Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mom´s account

Moms email says

It was hard leaving the Galapogus Island, we went around to all of the people we engaged with and said our good byes and thank you for the wonderful experience. The day we left we did get to swim with the sharks in the morning. We took a boat out about 7:00am. The sharks were smaller than we thought, but sharks none the less. Got an underwater camera to take pictures because we thought nobody would believe us. When we got back to Guyaquil (main continent) we got on a bus and headed for a town called Cuenca which is in the Sierras. What a difference to go from sea level to an elevation of almost one mile. I guess I did not drink enough water because I got a touch of elevation sickness with a fever and after we got back from a trip to a local textile/artesian town I had to take a 3 hour nap. It sucked because I missed going through & touring the local churches. Next we went to Incaquerca which is little town along the Inca trail where there are Incan ruins. It was rainy & muddy but seeing the ruins helped us understand just how far we have come as a civilization. The ruins were lined up perfectly with the sunrise & sunset. It was set on a hill so they could see whoever would try to attack. There were aquaducts built around the whole thing as well as a place for them to have recreation which they believe they played a form of soccer/futbol. The whole pleatau was fairly suffisticated for the times, I guess very similar to the pyramids. There were even wild lamas all over the place. We did not mess with them because as I understand it they are so much meaner than the mamma sea lion.:-) It really was amazing. After returning to Cuenca we hung around the city for another day checking out the local museums, artesian shops and indiginous works of art. The Hostal that we stayed at was incredible and the guy running it told us his father built the 13 bedroom house from top to bottom and only died a couple of years ago at 90 something. The next day we headed to Riobamba where Julie (Kristin`s friend from home) has a place that we visited. It has a wonderful view of the mountain Chimboraza which Julie just climbed with a group the prior Sunday and made it clear to the top. The town is quaint & very beautiful with the setting of the mountain range surrounding it. Tomorrow we will head for the city of Tenua where there are natural hot springs surrounding the city. This city is at the edge of the Amazon and it is what they call the "Orient" and thank goodness it it closer to sea level. My head is about to explode with this elevation. We met some people that actually live in Durango Colorado who are having trouble acclamating, it is crazy high.That is all for now and I will write again soon.Happy Thanksgiving to all for tomorrow.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


We spent our last half day on the Galapagos Islands. And what a day it was!!!
We danced the night before, some of us later than others... But we woke up at 530 the next morning to head out on our boat. We arranged a tour to a place offshore called Leon Dormido (Sleeping Lion- Kicker Rock) We got on our boat and headed out. We followed the San Cristobal shoreline and saw blue footed boobies, sea lions, pelicans, friggate birds and the always beautiful scenery. We made it to Leon Dormido after about a 45 min. boat ride. We hopped in our wet suits and grabbed our fins and snorkle...and jumped in....
...Not to mention the instant fact that you cant see the groud becuase you are out way off the shore was a little scary. But we swam toward teh protruding huge rock. The side of the rock that headed toward teh ocean floor was like a cliff, and I couldn´t see the bottom. The side of the rock was covered with barncales of all colors and beautiful algae, fish homes and tons of fish. We were told to swim around the rock to the passage. There was a 30 foot wide break in the rock. So after checkingf out the sid eof the rock we make it to the passage. I saw quite a few turtles just flating along, doo dadooo, tranquil and then I looked down and saw a school (?) of rays. The white spotted rays probably 5 or 6 feet wide floating along. HOW COOL!!! Not to mention all the fish....and then before I knew it I was swimming with sharks!!! There were baby/adolescent sharks in the gap (the whole draw of Leon Dormido) They were swimming around. So yes I swam with the sharks. We got underwater pictures, so not to worry---hopefully they came out alright : / no promises. After swimming through the passage we hopped back on the boat and made our way toward Sea lion island. There the water was much calmer and shallower. The water was filled with fish, and sea lions. They are very playful creatures. They will swim right out you fast and stare at you in teh eyes and 1 foot before they reach you swerve one way. Agile! They will play with you and swim with you, and they are tons of fun! It all kinda felt like something out of Finding we are looking for the East Australian Current and I was asking the turtles (alright alright, only somebody who has seen that movie as much as I have would know what the heck i´m talking about!) After swimming around there, we made our way back to the island. From there we packed and said our goodbyes to our favorite bar tender and headed to the airport for our flight to Guayaquil.
Once in Guayaquil we took a bus to Cuenca. We are now here in this town which is known as the town of churches for its abundance of churches. It´s a higher elevation and filled with the indigenous influence. Also very colonial architecture scattered throughout. It´s nice to be back in the cooler climate witht the andean music, art, and green. But the Galapagos was totally worth it!!!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

San Cristobal, turtles, iguanas, fish, and birds

The Galapagos Islands.

We are on the San Cristobal Island, Galapagos, Ecuador.
What a dream!!! This plaze is uniquely amazing. Cathy, my mom, and I are here. We got here on Tuesday from the ´´main continent.´´ We spent the first day relaxing and looking around. San Cristobal is the second largest populated island(5000 people), after Santa Cruz (10000) and before Isabela (2,000 people). It is a volcanic island and it is not spring here, so it is a dry hot climate with semi-cold waters. The islands ecotourism efforts are immense. Advanced recycling program, conservation of land, water, and the animals that inhabit land and water, fossil fuel minimized, and trying to lessen their ´´footprint´´ Alhtough the three of us have decided that there are plenty more of precautions they could take to maintain these islands to the max, it is pretty advanced compared to other parts in the world.

So far we have visited many places and SNORKLED tons!! Our first full day we did a loop that covered three main spots away from the little town. Westarted by going to La Galapagueria- the gigant galapagos tortoise reserve where you can see these old big animals in a semi natural environment. From there we continued on to Playa Chino. Playa Chino is a fine white sandy beach with sea lions and snorkling. We say tons of fish, a sting ray, and a baby turtle while snorkling. From there we continued on to El Junco. El Junco is the only fresh water reserve on the island. It is made from rainfall here. We hiked up the hill to see the lake. Cathy feel on her butt and hit her head 3 times!!! It was muddy thats for sure. And mom fell face first down the hill. That afternoon mom and I went to Playa Mann, the closest beach to town (which also has the University that Julie went to while she was here) We went snorkling here as well. This beach had tons of sea lions, they are everywhere here, people and sea lions inhabiting the beach together peacefully. Nothing like La Jolla Cove. This place stresses the natural version of everything, not our [clean controlled version in the states. Speaking of inhabiting the baeach together, here{s a story... Mom and I are out snorkling and we are coming back and thereis a male sea lion approaching our stuff, he actually went up and basically sat on all our stuff, towels, back packs etc... Well shoot, what do we do???? Even our room key! So we have the clever idea to get it back somehow. While everybody is watching us on the beach, mom tries and sneaks up and take it. Ya the Sea lion was NOT having any of that!!!! He charged mom and started barking at her to back OFF. So mom runs back to me, not to mention everybody on the beach laughing at us. It was great. After about 3 attempts, he finally left, and we were able to get our stuff back. We found our cool bar that we like to hang out with our friendly bartender who makes the ´´best´´ margarita on the island, according to my mom the margarita conosiour.
The next day my mom and I went to the beach called La Loberia, named after the sea lions. We met a local guy here who offered to show us how to walk there. The beach was filled with many things. When you first enter you see all the black lava rocks that make up the coast here, and if you look very closely you could see some off colored things. They turned out to be the galagagos iguanas. Scary looking, calm animals. On the actually beach there were the sea lions chilling on the beach soaking up the rays... and the snorkling was really good. Filled with tons more fish and a variety of other things. We enjoyed there until early afternoon. Then, made our way back to show mom a traditional ecuadorian lunch- soup, rice beans chicken and juice for 2.00. That afternoon we went with Cathy to a diffferent beach on the other side of the harbor called Punta Carola (named after Mom....who knows :p ) Snorkling here was beyond amazing. The water wasnt that crystal blue water you get in other places, but your swimming along and come along a group of turtles!!! There were turtles of all sizes, babies, adolescentes and then huge turtles with shells the size of a coffee table. I actually was swimming with three turtles at one point, the water was filled with them. As well as a sea lion swimming right by me .
That night took mom out for a little taste of Ecuadorian dancing. Salsa is the popular music...but we{ll have plenty of time to check out the discoteque dancing scene here. All in all, we are all three having a great time and enjoying this unique place. Moms taking pictures, so not to worry. We´ll keep you updated...

sidenote: Cathy keeps an eco blog and she has been writing more about the ecotourism here. Check it out and she would like to put a sidenote that if you need to buy anything from Amazon, go through her site and click it her make money .

Friday, November 14, 2008

40 hours

So I stayed with my Colombian mother, Anna, in Bogota and what a sweetheart she is.
I left Bogota Nov. 11th at 8pm and got on a bus (sidenot: i`ve considerable lightened my load- my backpack is much smaller- liberating!) The bus ride to the border of Colombia took almost 30 hrs. We passed through plenty of places that were in an upheveal. There was/is problems ith a money company there called La Piramde, and in a nutshell the owner died and peoples money disappeared... ahhh corruption. But finally reached the border.
Complications arose there and it`s a long story... but after that I hopped on other busses. I arrived Nov 13 to Guayaquil...40 hours in bus! dang!
I am staying here with friends that we`ve met through couchsurfing the first time we came, and basically taking it easy until mom gets here tomorrow!!!!!!!!!! Beyond excited!!!!!!!!!!!

What is happiness? What is happiness to YOU? How do we find it?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hammock time

I headed off to Santa Marta, the oldest town in colombia. I stayed with Tim, a couchsurfer in santa marta and he gave me a tour and a history lesson of santa marta. i also got to meet a good chunk of his friends. One of the days we went to visit one of his friends in the hospital, Pedro Conde. If you google him, you´ll find he´s a famous actor who did lots of westerns with the famous guys, including clint eastwood. He´s been all over the world acting as well. Sweet old man.
The next day, I took some advice of Tim and other travelers I´ve talked to, and went to a little pueblo outside of town called Taganga. Although a little touristy, it was still very pretty. And the surrounding hills that came down to the bluffs were scattered with cactus- just like the San Diego dry shrubbery. I spent most of the time in a hammock reading- it´s that kind of place, relaxation to the max.
I then made my way south, to bucuaramanga, the town between the carribean and bogota. I stayed with Mathieu there, a couchsurfer from Montreal there doing exchange. What a fun loving guy. we went to his Tae Kwon Do meeting, made homemade sushi and ate til we almost exploded, went reggae dancing, and had plenty of fun conversations- a really fun loving guy.
Currenty, I´m in Bogota...the capital of Colombia. I have officially finished my loop of Colombia. I am staying with Anna, an colombian who speaks very good English because she has spent a considerable amount of time in texas, miami, and new york. I met here in Cartagena (carribean) and she offered me a place to stay when I came to bogota. Bogota is´s beyone huge, enormous, gigantic. But still tons left to explore of Colombia´s capital.
...I have a day or two to explore Bogota then its off in a bus to Ecuador... 5 days begins the countdown...see you soon mom and cathy! and ecuador.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Pirates of the Carribean

"Not all who wonder are lost"

The next couple of days in Cartagena were very nice. I spent the next day wandering around the historic town of Cartagena. It is an old town with the colonial old buildings and churches, and the "old town" is surrounded by a wall with cannons. it`s quite interesting. Inside the walls, is like stepping back in drawn carriages, cathedrals, colonial buildings. I also explored the little beach that Cartagena has. It was full of people though. I ran into Vince, a guy from Australia I had met earlier traveling. he was with a group including people from Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia. We hung out that night. The next day I took a tour to Playa Blanca. Check out the pictures. What you think of when you think of hte crystal water, palm trees, tons of fish, white beaches, old boats, fish- cooked and alive, nice people, artisan work. It was all there. I got a little taste of what the Carribbean is like! Amazing. Now i`m staying in Barranquilla with a sweet couchsurfer named Rebecca from Kansas who just finished up Peace Corp in the Dominican Republic. Today I head off to Santa Marta...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Finished up Medellin. Carribean

All in all I had a blast in Medellin.My stay with Andres from couchsurfing was a lot of fun, and he took us a lot of places and we met a lot of people. It was also cool to havea guy from Argentina and a guy from Spain there simultaneously.One of the days Argentinian and the spaniard and I went to Pueblito Paisa. An annedxed village in the middle of Medellin. It took a step back in history and also was cool to see the view.The enxt day i did a hike on the ridge of the mountains surrounding Medellin. It was beautiful, green, high up there, and definitely confusing. I ended who knows where, but I got back. That night we went to a Couchsurfing Halloween Party at a hostal called Tiger Paw. It was a blast, there must of been 50 or 60 people there, couchsurfers, visitors, hostal guests. Everybody dressed up and everything. We hung out there for awhile, but eventually moved it to one of the girls house to do dancing. We danced and chitchatted until sunrise, 7 the next morning. At 8 am I grabbed my bag and headed to the terminal to travel all day to Cartagena. Ended up the bus didn´t leave til 430 pm, a LONG day in the terminal.Eventually, after a 14 hour bus trip at night, we arrived to Cartagena at 630 am. phew. This is my first visit tot he Carribean. I´ll admit, i´ve been so wiped from that tripped I haven´t explored the beach yet. BUt I did explore an old castle from teh 1600´s. It was very cool, and from atop taht hill you could see the beautiful Carribean sunset.