Last weekend was the 30th annual Hood 2 Coast relay. Like every year, I found a team on Craigslist. It was a team, really half of a team, that needed someone who had leadership abilities, experience with the event (and some additional eager-to-run friends) to make them complete. Thrilled to be a part of it, I quickly took over and filled the void.
“Stop the car!” I said, ever-so-politely. Overwhelmed by the perfection of the scenery, the autumn colors under a white dusting of snow, the dark barn and three fine furry friends, I had to shoot it!
Yet the cow, merrily chewing grass, the lamb and the ass, were not interested. Racking my brain for a quick fix, I made my best attempt to speak their language, shouting through the fence:
It was a fantastic pic. Here’s the crayon version…
After tooling south along the coast of Ecuador, looking for a place to open shop, we came to a town called Montañita, and soon learned it’s one of the country’s many hidden gems. Relief washed over us with each wave, lapping at the foot of our hostel. When the van dropped us off and I spotted one of the cutest boys I’d ever seen, hanging over the first balcony, I knew it was the place to be.
Montañita is tiny. The main, L shaped strip is about six blocks long and packed with activity. Travelers, foolish enough to attempt driving through the strip sat still, as irreverent tourists meandered through the street.
Our first night, we ate and drank at an open-air tiki-bar, right in the thick of it. Astounded by the richness in color and life surrounding me, the burning urge to pull out my video camera was smothered by insecurity, a fear that the setting was too intimate, yet so public, a familiar fear that I would have to set aside if I was ever going to capture something that supremely awesome.
By the next day, the awkwardness passed and I was back to filming everything in sight. We were in love with Montañita.
The boys and I scrapped our initial plan of exploring the entire coast of Ecuador (searching for the perfect location to open a surf shop), because this was it. We got busy: relaxing, eating endless bowls of ceviche, observing society as it came to a halt during World Cup matches, building local connections and strolling repeatedly up and down the strip of our minuscule town. It was like… a movie set.
Local lore says it’s magical. Apparently, there are elves. And each night, for all to see, thousands of birds come to roost along the power wires in the heart of town. For about an hour as the sun sets, these birds arrive, each finding their place along the crowded line. They preen and ruffle their feathers, tweeting and chirping whatever it is birds gossip about before stuffing their little beaked faces under a wing for the night. Then, as if there’s no raging, endless party in the street below their teeny feet, they sleep.
At dawn, little white drops rain down in a real-life shit-storm (shit-shower?) as the birds flutter and wake. Each bird does it’s thing at it’s own pace, some early, others late, until by midday, when they’ve left only a trace: white speckled stripes below the power lines. Locals (yes, still partying), know to stay undercover during this time. It’s the unwitting tourists who get “blessed”.
When you visit Montañita, be sure to stay at Las Palmeras. A man named D owns the hostel we called home. He’s Ecuadorian, but lived in New York City for 25 years. In many ways a true New Yorker – he’s frank, fast and down-to-business. But D fell for the laid back life at the beach. His wife, Lady, helps him run the hostel which is currently being doubled in size.
The town is booming. While tourists discover it’s unique mystery and charm, it’s clear the secret is out about Montañita. It was developing before our eyes…
We stayed for five days, noting constant transformation. New light-posts were installed, new sidewalks and curbs, freshly paved streets.
It wasn’t just in Montañita – across Ecuador, there were hundreds of trees being planted, streets repaired, locals being put to work, together improving lives for generations to come. I later learned much of the progress is thanks to a new leader, President Correa, who has recently created taxes in Ecuador, a move that’s won him heated, understandably mixed reviews.
By the time we had to leave, we promised ourselves that we’d come back. We talked with D about our ideas, immediately deciding on a return trip for New Years. We’ll fill his entire place with our friends!
This video is from one of our last days in Montañita…
This year, I went with the first team that recruited me: Urban Mamas on the Run. One of four teams sponsored by Vitamin Water, including another team of moms (Run Mama Run), we were well taken care of.
Each runner received a pair of Nike running shoes, shorts and a couple t-shirts. Our vans were stocked with food and supplies. There was a potluck at Peninsula park the night before the race and in the morning, with six eager moms in each van – blastoff.
Hood 2 Coast is a relay race designed for teams of 12, split in half between two vans, which leap-frog their way from Mt. Hood (our state’s highest peak) to the Oregon coast, as each runner completes their series of four- to eight-mile runs. For the fastest teams, often running below a five minute pace, the 197 mile race takes less than a day.
Our team finished in roughly 32 hours.
It was perfect race weather. At night, I wore my daughter’s full-length parka over my running clothes, which no-doubt made everyone quite jealous, cozy as could be. After my second run, a simple 5-miler at 3am on a dusty gravel road (what I called “the tunnel of darkness”), I took the tiniest nap, until I awoke, face in a pool of drool.
Shortly thereafter, we arrived at the last van exchange, where the plan was to get some sleep. I dug out my sleeping bag as everyone settled into their own little pocket of the van, fully preparing to catch a few Zs, when suddenly I noticed the time. It was 4:20!
There was no way I was going to sleep. Wrapped in Violet’s parka, I found myself a seat where the action was: at a plastic table in the driveway of the farmhouse-garage-turned-breakfast cafe. I sat there for a solid two hours chatting with whoever happened to share the table, three adorable teenage boys from the cross country team at some Christian bible school, a hilarious dude named Deven and another guy, a H2C rookie named Steve, from Nike. (Flirting my fellow athletes is always one of my favorite parts of Hood2Coast.)
Finally it was time to get going. Around 7am, we hit the road and by noon it was time for my last run: eight miles of rolling hills approaching the Oregon Coast. The ocean was so close I could taste it.
Stacking up roadkills left and right (that’s what it’s called when you pass someone during the race), I came up running behind a chatty older man who I decided to hang with for a while before I knocked him off. He had a great sense of humor. When I asked what his name was, he told me people call him Stupid. His name was Edward.
“I like to play with my prey before I kill it,” I told Ed, just before I picked the pace up a few notches, moving on.
With my last leg done, I immediately went into party mode. It was just a few minutes before I must have overheard a beer can opening nearby, and only a few seconds after that before a cold one was in my hot sweaty hands. Then, checking out my sexy grit in the reflection of another van, I heard a familiar voice coming from the other side.
It was my pal Erik Stromquist! I love that guy! His speedy team started several hours later than ours, so I’d been looking for them to catch up.
At the end, the Mamas didn’t have time to stay and play. I bid them farewell, grabbed my pack and sleeping bag, still not sure where I’d spend the night or how I’d get home in the morning. That didn’t matter one bit! I’d find a way.
And it was, as it always is, stupendous.
Just got a note from one of my favorite people from the Ecuador trip. He was magnetic. Quiet, modest and pleasant (especially for being such a fine specimen of a human being), I liked him right away.
He mentioned being sorry we didn’t have more time together.
“Time – yes there never seems to be enough when things are good. And with you it was great! All over Ecuador, it was amazing. But I don’t worry those moments were too short or too few, because they were just a beginning… and for that I’m filled only with gratitude.”
Ecuador swept me off my feet. Over and over I fell in love, with people, the places, the communities of welcoming faces. Every experience taught me more about who I am; who I want to be.
There was no way to anticipate what happened, so I did little to plan. Before I knew it, three of us were on a 6am plane to Ecuador. Landing briefly to make connecting flights in Texas and Panama, we arrived in Quito around 11pm.
The airport waiting area, where passengers were met by friends and family, was filled with colors. My eyes and ears, stimulated by the array of brightness and sound, popped open, suddenly awake.
Francisco and one of his sons, Jose, picked us up from the airport. It was their family, who’s land we would highlight in the documentary. This gorgeous piece of property towards the north end of the country belonged to the first president of Ecuador. Over time, it’s been chipped away at, into profitable pieces, but the remaining vast expanse of rolling green countryside was passed down through the family.
We also spent some time in Quito. On the first night, we were joined by a good friend of the family, Anna Maria. We badly wanted to go dancing – especially Rene – so we went to a club called La Juliana, where we got to scratch the itch.
It took a while to fill up, but once it did, there were plenty of people shakin’ it on the dance floor. Rene had a great thing going with a couple lovely local ladies. They were fantastic dancers – Rene was in heaven.
The hottest guy around (also one of the few taller than me) decided he would teach me to salsa. When he noticed my abs, he mentioned that he was Mr. Ecuador three years in a row! We had a such a blast dancing, he asked me to marry him.
In Quito, Mariscal is the neighborhood to be in. There is the concentrated center of nightlife. On Sunday, when the whole city fell quiet, apparently due to a recent banning of alcohol sales on Sundays, the party played on in the Mariscal main square, where a protest took place.
Finding the event on my first solo excursion of the trip, I was thoroughly amused. It wasn’t far from our hotel, where the boys were napping, plus we had spent plenty of time crisscrossing the neighborhood on foot, so I knew the way. And daylight would last at least another hour. That’s why, against common advice, I ventured alone.
Around the perimeter of the square, metal trashcans were attached to short poles with metal rain-guards on top. Where I perched, there was just a rain-guard, no can. It was a seat with the most perfect view possible of the protest and surrounding scene. I still had no idea what it was about. But everyone, oddly enough, seemed happy.
A man approached. He was tall and handsome with dark hair and thin, wire-rimmed glasses. I saw him coming.
“Hola,” I said.
Responding in Spanish, he said something completely incomprehensible.
“No hablez Espangol,” I said, laughing. “Do you speak English?”
He did! His name was Gustav. I asked what the excitement was about. With closer inspection, we learned they were protesting the recent ban of alcohol on Sundays.
Noting what day it was, seeing that many places weren’t even open, we found a spot to have some sparkling mineral water and coffee, to observe.
An Argentinian, traveling alone on vacation, Gustav ended up staying with me until well into the night. We talked for a while, then he joined my friends and I for dinner at the square. He walked us back to the hotel and when the boys when inside, we sat out front together for hours.
“Am I ever going to see you again?” I asked.
“I don’t know.” It was our last night in Quito. We said goodbye.
The next morning, our fourth wheel arrived. Andrew! Our gang complete, Thacher, Rene, Andrew and I headed for the coast on what was about to be the longest bus ride EVER!
Somewhere along the fifth or sixth hour, we stopped at a gas station for a bathroom break. Not having to pee, but eager to get off the bus, I hopped off and went to wash my hands. Then, there in the sink, I found the coolest ring!
Solid plastic, it’s clear with a pink tint. Suspended inside, there’s a pink rose blossom and a tiny gold chain. It couldn’t be more perfect for me. My middle name is Rose! And my last name is Goldfarb! How neat!
Excited about my new treasure, to no one in particular I exclaimed, “Awesome ring… Wow, totally fits me!”
Much to my surprise, someone responded. And it was in English! The woman was standing next to me, with an adorable 2-year-old boy on her hip who had a great head of curls. They were also riding our bus.
The mother’s name was Josie. Within a few minutes, we were making on plans to travel along the Ecuador coast together. By the time we got off the bus in Manta, we decided to stick with Josie and her family for as long as possible.
Originally from Ecuador, but currently living in Texas, Josie knows how things work in her home country, especially when it comes to getting a deal. No matter where we went, she had our prices significantly reduced. The next day, we shared a van with her family, going south along the beach from Manta to Montañita, stopping anywhere we felt the need to eat or stretch our legs on the way.
It’s less than one week from departure day and my mind spins and spins and spins. Where to begin?
I wanted to share some of the magic that’s taking place…
Pondering the fact that I’ll be basically living in beach wear for the entire length of my trip, it occurred to me that I should find a local swimwear sponsor! Although the current project is focused on faraway lands, I figured, “How cool would it be to continue tying Portland in?!”
Then, rolling around town one day, I spotted a bus bench advertising for Popina Swimwear. It seemed like a divine moment. I realized I should contact them. So I did.
Lo and behold, they were receptive! They invited me into the shop where I explained the film project in detail.
“You must realize we don’t get many requests like this,” they told me. But Portland is such a collaborative, creative town – it made complete sense that I should be rocking Portland swimwear for the film project. They were totally on board!
Before I knew it, my arms were filled with a colorful array of retro swimwear. I got busy fitting.
If you are like me, swimsuit shopping is no simple task. Being a tall girl, built with a such solid frame, it’s never been easy. Most of the time, with the tiny triangles of synthetic fabric and little strings holding them together, I tend to feel overexposed.
At Popina, there was none of that. As I pulled the first garment on, noting the sturdy yet soft texture of the material, I was pleased to see it fit perfectly. There were no unsightly bulges – nothing I didn’t want to share was revealed. I loved it!
Wondering if this could be a mere chance phenomenon, I went through every suit – even the ones I was SURE I wouldn’t like. Popina is well stocked with a variety of vintage-style swimsuits, but there was one in particular that caught me by surprise…
A one-piece, this suit was created using a beautiful Hawaiian print of light blue blossoms on a solid chocolate plane. The style, almost boyish, included a swooping, low-cut back and WOW – my butt was great in it! I never would have imagined liking it, seeing it on the hanger, but once I tried it on…FABULOUS!
Then I came to an adorable lime green paisley tankini. The halter top, easily paired with a skirt, shorts, or just about any other cute bottom was flawless. There were two matching bottoms I tried, one classic, the other, more of a boy-short with scrunchy sides. Soooooooooo cute! It was a tough call, but I went for the boy shorts.
Now I am one step closer to being ready for Ecuador. Wherever I go, in my swimsuits from Portland, I’ll look downright snazzy. That’s the way to be!
This post is from waaaaaaaay back in April. Please click HERE for the latest greatest AUDREALITY info.
*Some of the following may be review.
It was less than a year ago, I started toying with the idea.
“We should make a movie,” I said to myself (and anyone who’d listen). It would be about Portland, my love affair with a city. Even though I’ve been here my entire life, I’m still in awe of it. Beautiful, green, friendly and relaxed, Portland must be one of the best places in the world to call home.
Back then, I’d spend much of my time making lists of events to check out, trying my darnedest to get to as many colorful stops as possible. I kept my ear to the tracks, reading the weekly papers, always on the day they hit the streets (Willamette Week Wednesdays and Portland Mercury Thurs) when they’re crisp. I’d faithfully tune in to PDX Pipeline, hunting for fashion shows, live music, street fairs and other special celebrations and parties, anything that might draw an interesting crowd.
Every day it was something, some days it was lots of things. When it occurred to me that I should make a movie about how awesome life in Portland is, suddenly it was what I had to do.
I posted an ad on Craigslist for a camera person. It went something like this:
Person with video camera to follow chicks on random adventures in Portland and ultimately the world…
In the compensation section I wrote, “Some things are more valuable than money.”
Weeeeeeeeell, the ad didn’t last long. But before it was flagged and removed, it got lots of responses! Still, most camera operators booking a job need to get paid. Operating on sheer will alone, I could not afford it.
The film project slid to the back burner. Then one day, while I was running the Portland Marathon, there was my crazy old friend, Vinny. He’s the kind of guy you hang out with only so often, because in more than small doses he’s, frankly, overwhelming. It had been years since we’d hung out, yet there was Vinny, standing on the sidelines around mile 9. And he was shooting video.
Vinny was getting footage of a special lady friend of his. He was focused on her when I brushed past at the end to breathlessly tell him I’d just gotten my Boston qualifier.
Within a day or two, Vinny brought the footage over, four clips of me running and finishing the race. He was dressed in a handsome suit, armed with his video camera. The wheels of my film project quickly kicked into high gear and we were on our way to shoot day one of Audreality.
Being the character he is, Vinny was one tough cat to manage. Trying to control that guy is like trying to guide a gushing river with your bare hands. Impossible! For a brief time though, our paths aligned, just long enough to collect 30 hours of ridiculous footage boppin’ around P-Town. As if that weren’t enough for one film, there’s a surprise story of love, heartbreak and a man’s ensuing descent into total madness.
We had no direction. We also had no funds. The result is a delightful, Portland-based guerrilla movie project: a crude, rude reality show and an autobiographical documentary at once.
We shot Audreality from October 7th through November 7th, 2009. In the months since, I wasted little time trying to find help. A friend set me up with his equipment, enabling me to learn on my own how to use film editing software. I quickly got busy cutting footage.
The result is an incredible piece of work. My rough cuts are getting an excellent response from the audience: everyone laughs their asses off. People want to watch it again and again. Absurdity aside, the emotional ride hidden within the film is a bit of a heart wrencher. This formula makes for cinematic magic.
Audreality premieres October 1st at the Academy Theater in Portland. There was no choice in locations – this was a part of the unshakable vision from the start. But in the back then, I didn’t know what would happen next. I certainly didn’t have any clue what to do with the film once I was done with it. But I realized with crystal clarity that this was only the beginning of the road.
And that’s just it. Audreality must hit the road. Although I would love to continue the series at home with a real budget someday, right now Audreality is setting sail…to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands!
What a thrill! Who would’ve thought such fantastical dreams could materialize in such a short period?!
The first part of the trip is to be spent helping an Ecuadorian family make a promotional piece about the farmland they own, beautiful rolling hills at the foot of the Andes, where their long term plan is to build a sustainable community. Our purpose is to help them showcase their gorgeous land, to create an open invitation, for good people of the world to share. Monetary concerns are minimal during our stay there.
After a few days, we will journey to the southern-most part of Ecuador and make our way north on a 9-day trek along the entire coastline, exploring.
Finally, we head out to sea, for a week-long boat tour of the Galapagos Islands, before returning home to Portland.
In the end, the project is multi-dimensional:
We’ll make a video to showcase the farmland, we’ll create an adventure documentary while touring Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands and we’ll help showcase the hidden secrets of Ecuador with Ecuador Eco Adventure.
What can I say? Life keeps getting better, featuring Portland’s Urban Iditarod, the Shamrock Run and more…
Want to explore the outdoors?
Let me know what you’re into.
We’ll take it from there.
Violet was helping me prep my slides (for IGNITE) this morning when we came to the point about rejecting apathy. Learned helplessness is a devastating social disease, but it’s not incurable. As my parents fret out loud about the state of muck our country is in, dooming us all to a fate determined by misinformed masses, I can’t accept such a bleak future…because we are the drivers of our own destiny.
See there’s hardly a difference between you and me. When you break it down, the biggest discrepancies are products of wherever we happen to be.
Violet had never heard of apathy.
“It’s when people decide it’s too hard to try,” I explained, “that nothing they want to change is within their realm of control. We have to reject those feelings in order to accomplish big things.”
Sometimes it’s as simple as asking to receive.
I noticed Cheech & Chong were coming through town for their Legalize It tour. And they were appearing at the Schnitz! Something about seeing their names lit up made me smile. Weed-oriented political comedy is right up my alley…but with tickets around 50 bucks, how would I get in?
So I put it out there. I updated my facebook status:
“Who wants to take me to the Cheech & Chong show?” I asked. Within a few hours I had a new friend who happened to have a pair of tickets to the show. Of course I would go!
We arrived in time to wait in a long beer line, in a lobby full of Tommy Chong look-a-likes. One white-haired dude with a matching white beard wore tie-dye head-to-toe. I have never seen so many Cheech’n'Chong t-shirts. And everyone smelled like dank.
We made our way to our seats, setting our eyes on a lady with a lovely pair of legs. It was Chong’s wife.
“How ’bout that Tiger Woods,” she said, “I fucked him.”
She introduced the boys with an act that continued for a full two hours. First they sat on stools, while she read notes (supposedly with questions from the audience) bullshitting like they hadn’t prepared, in a routine that eventually had Cheech (looking more and more like a little old man) dancing in a pink tutu while jamming on an electric guitar.
The audience was something else. There we were at the Schnitz, probably the fanciest large event space in Portland, where every few minutes my lungs were filled with a wonderful wave of tasty goodness. I wasn’t smoking…but someone was. Even with security prowling the aisles, flashing bright light towards the clouds as they lifted to the high ceiling, most people managed to get away with it.
I welcomed any smell to overtake the horrendous breath of the dude on my left. Could he PLEASE just stop breathing?! Good lord.