Abril, aguas mil y lodo, lodo everywhere

The Ecuadorians have a saying ‘Abril, aguas mil.’  (And lodo=mud.) The direct translation is roughly: April – a thousand waters (and I added the part about the mud). You get the idea – it’s basically the same sentiment as ‘April showers bring May flowers.’ True to form, the atmosphere has delivered us aguas mil this month. For that matter, March was also a month of aguas mil. I have become accustomed to donning rain gear, boots, and marching out of the house with my giant umbrella (mi sombrillo gigante!) that I purchased on a street corner in a moment of soggy desperation sometime back in March. Everyday I wish we could send some of this deluge off to California, where people actually need the water.


A Cuenca city bus about to cross a bridge over the muddy and raging Tomebamba river not far from my office at the satellite campus at the University of Cuenca.

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Into the Misty Mountains

There is something about a windswept, lonely place that draws me in. It’s the escape from the bustling crowds and the diesel. Living in Ecuador’s third largest city is sometimes a challenge simply because it is a city. When I first arrived, I thought I was suffering from culture-shock. I think a lot of the shock was simply adjusting to city life. I’ve adapted, but I still need to escape regularly – to breathe fresh air and wipe the grime from my face.

New Zealand has the Middle Earth claim-to-fame. But the Andes could have easily played a starring role as the Misty Mountains in Lord of the Rings.


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Holy Anemometers, Batman!

Just in time for Easter, this post has a little religion and a little science all in one! Not that I ever mix the two, but sometimes it’s interesting when they stand side by side.

Last Thursday I took my first pilgrimage up the mountain with colleagues to check out one of the weather stations. We drove about 30 minutes up toward Cajas National Park, west of Cuenca. I was excited to get out in the countryside, having been cooped up from all the rain these past couple of weeks.


The anemometer is an instrument that measures windspeed – the little cups rotate in the wind.

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GSA Resource Roundup

Alternate Post Title: Saving the Planet – One Website at a Time

I recently added Canada to the list of countries I’ve visited. (I know, of all the places I’ve been in this world, I had never been across the border just to the north.) Vancouver gave me a chance to experience truly cloudy skies, rain, lush green vegetation, and a rush of thousands of geoscience enthusiasts on their way to catch the next talk at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America.


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An Introduction to South American Climate

Another title for this post: What It Is That Scientists Do at Those Meetings, Anyway?

Last winter, in the midst of a deep freeze, and up to my neck in class work, I came across an announcement for a meeting on South American climate change. Specifically, the focus of the conference was climate change and human interactions with climate over the last 2000 years (for more info see Lotred-SA Symposium). I had explicitly stated in my sabbatical proposal that I would attend a conference focusing on my new research direction in order to meet people and get a feel for what type of work is going on in the field. This was perfect. It combined my interest in pursuing research on South American climate change, with my experience studying paleoclimate. The meeting was in Medellín, Colombia – some place warm and tropical, and not far from where I will stay during my Fulbright (after all, Ecuador is just across the border) – the perfect sabbatical kick-off. Continue reading