So in the interest of sharing some of my experience so far, here are some pictures and anecdotes:
rambutan. This fruit is native to Thailand but grows well here because of the tropical climate. It's quite fun to eat, but not very flavorful in my opinion. It wins my heart in the looks category for sure.
a kitten (cause how can you not love them). I have noticed a few differences in the treatment of pets here from in the US, though I can't say how well these differences apply in general. Dogs are seen on the streets a lot more here than in the US, but usually keep to themselves and only bark if they're close to their house. In the Runa household that I visit most often (almost every day), there are about 4 dogs and 5 cats who survive on table scraps and what they catch themselves. To my mind the dogs seem just as affectionate and needy as dogs I know in the US, but they are given little to no physical attention from humans. The cats are played with by girl children and one kitten is my particular companion as well, but adults usually don't pay them attention except to shoo them away from the food in the kitchen. Similarly for dogs, their main attention is in the form of negative commands, stop barking (when someone passes by the house), get out of here, etc. Again I don't know if this treatment is how it is for most people but I would suspect it's similar, even if more well-to-do families buy manufactured pet food. And the animals all seem to be doing fine, it's been interesting to watch this difference without making one way or the other worse. (I could easily feel contempt for the American pet culture with its smothering and unnecessary commercialization, or worry about this culture and whether or not the dogs are being loved enough, but I won't spend too much time thinking about it.)
God on the bus. Christianity is pervasive here, both the Catholic and Protestant varieties. I especially notice on buses that there are lots of religious images and sayings, in various states of legibility or disrepair. I wonder if the reminders that Jesús te ama are noticed by others here and if they bring a bit of light into people's day the way I assume they are meant to, or if they fade into the background. I don't think there is a corresponding culture of atheism or agnosticism here, or bitter rejection of Christianity as there sometimes is in the US. I mention this only because I thought of how these images would be viewed if they suddenly popped up everywhere in the United States, and it would be uncomfortable at best. (Not that I'm aligning with the "Christianity is so persecuted in the US" mentality. But it is more secular, perhaps because it's better for business.)
There was a parade for my birthday. Well, the 12th of May also happens to be the anniversary of the founding of Puyo as I mentioned before. It was a good activity for a birthday far away from home.
my current residence.You can tell that my landlady's family and friends (especially those who have lived here before who she considers to be a part of her family) are very important to her. Even though I'm not living with a Runa family as I had originally planned to try to do, it has been very helpful to have her support and some space of my own.
local greenery. I am living and working in town, but every empty or natural space reminds me of the lush jungle that was even closer last summer. It's still breathtaking to me.
So I'm noticing that these were all taken on my iphone, many altered using the instagram application. It's the only digital camera I brought (I also have some disposable ones). What a typical representation of American international travel these days, ah well. It has been such a useful device on this trip, and even though I justified getting it in order to record videos for my research it has been a whole lot of fun to have, too. I'm keeping in touch with family through internet-enabled SMS messages, making friends with kids by lending it for them to play games on, and of course using it for research and personal documentation. Thanks MomenDad.