Friday, March 14, 2008


hi all!

i just got back from visiting kait in ecuador a couple of days ago. the trip was really wonderful and i had a great time (hopefully kait did as well). i will provide a quick picture log (a plog, if you will):

this is kait. in quito.
(just in case you forgot what she looks like)

looking down at quito from the tippy top of a church.
only rickity ladders were used.

we went on a very long bike ride and saw waterfalls. and a pig.

a beautiful view that was well worth the hike.

obviously i couldn't leave ecuador without going ice skating.

we took a break from watching the craziest bollywood movie EVER to take a picture with kait's host mom and host sister.

this puppy was not in ecuador but she IS the cutest thing i've ever seen.

in conclusion, i highly recommend ecuador and adorable puppies. they're both good for the soul.

don't forget to celebrate st. patty's day in style!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

lack of saaviness, usw

Right, so being the technology ditz I am (and, in my defense, being severely restricted on internet use, at least compared to the days when I could check email nearly every hour and would be annoyed when somebody didn´t answer me within a day. Oh, I´ve grown), I completely forgot about the blog. Then, today, in the midst of frantically trying to do some homework for a class in 6 minutes, I remembered, and instantly checked and saw all of these nice things from yall! (Also, I don´t really try in class here. It´s strange, but also very freeing).
More importantly, I´m in Ecuador. So much is different here that I´m not sure where to begin. Recent events: Yesterday my friend and I decided to go to a soccer game, Liga Universitaria (the best team in Ecuador) vs. some team from Brasil that I never quite got their name. We left from a foreign part of town, at night, and realized, as we were wandering up and down a street, in the rain, that we weren´t even sure if the stadium was north or south of where we are. Fortunately, there is no use trying to look cool here, because you´re already obviously a gringo. So we just asked a few people, got oriented, took a bus to Estadio Casa Blanca (the most beautiful stadium I´ve ever seen. I know that sounds strange), and followed the masses in.
We were a little disoriented when we got there, and I ended up buying a ticket for the wrong section. I then had to sweet talk my way in (surprisingly easy. A plus of gringo status, usually), and then we met my friend´s host brother, who saved us rainy stadium seats. I learned some great cuss words (phrases? like chuta de tu madre... your mom´s dick) and other colorful cheers.
Sadly, it was zero-zero, but still exciting.
From now on I will post, because I am doing things sort of, and it will be interesting. Much love, I´m off to class.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Everyone, look at what I just won on

AND I won it in the middle of a power-hour. I can't wait to NOT spend £3 on a cup of "filter coffee."
Love, -Ben.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Passage to Narnia!

This is me making an effort to keep you all abreast of the most important goings on at Plantation house. The most important thing to happen in a very long time is Andy and I discovering/creating a passage to Narnia. I don't know how many of you remember the mysterious door that was in the back of Andy's closet... but it has been opened. And it leads into an adjacent room... now vacant. Needless to say, as soon as we realized this was the case, we picked the lock to get into our old room, removed the pins from the door hinges, kicked the door out of the jam(it was nailed in), and rehung everything to look like normal. We now have a designated TV/Party/Beer pong room, and we seriously regret not having any of you to share it with. Actually, I suppose that Billy and Matt are glad we didn't do this last semester, because we would've been spying on them in the middle of the night... Anyways. I thought that everybody would like to know! Keep blogging, and I'll let you know what other developments occur!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

xin nian kuai le!

happy (belated) chinese new year!

ive been in hong kong for about a week now, and its been really good and interesting! i had to get used to the fact that everyone speaks cantonese here instead of mandarin, so basically ive been doing a lot of reading subtitles on tv and stuff... but hopefully thatll help get me ready for my written placement exam! i leave for beijing on wednesday!! very excited, but of course nervous, toooo... (only a little, i promise)!

for those of us born in 1986, i found a good hororscope for us... although only after i panicked and called my mom after id spent the morning reading a mildly un-optimistic horoscope on some site... naturally, being judy, she searched high and low to find the nicest, most positive outlook for us tigers in the year of the rat:

"the year of the earth rat is a high energy time for exuberant tigers. your social calender will be busy. it is especially fortunate for travel and expanding your horizon. romantic dreams will come true, new friends bring exceptional new adventures. there is so much going on, you have to be careful before jumping into things. review legal documents and take advise of down to earth people before investing in changes. hard work will bring lasting rewards."

sweet! i cant wait for this year :))))

chinese new year celebrations were way fun! lots of delicious food including some of my favorites i havent gotten to have in years!! everything here is made of really simple ingredients but somehow comes together and tastes so so good! although there have been a few suspect things ive seen on the menu, including frogs ovaries and pickled pig hands. i went ahead and passed on those... hopefully ill get more adventurous once ive adjusted more!!

i saw an awesome parade with all these dancers, floats, lights, and music, and even some people balancing on bicycles and stuff, which was what i was kind of expecting and glad to actually get to see haha! and last night i saw an amazing fireworks show!! i took a video, ill put it up once i get my own computer onto the internet... its pretty awesome, and in the background theres about a thousand tourists going ooohhh wahhhhhhh!!!!!!!! it was so funny :) although getting to the fireworks was not without incident. i had just made it back thorugh customs (i went to china for the day for some special shopping... the lengths we go for good deals, man) and got back to see the first firework go off on television!!! so, since i was going straight out that night, i booked it about 3/4 of a mile in a dress and high heels (heels! and running! me!) to catch the final fifteen minutes of the show!! totally worth it, though!

ive already bought about a million things for myself. its weird, some things are ridiculously cheap, like i took the bus for 3 cents, and the ferry across hong kong to kowloon for 23 cents, and bought a leather purse, hat, and two pairs of shoes for like... 45 us dollars. but then, i still managed to spend 25 us on two drinks at a bar... thats like half a pair of shoes in my mind. getting used to the exchange rate is funny. i took a cab the other night and it was like 79 rmb, and i was like SAY WHAT. but then i realized thats like 10 bucks. so okay.

ps. bubble tea for less than a dollar here (6 rmb), but starbux is still like 4+ dollars (36 rmb)! dont worry, i didnt get starbux in hong kong ;)

so, this is a really long post, so i think ill go now, but i hope youre all doing well and i cant wait to hear from you!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Happy Pancake Tuesday!

"Lent is a time of abstinence, of giving things up. So Pancake Tuesday is the last chance to indulge yourself, and to use up the foods that aren't allowed in Lent. Pancakes are eaten on this day because they contain fat, butter and eggs which were forbidden during Lent."

Sunday, February 3, 2008

What's the craic?

Hi guys!

So Belfast is pretty great. Yes, there's a lot of beer and a lot of potatoes and a lot of rain, but the whole experience has been really wonderful so far. I fell in love with the city soon after arriving, when our bus passed "Thai Tanic," a little restaurant nearby (the titanic was built here, FYI). So punny, right?! They have a lot of punny establishments, in fact. I walk by "Streats" on the way to classes, and during our day-long stroll across the city, we came across "Ginger Snips 2", a salon (see facebook for pics). The Irish love puns. Today in class, the professor split us up into 4 groups and wanted us to come up with team names. I suggested the "b-sharps," since it was a music class, and WAY more people found it funny than I expected! Sigh--its great.

Its been a pretty smooth transition for me, except for the fact that I'm terrible at entering and exiting buildings. First off, the direction that doors open is not standardized like in the States (you could have to "pull" AND "push" just to get through one entrance!). Luckily most doors have a little sign that says push/pull, which helps a lot, unless the door is transparent like the one today, and of course I read the backwards "push" before the forwards "pull." Shambles. The best part, though, is the random buttons that unlock doors to exit buildings. For example, our dorms. Soon after we moved in, I got a frantic call from Erica, "How do I get out of here!?!?!?" We have an unlabeled button like 5 ft away from the actual door that it unlocks. Basically, I've spent the past week and a half looking foolish.

(pause- there's an old couple smooching on the couch across from me in this coffee shop. Don't they have coffee breath?!?)

Oh, I almost died yesterday. I was walking on the sidewalk in front of this gas station (a.k.a. petrol), and this car was stopped waiting to pull out. Let's just say, pedestrians do not have right-of-way here. The guy kinda shoveled me across the sidewalk a bit, and then gave me a nasty look. Of course, I went straight home and told everyone I know (like 3 people). It could be that I'm just bad at being a pedestrian here, though. I still have no idea which way to look, so I wait at intersections for somebody else to cross and just flank them. I probably look like a creeper, but I'd take that over roadkill any day. I still find myself looking at passing cars, and freaking out, "Nobody's driving that vehicle!!!" Luckily, its a silent freak-out.

Everyone here is pretty friendly, although I haven't had much of a chance to be chummy with my flatmates yet. I've mostly been hanging around the other Americans in my program, which is hopefully going to change, as its turning into a little too much of a clique-y thing. We hang out with the other international students here too, as all the Irish kids go home on the weekends. (the coffee-couple is going at it again...) There are these really fun Dutch guys that we've been chillin' with. One of them is named Yessa, so of course I ask him if he has any friends named Noah. He didn't get it at first.

Today we went to Belfast Castle, which is on this big hill that overlooks the entire city. It was all stormy and overcast today, so it looked very impressive against the gray. The whole castle is open to public, so I did a little exploring. I poked around on the second level where all the prep rooms are for wedding couples (they host a lot of marriages there). Let me just say, the Bridal Toilette was fantastic. I'm hoping to go back when its a bit nicer out, as they have a hiking trail that goes to the top of the cliffs next to the castle.

So I think about all of you guys a lot and miss you tons. Hope you're all doing well in your respective locales across the world. I'm off to do my first round of laundry in a foreign country.

Love, -Ben.

PS- Craic (pronounced "crack") is the catch-all slang word in Ireland. Here it means "what's up?" FYI