessons from them, and they are one of the few outfits in town that offers paragliding, as some four members of their staff are pilots. The guides were very friendly, knowledgeable, and low-pressure. Henry, my guide for both kayaking and rock climbing, speaks English, and I recommend him to anyone visiting Banos.

Hot Springs in Banos, Ecuador

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120 foot waterfall falling between green, foliage-covered mountainside in Banos, EcuadorJust came from the natural hot spring baths here in Baños, Ecuador. I’ve been to a number of hot springs before, in Colombia and Spain. What made this one different, though, was the spectacular waterfall right next to it.

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Working Remotely – How to stay connected

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Me, sitting in a hammock, relaxing with my hands behind my head, with my laptop on my lap and headphones in my ears. You can see a swimming pool in the background, and I'm wearing a t-shirt I bought at a colombian rock concert festival.Working from the road, you tend to be constantly aware of the level of internet connectivity around you. You feel most comfortable in larger towns and cities with multiple internet sources and low probability of electrical failure. Sometimes, though, you want to go hang out in the jungle (or, cloud forest, where I am now).

The best thing to do is set up your work so that you don’t have to be reachable 100% of the time, and train your clients or contacts or family or whatever to prefer email over skype. Also, don’t make a habit of replying to every email immediately. Aside from it being a highly counterproductive obsession, it will also make people expect you to put out their fires for them, rather than hiring you for proactive work.

If you don’t have that luxury, you’re going to want to find a solution that gives you connectivity from the road. We all know how ridiculous data roaming charges are, so here are two roaming-free solutions:

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Rain in Banos

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Photo of Baños, Ecuador with clouds and mist hiding the mountains in the distance.

Rain is unseasonable for April in Baños, but it’s been tanking it down for two days now.

For me this actually comes as a bit of a relief – I can’t go kayaking or rock climbing or paragliding, so I have time to catch up on work and maybe even get some photos together.

It does get a bit worriesome when hunger forces me out of doors and it’s still pouring, but fortunately, I’m not made of sugar. Read more