In a follow up to Shit I Learned In Ecuador – Part 1, most of which was fairly ridiculous, I would like to touch on some other interesting shit that is not so ridiculous in the funny sense (and then maybe round it out with some more ridiculous in the funny sense).
According to the last census the country had in 2010, Ecuador consists of 70% mixed race populations (Spanish and indigenous mixes), 7% indigenous, 4% Chinese and 2% white people.
Ecuador prospered under their president, Rafael Correa, who put a lot of money into the development of roads, hospitals and other social programs in Ecuador. But then, like all good politicians, he realised, “Oops, I fucked up and spent too much money… what am I going to do to get it back?”
The method for making back the money was to then kick all of the indigenous people off their land so that the government could then go in and mine it for oil and minerals…….
The country had a referendum and decided that as a country they did not want this because Ecuador is known for its biodiversity and they don’t want the government going about fucking shit up for everyone and kicking people off their land because they are greedy bastards looking for the easy option.
The indigenous community of the Otavalos in the north believe that hair contains their energy. Cutting the end of your hair off is bad news, whether you’re a man or a woman. Looks like when I go home I will just tell my mum I’ve become Otavalan to avoid a haircut. Though it does tend to break a lot…. I wonder if that means bad energy for me.
The reason that many of the indigenous communities here have such fabulous fabrics is because the Spanish used them as slaves to weave fabrics.
They teach the Quechuan language in schools to help maintain the native language here. It is the native language of the Incans though there are different dialects throughout. Some Quechuan words that I learned are:
Mama – mum
Wawa – baby
Achachai – how cold
Ararai – how hot
Chichaqui – hungover
So it comes to be in a random shaman’s office in Quito that I am introduced to what my guide calls “the shrunky head” or more officially known as a tzantza. So, in the Amazon, it was a rite of passage to sever off your enemy’s head, peel all of the skin off, chuck it in a pot with some herbs and other shit to shrink the skin, then carefully remould the facial features so you can put your new little totem on a stick and carry him around with you everywhere. Not joking. Apparently carrying such heads of enemies with you is good luck and shrinking them means the soul can’t escape and wrought revenge upon you……
On New Years Eve there are loads of different rituals that people partake in for different reasons. If they want more money, they wear yellow underpants. If they want to find true love, of course, red underpants. If you want to travel then you pack your suitcase and cut laps around the block with it to bring in the new year. Oh and you make twelve wishes by stuffing twelve grapes in your mouth, making each wish as you jam it in there.
It has been a while since I learned some shit that is entertaining for others to read. Don’t get me wrong, lots of learning has been happening, some of it life changing. But as I moved my way in and out of the glorious streets of Quito with a fabulous guide by the name of Stefani, I was certainly educated on some interesting things in the Ecuadorean cultural sense. Here is what I learned…..
The word in this region for guinea pig. Also considered a delicacy that I am yet to try. I just cannot seem to eat the face of my childhood pet, Muffy, that my sister and I used to shampoo and then blowdry in the sink much to the horror of my mother who thought we would kill it. That and a typical garnish is a tomato helmet. I just can’t even….. Anyway, here is what I learned about them.
The name ‘cuy’ comes from the sound that they make “coi, coi, coi, coi’.
They are sacred animals and used to live in the houses with the indigenous people.
They are not only considered sacred, but are used in ritual cleansing of the body. Not even kidding. Here’s how you do it.
Start feeling unwell and think ‘hmmm…. something is wrong with me. I know, the guinea pig will tell me what is wrong’
Grab the guinea pig like a body wash sponge that you would use in the shower and rub that squirming little animal all over your body. The animal will apparently extract the bad energy and give indications as to what is wrong with you in autopsy. (PS. I am sure from the shock of having to see and touch your naked body, this will cause the guinea pig a horrific and terrible death in which it will die of extreme shock).
Guinea pig autopsy. Cut the thing open and examine all of its organs. Whatever appears to be wrong with the guinea pig is what is said to be wrong with you. Our guide said that she had a parasite and after rubbing the guinea pig on her stomach that when they autopsied the dead pig that shit was wriggling around in its stomach. Ewww…..
Four. Eat the meat of the guinea pig I suppose unless there is some muscular problem and get on with your day, now well and purged of illness and bad energy.
Bones are considered to be a protective force in the culture of the Ecuadorean indigenous. They would use the vertebra of dead humans and sometimes cows hooves to decorate the entrances of the houses to ward off the evil spirits and for good luck. Oh and to ward off the evilness of people who don’t believe in Jesus….. yeah I know?? Hmmm…..To the point where people started digging up bodies in the cemeteries so that they could keep human bones in their houses. Sometimes they keep a single bone of a loved one that they have buried in the house as that is also thought to be a form of protection for the house and people who live in it.
Encebollado and bones
So the most famous soup of Ecuador is called Encebollado and it is literally everywhere. They tell me that it is a mix of all of the ingredients that would normally go into a ceviche but with a different type of fish. There was one dude in Quito who had what was considered the best encebollado in the entire country and people would come far and wide to sample it. People were scrambling for the recipe and to figure out what he did that made it so special.
What was the secret ingredient you ask? Well the man, superstitiously for the last seventy years had been stirring his fabulous broth with a femur. Not just any femur though, a human femur. An actual real fucking human femur. I say no more.
All of the roses used in the British Royal wedding were from Ecuador. They also used roses from Ecuador to film The Beauty and the Beast. When the last petal fell, it was from a cursed Ecuadorean rose.
Don’t fuck with Ecuadorean artists. One of them was commissioned to do the trimmings on a house in the old town but they refused to pay him the last instalment. As an ode to ‘fuck you’ to both the owners of the house and of course to the Catholic church, he endowed one of the lovely cherubs with the most giant penis you’ve ever seen on a cherub, waving its engorged salute to the church directly over the road.
Ecuador first started to export chocolate in the 1820’s and thank god for that. I am pretty sure that since arriving here I have become about 70% cacao.
Given the sheer amount of shit that I have learned here over quite a large amount of time, stay tuned for Shit I Learned In Ecuador – Part 2, coming to you next week!
Currently I am studying the grand language of Spanish in Colombia, and on many occasions, I have been known to say funny incorrect things or things that are just downright offensive because the translation in English has a totally other sensation. The other day in class I spilled my tea all over the floor and ruined my notebook and responded with “soy inutil” (I’m useless), which in Australia is not such an abnormal thing to say but I was informed that if you say that to someone here, be prepared to get yourself into a punch on.
And then of course you have the standard mistake of ‘estoy caliente’ which means “I’m hot”, but not hot as in, “geez the temperature is high” but hot as in “baby I’m hot just like an oven, I need some lovin’, Marvin Gaye style lovin'”. Water can be ‘caliente’. Food can be caliente. If I am feeling a bit warm, I am ‘calor’….. and perhaps maybe a bit caliente (horny) as well.
One also needs to be very careful with which version of ‘I am’ they use. Because ‘Soy buena’ apparently means “I am a good human being and do nice things for others”, whereas ‘Estoy buena’ means ‘I am a very “good” curvy person and will do ‘nice things’ for others….
Then of course there is chimba and chimbo. Both can be hugely offensive and of course, because of this, they are words I have become attracted to. “Que chimba” is often used to say “how cool”, however if you call someone “a” chimba, then you will be calling them a cunt…… again, not so offensive to a lot of people in Australia, but the rest of the world takes severe offense to such language. And then chimbo can also be a penis, or something of low grade value. What I take from this of course, is that vaginas are well fucking cool and penis’ are low value commodities…….. hmmm….. and of course if you say an arsehole joke it is called ‘chimbiando’. But in the grand scheme of things….. I should probably avoid all of these words, especially in front of police officers, church officials, and respectable people.
I remember a time in Guatemala when the police officer asked me whether ‘those men are “molestando” me….. ‘. Well didn’t I freak out and take off down the street running as fast as I could for fear of being molested, which of course would have looked a sight to the police officer. And didn’t I feel like a moron when later I discovered that the word ‘molestar’ in Spanish, does not mean ‘to molest’ as I thought it did, but it means ‘to bother or annoy’.
I never want to be “embarazada”…. and by that I mean pregnant, not embarrassed. A common misconception and also often is screwed up. Though my friend was encouraging me the other day to have an affair with a Colombian and get knocked up with triplets that I could then go home with and sit on my mothers couch on welfare. I said no because I don’t want to have to carry any extra weight with my bag for the next 7 or 8 months, but I said I would consider it when I arrive in Chile…..
And of course there is ‘travieso’. This word means naughty. And apparently children can be naughty and that is fine. But any ‘naughty’ adult is a sexually naughty adult. There isn’t really any other kind of adult naughty. I have also learned that beverages also cannot be ‘travieso’. The standard Australia ‘cheeky pint’ or ‘cheeky rum’, no existe. A ‘ron travieso’ basically implies that ‘you’ are going to wind up travieso much later on after said ron……
Maybe I should:
Just avoid saying any words that can be construed as sexual or offensive….. ie a whole lot of them.
Avoid speaking all together…….
Ignore my own advice and continue to laugh at the fact that I have clearly no idea what I am doing.
I think I will choose option 4 and go say some more travieso and inappropriate shit. Que chimba!
Egypt is an incredible country and one that both wowed and intrigued me, which is a pretty big thing for me these days given how much of a get around I am. I learned quite a large amount of shit while I was here, so here it is! Enjoy!
Arabic words and Phrases
(NB. all spelling is how I would pronounce it, not how it is actually spelt because I am too lazy to look it up.)
La – no. A word that again is quite frequently used and also quite frequently interpreted as ‘yes’. This is nothing new in the land of travel, especially with hawkers and shop owners.
Yalla yalla – let’s go, lets go! Said anytime you are going somewhere.
Heidi lan – come on bro. What we used to say to the bus driver when he was too busy drinking coffee to drive the bus
Fi el mesh mesh – when pigs fly. A great phrase to use when someone tries to sell you shit you don’t want for a ridiculous price or for when men hit on you.
Belesh – free? Also a great thing to ask when people try to sell you shit you don’t want.
Meshi meshi – OK, OK. Also used in my case as ‘yeah yeah, whatever, I’m coming’.
Psora Psora– Quickly, quickly. Note that for emphasis everything is repeated twice. As if saying quickly twice will make me move more quickly. This is usually followed up with ‘meshi meshi’.
Habibi – my love. This is what the bus driver would call me and what I started calling the bus driver. Well actually he called everyone ‘habibi’ and one day I threw a strop. “I thought I was the habibi?!?” He says ‘you are assistant driver (because I sat in the seat behind him) and habibi royale’. I will accept this.
I was also quite surprised to see that many Arabic words are the same or similar to their Spanish counterparts… like jabon in Spanish, is sabun in Arabic, meaning ‘soap’. And pantalones (pants) and camiseta (shirt) are also the same.
Then of course there are words in English that are derived from the Arabic…..
Candy – is from the Arabic word ‘Qand‘ meaning sugar.
Alcohol – from the Arabic ‘al kuhl’
Algebra – the famous branch of maths that kids loathe, is ‘al jabr’
Cotton – from ‘qutn‘
Cheque – from ‘sakk‘ a vow to pay for merchanise.
Orange – from the Persian ‘naranj‘ which also translates to the Spanish ‘naranja’
Sofa – from the Arabic ‘suffah‘ which was the rulers throne. No wonder they are so comfy.
Shit About The Pyramids
The Great Pyramids of Giza took 2.3 million blocks to make by over 100,000 workers in the space of 20 years. On average, this is one block cut every 3 minutes.
The outsides of the pyramids were covered in red granite. This no longer exists as the blocks were pilfered for other building ventures.
The pyramids are 100% aligned to face north and this was done using the stars and their positions in the sky.
The apex of the temples was covered in a metal alloy consisting of a mix of gold and silver called electrum, which was naturally occurring in this area and Anatolia.
Each of the temples have a slope of fifty two degrees. This makes the centre of each of the temples a point of high energy and electrons. Apparently an apple sitting in the centre of the pyramid will not decay for this reason. Energy seekers come here and pay ridiculous amounts of money to experience the energy found in the centre of the great pyramid.
Shit About Other Temples
The people who made the pyramids and the temples were not slaves, but skilled workers. These workers even went on strike in the Luxor Valley for two months when they stopped receiving their wages… possibly the first form of industrial action of the day. The working week was ten days long and 8 of those days were working (I wonder if the Beatles came here before they wrote 8 Days A Week? In which case, they were a bunch of little hussies cheating on their misses’ for the weekend because the 9th and 10th day of loving didn’t count…. ponderance…. hmmm….). The workers also had holidays and health insurance.
There is a type of snake that jumps up at people to strike them from the sand depicted on the walls of one of the temples. What a scary fucking thought. As if snakes aren’t dangerous enough without letting them have springs for ab muscles.
All tombs in Luxor and in most of Egypt lie on the west bank of the Nile river. This is because this is the side of the river that the sun sets, or ‘dies’.
Majority of the medical tools we use today in surgery can be seen in the hieroglyphs on temple walls. They also had birth giving chairs that look very similar to squat toilets…. just let gravity take care of that.
The guy who discovered King Tutankhamun’s tomb died several days later. This is because he shaved the day he went discovering and deadly bacteria from inside the tomb got into the cut, infected it and he turned septic. From here on in, all awesome tomb raiders were equipped with manly tomb raiding beards.
They mummified loads of crocodiles. Well fucking cool.
The Romans are really good at building shit but even better at fucking up proportions. If you look really hard on Roman made Egyptian temples, you can find hands with thumbs on the wrong side, arms that are too long, and all kinds of ridiculousness. Artists they indeed were not.
Ancient Egyptian women only appeared to have one boob. An evolutionary anomaly…. hmmm….
Other Random Shit I Learned In Egypt
The Cairo cemetery is a giant land of satellite dishes. Apparently 80,000 people live in the cemetery.
To sort out a dispute between two men back in the Bedouin days, the leader of the tribe would place a hot knife on the tongues of both men. The idea was that the liar would have the tongue stick to the knife as his mouth was dry and the guy with nothing to hide would be relaxed and salivating at the thought of hot knives….. thus not sticking.
Snake poison and milk were given to newborn babies as a form of vaccination.
Majority of French perfumes from popular brands we know of today that were made post 1967 come directly from the recipes of perfumes used in Ancient Egypt. The French dude who deciphered the Rosetta Stone passed these on, so we can thank the Egyptians for Chanel No.5 and Armani’s Code, among many others.
When the Nubian guys were all fighting over girls and wanting to marry them the girls would respond in a simple way. If she wanted to marry the guy his tea would come loaded up with sugar. If she didn’t, no sugar for you sonny Jim.
The king at Sakkara used to have to fight and kill two bulls and cut of their tails as proof of worthiness of being king. They didn’t enforce this on Ramses the second who died in his nineties but was a total pimp. He would have been the Hugh Heffner of the Ancient Egyptian days fathering 162 kids that we know about…
There was a princess mummy on the Titanic when it sank. Cool!
Anyway, there are a few tidbits. There were loads more stories of things that happened in Egypt, but I will save those for another time. Til then x
In the glorious half term from school I decided that it was about time I ventured up to Scotland to see what it was all about. Not only was it full of stunning natural beauty, but also full of fun and fascinating stories of the past. I learned more than wee bit of shit while I was there, but here are some highlights.
Loads of different sayings take their origins from the Scots
Back in the days, Edinburgh was full of high-rise buildings. Of course, being in the days before toilets, people used to just chuck that shit out the window. Literally. If you were in the lower floors and had your head stuck out the window you risked getting shat on. So they would yell out before the bucket load of crap went flying out the window and if you didn’t get your head in quick enough, guess where it landed. They say that those who were drunk were dumb enough to hear the call of pending doom and instead of pulling their heads in, they would look up. And wind up with shit on their faces. Shitfaced. Superb!
‘Doing a Bouch job’
Thomas Bouch was an English engineer who built a bridge that wasn’t structurally sound, it fell down and killed a whole stack of people. What a massive fuck up! A total Bouch job
As much as the English and Europeans love to moan about the fact that we call it ‘soccer’ in Australia, it is in fact their fault. They bloody well invented the word. It derives from the full name of the sport from back in the day ‘association football’. Abbreviation of the name and tapping and ‘er’ on the end (oddly a very Australian thing to do… maybe that is where we get it from) results in the word ‘assoccer’.
The Beserkers were a Viking clan full of fierce warriors who apparently fought in such a massively drug-fucked state that people thought that they were crazy. As such, when people go crazy now, they are going berserk.
2. Seagulls can drool.
I mean, I had no idea until I was sitting on the pier with what has been voted the worlds best fish and chips and this damn seagull is sitting in front of me and his beak is literally dripping all over the pavement. He stopped once the fish was gone and I got to the chips. Clearly not as tasty…. but just wow…..
3. Witches don’t drown in shit.
So the river that used to run through Edinburgh used to be full of people’s shit that they used to just pour in there. When they accused people of being witches, they used to throw them in the river and say that if they didn’t sink and drown that they must be a witch. Well given the viscosity of a pile of faecal matter, most of them really didn’t sink. So they’d drag them out and burn them on the stake. That right there is logic for you. Even better, they cleared all of the shit out of this area and turned it into a nice lovely park full of green plants and wonderful flowers fertilised by the remnant bits of shit and dead witches from the area. One may even say that when sitting down there having lunch that you are hanging in the shit pit.
4. Braveheart the movie is an absolute load of shit and things really didn’t happen that way at all.
Firstly, the ‘brave heart’ actually referred to the heart of Robert the Bruce, not William Wallace. Robert’s heart was carried into the battle that won the Scots independence after his death.
The Battle of Sterling win hinged on the fact that there was a bridge that the English had to cross and were eventually backed into a corner of the river bend and couldn’t retreat. Where’s the bridge?
Bruce did not betray Wallace and get him captured
ugh…. and the list could go on… very entertaining fiction for the most part.
5. Other random shit
The word Caledonia is what the Romans used to call Scotland
Fife is the alcohol and oddly enough, pregnancy capital of Scotland being home to the bottling of Schmirnoff, Barcardi and Johnny Walker
Half Hangit Maggie was a legend for surviving a hanging and waking up in the coffin on her way down the road to be put in the ground. She kicked on for another 40 years post that….
Greyfriars Bobby is also a legend. He was a dog that sat by his masters grave for the better part of 15 years, his love and loyalty never faltered.
I still don’t like oysters…. the slimy thing went down and some shell got stuck on the roof of my mouth and gag reflex kicked in… yuk. Just feed me a kilo of mussels instead any day.
Stone circles are everywhere up north in Lewis and Harris. I daresay they are cooler than Stonehenge and…. free!
And…. I want to go back to Scotland! This country is amazing and the nature is just stunning. I want to go back and climb more mountains and take some more boat trips!
This was quite a while ago and as such it is pushing my memory to remember what half of the cryptic notes I took about Bulgaria even mean… but here’s the decipher! Enjoy!
The word ‘lev’ in Bulgarian means ‘lion’. You can see that this is the national symbol of the country because lions are literally everywhere and the currency is called the ‘lev’.
In the times of Constantine the Great, the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia, was actually called Serdika. This was one of Constantine’s favourite cities in the Roman empire and was the gateway to Constantinople, now Istanbul.
You can find churches in Bulgaria that have amazing frescoes from years 1000 and 1300. They are amazing and some of the best preserved in the world.
Bulgarians are terrible with giving you directions on how to get somewhere. The locals joke and say as a tourist the only solid directions you will ever receive are for the destinations of either vodka or the beach. A couple of people I met in the hostel and I decided to try out our luck with getting to Seven Lakes on public transport. After much research and confusion, we finally made it there for the spectacular hiking and views.
During World War 2, the Bulgarian government was smart enough to save it’s Jews from Hitler’s regime by telling the Nazi’s that they needed the Jews to do labour work on the railroad construction.
The city of Plovdiv lies abound seven different hills.
There are huge numbers of incredible Roman stadiums and ruins throughout the country, and are home to some of the most incredibly well preserved ruins. One of the world’s largest stadiums lies underneath the main shopping street of Plovdiv.
They have a tradition of tying these red and white, handmade dolls called Martenitsa from blossoming trees as ritual to denote the arrival of spring.
Other than that I really can’t remember that much more shit from Bulgaria other than I really loved it. The people were friendly, the scenery was gorgeous and the history wonderful! Cannot recommend visiting this beautiful country enough!
I was only in Macedonia for a couple of days but while I was there I came across one of the most entertaining tour guides I have ever met! He was downright hilarious in the things he was saying and most of the shit I learned, I learned from him during my time in the capital, Skopje.
Mother Teresa was born here. Even though she lived a large amount of her life in Albania, she was born in Skopje in a house near the centre of town. It no longer stands but there is a plaque there to recognise the site.
‘Stan’ is the Arabic word for ‘place’.
There was and earthquake in 1963 that levelled the city. The US and Russia came to help try and rebuild the city. The clock at the train station is stuck at the time the earthquake happened. The double decker buses like the ones in London were bought in to help after the time too and they eventually stayed.
The mayor of Skopje suffers from ‘copy paste’ syndrome. He likes stairs in Rome. Bring them to Skopje. Whatever he sees elsewhere that he likes, bring it to Skopje! To the point where the locals now call the place “Skopjian Disneyland”. They ask you to pray that the mayor never visits Venice and decides that Skopje needs canals.
Despite that all of the buildings in Skopje look old and are in the ancient Greek style most of them are no more than ten years old.
They made so many statues in rebuilding Skopje that they now don’t have enough places to put them all. There are statues on the bridges, statues on the rooves of buildings, statues everywhere…. never before have there been so many damn statues. They even have statues of the shoe shiners that worked down the main street in the centre of town. The sit along beside the people who work as actual shoe shiners….. Distastefully, they also have a statue of a homeless person here as well. Because there weren’t enough as it is without making a statue of them too….
The Macedonians lay claim to Alexander the Great. So do the Greek. Of course this leads to a giant pissing contest in which they try and outdo each other. Greece has a giant statue of Alexander. So Macedonia makes one. Then the Greeks crack the shits and are all ‘you can’t call this statue ‘Alexander the Great’ cause he is ours’. So they call it ‘man on a horse’ instead. Ridiculousness. Greece also won’t accept Macedonia as being a part of the EU unless they relinquish their claim to Alexander the Great….. what ridiculousness!
In bazaars, the old market places, the corner shops were always worth more money. As such they would design the streets so that there were as many corners as possible.
Well that is about it for my fabulous visit to Macedonia! It was a lovely place to visit for a few days and would definitely recommend the visit!