Category Archives: Ecuador

6 Points to Remember while Traveling.

Standard

1.) Find out the Truth for yourself.

If a fellow traveler tells you about their experience visiting  a place, hostel, excursion, or something to do, take it with an open mind and filtered lens. You will only know the truth once you experience it for yourself. Too many times someone had told me so and so is a bad city there is nothing to do there, and then I go and discover it is one of my favourite places! Listen to them fully and then put your own rationality into it and find out the truth for yourself!

2.) Let go.

Let go of time, seasons, worry and fear. When you let go you are able to not think about the past and memories you once had. You will stop thinking about the future planning and organizing. You will find that when you let go of all, you fall into the present and there infinity exists because there is no longer time. When this happens everything will flow, people, places to stay, food to eat, everything will fall into place. Easier said than done, but just do it!

3.) Always Carry Toilet Paper, Always.

4.) Take up a new Talent.

You are never too young or too old to start something new or learn something new. From language to bracelet making, to guitar playing to cooking to traveling just do it! But its wonderful to pick a hobby/talent that you can easily do while traveling because there is so much down time. Waiting for buses, hanging out with down time because you are tired, or just laying hanging out on the beach, something accessible. Traveling makes you have time for these talents that in a “normal routine life” you may not have time for! Oh and it takes a little bit of commitment too but all is possible.

5.) Learn how to to Cook Healthy Local Food.

Travel with spices and food so that you have no excuse to cook healthy. Maybe a little curry, coriander, pepper flakes, mustard seeds, garlic and or favourite cooking ingredients. Healthy means good food for the body and for the mind, there is no excuse to be eating out all the time and not eating healthy when you travel. The local food also makes this exercise more fun because you can experiment.

I always try and cook local of course, which sometimes is hard in places that are hard to grow fruits and veggies but local is the most important. There are always bug convenient supermarkets that have everything you could possibly want in one place, but many of these stores put small shops that are run by local families out of business. So I would encourage travelers to get comfortable knocking on their neighbors gate and asking if they sell cheese or who does, so that they buy straight from the people and not from the big stores!

6.) Hitchhike

You can learn a new language and interact with local people. Hitchhiking provides a free way to travel and a cultural experience as well. Go to gas stations and ask people by knocking on their windows. This way you can look into their eyes and decide if you want to get in the car. And you are more likely to get a ride by asking first and not just with your thumb. Say you don’t have the courage or you are traveling alone? No worries because many people will say no to you, so you will have a lot of practice and can learn patience and new people skills! My travels were much brighter because of Hitching.

Advertisements

Loja to Lima

Standard

Travel, travel and more travel…by bus.

From the jungle of Loja I took a bus at about 11:30pm to Piura for a 12 hour bus ride and a good $18 USD for a bus fare. It was easy and I slept the whole time, I was so confused when I woke up at 3 am to realize we were at the border. The border is so disorganized and didn’t make any sense to me. You have to get your passport stamped on the Ecuadorian side and then proceed to walk a hundred meters and get it stamped on the Peruvian side as well.

The staff is not very friendly and the rules are unclear. Finally at 3:45am we were on the road again…until we got in an accident. I was so scared we hit something and there was a huge thud, screeching noise and a quick half stop. Everyone was curious and awoke abruptly from slumber. When we got out of the bus we realized that the huge bus plowed into a cow! The front of the bus was messed up from it but the bus driver decided it was still good to drive. Onward! I fell right back asleep and slept well.

Upon arriving in Piura I was so confused and lost and disoriented. I felt so out of it and on top of that I didn’t have the Peruvian currency of soles so I was a lost puppy. I met a French girl and invited myself to join her because for one of the first times I was a little freaked out. I could tell she didn’t want me to go with her, but I didn’t care I just wanted to walk with someone and to feel more comfortable I forced it.

We were going the same direction, south, so we both got tickets together. Another 3.5 hours from Piura to chitoga $15 PEU ($5.50 USD). I slept the whole time thankfully! I was tired!

Once we got into Chitoga at 10 am the only bus to lima to Lima that was direct was at 8 pm. So I had to kill 10 hours in this busy, dirty town! Thankfully there was a place in the bus station for my bag. So I decided to search the lonely planet travel book (which I never use) and find out what to do in Chicalyo. The only thing in the guide was the “witches market” where there were natural plants, remedies and potions. I got cleansed, met some lovely people and learned about the medicines and plants native to the area. They were selling tons of magical and sacred medicines of auyuaska and San Pedro there as well.

20130709-151813.jpg

San Pedro, herbs, and other natural remedies at the Witches Market

20130709-151824.jpg

The Witches Market

Finally as 8pm rolles around I boarded the Peruvian bus to Lima. 13 hours at $75 PEU ($27.5 USD). I was blown away at how luxurious and fancy the double decker buses are compared to the Ecuadorean and Colombian ones! Talk about VIP first class – dinner, drinks, dessert and quiet included. I have to admit I kinda missed the constant loud blaring noise of rigaton music the whole time…not!

I stayed in Lima just for the night. It’s loud, dirty, full of advertisements, and people don’t look you on the eyes or say “happy eating” like they did in Ecuador. But, different country, different culture. Definitely different energy, I haven’t been to a big city in months! Off to Cusco now!

Caves of the Tayos, Macas

Standard

The Amazon Jungle: Full of energy, breathing life, and adventurously addicting.

Instead of taking the more traveled pan-american highway to Peru I took the back road through the jungle and stoping in the small town of Macas for a little cave pitstop.

Macas is a burning hot heated jungle town with hundreds of caves. The ¨Caves of the Tayos¨ have many myths and stories about them. One is about the lost city of Atlantis that may found there where you can literally spend days walking through the complex network of trails. All the caves are naturally made, and some even go as far as saying that there are indigenous people that live in the caves with higher intelligence than anyone else in the world.

4

Here we are deep in the cave, I am not going to lie I was scared at many points. To the right of us you can see a bat flying.

There’s been books, movies and legends about them and the caves reach all over the jungle fo Ecuador and Peru. I would of liked to spend more time doing the four day walk through some of the caves, and eventually end breaking through the ground with a stick to get out of the caves when the guide permits. It is possible to do that through Zamora, I would of loved to check it out!

With me my friend, Natasa came to the caves! We weren’t prepared for the day we got into as it was much longer and less planned than anticipated.

We caught a 6:30 am bus from Tena to Puyo, 1.5 hours ($1.5 USD) and then a bus from Puyo to Macas, about 3.5 hours ($5 USD). Once in Macas we tried to find a guide because you cannot go into the caves without one (you wouldn’t want to anyway, they are scary and complex).

We searched around town for 1 hour trying to find someone in the scorching heat. We had limited amount of time and were banking on someone being avaialbe for a say of tour to take us.

We knew there were two tour agencies in town. First place was closed, and so was the second. We were so lost and wandered for what seemed hours. Finally a hostel gave us a random flyer of a man who offered tours. We managed to reach his house, a little cottage tucked away on a street corner. The man, Darwin was just leaving an jumped at the opportunity to take us for a hike. He said 3 hours, lunch, transportation and 1 hour in the caves would be provided and the price would be $25 a person. That is a great price for a jungle tour, most start at $40 and we were booking it last minute so of course we said yes!

This leads me to my next point and lesson in traveling:Never, ever, ever assume anything.

As the tour started we walked quite a way from the mans house and we were expecting to get into his car and go to the caves. Well ends up we were walking to the bus station. ¨Okay¨, I thought to myself. ¨I do not mind taking the bus, but I was expecting a car¨. No bus came, we ended up hitching the way there to the entrance of the path for the caves. We tried to find a car to the entrance but after 1 hour of waiting around we had to walk the 4 miles just to get to the entrance of the hike. All of this would have been fine if I wasn’t worried about catching my bus that I had booked, a night bus, at 7:00 pm.

6

So we start to walk, and by walk I mean run. Darwin didn’t wait for us one bit and knew that I probably wouldn’t make my bus and was trying to make up for it with running the trail. It wasn’t even a trail, it was just treking through the jungle (gorgeous) and finding ways to get around huge bolders and rivers and streams.

7

Here is the river, the hike was unlike anything I have done before.

The hike was divine, we were in the deep jungle, bats flying by just barely garzing my face, and flowing powerful rivers playing in and out of the trees.

The caves were out of this world, I’ve never seen anything like them. We came upon a huge bloder rock wall and looked down into the rocks cracks which was a window into another world.

We crawled on our hands and feet, through the thick clay mud and into the darkness.

1

This is the entrance of the caves, see you later!

Big boots were necessary as at the entrance of the cave was a river deep and loud which would become our hiking path. The sound of the water echoed in the caves and you couldn’t see a thing, it didn’t help Darwin was still going fast and was the only one with the light.

The river was shallow in some parts, but deep in others. The whole time our boots were full of water and heavy in weight.

3

Here we are dancing our boots around trying to get all the water out.

We hiked for about an hour and turned off our lights to feel the energy from time to time. Powerful, dark, cold and yet still full of life. I felt like an animal, primitive and timeless. It was a trip, so beautiful I couldn’t take in all I was feeling at the time.

2

This is us climbing out of the caves.

Once we hiked out of the caves, we had only limited time to get back to town to catch my bus. So we walk the same 3 miles back to the road and hitched a ride back to Macas.

I would of never entered those caves without a guide, but honestly this guy Darwin I would never go hiking with again. He was smoking joints the whole time and walking ahead of us. However, I am glad he was there because I wouldn’t of had the nerve to go through the caves alone. And as a bonus when we were heading back from the hike we ran into a venomous snake that has a rodent in its mouth and wasn’t letting us pass. The guide grabbed some cigarettes and blew smoke in its face and had some type of drink with him in case it did bite. That made me feel better.

5

Here is a photo of Darwin, he was taking pictures the whole time.

Darwin said that he once saw a anaconda kill a little boy in a river about 15 years ago. A bunch of kids were washing up in the stream and he watched the snake strangle the kid and then squish him to death before eating him. Could you imagine! The stories from this guy were pretty rough he has lived his whole life in the junge and been going to the caves since he was a kid.

If I were I do the tour again I would take it from Puyo, not macas and make sure I asked ALL questions and not assume that all guides are professionals. Even though the guide wasn’t the best, I was back on time for my bus with two minutes to spare and was off! Macas to Loja night bus is supposed to take 8-9 hours and it ended up being 10-11 as there was tons of traffic an construction. The trip cost $14 USD and led me to Loja where I took a bus for $1.5 USD to Vilcabumba. The whole trip was worth the stress and adventure. The caves were definitely a high light and the energy from them is something I will remember for the rest of my life! (Photos to come soon!)

Tena, Ecuador Mural – The Amazon!

Standard

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tena, Ecuador – The Jungle. Loud animal noises, neon yellow, green and brown luscious trees (bigger than you have seen in your whole life), pounding singing rain for days (literally), poison tree frogs (only if you eat them), unique jungle fungus (not on me, on the trees), hundreds of bug bits, turquoise translucent blue butterflies, dancing moths around lights, and hot heat filled the life of the Amazon jungle.

Tena, Ecuador was my home for almost a week while I painted my mural at Pakay Tours and Hostel, run by a couple, an Ecuadorian man, Tony and German woman, Inga who were more than welcoming and friendly my whole stay. The couple switched speaking languages from German to Spanish to English which was quite an entertaining thing to witness.  I litreally had the best breakfast every morning with granola, yogurt, eggs, coffee (from a french press), milk, bread, homemade jam and usaully something extra and different for each morning.This is one place I wish I was at for longer. We cooked meals at night including a tradtional Ecuadorian meal with fish and vegetables over the fire using palm tree leaves.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tony works as a guide through the rainforest and took me and some friends out for hikes and waterfall hunting. One hike was to his brothers property where we hiked for 4 hours.We wore mud boots because it was raining the entire time and we were lucky enough to see poison tree frogs, a fungus called cordyceps , and magical mushrooms. It was rare to see the cordyceps as they are used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicines and many athletes take it as a form of medicine to heal the body and mind. The fungus feeds on a host, a insect, and will kill it from the inside out. When humans digest the fungus, it is thought to be healing for the human body. Some people pay thousands of dollars for this fungus!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The other hike Tony took us on was a hike to dazzling waterfalls that led to pools where you could swim and jump off cliffs. The rock around the waterfalls made for good water slides as well! It was a beautiful day for swimming, super hot and even had some Ecuadorian boys that asked me to marry them. Now that I speak Spanish it is quite interesting to see some of the ways that men try and pick up women. You could call them very forward!

       OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Now, back to the mural.

Where: Pakay Tours and Hostel in Tena, Ecuador, the Amazon!

What: A mural of course! It was a wall that wrapped around the hallway. It was halfway outside-inside and was quite large. The theme was amazon and it was such a pleasure to paint it!

How long?: One week, 6-8 hours a day

Accommodation: Unbelievable place. The home is made from Panama Palm tree its the name but its really from Ecuador) and is situated in the jungle only a 10 minute walk into town. I was provided with a wonderful bed, and meals for everyday. Breakfast was a luxury as we ate eggs, pancakes, granola,

What I learned: Always wear pants, socks and long sleeve t-shirt while working in the jungle because san flies and random bug will bite you. In this moment I have close to 100 bug bits just on each of my legs. No fun! I learned how to paint dangerously with the help of an added platform to get the high edges, as the ladder wouldn’t cooperate with the stairs. I also learned to paint for longer than 4 hours a day, average was probably 8 hours. I also learned that drinking 3-5 cups of coffee in one day helps painting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

El Fin a Comuna de Rhiannon

Standard

How can you describe a place that captures your souls spirit and offers lessons, energy and experiances for your heart that words can not even describe? Community Rhiannon has proven to be a magical place for discovery, working and family in the midsts of smells of eucalyptus, incense, donkeys, compost, dogs, san pedro, yoga and whispering mountains.

1large

The farm is 1.5 hours from Quito, Ecuador in the small town of Malchingui and I stumbled upon this gem through the WWOOFING website. The scenery is gorgeous set in the mountains near the sacred Incan trail. There were 4 volcanos located around Rhiannon, and you could see them on a clear day. Below is the active volcano that you could see from my house!

1

There are a lovely couple, Nicky and Helen that own the place and make things organized and beautiful. They work well as a team and have a little one and a half year olf baby as well. She has shiny bright blue eyes and is always willing to give out a laugh or smile. Here is an interesting article written about the couple as they have been in the press about getting legal papers for their family as two mothers. They have owned the farm for about 5 years.

At Rhiannon there are about 10-25 Volunteers from all over the world living in tipis, snake pits, gnome domes and tiny houses. The volunteers arrive twice a month, on the first and on the 15th of each month, and the community requires a length stay of 1 month minimum. This way, the people get to know each other and the community becomes a family.

2

This was the view from my house for one month, I lived in the “snake pit” because my bed was literally 5 feet underground hanging from a platform with 4 big metal chains to the ceiling. It was two stories and I lived alone, cant complain!

3

Another view from inside the snake pit, it still needs donkey poop, sawdust, dirt, and water mixture on the walls before its compelte. The process is called adobe.

4

Here is the snake pit from the oustide

Meals are cooked together everyday. Breakfast at 7am, lunch at 1:30 pm and pm and dinner at 7:30pm. Every meal is vegetarian and everyone eats together.

27

Here is Luna, one of the premanent residents of Rhiannon Community. Cute little lady!

At Rhiannon, it is a almost completely sustainable (there is not enough food produced at the farm to be conpletly sustainable yet). The community has solar powered electricity (no lights on after 9pm), bano seco “dry toilets” and nothing goes to waste. Remember the song about reduce, reuse, and recycle? Well this place does all three steps not just recycling. The amount of garbage in one month produced a this farm was probably the same I could produce on a week by myself. Pretty impressive but we all for sure had to be super aware of these things all the time. The showers were cold, unless there was a sunny day and the sun heated it.

9

Here is the bicycle powered washing machine that we used to wash clothes with natural lemon soap collected once a week from the lemon and lime peels.

We would all wake up to the ring of a big bell at 6:45 am and a second at 7:00 am. We would all have breakfast together typically porridge, fruit and granola. Then we would have a team meeting at 7:45 am to talk about work and then start work at 8:00 am.

7

10 yoga platforms that overlook the mountains, pretty incredible.

Tasks on the farm ranged from taking care of donkeys, feeding the chickens, turning compost, taking care of the tree circle from overgrowing weeds, taking care of 7 dogs, harvesting crops, building houses out of rocks and donkey poop, painting signs, and cleaning the house. Not one day looked the same and you could definitely try everything if you wanted.

23

16

Here is Joss juggling the donkey poop, working hard to adobe the snake pit.

Work would end at 1:30 pm where we would all eat lunch together and after that we pretty much had free time to ourselves. There was yoga everyday at 3:00 pm and mediations at 7:00pm. Dinner was always around 7:00-8:00 pm. I learned fabulous meals and am excited to start implementing them.

At the farm I also tried the sacred medicine San Pedro and took it with about 30 people in a sacred circle with sacred songs, a tribe and a sacred fire. It was a beautiful experience, very different from anything else I have felt. Below is my friend Frederika and we collected beautiful flowers for the ceremony.

15   13

12

Here is the family preparing for a sweat lodge ceremony before the San Pedro. The ceremony includes 4 rounds of hot stones in a tiny room (see the adobe structure behind) and the idea is that you are being reborn by sweating and singing sacred songs.

While at the farm I learned how to give massages from Nicky and got Reiki 1 certified. The massage corse was a weekend where I learned how to give an hour and a half full body massage. We did a hands on practice and I now have a skill I can take with me the rest of my life. Definitely something I love doing.

Reiki is a type of healing practice that comes from Japan. It is a 45 min – 1 hour practice where the practitioner gives reiki to the client while the client relaxes and meditates. The idea is that the reiki energy unblocked the chakras in the body, the energy centers where 7 are located in the body. Each center is a different energy and color and as we live or lives its quite possible to block these centers. Reiki is the process of relieving the blockage by allowing the client space, support and energy to do so. It’s a miraculous practice and its changes my life. You can get certified all the way up to level 5 as a Reiki master. I am definitely looking to get certified after I practice for 6 months which is recommended.

2large

At the farm I also taught English to a elementary school in the town. It was once a week and the children were so much fun to teach. It was a lot of work, but absolutely worth it.

I am so happy that I have started to WWOOF (farm organically) as it gives such a great balance to traveling. The month gave me exactly what I needed in my life at the perfect moment. I feel so grateful for the life I live and the people who have been apart of it.

28

Here is the Rhiannon Family

When I first arrived to Quito at the Ofelia station it was 4:30 am. I had taken a night bus 9 hours from the coast and realized that here wasn’t a bus to Malchingui until 6:30. The cab driver said he couldn’t wait for me so I was left alone at the station scared! Thankfully I made friends with the bus drivers and was able to sit and the buses that head out every 30 minutes! Made it to the farm safely but man that was a close call!

19

Here is the bus that I finally took at 7:30 am, I was never more happy to see a bus in my life.

The 10 hour Incan Hike – Ecuador

Standard

The Incan Hike / May 2013               20130614-092256.jpg

Powerful Incan ancestor speaking mountains, glazed with fallen snow, high altitude breathe taking, sweetly hot and biting cold, mysterious navy blue laid lakes, gentle horse finding, exhausted leg climbing, 10 hour hiking kind of day!

I walked with a friend from Malchungi to Otavalo in Ecuador for a whopping 10 hour total hike. We walked through the magical mountains of the Andes range which got up to almost 14,000 feet in elevation. Fuya-Fuya is the most well known stratovolanco in this chain of mountains.

In the province of Imbabura a few hours away North from Quito we found Lake Mojanda. Nestled in between a mountain range pregnant with active volcanos are three lakes Caricocha (male lake) or big lake, Huarmicocha (female lake) or small lake and Yanacocha or black lake.

Every bend, every climb we were in awe of as the scenery was filled with every changing clouds, weather surprises and mushroom filled paths. We lucked out with clear weather as many people go to the hike and cannot even see the mountains because its so foggy. We has nothing but sunshine and clear views.

The 10 hour hike was a lot of work, free, and one of the most remember able things I have experienced on my trip. Feeling thankful, blessed, calm and at ease while my time at Rhiannon Community Farm. I am appreciating the off-the-path traveling of farm life and quiet long walks. Did I mention it was free?

20130614-092230.jpg  20130614-092313.jpg 20130614-092337.jpg

Montantia, Ecuador

Standard

April 2013    20130614-092856.jpg

It’s currently 9:30 am and I can still hear regaton. It’s the type of loud music with a deep base that sounds like the same song over and over. People here party all night and all day. Montanita is a small beach town on the coast of Ecuador with a infamous night life. For me, good luck trying to get me to stay up past 3:00 am. In my hostel the walls and windows were shaking with bass.

2

To get to Montanita from Baños:
Get ready for a long bus ride. It’s wasn’t too bad but I would recommend a night bus as many of the busses during the day make a 45 minute longer trip to Ricabamba. Make sure to ask if the bus is going to that city as it does make a difference in time and people will try and rip you off! They will even say its a direct bus when it really isn’t. If you don’t don’t stop in Rhiabamba its a direct bus.

The total time was 7.5-8 hours and $8.00 USD. It’s a standard Ecuador price as the rule is $1 dollar for every hour.

1

Once you get into Guayaquil, you must transfer at the station to get to Montanita. Warning for anyone traveling to Guayaquil bus terminal: Only go to Guyaquil via overnight bus or 6am departure time from surrounding cities. We took the 9 am bus from Baños, got into Guayaquil at 4:45 pm and missed the last bus transfer. Therefore we had a really hard time trying to find something legit to get us to Montanita. It seemed odd that at 4:30 pm there were no more busses. It almost seemed like a scam because the people working at the terminal directed us to a man who wanted to charge a whopping $10 a person!

All in all Montanita isn’t a city I would be dying to go back to anytime soon, but for the person that enjoys a good party…you would fall in love.

3

Here is a little painting I did while in Montanita