Thursday, March 24, 2011

Guayaquil from Cuenca

yes a beautiful drive
ice cream.. yummy.
Last night was exhausted after hiking in the rain and being soaked then having to wait for the bus and hanging out with a drunk Ecuadorian couple.  They were quite entertaining and there was a small fireplace with a tired fire going.

Justin and I made a great dinner.  As has been the case with our dinners we use what ingredients are available without wanting to purchase too many ingredients and spices and things to carry.  The lentils with potatoes and some spices and banana came out great.  The banana melted into the sauce and made it a little sweet. 

Today I woke up and walked around Cuenca for the last time and bought fresh baked sweets, a brownie a cream puff etc and fresh bread straight from the oven and before I left I saw a woman with a cooler and everyone crowded around.  She was selling ice cream on a stick for 25 cents each I bought one with 3 different fruit flavors and then proceeded to buy 2 more!!!  hmm definitely working on gaining some.. umm.... heft.  I then took the bus ride (4 hours) to Guayaquil.  The ride was beautiful in the beginning driving through Cajas national park again and being above the clouds... then we got in the clouds and I had to take a nap cause I was in the first seat and the driver was basically driving blind cause the clouds were so thick.  Now in Guayaquil and going to relax at the hostel because its is so hot and humid here and Guayaquil is supposed to not have anything interesting so I will catch up on reading and actually look at the spanish textbook I have been lugging around with me and havent cracked open.  Off to Monoloco lodge tomorrow!!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cajas national park

the park

the forests

in the forests

yes it snowed or hailed on the hike

llama poop, piles and piles of it

Hiked around cajas national park today. It was beautiful. So glad I went out even though it did rain for an hour or two and I got soaked it was beautiful with grasses and lakes and trees at aroun 4000 meters! I was out if breathe (I blame the altitude, not being out of shape) got fresh hot croissant out of the oven this morning from the bakery then took the hour bus ride to the park. Only a $2 admission and we only saw two other groups of 2/3 people the whole day! The park was well kept with nicely marked trails and a good bilingual map and visitor center. We saw birds lama fish jumping and odd trees that grow at high altitudes.
Tomorrow I get ready to go to an ecolodge

Cuenca exploring

Explored Cuenca yesterday. Walked sound pumapungo, historical ruins right in the city. It is a fantastic museum owned by the bank with a wonderful garden. Went to another museum of aborigines. Went to the market. The view from tue top floor of the place we are staying is amazing and overlooks the city. Soo many places to get fresh bread and croissants. I will definitely come home fat. Made hot chocolate with rum and milk last night that was like mousse it was so thick and creamy. Saw a march for water here in the city. The city is so clean that at the end of the march there was a group of people with trash bags and brooms. Today going to the cajas national park. Tomorrow have to leave for my next destination.
Ecuador has the hot water on the right and the cold on the left, dunny little differences.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Arrived in Cuenca today. Went for a homeade local beer at a brewery but it wasn't very good. Tomorrow exploring the city. We took the bus during the day because it's supposed to be a beautiful ride but it was cloudy and rainy. Though the few views that we could see were beautiful. Long ride so I am tired now. Cuenca is over 2300 meters elevation. So most of the ride we were in the clouds.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Last day in banos

Off to a new city. Going to Cuenca to
Tomorrow with a stop in rio bamba. Goodbye banos I hope I come back to visit all the wonderful people I met. Planning to stay in Cuenca for a few days, then going to stay monoloco lodge which is one hour outside of guaquil on the coast.


More on food. While the food at the restaurants is often loaded with carbs (for example I had a plate of pasta served with rice and French fries). But the market are full of wonderful fresh vegetables and fruits, the variety is incredible. You can make dinner for a few dollars.I tried guinea pig today. It's acommon dish here but it's actually expensive. My friend and I split a guinea pig at the market, yes a whole roasted gun pig including the head. It was $5. Though at a restaurant we were told it's 15 which I believe is more than the average workers daily wage.

Friday, March 18, 2011


I am stayin at the foot of a volcano and am at 1800 meters so the volcano is often in the clouds. I woke at 5am to go to the hot water bath from the volcano. It was lovely. I felt great after. The past two mornings were rainy and I didn't want to walk the dogs but the walk was beautiful with the coulda floating over the lush green mountains it was truly breathtaking and I was wishing I had my camera. I will stay the weekend here to do some hike and scenic walks an take my first Spanish class. But will be leaving next Monday to try a new farm.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Banos ecuador still

In carnival everyone got foamed even those in the parade
taffy is made everywhere
its hard to leave banos. ITs a great place. Today is wednesday the 16th of March already.
Today I will talk about food since someone asked about more details on the food.. and everyone knows I love to eat. I went to a potluck last night at a restaurant that was really fun.  There is a network of gringos that have lived here for a long time and the womans whose farm I am staying at is an integral part of it so the two of us volunteers were also invited.  The people who live here are very interesting.
Monday the other volunteer and I cooked dinner (rice and vegetable in a peanut sauce) and yesterday we made mango salsa and guacamole to bring to the potluck. The salsa came out fantastic.  We cooked onions and garlic until a little soft added peppers (green and red for color) and tree tomatoes and a hot pepper then added tomatoes and at the end mango.. and a little spices some oregano etc.. delic.   We went to the market and got a big grocery bag of fruit and vegetables for around $2.5.
Today I got street food.  Tortilla de maiz, which is a small corn tortilla the size of a golf ball and filled with cheese and then I put Aji sauce on it which is boiled tree tomatoes, onion garlic hot pepper and some spice.  Then I got Pinchos which is different grilled meat on a stick with sliced plantains and spices and then they slather mayonaise on it.  speaking of plaintains.. they have this great grilled plantain that they slice open and put these delicous sauces in.
Here in Banos they are famous for their taffy.  Tons of stalls with rows of people pulling taffy in front of the stores on hooks as well as rows of sugar cane that you can buy pieces of to chew on or get sugarcane juice.
The farm I went to out in the jungle we at really well which is amazing since we didnt have electricity.. hence no fridge.  We had popcorn with cinamon and sugar.  And fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and other interesting food!

I havent figured out where I am going next week yet.  A couple of options.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


out at Lindas farm

our natural swimming pool at Lindas.. wonderful.

view of the volcano at Carols place where I was staying

Made it to the first farm on Sunday.  The farm is used very loose.. it is more of a big garden but the owner Carol is wonderful.  She is a Canadian woman and had some tangerines limes coffee and herbs for her garden and lots of flowers and a few other edibles.  She is a little walk from thecity centre.. its a nice small touristy town.
75% of the tourists are ecuadorian.  Banos obviously means baths..there are hot water baths here.
carnival here was fun.  I was sprayed with foam and splashed with buckets of water.. no one young or old is spared.  One of the other volunteers on the farm was talking about another farm he went to and the grandmother owner who is from miami and 64 was in banos for carnival and came prepared with a tool belt filled with spray foam cans and 2 in her raincoat.. i decided i had to meet her.. so on Thursday I met up with her and 3 other volunteers on the current farm and we all went out to her place in the edge of the rainforest about30 minutes from banos by bus and another 30 minute hike to her log cabin.  Linda had the4 of us volunteers at her place until today.  She had more energy than I do and had done lots of traveling and has settled down here.  I found out ecuador boasts that it is the number 1 retirement place in the world.  Lots of older gringos here.  Its very cheap and safe to live here.  I might try to go back to her place again for a few days before I head out to a new farm.  She has no electricity and a small generator she rarely uses.. but has hot water and a nice natural pool. she lives by herself a half hour walk into the main road.  Its a cabin in the jungle, on the edge of the amazon.
I get the ¨gringo tax¨ marked up prices for goods but I dont mind since everything is so inexpensive.  I bought a pound of homeade organic chocolate for $3 today.  You can get lunch call al muerzo for around$2 here and it is a soup, with a main dish of rice meat and a salad  albeit a small salad of a few pieces of lettuce and a tomato and a fresh squeezed fruit juice. I had tried lots of fruits here that I dont know the name of but are fresh and wonderful and I love going to the markets and buying all sorts of freshly made breads etc.. you can buy lots of food very very cheap.. and live off a few dollars in food a day.
I apologize for the rough sentences and spelling but the keyboards are awful here and I cant find some of the characters.. My hands hurt from having to press down so hard on the keyboard.
I like banos and will stay here for another week or so.  I went to volunteer at an afterschool program and have met some nice people there as well.  I wont want to leave next week as I have met so many wonderful people, but time is short and I know i should move on and see something else. 
Well I have to do some trip planning now!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ecuador.. finally

Arrived in Quito finally after having plane mechanical problems and having to spend a night in Miami.  They only announced it in Spanish but Airforce One with the President landed right next to our plane while we were waiting to depart. 

Shared a taxi to the tourist city of banos Ecuador with 5 other guys I met. I spent yesterday Saturday walkin around town and went out because it's carnival here. It very busy here for a small town because of carnival and I got sprayed with foam (called cariocas) many times, the kids love it, I heard it gets even crazier with eggs and flour and buckets of water and paint!! No one is spared but the kids are cute and are covered with foam and take pity on no one. A friend wore a rain jacket out!

There was a parade yesterday and the people in the parade were covered.

Today I hiked with a fellow traveler to see the volcano and met some people who invited us to swim in the baths at their hotel on the side if the mountain. We went fir a quick swim and then were told by the staff it cost 30$ a person. We paid 20 which is crazy cause it cost about 1$ At the other baths and meals here including soup main with sides and a drink are 2.50. Everything is in dollars so it's easy to get around.
Today I will go to a farm.