Saturday, August 12, 2017

Mitad del Mundo

After the Amazon, I returned to Quito for two nights. I took advantage of this day to wash all my wet, stinky cloths from the Amazon. Nothing dries there and everything gets slimy! Yuck! I also went to the middle of the world, Mitad del Mundo. I got my picture at the famous monument located at the “fake” equator. The monument is surrounded by Ecuadorian shops, museum, and a cultural center which has a  touristy, Disneyworld-like feel. About 100 meters down the road is the real equator and a smaller, more authentic museum. Here is where I saw an egg balance on a nail head, water drain straight down (compared to swirling right or left less than 5 ft away from the equator) and your strength holding your arms up decrease due to the force pushing down on you at the equator. I have now stood on the northern and southern hemispheres at the same time, and have a stamp in my passport to prove it! I have to admit, I think this is a step above the four corners!

Solo Traveling

Its good to be able to do whatever you want, whenever you want it. However I miss sharing the experiences with someone. I miss killing time before the bus with someone or laughing about a language barrier mistake or how late everything is. Of course my tour is a German family, their guide, and me. There are so many different languages being thrown around it is kind of comical. It is also kind of isolating. Very often do I sit at the table and have no idea what everyone is talking about. I’m excited for the next town to stay in a hostel with other travelers.

The Wild Amazon

Boy are we on Ecuadorian time, we were suppose to meet at 9:30 am sharp, and we didn’t take off for the river at least until 11:00 am. The river was gorgeous though. There are numerous bright red and orange flowers. The yellow and black birds sang gently while we paddled by. We heard Macaws squawk and toucans talk. We saw a large fish eat a smaller fish skipping along the top of the water. We saw three snakes, two were fairly small and one was a 6-8 foot anaconda.  The first night we spent camping. The choir of the frogs, cicadas, and other creatures grew louder as the sun went down. Long after dark the rain came. We camped in tents under a tarp and the rain echoed through out camp as it hit the tarps. The rainforest seems to stay a constant temperature no matter the time of day. It is always 80-85 degrees F with 100% humidity. I’ve been getting flashbacks of late summer afternoons in Kentucky. The smell in the jungle is extremely rich; it is full of vegetation and almost sweet. It seems rare to have a sunny day. The mornings typically start gray and by midday there are strong sun rays coming through the clouds. The clouds dissipate by mid afternoon and the blue sky shows itself. After the sunset, the clouds roll back in the cover the land for the night. Throughout our trip we saw spiders the size of your hand, tarantulas crawling back into their holes, giant trees, pink dolphins, tree and water snakes, monkeys jumping from tree to tree, and a collection of birds. The lodge was cute and simple.  There were hammocks hanging everywhere and all rooms were open to the exterior. Although the mosquitos were minimal due to the high pH of the water, each bed was furnished with a mosquito net. The lodge had a 10 ft platform you could jump off into the Cuyabeno river. We also swam in a near by lagoon which was very refreshing. We visited a nearby village and made a local dish out of …. We also visited the village shamen and was blessed by him. Well the adventures are over and now its back to Quito before heading to Banos.


Ahhh the wonderful world of Quito where the cars creep uphill and the artists paint the streets. I traveled VIP here as I stayed with Liza Darlington and her boyfriend Emerson. They showed me the Quito way and did all the talking. Not very many people on the streets speak English, and it would be very difficult to see all I saw without them. Additionally, Liza drove me to few spots and boy did we make a good team. She drove while I navigated.

Day 1: We had a wonderful brunch and then wondered around Old Town. After a little cat nap, Emerson lead a walking tour through Guapulo and La Floresta. Both neighborhoods are artist communities and have gorgeous little bars that were lit up at night. The streets are colorful as every house is a different color and murals dance along fences, parks, and homes.  We eat some wonderful street food for $2 a plate, and then ended the night at a hip bar drinking ginger blonde ales.

Day 2: Liza and I adventured out to Papallacta which are famous for their hot springs and trout. We hiked through a secrete garden-esk trail along a creek. There were air plants everywhere! I’ve never seen them grow I’m the wild.  On our way home, the misty skies clears and the snow capped volcano appear over the mountains the surround Quito.  As banked around s turn, you could see all the beautifully painted houses on the hills of Quito. It was so picturesque. It was great to get to know Liza as an adult. We really only speak much time together when we were little and no we were relearning who each other became. However there is a since of belong when you meet up with a childhood friend. You understand each other a little more than someone you’ve met at an older age.

Day 3: We woke up bright and early at the crack of 8 am and set out to see Quito from above. We took the gondola up and overlooked the long, dense city. After our mini hike at the top, we wentdowm and headed over to Guapulo for the artist open house workshops. It was very near to see everyone’s work on display and to wonder through the local homes. There were beautiful views of the valley.

Liza organized a cab for me and off I was to the bus station.  I’ve left my crutches and now its time to learn Spanish! I’m currently the only Ginga on the bus to Lago Agrio, where I start my trek into the Amazon. These are definitely when I wish I had a travel buddy but its good to practice time alone. I’m alert, anxious, and ready for everyone to try to take advantage of me. Its funny how I have so much more confidence in San Francisco. Well, they always say fake it until you make it! I’m faking as well as I can!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Cheers to Africa

There's always more you want to see and more you want to buy. Though, your time, money, and luggage size is never infinite. There's a time when you have to call it quits and go home. Enjoy what you did, create memories and call it a day. You have to leave something for next time. Be happy for coming and seeing what you saw. Never regret not doing something because if it was so critical, you would have either done it or you'll come back for it! Life is good. Enjoy it. As I've said many of times, do what you want to do. If you wake up more times unhappy than happy, then change your life. Don't wait and let it change you. Be adventuresome, try new things, and being crazy isn't always a bad thing. Until next time Africa, it's been amazing!!

More to Africa

To be posted soon...


The rich are rich and the poor just keep getting poorer. That's life here in Africa. I definitely see the difference since we're living at the American International School which is gated and has housekeepers, gardeners, people to take out the trash, and people to wipe your ass.  Then, 45 minute walk later, we're standing in the middle of Bauleni, a compound where the city dump is burning across from the town market. 20,000 people live here in shacks and barracks. Most kids don't continue school past 7th grade. And even at the 7th grade level, few still can't read and most aren't proficient in math. AIDS and HIV is very common along with starvation. Though, no one will talk about disease. All the locals say is "so-and-so is sick", "so-and-so died". They never said what someone is sick with and why they died.