Monday, March 3, 2014

Ecuador´s Beaches, Parque Nacional Cajas, Vilcabamba

Ecuador´s beaches that I went to included Montanita, Puerto Lopez, Isla de la Plata, Canoa, and Mompiche. This is a view from a boat that Colleen, Patrick, and I went to on our way to Isla de la Plata....Ecuador´s poor man´s Galapagos. I started the beach with Montanita, which I don´t have any pictures from, followed by Puerto Lopez, Canoa, Mompiche, and back to Canoa for New Years.
This is a view from Isla de la Plata in Parque Nacional Machalilla. On this day we hiked a 5km loop called the Sendero Punta Escaleras and did some snorkeling.  On the island we mostly saw Blue Footed Boobies, one Red Footed Booby, Giant tortoises, and beautiful fish. Apparantly during the right season, you are able to see humpback whales, and dolphins pass year round, but unfortunetly we didn´t see any.
A picture of a Blue Footed booby, ready for departure.
Very Clownish birds, beautiful and very entertaining!!
Giant Tortugas seen from the tour boat.
Not sure what type of fish these are, but ended up snorkeling with them and seeing some coral reefs as well.
A view of the harbor at Puerto Lopez. Puerto Lopez is a fishing village and is becoming more popular becuase of Isla de la Plata and Parque Nacional Machallila. It was very entertaining hanging on the beach, watching locals surf and play beach futbol. Goal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
After Puerto Lopez, I went to Canoa to relax for the holidays. This picture is of me paddling out during the sunset on Christmas Day.  During my stay I tryed surfing for the first time and caught the first wave i tryed, but the waves were very small, drank lots of Pilsener, body surfed, and read books.  Canoa has a huge, long sandy beach, and a lot of surfers and futballers, and a great night life with bars right on the beach...mostly playing shitty music all day and all night long. The music was fun...depending on how much I had to drink. The more I drank the better the music became.
After Canoa, I went to Mompiche to meet my friend Gabby. Mompiche is home to black sandy beaches and a great point break for surfing. This is a picture of my home at the hostal I stayed at. I went to Mompiche for 3 days or so between Christmas and New Years, and returned to Canoa for New Years to meet with some friends from the farm I volunteered at.
This is a beach about 1 mile south of Mompiche. Very relaxing and not crowded. Basically chilled, and body surfed all day long with Gabby and Moritz.
This is a view from our Private Beach in Canoa. Ended up staying at the beach way to long, but a great time relaxing and partying for the New Year.
After the beaches, I decided to travel solo back to Cuenca for a night and then explored Parque Nacional Cajas for a day. This park is surrounded by 288 sq km of the high Andes, with more than 200 lakes. Polylepis trees are found here, which grows at the highest altitudes of any tree in the world.
Stunning mountains which lie 4000m to 4500m in height and maybe even taller. 
Beautiful views, with beautiful lakes and mountains.
Solo crooked picture taken from a rock.
After Parque Nacional Cajas, I went south to Vilcabamba to relax and do some hiking. Surrounded by peaks, Vilcabamba is known for the "Valley of Longevity¨ because some indigenous inhabitants are 100 years old and some claim to be 120 years old. I guess this is why foreigners, and vietnam vets don´t leave and are taking over the valley, just because they want to live forever. Beautiful surroundings but very very weird gringos in this town.  Some people claim to have seen UFO´s here, which is kindof a metaphor, because the foreigners seem to have been the real aliens.
This is a hike my friends Karla, Robert, and I did, hiking up a mountain and traversing to a waterfall.
A view from the top of the hike, with Vilcabamba in the valley below. More blog to be continued. Hope Everyone enjoys. Right Now I am in Sucre, Bolivia. Only two countries behind on my blog....haha.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Ecuador So Far

This is where I started my adventure. The capital of Ecuador, Quito. Beautiful colors and beautiful mountains.

The Basilica del Voto Nacional, built in 1926. We climbed to the towers which consisted of steep stairs and ladders.
Inside the Basilica, beatiful stain glass.
A view from one of the towers.
Patrick overlooking the city through these sweet binoculars.
 After a couple days in Quito, we traveled 2 hours north to a town called Malchingui and spent the next month volunteering at this farm called the Rhiannon Community. This farm is a permaculture farm where I learned a lot. During our week we would work 5 hours a day/ 5 days a week, cook one meal a day for 20 plus people, and have the weekends off.  I was in charge of turning the compost every other day, carpentry that consisted of fixing other volunteers work, watering the greenhouse and feeding the animals. There were 2 donkeys, 7 dogs, and some chickens.
My bedroom for the first 3 weeks.
Our first weekend we went to a town called Otavalo. Otavalo has one of the biggest markets in Ecuador where local artist try to sell their weavings and crafts at the Pñaza de Ponchos. I ended up buying an alpaca sweater and alpaca shall....super warm.
 A view from the market from a restaurant.

Just Northeast of Otavalo was this waterfall called Cascada Peguche. We hiked, only 2km, to this from Otavalo and this waterfall is sacred to the local indegenious people.

Colleen ready to take a dip in the powerful falls.
 Solo pic after my dip.

This is a project that I helped with. This building will be the new ceremony room for the Rhiannon Community. We helped with the foundation by mixing cement and packing the cement in those green bags.
Our friend Katy teaching Patrick and myself about bee keeping.
We smoked the bees out to warn them. After the bees would inhale the smoke, they would go back inside their box.
Honey and Honey Combs. Yum

 A sign showing where everything was; volcanoes around and cities around. We forgot to put the sign to Colorado.
A member of the Community named Ester. Cutie pie.
On the farm we were surrounded by about 5 volcanoes that you could view. This one is Volcan Carambe.
The greenhouse and part of the garden.
The Electricity...
Beautiful sun sets at the farm.
The next weekend I had off we explored Quito a little more and went to this town called Mitad del Mundo meaning center of the world where the latitude separated the Northern Hemisphere from the Southern Hemisphere.

 A group of students came to the farm to learn more about permaculture and to share some tunes with us.

 Another volcano to view, I think this one was Volcan Pinchincha. 
A cactus called San Pedro.

 A weeks worth of food for the vegetarian community.
On another weekend trip off of the farm my friend Lucy and I took her students on a backpacking trip to Lagunas de Mojanda and climbed an extinct volcano named Fuya Fuya which was 4263 meters high.
Beautiful hike with beautiful mountains and lakes.
Laguna Mojanda. A view from our campspot.
Fuya Fuya
Lucy in green, the students and myself at the top of the extinct volcano.

The views were OK. It was a cloudy day.
My walk back to the farm from Malchingui one day on someone´s land, who planted these pine trees 6 years ago...I think.
A nativity picture at the farm, I was supposed to be a king but looked more like a body guard.
Nativity Scene.
The Donkeys, Ursala and Fea, that Patrick and I took care of for awhile. They escaped twice while we where there. We chased them and put harnesses on them to get them back to the farm. They were usually found with 2 male donkeys nearby.
The compost at the farm that was my morning chore every other day. Turning and making new compost as well as fertilizer for the plants. Stinky stuff. 

Blazing a fire for the stones for the tamascal one evening. The Tamascal is like a sauna, but way more intense with 4 rounds of 9 stones.
Patrick, Colleen, Kathi and I went on another hike to Laguna Mojanda.
The yoga room ready for a San Pedro Ceremony.
The Shaman, Vladi, and I.
A view at night from the farm of the lights of Mitad Del Mundo on the right and Quito on the left with Venus in the sky.
After I was done with the farm, I went to El Chaco, where Megan and Jared volunteered for a couple months while they were in Ecuador.

Rafting trip with Waterdog Tours. The sector we did was called El Canyonero where they held the world championship of rafting in 2005. This trip was class 4 rapids, with one class 5 rapid that we did not do because we only had 3 people in the raft. Not enough man power to get by the class 5 rapid, but beautiful trip through the jungle.

Flaco, doing a backflip.
The camioneta, or taxi that is a truck that we used for the raft and 3 kayaks.

After the rafting trip I went to Papallacta where there are hot springs. I was literally the only person here. Very relaxing.
This small town is called Quilotoa, where there is a volcanic crater lake called Laguna Quilotoa. We backpacked between Quilotoa, Guayama, and Chugchilan about 12km, where we saw traditional highland villages filled with indigenous folks who speak some Spanish and Quichua for the most part.

Laguna Quilotoa, where Colleen, Patrick and I camped for two nights beside the lake,  and hiked the rim of the volcano one day.

Our hike to Chugchilan.
A hostal in Chugchilan, called cloud forest hostal, where we stayed one night.
After Chugchilan and a 4 hour bus ride, I went to Banos for a 5 days or so...

A bike ride down from Banos.

The spectacular Pailon del Diablo waterfall in the backround. One of Ecuador´s most popular waterfall.

A view from the top of Pailon del Diablo.
The river running into the waterfall. The river was called rio blanco.
In Baños, we hiked to la casa del arbol, that had a view of Volcan Tungurahua
La casa del arbol, where there was a swing to the right of the tree house.

The trail to la casa del arbol.
Another view of Banos.
After Baños we went to a town in the jungle called Macas, where we went to a refugio one day. Hakuna Matata...It means no worries.

Patrick trying to get the monkey to shake his hand.
The refugio.

After Macas, we went to Cuenca. Cool street art in Cuenca.

Cuenca, Ecuador is a colonial town that has cobblestone streets, handsome plazas and domed churches.
Rio Tomebamba runs through Cuenca.
Red Tiled Buildings in Cuenca and lots of history with the arrival of the Spaniards. 
A view from calle larga of the surrounding mountains in Cuenca.
Beautiful colonial churches in Cuenca.

Parque Calderon, Cuencas showpiece plaza.
This was in the center of Parque Calderon.
New Cathedral church.
One of the markets in Cuenca.
I have been croucheting beenies along the way, was going to try to sell them but have been giving them out along the way. To be continued....