Stringing my Life Together: Purishpa takini, takishpa purini.

Follow me on my new blog!
2012/04/09, 00:33
Filed under: Uncategorized

Hi everyone! So in the interest of better organizing myself and beginning with a fresh start, I’m transitioning to a new blog that will cover my professional pursuits related to ethnomusicology. For now, I will be blogging about my fieldwork in Ecuador. Periodically, I will update this blog (jesvalsilva) but it will function as more of a personal blog from now on.

That being said, for the next several months, be sure to read about my adventures here:



B.A.D. Sushi and more travels ahead
2010/08/20, 00:29
Filed under: Uncategorized

As usual, it is the eve before another transcontinental, 4hr+ flight, and it does not look like I will be sleeping. I am pretty much all moved into my new apartment, though the mountain of a task of unpacking will be patiently awaiting my return later in September. Just a little more cleaning in the old apartment, packing for NY, and then hopefully a couple hours of shuteye.

I know I promised pictures from Ecuador, but since I’ve been a bit pressed for time, I thought I would mention my wonderful lunch from today.

My hunger pains came quite early as I was doing last minute cleaning and hauling laundry and other odds and ends to my new apartment down the street. I decided that sushi seemed like the perfect light lunch and headed down to Santa Monica Blvd. to try this new sushi place, B.A.D. Sushi, that opened while I was away in Ecuador.

11:20am I was at the door, but it was locked! Whoops, lunch service began at 11:30. Just as I was about to walk away, one of the staff came out and unlocked the door. Man am I so glad she did.

Living near Sawtelle, there are oodles of Japanese-themed restaurants, though I have mixed feelings of the two sushi bars that are on my block.

En Sushi has decent prices for happy hour and is good if you want to feel like you’re having a night on the town. You know, dress up a bit, and have a few cocktails or glasses of sake to go with your wonderful sushi.

California Sushi Roll is better than what you’d buy at Vons, but I really don’t recommend it. It’s not that much cheaper than places like En Sushi. The rolls are too big and you HAVE to take two bites, making it a difficult and sloppy meal, not to mention the rolls I have been served there have almost always been loose and falling apart. I also feel like the ingredients aren’t quite as fresh, which can be pretty traumatic when eating raw fish.

B.A.D. Sushi, however, was fantastic! I took an Eel+Avocado roll with two sashimi avocado pieces to go.
Service was a little slow, but it was definitely due to them not being quite set-up yet. In the meantime, I was served a tall glass of ice water (at 11:30am it was already getting to be pretty toasty, so much appreciated).

The roll was put together carefully and when I got home the rice still had that hint of warmth that is so great and you can only get with the freshest of sushi. The eel was delicious, slightly crispy, and the avocado creamy.

All in all, a wonderful lunch, and I can’t wait to hit this place up again when I get back from NY.

Los Angelespi Ña Tikramurkani…
2010/08/13, 09:52
Filed under: Ecuador, Fieldwork, food, Kichwa, Los Angeles, Moving, Otavalo, Research, Thoughts, Travel

My apologies friends and family for not updating this (practically at all) while in Ecuador. Not having a laptop, the long hours of classes, and making it home in time for the meals and before the buses stopped running really made it difficult to sit down and write a quality entry. The night of my last post I went to a party in the community…ate too much, drank a bit, and learned how well the indígenas can party and dance. Unfortunately, the next morning I woke up with an allergic reaction to bug bites, most likely from the pitikunka that were at the part of the village where the party was (pitikunka look like a cross between an ant and a flea).The next day I watched Spain’s glorious win in the World Cup finals, and won 3 litres of soda from a bet made with Segundo, Patricio’s brother, who was rooting for Holland.

Despite my failure to update while abroad, I do, however, plan to post pictures soon, and with those, short snippets to go along and catch you all up!

In the end, the program was a success and the host family was more than I could have ever hoped for. I left Ecuador being able to spend the majority of the last few days speaking Kichwa with Patricio (my teacher…though it would be about simple topics, such as about my family, buying fruit, etc. Technical conversations get to be pretty tough, especially since so much of the vocabulary has to be interpreted on your own to express ideas or things that historically weren’t a part of the culture). My reading and writing, and to some extent my listening, improved a great deal due to Patricio and I spending hours analyzing grammar, morphemes, and occasionally…well, frequently… wanting to rip our hair out.

Leaving was definitely the hardest part. The last day was spent at the Equatorial line with the family, balancing eggs on nails and other crazy experiments. Four of us were able to balance the egg!!

Certified Music Teacher and Egg Balancer!

When I got back, we had some hearty kinwa (quinua) soup followed by the cinnamon bundt cake I made the night before. Later, the sisters tried to teach me how to put the anaku on, though I was a absolutely terrible at it! (My homework while in the states is to figure out putting the anaku on, and also keep practicing the flute pieces and sanjuanes/sanjuanitos they taught me). We then spent the evening drinking to toast the trip, our friendship, and my despedida (licor de azaray, I think, though I can’t remember the name of the fruit very well).  This was followed by a long night of playing Screw Your Neighbor (see this website, though my family has a few house rules we play by, such as the King as a blocker, and playing on your honor…my grandma Polly will be so proud!), listening to the songs I recorded with Lauro (brother-in-law of Patricio) and some of Lauro’s sister’s family. When most of the family had to go home or go to sleep, there were hugs made that left tears left on each others’ shoulders. At 2:15am, I left Otavalo by taxi with Patricio’s parents and Segundo. We had some coffee at the airport before saying goodbye. It was the first time I cried at an airport.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of what I came back with, but basically I couldn’t help myself and purchased a few instruments and did most of my Christmas shopping in Ecuador. The trip back had an added charango in my backpack and a giant box with the gifts, most of my clothes, and a drum 🙂 Incredibly nerve-wrecking, but thankfully American Airlines did not let me down.

I’m realizing that my travels and studies are making life really complicated, but in a good way, since I now have family (or friends close enough to call family) all over the place. Though, no matter where I go, I am missing someone and someplace; the jokes, the hugs, the soccer, the smells, the food, the music. What really gets to me is realizing how hard it is for other people to travel and be able to visit me here in the states, whether in Los Angeles or in New York. Ever read the non-immigrant tourist visa requirements? Damn. I wish it were easier to have my friends and family make it here to visit from Mexico or Ecuador for example, and to be able to share my life with them as they have so generously shared theirs with me.

Back in Los Angeles, the apartment hunt is on. It appears I found the almost perfect apartment (perfect except for being INCREDIBLY small!!!) It is going to be totally worth it though. Time is being spent reminiscing about Ecuador, unpacking, mariachi rehearsals, and catching up with the handful of friends who are still in town for the summer. I will hopefully squeeze in a trip to NY, and then head back for year three of graduate study…officially a PhD student now 🙂

Ashta kashkaman!

Plaza de Ponchos – Hatun Rwana Katuna-pampapi
2010/07/10, 10:27
Filed under: Uncategorized

Just checking in, finally! The days here have been pretty busy with classes, a little sight seeing, lots of Sanjuanito music learning, and soccer! When I get a moment to use the internet, it´s every few days and just for 15 minutes here or there. Unfortunately, most of my time today was used up filling out school-related information that is necessary, but tedious.

So far, some highlights have been:
– my host family, eating, chatting, and playing music with them
– dancing, singing, eating, and drinking all night when I got here to finish the last day of the Sanjuan festival (San Pedro, also known as the Dia de las mujeres or Warmikunapak punlla/raymi). I also went to see the Warmikunapak Punlla in Cotacachi.
– Soccer…Both watching Spain kick major ass and also playing some soccer with the host family. It´s been an adjustment running at an altitude of 2500 meters (I think but don´t quote me on that). It is, however, fantastic to have Imbabura in the distance behind one goal and Cotacachi on the other.
– Getting to meet up with Luz (my Kichwa professor at school)
– The food 🙂

I will try to post some pictures and elaborate a bit on a day that I haven´t gone overtime to take care of boring school stuff 😉
Take care, Ashtakashkaman…

Kay tutamantapi Los Angelesman llukshini…
2010/06/28, 01:31
Filed under: Ecuador, Kichwa, Los Angeles, Moving, Otavalo, Travel

I have been exhausted since I got up this morning. The academic year and the summer camp have completely depleted my energy. I slept like a rock last night but it still wasn’t enough.

I leave for the airport in two hours. ~17 hours later, I will be arriving in Quito, and sometime within 21 hours, I will be arriving at my new temporary home.

Don’t sleep in Jessie!!

The next six weeks of my life, stuffed into a small suitcase, my violin, and a backpack.

Ishkay punchakarinllami… (Only two more days…)
2010/06/26, 00:40
Filed under: Ecuador, Los Angeles, Soccer/Fútbol, Thoughts, Travel

That’s right. Two more days until I hop on a plane and go farther south than I have ever been before. This last week has been enjoyable but exhausting working for the summer camp.

On Monday, we were late for our field trip to Lomita due to the 405-S being extremely backed up (even more than its usual congestion at rush hour). The culprit? A boat. A boat was stranded on the highway. It must have fallen off someone’s trailer. I swear, life in Los Angeles is completely surreal. Only in California do these kinds of things seem to happen! The other field trips were great, and the students have been working hard for the concert tomorrow. I’m excited for it, but a little worried about making sure things run smoothly. Last year we got caught in traffic in Westwood following the announcement that Michael Jackson’s body arrived to campus.

In my free time before the camp has begun each morning, and during lunch time, I have been watching the World Cup. Donovan’s goal was definitely a high point so far, and like many of those in that youtube “viral” video, I was elated, cheering and jumping up and down when it happened. I almost fell over, sending my computer chair in the office back into some filing cabinets.

So I still haven’t been able to begin packing due to the camp schedule and my exhaustion; however, I have been a pro at packing for an entire semester (for Spain and for Potsdam) the night before. My goal is to at least get half of it done tomorrow. We’ll see about that…

Translator’s Blog

I stumbled upon this today…

Seems pretty funny, and since I am off for a language immersion program in my fourth language, I found it quite fitting. (Korean would technically be my third; however, my knowledge of it is still at a very basic level…I’m addicted to footnotes after my thesis…is there a way to footnote on wordpress?!? 😉 )

As of tonight, I have one week until I’m off to Ecuador. Wow. I found out that I will be staying in the village of Cotama, just north of Otavalo, though I will travel into Otavalo for school/classes. If you haven’t noticed, I changed the title of my blog too. I figured I’d put “ethnomusicology” into the title so that my take on life and music in this blog was a little clearer. I also am preparing for my transition into writing more often in Kichwa. “Purishpa takini, takishpa purinimi” translates roughly to “Singing (making music), I travel, traveling, I sing (make music).” It’s a lot more poetic in Kichwa, I think. I guess it’s one way I could translate my original title “The Musical Adventures of Jessie.”

The excitement and nerves about the trip are going to finally hit me this week, though, I still need to begin packing ASAP. This next week will be wicked (to use a colloquial term from back home) busy! I have been swamped with work for the summer camp I am working at due to the previous administrative coordinator not leaving anything behind. A job can be really frustrating when you have all the responsibility, vague duties, zero power, and feel like you are reinventing the wheel 10x over. However, now that I’m finally to the week where I get to work with students, it should be 1000x more enjoyable!

Anyways, time for bed so I can be up early for soccer games and heading to work. Spain plays tomorrow…I’m crossing my fingers and praying they win. I’m sad to have seen such poor results from Australia, but at least Mexico and USA are playing well!

If only there were something like wearing PJs inside out that would bring good luck to Spain (for those of you who are not from places where it snows regularly, when you are hoping for a snow day, you tend to wear your pajamas inside out when going to bed. Some people also swear by placing cotton balls beneath your pillow. I have to admit, the last thing I want under my pillow tonight would be my crappy shinguard).

Que viva España…