not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Yo Regreso para DOMINICAL.

Hey Hey Hey. SO, after a huge thanksgiving feast @ El Vago I rolled myself back to the Soda and somehow managed to surf...and have a great session. It was early to bed that Pat's, even though I had Annes, cause I was a little scared of the dark - it being a new place and all! PLUS, I definitely wanted to spend my Thanksgiving with Pat, silly to sleep all alone in my new casita. The next morning I woke up early, packed a bag for Dominical (did I mention that I STILL have yet to unpack my Ecuador bag?!?) and trekked down the hill to the Soda. Noah, (Atenas) John and I were hopping in John's car for a 3 day trip to Dominical. John had never been and I was glad to be able to show him around my old stomping grounds. The bumpy, awful 3 hour drive was an hour and a half of smooth sailing on pavement!!! What a WONDERFUL surprise!! We were arrived in no-time and set up camp @ Tortilla Flats....20 bucks a night for the 3 of us, right on the beach. We surfed some not-so-great-waves and then I was sound asleep by 630pm. Seriously. I woke up the next morning at 6am. Did some yoga, had coffee and gallo pinto at my favorite SODA NANYOA with John, and then we headed up to Billy's house. The boys were obviously blown away by the beauty of Bill's oasis, but still wanted to go for a surf in the (crappy) waves in Dominical. I opted to hang at Bill's and head over with him to Jeff and Kris's house while he worked on their car. I played with their dog rita, read my Yoga magazine, and shot the shit with Jeff...comparing our Ecuador/Galapagos stories (he was there in the 70's.....). Met up with the boys later at Billy's and I made us a big dinner: a nice salad, linguine with homemade sauce, bread and roasted garlic in olive oil. We had OREJAS for dessert. You are going to hear a ton about Oreja' I'll prep you. "Oreja" means EAR. This dessert is just flour, sugar and honey but holy christ it's delicious...and it somewhat resembles an ear. Anyways, having slept for 12 hours the night before, I was ready for a night out...and hoping to see some old friends. The 3 of us went to Que Nivel, my friend Taylor's bar, and hung out with the good to catch up over a few beers. And though we said we weren't going to go to the disco, Roca Verde, at midnight John and I were hopping in the cab en route for some dancing!!! We got home a little after 2 am, woke up Noah - pissed off Noah...both the boys went to sleep, and continually ripped awful farts from then until 8am that morning. Our last day in town, today, was the most successful surf day. It was windy, but the waves were fun and fast and a decent size. I said goodbye to all my friends and then hopped back in the car, back to Esterillos. Rolled into town, stopped at El Vago, had a club soda and some gratis Chicheronnes and then up to my little casita to FINALLY unpack and do some fucking laundry!!! BAH. Tonight I'm headin to Cameron's for dinner...he's making a pineapple curry, and then tomorrow Adam and I pick up Shawnie at the airport. VaVaVOOOOM.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving, Oeste Style.

I woke up this morning, totally overwhelmed by all that I was thankful for. This year I am going to dedicate this thanksgiving blog to Eseterillos Oeste, though it certainly extends much further than here, I feel a special connection with this place and these people.

I am thankful for Pat. After a month of traveling with me, I have been camped out at her house, in her bed, in her space...she is truly family. I tell her my thoughts and dreams and fears and she listens...with an open mind and open heart. Í'm thankful for her CONSTANT positivity and her ability to see the best in everyone. I am thankful for Mikey. He drove 3 hours to the airport to pick me up when I arrived from the states...along with my 9foot double board bag, my guitar, and my huge bookbag. Bah. THEN, a month later, he drove back AGAIN to the airport to pick up Pat and I. He is always there when you need him, and as apathetic as he always comes across, he is infinitely stoked and he certainly lives up to his nickname, THE LEGEND. I'm thankful for Soda Mary and the whole crew that makes up this wonderful group of rifraf. Brett. Lagarto. When Pat and I pulled into town late at night, everyone was waiting for us - cold beer, burgers and smiles and hugs. Brett, who drinks like a goddamn fish and has a heart of gold. I'm thankful for the love he gives me, the meals he cooks me, and his neverending want to make ya happy. I'm thankful for ADAM, that motherfucker. Love him to death. He hauls my ass around in the car to wherever I need to go, makes up some MEAN french toast and hashbrowns, and has let me store my boatload of shit in his spare bedroom. He is constantly busting my chops, but it's always out of love. I'm thankful for Cameron...for "Cam and Eggs", for his UNDYING PASSION for the water, he is a wave-slave through and through. I'm thankful for his shared love of food and cookies with tea...and I'm thankful for his soft-spoken kindness and constant generosity. I'm thankful for Noah, his of waves and weed, and for his inspiration in the water. I'm thankful for Adam's BEAUTIFUL girlfriend Maria, for welcoming me into the town and instantly as a friend. I'm thankful for her being patient with my shitty spanish and for her smile. I'm thankful for CRAZY STEVE, who despite being absolutely insane is an amazing, interesting, complex and talented person. I'm thankful for his rendition of ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER, his extravagant stories of being on the road with rockstars: sex, drugs and rock and roll, and for his passion of raw food -- I'm currently eating some figs he grew that are soaked in raw honey. BAH. Delightful. I'm thankful for Lika, little lika, the dog of a local gardener in town. She is small and fat and somewhat resembles a mini-pin, but she is so happy all the time that her body wiggles all over the place. The other dog in town that makes me so happy is STAINER, the local cooks dog who sets up his home wherever he pleases. Sweet to the core and one of the best dogs in Costa Rica. I'm thankful for Anne, allowing me to set up camp in her home for the next 5 weeks, for free. I'm thankful for every little act of kindness that everyone in this town has shown me, and there have been MANY. I'm thankful that despite being thousands of miles away from my family that I love so much, I still manage to feel at home. El Vago is having a thanksgiving feast today, and I'm thankful for the community that I will share it with.

I'm thankful for Oeste...for offering up a family in every sense of the word.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Home Sweet Home

I'm back home in Oeste and damn, it feels good to be back. Mikey picked us up from San Jose and when Pat and I pulled into Oeste there was a welcoming party waiting for us, as well as a few cold beers and 1/2 pound monster burgers. We were deliriously tired so the party didn't last too long. I stayed with Pat...the poor woman couldn't shake me if she tried!! I bought some food for her fridge and promised to cook her delicious meals as well as some free yoga classes. We get along like 2 peas in a pod, so it's no problem really. Since I've been back I've been trying to catch up with the crew, log some water time, and edit the 3,000 photos that Pat and I took! Well, when we were sitting on her porch today, reminiscing about our great trip and trying to figure out where I'm going to live and work in town, Anne came walking up the stairs with a proposition. Anne is from Canada, but has lived in Costa Rica for years now. She is heading home for the holidays and her house will be empty for the next 5 weeks...and she needed someone to watch the place. SO, for the next month I will be living in an amazing place for $40 (I have to pay the utilities), and now all I need is to find a job! Wohooo, pura vida is in action.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Galapagos Part 2

So...I´m not going to write day by day descriptions...I´m just going to fill you in on some of the highlights during the last 4 days aboard the Sulidae, sailing the Galapagos, with some of the most wonderful people.


We had a slight poo problem. Actually, it was a MAJOR poo problem. The toilets aboard the sailboat were pretty interesting, and add some poo into the bowl and it was just no good for anyone. The first two days I managed to flush my morning poo´s with the assistance of Pat. God bless her. The pump to flush the toilet is right next to the bowl, so as you are frantically pumping you are simultaneously face to face with the dirty deed. Ew. I have never been so intimate with poop in my whole life. I finally stepped on deck and desperately asked if anyone else was having flush problems, and luckily my dear friends and neighbors aboard the sulidae, Peter and Shane, were having some serious problems as well. They had to call Floro to bail them out once or twice, but said that with about a half hour worth of time, plunging the toilet with the toilet cleaner, adding water and pumping - all at the same time - you could manage to get most of it down. Shane and I often got into discussions about our FEAR to go to the bathroom. When you wake up at 6am, having to shit like you wouldn´t believe, we would lie in bed on the brink of tears...knowing that our sleepy morning would start off staring at last nights dinner. !Que malo! Anyways, on day 3 we started having serious problems and I had to call on Floro to flush for us more times than I´d care to share. One time I left a nice note on the toilet (he cleans the rooms while we were on excursions), other times I cried and apologized, and sometimes I just laughed hysterically because really...who knew that poo could be so stressful!! Shit! Literally...shit! Pat and I laughed about it every morning as we battled the toilet, clenching our sides and gasping for air as we laughed about how frustrating and funny and totally gross our situation was. And every day that we left, having left a present for Floro to clean up, we were worried that he wouldn´t be able to look at us the same...but everytime upon our arrival back, we entered our room to beautifully folded towels! (side note- floro didnt fold anyone elses towels...just ours. and not only did he fold them, but they were folded into swans, hearts, manta rays, snakes and more!).

Peter...and his several ATTACKS

We were in town, killing some time and all of the sudden here comes Peter, covered in blood!! He cries that he was attacked by a tree, and though Pat, Shane and I love him dearly we all could not control our hysterical laughter. No good deed goes unpunished, and when Peter ran to retrieve a stray volleyball from the game going on at the courts, he ran face first into a vicious tree!! He´s lucky that he didn´t break his nose or break his teeth, and even more lucky that his bestest bud and bunk mate is a doctor. When we got back to the boat Shane began nursing him back to health. He gave him ibprofuen, and set up a cleaning water, salt, and neosporin cream. He cleaned out the inside of his lip, cleaned up his nose and nursed the wounds. Poor Peter...battered and bruised and bloody, though he still managed to choke down two plates of food for dinner.

Attack Number 2. Despite his face, Peter accompanied me snorkeling in Libera (no one else would go in because it was too cold). We saw several turtles and a couple seals. Well, it´s mating season in the Galapagos, and the male sea lions are very aggressive. As we were getting out of the water, the male sea lion on the beach became very aggitated and then quick as lightening he jetted into the water and bit Peters ass!! It all happened so quickly, and once again - knowing that he was alive - the 3 of us laughed til we cried. Peter, the big German in his tiny speedo, bitten in the arse by a sea lion. What are the fucking odds. Once again, upon our return to the ship, Doctor Shane busted out his tools and cleaned up Peters buttocks. We have pictures to prove it.

Unfortunately traveling through the Galapagos with a tour guide is a little like being on a field trip in preschool. Over supervised and completely obnoxious. Well, we finally see a Blue Footed Booby and Peter dashes into the water so he can get a closer view and some good photos. Our guide is having a heartattack because Peter is in knee deep water and he may ¨cut his foot on a rock¨...mind you, Peter is 32 years old and has traveled the world 5 times over. She was calling for him the way that a kindergarten teacher scolds a child. Peter held strong though and trekked on to get some amazing photos. While we were walking away the guide said ¨Well, he´s been attacked by a tree and a sea lion, anything is possible with that boy.¨ Hahahahaha. Oh peter.

Our Final Days

Our last two days aboard the Sulidae were the best. We got EIGHT new people on board, most of them rather dry, but we got two AMAZING people, Walter and Ellen. Walt and Ellen have lived on their sailboat for 14 years now, traveling the world...they are amazing people with amazing stories, and hopefully they will be sailing into Costa Rica sometime this winter for a visit. The 4 of us became quick friends with them and the laughs continued. The two final days were in San Cristobal, the best of the islands. We had sunshine for TWO WHOLE DAYS, a nice alternative to the drab weather we´d been having. Also, we got lots of water time. We snorkeled at some amazing spots...with sharks, turtles, manta rays, and more seal lions. Peter wasn´t attacked and all was well in the water world. We had some time in town so we rented bikes, and within 5 minutes we stopped at the bakery for some pastries and cold milk. In town on the beach were all the mothers and their little we saw them nursing, which was precious. At night we took the panga back into town with Floro. We were the only people in the bar, but played some pool and drank lots of beer.

The 4 of us left Saturday morning, and the guide was glad to see us go. I think she was more used to old, rich ¨bird watchers¨who didnt want to wade through rocky water to take photos, and who relied on a strict schedule. We laughed all the way back to Quito, where Pat and decided to forgo Otavalo and spend the rest of the day with the boys. We checked back into Secret Garden, my FAVORITE hostal, and then we all met up at Peters´friends home thats just here in town. We had some drinks, went out for some pizza, then had a sad goodbye. Two wonderful gentlemen, whom I feel VERY blessed to have met. Pat and I are already planning our trip to Venezuela this January to visit Peter. Pat went right to bed after dinner, and though that was my plan, my friends at Secret Garden felt otherwise. I played some music and then Ravi and Mindy twisted my arm into loading onto the party bus to new town to go salsa dancing. I had a BLAST dancing, though I will say I´m just not crazy about ¨structured dancing¨ such as salsa. Came home, did some yoga in the computer room with Ravi at around 2am, and then slept til NINE the next morning. I love Ecuador.

Pat and I are now at Secret Garden and ready to leave town tomorrow. Tonight is some world domination card competitions, music and maybe some yoga. Tomorrow night is beers back in Esterillos Oeste with the fam. Pura Vida.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Galapagos Islands : Part One

It is 6am, our 3rd day aboard the sailboat Sulidae. It is rainy and overcast, but still we are in a magical paradise. Im lying in my bed, top bunk, looking out over the sea watching sea lions play, swimming around and under our boat.

Let me begin by making some introductions.

1. Koch Ki: also known as COOKIE, he is 21years old from Japan. He is traveling South America for 3 months. His name means HAPPY TREE in Japanese and he has been a delightful part of our group. His english is so so and he doesnt speak spanish, so I give him huge props for taking part in this adventure.
2. Peter: is a 32 year old German, who now lives in Venezuela. He is a well traveled, educated son of a Diplomat and is a gentlemen-to-boot. He is funny and clever and great to have aboard.
3. Shane: is from Ireland. ¨The doctor¨, or ¨the Healer¨ as Peter calls him, is completing his residency in Australia but he is currently taking 4 months to travel around. He is quite funny, even if most of his jokes are at my expense.....´the american´.

These are the 3 that Pat and I met at the airport ...we will spend all 8 days with Peter and Shane, and 5 days with KochKi before he leaves for Peru. Also aboard the Sulidae are 2 couples...a couple from Spain and an older couple from Germany. The Germans are nice, though Andreas´ wife doesnt say too much...she speaks very little english and no spanish. The Spanish couple came off as pretty rude at first, but after an afternoon excursion to the bar Jesus came alive and Lara is slowly coming around as well. Two names that I will mention A LOT are WALTER and FLORO. Walter is the chef and Floro...well he does everything except driving the boat and taking us on our daily excursions. Walter and I became close friends within minutes of me boarding the ship. I hover around the kitchen, and I dont think that he minds. We talk about food and life and free time...and he talks me through whatever it is that hes cooking for us. We have had some amazing meals...lots of fish, cooked to perfection.

DAY 1: we flew into baltra and took a taxi to the isalnd of santa cruz. here is a pretty busy town where most boats begin their journey. we visited the charles darwin center, got a briefing about the galapagos and saw some enormous freaking turtles. It is a hot and sunny and beautiful day. We swim off the boat and all get to know eachother.

DAY 2: arrive to FLOREANA at 630am. it is a bit overcast and the days activity is snorkeling! peter, shane and the spaniards take off to go scuba diving,so its just pat, me and the germans...and the wife is scared of the water. that now makes 3. the water is chilly, but once we get in i am surrounded by schools of fish, i swim alongside a huge seaturtle for a distance and then lay on my back next to a seal who is just taking a little float. later in the day, once everyone returns from diving, we take a hike up to the mountain on floreana. the town is pretty dry and dark and a little depressing, but we are entertained with herds of cows and the seals playing on the dock. dinner was rather exciting....we had JAPANESE lessons. everyone had managed to smuggle some booze onto the boat and we all had a nice buzz going. Jesus, the spaniard, began to warm up after a drink or two and our Japanese lessons turned into a haiku session.
(koch ki wrote all of this in traditional japanese, the pronounciation in english, and what it meant)
a saying that we used often that night, and continued to use for nights to come was KAN PAI which means ¨dry glass¨...the Japanese equivelant of saying cheers. before eating you say ¨ITADAKIMASU¨ and after your meal you say ¨GOCHISOUSAMADESHITA¨. The haiku that Koch Ki created for us was beautiful and when translated meant ¨this meeting is life a dream i dont forget¨. it was a magical night.

night is full of stars
boat full of japanese, laughter, rum, fanta
magic fills our sails tonight

***day 2 i decide, i REFUSE to accept instant coffee...SO, i bust out the coffee that was gifted to me by Andrea at the hotel coco in Salinas, I sacrifice a tank top, and I get crafty. Everyone thought that I was crazy but really: what is more important, a meesly tank top or REAL COFFEE? Floro insisted on helping me, and for the rest of the trip it is our morning messy ritual of making coffee aboard the rocky ship.

day3: this is the day that things began to get more interesting. we arrived at the island of ISABELA to far the most beautiful island. it is rainy and cold again, damnit...but we are just going with the flow. we go horseback riding in the morning up to sierra negra volcano and then hike to see the rest. the hike was hellacious and boring, but one we got to the top the view was amazing. we are all pretty tuckered out and ¨touristed out¨ we tell our guide that we dont want to be guided anymore...we want to find a BAR on the BEACH and we want to DRINK SOME BEER! With majority favoring the bar (the only one opposed is our guide) we find the most amazing, charming, most wonderful bar in all of the world. We laughed and drank and sang along to the wonderful cheesey american music playing, with some bob marley thrown in here and there. We go back to the boat, only for Floro and I to hop BACK onto the panga to go back to town. His daughter lives on this island with her husband, who is a guitarist...and everyone on the boat was desperate for some music! Floro and I cruise through town, he is introducing me to everyone as his ¨esposa¨ (funny because floro is an old man) and then we pick up the very old, very out of tune, pretty awful guitar. I cant complain though, and the kindess that everyone shows me warms me up from the inside we head back to our ship, ¨guitar¨ in hand. Aboard the ship drinking has continued. Pats drinking some godawfulcocktail that we named PEACH ECSTASY and the mixers are getting more odd and more awful as the night goes on. I play every song in my repitoire and its like a bunch of drunken sailors as everyone tries to sing along. Jesus and I get into a deep conversation about Spain and FOOD. Im completely absorbed with all that he has to say. This is how they do it in Spain:

  • wake up at 7am. breakfast is coffee.
  • 11am is CAFE con PINCHO (pincho is a very small snack...croissant, little sandwich, something).
  • between 130 and 3pm is LUNCH. You take 2 hours for lunch.
  • done work, home by 8.
  • 10pm friends coem over. start dinner. go to bed btwn midnight and 2am.
  • Also, there is dessert after EVERY meal. They drink their coffee black and usually a cocktail after every meal, even lunch. Jesus is a biologist by trade and a music enthusiast in his heart.

Day4: Our last day at ISABELA and the SUN IS SHINING!!!!! in AM: sharks. white tipped reef...over 20 of them in canal. snorkel: well, snorkel is busted, so i get some great practice just holding my breath. shark swims close to me, i literally climb over shane who is swimming next to me. penguins, fish, and SEA LIONS. One sea lion in particular. Lara finally warming up, lets me borrow snorkel. Laugh uncontrollably as my new sea lion friend swims circles around me...pressing his nose up to mine, and swimming past me and over me and under me and eventually brushing up against me. laugh more, swallow water. for it only being my 2nd time snorkeling, i am the LAST one back into the panga. shane, koch ki and i lay on deck like seals...soaking up the sun and taking a nap. LUNCH. more turtles...once youve seen one youve seen them all. eh. we are supposed to go snorkeling again, but its gotten chilly and windy and the best bar ever is only a few steps away. pete and koch ki go snorkeling...we have PARTY TIME. 2 for 5 mojitos...load us up. everyone is pretty buzzed...dancing, singing...pat has 3 umbrellas in her hair - Jesus has rasta dread hat on...oh the madness. Back to the boat, diving off the stern. laugh laugh laugh, choke on water laughing so hard. shrimp for dinner - so delicious- more booze - more laughing- debating - POLITICS...lightened by music. Sleep on a VERY rocky ride as we make our way back to santa crus to say goodbye to koch ki.

Day 5: I am currently sitting at the internet in santa cruz. we returned to deliever koch ki and tonight we leave for san will be another 4 days before i get back to internet...and now im going for ceviche and beer. life is good.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ecuador Day 14: The Galapagos

¨They¨ say that Vegas is the town that never sleeps - obviously ¨they¨have never been to Montañita...because this town certainly takes the cake.

day 13 continued...

So at 5pm I meet the band at Caña Grill for ¨band practice¨. I know, less than 36 hours after my arrival in town and Ive already adopted a local group of musicians. We decide on 4 songs I will play with them...peggy lees FEVER, india aries VIDEO, desrees YOU GOTTA BE, and PROUD MARY. By the way....I will be playing an ELECTRIC GUITAR - totally foriegn, but to my surprise, totally wonderful. As the boys said, ¨Es muy suave Cailin!!!¨ With FEVER i had congas, the piano on lead, and bass. VIDEO was the same. YOU GOTTA BE was the full band: congas, the kit, bass and lead was PROUD MARY. and all i gotta say is WOW. WOW. AMAZING. Who would have thought that the most talented people who have ever backed me would be a random group of musicians from a little dirty surf town in Ecuador. It was an amazing experience. Wonderful and unique and very special. When I finished, the boss lady walked me over to the bar, which only a has a few RESERVED seats, sat me down and said FREE BEER. Okay with me! The boys went back on to continue with a GREAT show...tons of energy that penetrated everyone in the crowd. Once again, I didnt return home until 2am...and I was one of the FIRST people in the whole town to retire!! (day 14) At 330am our alarm went off, time for Galapagos. We waited outside for Bisetes arrival and still, at 4am, there were hordes of people in the streets, music blaring from speakers. People young and old, locals and tourists. 4 in the freaking morning!!! Bah. ANyways, it took us 2.5hours in the taxi to get to Guayaquil. The airport was a clusterfuck from the beginning - I probably lost about 3 pounds while walking laps around the small airport. Once we FINALLY got things situated and arrived at the gate we both had a cup of coffee...though what we really needed was a freaking IV of caffeine. Once aboard the plane we noticed we were sitting in fancy shmancy FIRST CLASS. Holy shit! Im probably the greaziest person to ever grace this seat! We figured that there must have been some kind of we just kept quiet. Well, 20minutes into the flight and we are still here...lounging in our plush chairs with the leg rests. You cannot predict the flow and wow...what a fucking treat!!! Galapagos, here we STYLE.

Quickie update: we arrive in to the main island and meet our traveling partners. 3 young guys: one from germany, one from ireland and one from japan. A solid crew of well traveled gentlemen. As soon as we get to the boat Im overwhelmed with love for this charming sailboat...and I wanna swim. First I jumped off the side, and then did a huge dive off of the bow!! HOly mackeral. We took a small panga back into town and visited the Charles Darwin Center and saw some huge turtles and talked about what the next few days will have in store. Pat and I hit up the supermarket to buy some cheap boxed wine to smuggle onto the boat. We are blessed with a great crew, and I have obviously already become very close friends with the chef. Today for lunch we had fresh wahoo, a great salad, and cauliflower-mashed potatoes. MmMmM. Love it. Wont be back to land for atleast another 2 days, so Ill report back then.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ecuador Day 13

Yesterday, day 12...after the internet cafe Pat and I cruised around our new town. It was really muddy and beginning to rain again. This town kindof reminds me of Dominical...very young, bohemian with a bunch of people who came here for vacation and just never left. Anyways, Pat and I shared some nachos and a few beers. Electricity was out, AGAIN, so a shower was out of the question. While we were finishing up our food we heard bongo drums coming from down the street...and soon thereafter we saw someone throwing fire. So, LA CUENTA and we were off. A crowd quickly gathered and then the party was moved to the bar inside. There was 3 drummers...Jorge on congas, a dreaded guy on the djembe, and someone on kit. It was AMAZING. Plus, we had a guy throwing fire and dancing around. Very cool, very entertaining. Like every other town we have been in while in Ecuador, everyone here is super friendly. Pat went off to bed and I opted to stay...our room is so close to the bar I would have been laying in bed listening to the commotion, so I just decided to ADD to the commotion. In between the drum sessions there was a great DJ which was nice. I mostly just listened and chatted with a few people. I ended up talking with Jorge, the conga player, and when he discovered that I was a musician he INSISTED that I play with them the following night. A group of us went outside and a jam session was started up....I learned how to play some salsa music as well as Buena Vista Social Clubs CHAN CHAN!!!! WOohooo. Went to bed around 2am and the party raged on outside til about 430. This town is definitely the opposite of Banos, where everything closes at 8pm. Woke up this morning and yogaed on our great front porch. I didn't get started until 8am, but thats okay..everyone was still asleep!! Pat and I had breakfast and then walked down the beach to check the waves. Though it is still raining and overcast and somewhat chilly, I figured that I should try to get in a surf session while I'm here. Waves looked about chest high and kinda fun, so I rented the best board that was available in town... a 9 foot balsa board, a shape that I would never ride but was the best available. Turns out that the board wasn't too shabby, it was actually a little fun! After one wave the head honcho in the water yelled to me "Benga BENGA" I paddled over to him. He introduced me to everyone in the water and told everyone not to drop in on me and to give me a wave if I wanted it. Not bad for my first session out there on a new board. Surfed for 2 hours until my lips were purple and I was covered in goosebumps. The electricity was back on so I hit up the ATM and took a HOT HOT SCOLDING HOT shower...delightful. Pat is out and about trying to find someplace that gives pedicures...I wish her luck. I'm interneting now and then Im going to lay on the hammock on my porch and take a nap. All this fun is making me tired. Tomorrow at 4am, Bisete picks up us out front of the hostal and we are off for the GALAPAGOS ISLANDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 8 days in Paradise. Pura Vida.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ecuador Day 11 and 12

¨¨You can´t predict the flow.¨

Pat and I were on 3 buses for 11 hours today - only scant minutes between one and the next. It was awful and long and frustrating. After many detours and changing of plans we ended up 2.5 hours south of where we originally planned to be,...and traveled 4 hours longer than necessary. If it was not for the EXTRAORDINARY kindness of a complete stranger on teh bus, Pat and I may STILL have been traveling from bus to bus, town to town. This older Ecuadorian gentlemansat across from me on the bus...he yelled at a food vendor for trying to rip me off and made small conversation while on the bus. When we arrived in Guayaquil...2 hours late...all of the buses for Montañita had left for the day. Basically, we were fucked. BUT, this guy talked to bus drivers, policemen and vendors...finally finding us a bus to a town along the shore where we could catch a cab 2 hours away to Montañita. Did I mention that it was now 830 at night? He told us over and over and OVER again to BE CAREFUL! He told us that the taxi drivers have no heart and to trust no one. When we walked us to the bus he talked to the bus driver who he told multiple times to look out for us, and to help us find a safe taxi upon our arrival. If I have not yet mentioned is ESSENTIAL to speak spanish in Ecuador, it´s not like Costa Rica where everyone speaks some english. SO, a little over 2 hours later we arrive in Santa Elena. Pat and I both decided that arriving in Montañita past midnight would not be safe and that nothing would probably be open, so we opted to take a taxi 20minutes away to Salinas, the ¨Miami Beach¨ of Ecuador. We were SO lucky to have stumbled into COCO´s Hotel and Restaurant. Everything is very expensive in Salinas, but we lucked out with a double room for under 40 bucks. Andrea, at the front desk, was amazingly helpful and assured us that she would help us get situated the following morning for a taxi. Pat and I grabbed some local seafood down the street and then passed out. I went to bed exhausted and pissed and upset....a full day of traveling, all the time and money wasted, and I was definitely missing Baños---BUT, as a fellow traveler said in Latacunga, YOU CANT PREDICT THE FLOW. Little did I know that everything happened for a reason. This morning, day 12, we woke up only somewhat defeated and decided that coffee was the first thing to do. Andrea was already at the front desk and when we asked for coffee she obliged....with FRENCH PRESS COFFEE...beans from the GALAPAGOS islands...with steamed milk, a bar of dark cocoa, and a biscotti. This cup of coffee alone was worth the 11 hours of bus rides. Definitely the BEST cup of coffee in south america. Just FYI: Andrea is the owners daughter....probably in her late 20s. She is beautiful and funny and eccentric...fluent in English, lived and studied in Switzerland, and was now back in Salinas to help run her families business. She told us to return in an hour...she was going to call a bunch of taxis and negotiate a good deal for us. Well, she delivered. Besite was our driver, an older Ecuadorian man who spoke a fair bit of English. He would drive us the 2 hours for 50 bucks...and would act as a tour guide. Our ride with Bisete took 5 hours. He stopped when Pat asked to take photos, he took us into every little fishing village between Salinas and Montañita, and took us to an AMAZING little gem where we had lunch of fresh oysters on the half shell, oyster ceviche, fresh grilled lobster, a shrimp tortilla, patacones, rice and BEER. BAH. You couldn´t wipe the smile off my face. Bisete was such an interesting man. We talked about his life, his family, Ecuador, the government, the people, the poverty and his dreams. We went to a little aquarium in a poor town, visited HUGE beautiful rich cathedrals that were in towns so poor that people cannot afford food. We passed shrimpfarms and statues and visited a museum of artifacts from the first indigenous cultures. Such a rich day. We talked about the culture in Ecuador...most girls marry at age 13 or 14...17 or 18 if they are educated. Bisete said he will let his daughter do whatever she wants...ONCE she is a PROFESSIONAL. We talked about the people in these towns, who only make enough to eat, barely able to put food on their back. Some people recieve money from the government, about $35 dollars a month, which is basically a drop in the bucket. There is oil everywhere here, which is great for the country of Ecuador, but is only benefiting the corrupt government. Bisete is a BUSCADOR TE SOROS...a treasure hunter. His dream is to go to Spain and study old manuscripts and logs of treasure ships. He is bright and kind and unfortunately will never have enough money to do all that he deams. SO - our shitty shitty shitty day turned out to be quite wonderful, and now I am sitting in the internet cafe in Montañita. Montañita is not quite what I imagined it to be...and its rainy and muddy with no sun in sight. BUT, Im holding onto the notion of going with the flow, because in the all works out.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ecuador Day 10

I biked 45 kilometers.

Holy Shit.

And I didn´t die.


SO....yesterday (which was day 10....couldn´t blog about it yesterday cause there was no electricity in Banos) I woke up, did yoga, had breakfast with Lou, Pat, Bar, Kathryn & Duncan. Bar met the Australian couple while traveling earlier in the month, and they met up with us. Duncan has mountain climbing fever, so he departed after breakfast to summit the tallest mountain in Ecuador. Anyways, breakfast at the same fabulous place as the day before, and then we were off to pick up our bikes. The night before when we were at the baths, we fell into a conversation with a local Ecuadorian guy. He owns a place in town that organizes tours, canyoning, climbing etc., He told us that the bikes were 6 bucks...Bar refused, bargained and then just said ´Well, I am paying 5 dollars, and so are my friends. So have 5 bikes ready tomorrow for 5 dollars apiece¨ and that was the end of the conversation. You must understand my friend Bar, she picks a price that she´ll pay and she refuses to pay a dollar more...even if it means bargaining for hours!! hahaha. The next morning after breakfast we headed to Paulo´s place and there were 5 bikes sitting out front. We handed him 25 bucks, put on our helmets and we were off. He offered to ride part of the way with us, which was very nice...after all, I haven´t been on a mountain bike in a very, very, very long time....I only tried to STOP the bike about 10 times by peddaling BACKWARDS like I do on my grandma-bike at home! The beauty of the 60 km bike to Puyo is that a good majority of it is downhill, BUT there is also some not-so-inviting uphill inclines that are just unfriendly. I would be cussing up a storm, sweating to death, moving about an inch a minute, and then after 3 minutes of agony, I would coast for about 6minutes. We stopped once and climbed down to an epic waterfall, and several other short stops to just take a breather. Once or twice we had to get off and walk our bike, and once we had to peddle through a very dark, very scary tunnel. Bar´s bike broke half way through so she hitched a ride home, Lou´s chain popped off about three quarters of the way there, so we coasted a bit further and then called it quits. Afterall, we had been biking for 6 hours. We walked to the opposite side of the road and waited for a bus. Buses here will take will see live sheep standing on top of a bus...somehow tied down. Big cotton candy machines are loaded atop, and they certainly take bikes. We were picked up by a pickup truck though, and for about 30 minutes the 4 of us (kathryn, lou, pat and i) and our 4 bikes were crammed into the bed of the truck. Bar and I had decided earlier in the ride that we were going to make a big dinner that when we got back she had already gone to the market. We set the table beautifully and made homemade salsa and guacamole, I roasted garlic in olive oil for dipping our delicious bread in, Bar made a huge huge delicious salad and I made some dressing...and of course, we made sangria. We also found some delicious whole wheat bread with walnuts which we ate with some dutch cheese and gouda. LIFE IS GOOD. Ben, a frenchman who was lucky enough to be placed in our dorm, was invited to dinner as our guest....and he couldn´t believe his eyes!! hahaha. We put some music on and their was a ton of candlelight (no electricity!) and we sat by our fire to enjoy our delightful meal. Afterwards, sore and full and exhausted, we all stumbled down to the hot baths to soak our sores away. Bah. I love it. I could spend hours at the hot baths just going from hot, to cold, to hot hot to hot to cold. hahaha. Now, at 6:30am, I am being bad and skipping yoga...trying to catch up on some internet time before Pat and I take our 10 hour journey to MONTANITA. I do NOT want to leave Banos, but I think that we have to...otherwise our 10 hour journey would be for one day at the beach, which seems quite ridiculous...and in another 4 days we will be flying to the GALAPAGOS. I´m pretty bummed to be leaving Bar...we´ve become incredibly close this past week, but shes one of those that I will remain friends with for years to come. Onward and upward to the BEACH!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ecuador Day 8 and 9

Every day is better than the day before.

Yesterday, Day 8, we arrived in Banos. We were lucky to catch a direct bus to Banos, not having to transfer in Amabato! Bar and I grabbed seats next to eachother and exchanged ipods for the ride. We bought some sweet empanadas on the bus for 50 cents, and cuddled with a mans puppy for some of the ride. The bus ride to Banos was the most beautiful ride yet. Huge mountains topped with snow, smoking volcanoes, blue skies and beauty beyond belief. Once in Banos we checked out a few hostals and opted for Hostal Santa Cruz...what a gem! Cute, small, with a fire place in the center of our kitchen. Free internet, a full kitchen, hammocks and clean comfortable rooms with a private bathroom and shower (HOT WATER, and good pressure!!!!). Lou, Bar, Pat and I are sharing the dorm which is nice. We walked through the whole town which is cute and homey and friendly. While walking up to the waterfall, amazing waterfall, we ran into New York John, whom we met at Secret Garden in Quito. He told us that we MUST go to the hot baths at 6pm, so we hurried to Cafe Hood for some delicious grub, and then to the baths. Wow. You pay 2 dollars to get in, and I SWEAR that every single person who lives in Banos was there. You go in, shower, and then there are 3 pools: freezing cold, hot and extremely extremely hot. All have natural minerals in the water that are said to heal the body. We went from cold, to extremely scorching hot, to cold, to hot, back to scorching, then to cold, then to hot...then shower and home. We chatted for awhile but then retired to bed. Now, starting day 9....the most epic day yet.

Day 9: I wake up at 6am and do an hour of yoga outside in our beautiful garden. Following that we go to breakfast in town at Cafe Rico and had the most amazing breakfast ever, and it was only 3 dollars. REAL coffee with milk...and it was GOOD coffee...freshly blended pineapple juice, big whole wheat buns and buttery croissants, and yogurt with granola and fruit, drizzled with honey. THEN, Bar Lou Pat and I headed to Maria´s for horseback riding. We got 4 amazing horses and went riding with Marias husband, Jamie. It was the 4 most spectacular hours of my life. WAIT till you see the photos. There was a huge waterfall, giant canyons, we drank water straight from the stream and soaked our feet in the cold water running down the mountain. I´ve never seenPat so happy...and shes ALWAYS happy. Bar too had the most amazing time...all of us, smiling so wide that our cheeks hurt. Lou, who is 62, hadn´t been on a horse since boyscouts...but he had a great time as well, just a bit sore..... After the horseback riding we went and scheduled MASSAGES. And now, you are going to think that I´m exaggerating, but it was the BEST massage that I´ve ever had...and Pat, who has had many massages, agrees with me. When Bar walked out she looked like she was ready to just float up to heaven hahaha. It was a dreamy walk home. FUCK. Just amazing. I love Banos. I decided this afternoon, perched atop one of the highest mountains on a horse, looking out over this beautiful town, that NEXT year I am cutting one month off of Costa Rica and I´m going to spend it here in Ecuador, in BANOS. I was talking with Jamie about living with a local family, and he said I could rent a room from his sisterinlaw for 30-month. Everyone here speaks spanish...very very little english, so I think it would be a great learning experience. ANyways...gotta jet now, heading to the hot springs to soak soak soak. Later we are coming back to the house for some sangria I made this afternoon...and tomorrow, we bike to PUYO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ecuador Day 7 LA MAMA NEGRA

The most amazing day. AMAZING.

To begin, we are staying at a packed hostal, Hostal Tiana, in Latacunga. There was sleeping room only left on the floor and in bean bags, and people were taking it! Pat and I were definitely lucky to get a bed. We had that wonderful Chugchucara that I was telling you about, and then after bopping and SHOPPING, we got back to the hostal for the BEST hot chocolate that Pat and I have ever had in our whole lives. I´m 100 percent serious. The BEST. We went to bed pretty early, and I woke up really early the next morning...the morning of LA MAMA NEGRA. I have been really good about doing yoga every morning, and I feel amazing. Pat joined me downstairs for some real coffee and we made quick friends with the girls at our table: Emily from Canada along with her traveling partner, also named Emily..also from Canada, and Bar from Israel. Pat and Lou went off early to take photos of the festival, and though we promised to meet up, it was impossible with such crowded streets. I enjoyed the festival with the 2 Emilys, Bar and Jose as our guardian-guide. He is ecuadorian and part owner of the hostal. All of us girls did big ´no nos´ for ecuador...emily wore shorts, the other emily wore a skirt, and i wore a dress. three things that you will NEVER ever ever see in ecuador. so not only were we getting looks for being gringas, but that didnt help us. oh well. we drank beers, walked the street of the festival and then posted up on a cement wall to watch the parade go by. the parade is something that you must participate in, and as my new friend Merick said ¨Mama Negra is not afraid of the swine flu¨ hahaha. People from the parade run up to you with glasses or bottles or huge spoonfuls of this sugarcane liqour..and everyone is drinking it. everyone. there was dancing and singing and dancing and singing. tons of music. it was just amazing. towards the end of the parade, the girls and i decided to join in...dancing along with the parade. I danced with some old ecuadorian men, drank some more sugarcane liqour, and was drenched in sugarcane liqour by the ´witches of la mama negra´. hahaha. all of this was photo documented, so dont worry if you arent quite following what im saying. it took us about an hour to walk 3 blocks through the crowd, but eventually we got back to the resturant pat and i visited yesterday and the 4 of us girls split 2 chugchucaras and two beers. amazing enough, when we were walking home we ran into PAT. she said that she had lost lou HOURS ago, but that she was having a blast. we ALL were having a blast. our group cruised back to the hostal for some rest, which was absolutely necessary. we all exchanged our mama negra stories and laughed and laughed and laughed some more. around 6oclock bar, me, lou and pat headed back out onto the town and stumbled upon this AMAZING group of indian performers in the square...Pat had seen them earlier in the day and had bought two of their cds. wild. when we got there, there was no one in square...afterall, these guys had literally been playing all day. well, bar and i started to dance our asses off and within minutes the square was packed. i smiled so hard that my face hurt and laughed until i almost cried. bar and i were having a blast, and soon patricia joined in too. we bid our farewell to some very drunk ecuadorian spectators, walked around looking for something else fun...only to find barrachos, so we headed back to listen to some more music. this time, i got up and sang. FEVER. within seconds, the square was filled again. i felt like madonna or something...every male and female ecuadorian asking for a photo with me. hahaha. we also got a group shot of the band, pat, bar and i. amazing. heading home, bar couldnt stop talking about how much she enjoyed my music. as soon as we walked into the crowded hostal she told everyone about our experience in the square, and after some games (an israeli card game, CABU and a swedish hand clapping game) i played some music on the guitar. the hostal has amazing acoustics and i had a great audience. all the music made us hungry, so our huge group made our way for some pizza. definitely the most entertaining dinner ive had in a long time...pat swore that she could hear me laughing from blocks and blocks away. ha. bar and i opted out of the nighttime party scene and were in bed by 9. this is where the night went sour. in the bunk next to mine there is a very, very drunk, very very heavy, pretty gross dutch man. and he snores. well, after two hours, i finally got up...shook his bed, tapped his arm...trying to get him to just ROLL OVER. once he had woken up everyone in our dorm, i got out of bed and was poking him with a waterbottle. but he was so stinking drunk, and didnt quite mind that HIS snoring was keeping all of US awake...that he would just snort and then fall back to sleep...and return to his earth shaking snore session. some people had moved downstairs into the courtyard...sleeping on beanbags and hammocks in the freezing cold. i was about to sleep on teh street when lou came to get me and told me to sleep in the internet room on the couch. thank god. atleast i got about 4 hours of sleep. the belgium couple and pat weren´t so lucky...only clocking in about an hour. and guess what....8 am, and that motherfucker is still snoring up a storm. christ almighty. he´s lucky no one smothered him in his sleep. we leave for BANOS. Bar is joining our traveling group for a bit, so the 4 of us will be headed for our next great adventure. Bar is a very special person, and I´m glad to have her in our group. With that said, I have yogaed, drank some real coffee....catching up on the internet now and then Bar and I will visit the market for some fruit and granola before heading out of town.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Ecuador Day 6

morning: well, we almost had chicken for breakfast. a little after 3am the rooster started up. it was just one...but it was loud and consistent. another joined in around 4-430am and by 5 am the idea of sleep was completely lost. so...hopefully illbe able to get a bit of shut eye on our 6 hour bus ride to ambato (en route to latacunga). only just started my medicine but i feel like im better already! currently pat and i are sitting on the deck @ limoncocha waiting on our REAL coffee and breakfast before we jet off to catch the 830am bus. the adventure continues....

afternoon: after a 5 hour ride to amabato (which cost a whopping 5 bucks), we boarded another bus for latacunga...which was only a 45 minute ride away. through our bus rides have been long, i dont really mind at all. the buses are nice, my body gets a rest, and my eyes are treated with some of the most beautiful, desolate landscape ive seen. its cheap too, working out to be a little less than a dollar for every hour it takes. i think that the buses move so quickly and smoothly because the driver just DRIVES and he has an assitant who collects money and helps people on and off the bus. usually its the old people and little kids he helps. there a lot of small, VERY small children take the bus completely by themselves...some for hours at a time. its pretty amazing. all of this driving throughout the country, putting bags under the bus and trusting they will be there when i return, has left me with the assumption that there isnt much theft in ecuador. when you drive through towns, there are no bars on windows like there are in costa rica. ive also found that the people of ecuador have a lot of pride, which is another reason for little theft. they have pride in their country, their work and their family. i dig the vibe here. everyone is friendly for the most part, and though guys might hoot and holler every once and awhile at a pretty lady walking by they arent aggressive like they are in other countries. multiple times people in ecuador have gone way way OUT of their way to help me...whether its with some confusion on the bus, finding and communicating with a doctor, or just in general conversation.

side note: jesus christ, people in ecuador eat a TON of yogurt. all day long. its amazing.

SO...pat and i finally arrive in LATACUNGA!!!! hooooray!!! the town is bustling with activity, everyone is preparing for tomorrows LA MAMA NEGRA celebration. luckily there were a few spots left @ HOSTAL TIANA...lonely planets number one recommendation. I can understand why....its a huge old colonial house with an open courtyard, huge wooden doors, beanbags everywhere, gorgeous beds and gorgeous everywhere - and for 8 bucks a night. usually the 8 dollars includes a huge breakfast but since its the festival it wont be included. big whoopdiedoo. first on my list of things to do in latacunga was to eat CHUGCHUCARAS. Chugchucara is the classic dish of Latacunga...basically a heart attack on a plate...but its sooooooooooo f*ing delicious it would make your head spin. we tracked down the ¨best` chugchucara place in town CHUGCHUCARAS LA MAMA NEGRA. The only thing on the menu guessed it, chugchucara!!! the restaurant itself was GORGEOUS, one of the nicest restaurants that I have ever been in, anywhere. pat and I split the plate because we were warned that it is a lot of food. well, both of us couldnt finish all of the pork goodness that our plate had to offer. a chugchucara is a plate of:

-fritada (fried chunks of delicious pork)
-mote (maize that is steamed and then topped with chicharron, which is fried bits of pork skin)
-fried potatoes
-fried plantains
-popcorn (perfectly salted and seasoned)
-toasted corn
-and last, but certainly not least, were the SWEET CORN empanadas stuffed with cheese. oh, my, god, perfect!

this plate is then crowned with a GINORMOUS pork rind. holy christ.

The sauce that they serve with most meals here in ecuador, and which is ESSENTIAL for your pork plate, is AJILLO. It´s somewhat creamy, definitely spicy, with herbs and onions. bahhhhh. outta this world. your mouth watering yet??? pat and i washed down this plate with a beer and enjoyed some flaminco musci from 3 guitarist who strolled in once we sat down.

now we are at the internet cafe, 70cents for every hour, and all i can think about is when i will ever be hungry again...cause when i am, i am going straight back to mama negras´for a big plate of chugchucaras. thank god i dont live in latacunga, i would be 500 pounds.

for the rest of the day pat and i are going to make our way back through town to the hostal, then relax in the courtyard in hammocks or beanbags...just resting up for the big fiesta tomorrow. hopefully lou made it safely outta the jungle and is en route to meet up with us.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ecuador Day 4 and 5

Our last night at Limoncocha Hostal I went to sleep at 730pm. I woke up at 6am the next morning, totally rested...did some yoga, and had a breakfast of fresh fruit with yogurt, bread with butter and jam, juice and hot tea. then we were on our merry way into the jungle. we got boots from Cesar and we were off. our trek into the jungle was a freaking adventure. First, we took a taxi for about an hour, then a long ride in a very thin, very long motorized boat that dropped us on the side of the Rio Napo, then we hiked through the amazon jungle for several hours before arriving to our destination. It was intense and I realized that Im not as in shape as Id like to be. By the way, did I mention that our guide for the village and this trip doesnt speak any english? acutally, there isnt really anyone in ecuador who speaks english. its been a smidge difficult, but we are managing.ányways, todo en espanol we are in this so called village. it is definitely for tourists, but still...there is no electricity and this place IS a few hours away from any sort of town. they did some ceremonies and little demonstrations that were all kinda cheesey, but it was cool to learn what we did. the highlight was swimming in the rio blanco which was just chilly enough to be comfortable and refreshing. 3 sqaure meals a day left me fat and happy, and the only real painful part was their cultural demonstration later that evening which was all sorts of awful...violin, grassskirts, drunken men, and lots of really awful dancing. ill just leave it at that. i slept under a mosquito net and prayed to god that i wouldnt have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night...because even though i had my headlamp there was no f¨ing way that i was going to walk downstairs in the pitch black without some lights on. well dontcha friggin know it, at 5 am i wake up and i gotta go...i mean i really GOTTA GO. so, headlamp strapped on, i cruise through our hut, downstairs to the very dark bathrooms, and use the potty. in complete blackness. holy christ. it was the scariest poo id ever taken. anyways, when i ran back upstairs to crawl under my mosquito net, i started to think about all of the things my dad would be proud of that id done so far...i ate chicken that was ON the bone, i swam in a river and wasnt super paranoid about getting eaten alive by the lochness monster, i hiked for hours through thick terrain without complaining, and i walked around, in the dark, in the jungle. wow. these arent baby steps people...these are huge steps. huge. anyways, when i woke up this morning, day 5, i still wasnt any better and pat took a stand and said that we needed to get out of the jungle and back to a doctor, ASAP. i was bummed to miss out on the shaman and the waterfalls, but i agreed that leaving and getting some medicial attention was pretty essential. there was only one other group that was at the Quichia village with us, a group of 4 very serious people from France, and we were to leave with them right after lunch. So, on their agenda for the morning was to go into the village to the school. I didnt think that i would care that much, but the kids were ammmmmmmaaazing, and we had the best time. i laughed harder than i have in a long time. actually, despite the many roadbumps we have hit thus far, i have laughed more each day than i have in a long time .. and let me tell you, i laugh alot on a regular basis. anyways...the kids sang some songs for us and stuff like that, then we had to get up and sing...pat and i san row row row your boat and the itsy bitsy spider. hahaha. i got up solo and sang a song in english that they sing in spanish. we played games simliar to duck duck goose and some other funny ones. the kids were just awesome. there were two who took a liking to me and held my hand throughout the morning. it was definitely very special for all of us there...lou, the serious frenchmen, and pat. after we were forced to say our goodbyes we quickly had lunch, left lou all alone at the village, and then were off. well goddamn...these frenchmen were no joke. we hiked the intense trail in half the time it took us to come in...literally HALF the time. i almost died. DIED. twice. and the whole reason that i was LEAVING the jungle was so that i WOULDNT die. i sweat out about 15 pounds and then we hopped a ride in the back of a truck to Tena, and the guy drove so fast that my clothes air dried in seconds. back in tena, we checked back into the fabulous limoncocha hostal, which is 6 bucks a night and serves up a fab breakfast, and then met up with cesar at the tour place to return our boots. he was surprised to see us back early, and when i told him about my awful ear infection, he insisted to take me to the local clinic. he said that it was the best, but a little expensive. cesar was a godsend. my spanish is not so great, and his english is nonexistent, but the 20 minute walk to the clinic gave us time to go over what all my ailments i treated them and what was getting worse. so, once i got to the doctor we stayed for over an hour, at my side. he talked to the nurse, the receptionist and the doctor...making my visit MUCH easier. turns out that i have an infection in my jaw, which would explain why the ear drops were not fixing me. hahaha. anyways, i got a shot in my butt, which pat documented with her camera, and then 2 perscriptions to take for the next week. all in all...38 bucks. afterwards, pat and i celebrated at cafe tortuga...i had their house speciality...a beer floated with vanilla ice cream and fresh sounds crazy, but hit the spot. i also had a crepe stuffed with shredded chicken, pineapple, tomatoes, onions adn curry. mmm. all for 5 bucks. i love ecuador.

off early tomorrow am for some more long busrides, en route to latacunga for LA MAMA NEGRA festival. will report with all the goods later this week....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ecuador Day 3

Day 2 Morning decided that drive to airport to book flight is essential. talked lou and pat into walking to local coffee shop first. took right instead of left, long detour, .50 cent mora and strawberry drink on street, delicious. walked more. finally found el cafeto. mmm double espresso. put hair on my chest. love it.

day 2 Noon flying over the andes, just crossed over a snowcapped mountain peaking through the clouds. beautiful. en route to coca...taking 60dollar 30minute plane ride as opposed to 8dollar 8hr bus ride. by the way 30 minute plane ride serves delicious snack pack makes me hate american airlines. had a lovely day cruising quito with newfound friend lou and tried and true patricia. booked flight, visited jardin botanico and saw 1000species of orchids , ate lunch, ate ice cream. heladeria de saint augusten...been making ice cream since 1858. got half coconut half cafe. seventy five cents. cruised around, arrive at airport, fly to coca. going to stay in a hostel tonight and ten try to book a tour. woohooo amazon. here we come. side note...ear infection still raising hell.

day 3 wow. and not a WOW WOW WOW a FUCK WHAT THE FUCK HAVE WE GOTTEN INTO kinda wow. the flight to coca was the single most amazing flight ive ever experienced. the town of coca is the single most unappealing, smelly, loathsome place ive ever been. for all of my costa rican a reference...coca makes LIMON on the caribbean coast look fancy. so, this shouldnt matter because coca will only be a starting and ending point, afterall we will be touring the amazon. but the tours we found just didnt seem like a good fit, not one of us got the OH MAN WE GOTTA DO THIS and since staying in coca for more than one night, though a deal at 5 bucks, was not an option, we opted to formulate a new plan. we all decided on TENA. its still the amazon, though not nearly as dense as where we are, but the opening sentence for this town in lonely planet is TENA IS A CHEERFUL, WELCOMING VORTEX, THE KIND OF PLACE VISITORS FORGET TO LEAVE. works for me. with our new plan in action, we opted to make the most of coca. our cheap, beat down hostel oasis had a nice deck overlooking the RIO NAPO river, so we posted up, drank a bunch of beer, and had a dinner of bread...and not just ANY bread...CHEESEY BREAD to my delight. the 3 of us chtted away, laughed, and had an amazing night in coca. my bed was slightly infested with ants and when i went to finally take my first shower of the trip i discovered that teh shower head was merely a slow and steady drip of water. in the night i experienced the most AMAZING thunderstorm of my life. lightening lit up the sky as if it were daytime, and the thunder literally shook the whole building, my bed, and sent chills up my spine. after a rought night of sleep, pat lou and i are at the bus station, ready to bid farewell to coca, sipping some cafe con leche...which in ecuador is actually just steamed milk with a side of nescafe instant coffee. ew. it was fifty cents so i cant complain, but i certainly didnt drink it...though i tried. in an hour we will be boarding the bus for our 5 to 6 hours ride to tena...where we will post up for several days before setting off for la mama negra festival in LATACUNGA. to sum things up...pat and i love lou, and are glad to have him aboard. we will be traveling partners for most of the trip...which i love because he has great stories, hes always a gentlemen, extremely wise and really i just feel much more safe traveling with a man.

day 3 continues... well the bus trip wasnt god awful. instead of the 5 to 6 hour estimated time, we arrived in just 4 hours...thank god because the little kid standing in the aisle next to where i was seated kept vomiting into a plastic bag throughout the trip. anyways...tena. here we are. we post up at hostal limoncocha, and for 6 bucks a night they have big, clean rooms and a gorgeous view of the whole town from their rooftop. also, free internet and hammocks woohoooo. we booked a trip into RIO BLANCO where lou pat and i will be staying with an indigenous village, living the way that they do and participating in their culture. hopefully the shaman and some amazonian tricks can help me get rid of this awful fucking ear infection that has now begun to take over my whole body. anyways... we will be in the jungle for 3 days before rushing back to catch a 6 hour bus to amabuta to then go another hour to latacunga... arriving JUST in time for LA MAMA NEGRA festival. i do believe that we will also be meeting up with new york john, whom we met at secret garden in quito. cruised around tena, ate some delicious fried fish overlooking the gorgeous river and now back to the house around 4pm, ready to crash or cut my ear off. hopefully the amazon holds some secret medicina for me....

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ecuador Day 2

Day 1 Cntd: Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Phenomenal- and its only just begun! We are truly staying in a great place - Secret Garden is wonderful...attracting open-minded, adventure-seeking people with a passion for travel. Within the house we arrived I hopped on their internet - Pat took a nap, and then I hung out on our terrace with an EPIC view of the whole city. Met lifelong friend number 1: LOU. Lou is 62, from Seattle, XRay technician 20 hrs a week, avid gardener, and a WORLD traveler. He cherishes the magical land of INDIA and has traveled places high and far and unheard of. Loves food, and lucky for pat and I, CONVERSATION! The 3 of us went out for dinner and had an amazing time. I had an Ecuadorian classic...a big bowl for potato based coup with garlic and avocado. Delicious. Walked to the restaurant, but took a taxi home - still thrown off by this cold weather. Hostel 5th floor terrace was jam packed with people - had a glass of wine, sat by the wheelbarrow fire, soaked up some warmth and indulged in some more conversation, and at 845pm I´m now calling it a night. Tomorrow is Coca - no more Cuyabeno. We will see the Amazon, just wont be spending 2 days to travel there and back. Lou was the one who mentioned Coca, and I actually think we´ll be traveling together! I love it. Goodnight.

Day 2: Slept so-so...still having some serious ear infection problems. Oh well. Woke ice ice ice cold showers so I opted to stay greazy. It´s way too cold up here in Quito to take a cold shower. Later today we are catching a flight to Coca...bought a half hour flight for 50 bucks. Not bad...saving ourselves from an 8 hour busride. Looking forward to being in some warmer weather, and seeing the amazon! Had breakfast at the hostel this morning for 3.50. Not bad...juice, fresh fruit, yogurt, granola, and french toast with chocolate syrup. Oh yes, and rolls with butter and jam! MMM. I´ve made quick friends with Lou from Seattle, John from New York, and Rafael from India. All are life long travelers who I´m sure I will cross paths with atleast one more time before I leave ECuador. Pat and I are going to cruise around town today...get a REAL CUP of coffee (everything around here is instant!! ewww), grab some fresh juice, and then visit the bontanical gardens (over 1000 species of orchids!) as well as a BUG museuM! woohooo.

Hopefully we can get some internet in the amazon, and after the amazon I hope to finally be able to post some photos!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ecuador Day 1

Went to Halloween party - felt lame because i didnt have a costume - played music to compensate. drank one beer - ate more food - vowed to be on a diet the following day. went home early, straight to bed, up at 330am - shower and coffee. one poo - shoulda taken 2. mikey took pat and me to bus in jaco, en route to san jose. an hour into the ride - wishing id taken 2nd trip to el bano before leaving. 2 hrs into the ride, ready to vomit, really regretting solo poo @ 4am. enough about poo. arrive @ san jose intl airport - straight to the bathroom - pay departure fee, get boarding pass. pat and i head straight to cinnabon. devour very large cinnabon, consumed with guilt, opt to start diet tomorrow. good thing i´m wearing stretch pants. buy 10 dollar calling card - call family. ear is still infected - treating it with antibiotics - hoping it clears up cause this shits getting old. boarding time. we come.

note to self: always fly TACA. flight is one hour, 45 minutes: we get a beverage, a movie, complimentary headphones, and lunch: ham and cheese empanada, salad and a brownie!!!! woohoooo. arrive in san jose, grab a taxi to head to ´safari tours´to square up our galapagos trip, make sure that they are legit, and taxi driver cant find the place. note to readers: addresses in ecuador are completely fucked. they make zero sense. literally. im lost. as was our driver. they have old addresses, new addresses, letters, numbers and mass confusion. anyways...we head to lonely planet recommended SECRET GARDEN hostel. its cute. like a fort. lots of young europeans. they have internet here which is nice. we have to pay but its cheap. free coffee and tea too!! woohooo. pat is lying down getting some rest and im blogging away, trying to hold my eyes open and craving some coffee. miss mom, dad, shawn, and dogs. miss esterillos already. looking forward to amazon, banos, tena, and galapagos. looking forward to dinner tonight. stoked stoked stoked. by the way - its cold in the capital of ecuador. like hat and long pants and jacket and scarf cold. check out is @ 10am tomorrow but they let you store your backpacks here if youd like. very nice. thats all for now. hasta luego.