Tuesday, July 31, 2012

In Salinas...

The beach time continues...

Chairs for rent.

This time we are in the upper class vacation hot spot...

We found a nice hotel,
bargained the price down a bit
and played cheap tourists by providing our own meals
by daily visits to the supermarket across the street.

We are not leaving the ocean any time soon!
My long underwear is now at the bottum of my backpack!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Laundry luxury

Having your laundry done
while travelling is sooooooo nice!
For a day, I actually smelled nice
and my clothes didn't smell damp and backpacky...

We haven't been in places where they let us do our own handwash...
Oh well, I'll take the luxury :)

Not our laundry...
but you get the idea.
@ rooftop of our favorite hostal in Quito.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


I've got my beach time!

Sign in the one restaurant in Playas
that could cook up something vegetarian...
And it was gooooooood!

Bienvenidos a Playas!
Last week, we arrived here...

These fishermen boats were parked
on the beach in large numbers.
The smell of fish was in the air.

Playas is the favorite vacation destination for 
the lower-middle class Ecuadorians.
We did a lot of this:

Wonderful walks on the beach.
I love feeling the sand between my toes! 

And found these:

dead jellyfish :(

Garbage :(

More pretty dead things :(

So to comfort ourselves after seeing
the garbage and the dead things...
We got this:

Mmmmmm, even better when shared with a loved one!

And went and watched these in town:

Incredible creatures!
There was a tree full of them!
Watch out when they pee!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Creative budgettravelling

My budget is tight, because I want to last at least a year.
My bag is not too heavy, because I want to last at least a year...
So... no buying souvenirs....
They don't fit in the bag nor the budget...

That is why I make my own memories
and have my own ways to never forget...

Pictures of experiences...
lots of them!

By waterfalls in Mindo, Ecuador.

Journals... colourful and meaningfull...
every piece of paper means something and is carefully collected.

A page from my journal.

Rings... buttonrings...
from all the buttons I can find...
all over the world.

One of my favorites of the moment.
From vintage buttons
from an amazing store in Richmond, California.

Travelling on a budget is not that hard... and tons of fun!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

C for...

Cute family hostal
Taken in Laura's museumhouse, Cuenca.

Unesco heritage city = beatiful

Taken in Laura's museumhouse, Cuenca.

Endless walks through the gorgeous city

Market in Cuenca.

New birthday year for my sweetheart

His breakfast treat!

Cajas, a treasure of a natural park

Taken in Laura's museumhouse, Cuenca.

An encounter with the wonderful Dutch-speaking Laura in her amazing museum house

Taken in Laura's museumhouse, Cuenca.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Buffets in Riobamba

Riobamba, our stop between Banos and Cuenca...
was rather sedentary (hence the picture of this pretty chair from the courtyard in our hotel).

We walked around, saw what there was to see in the town (a view over a volcano and two pretty squares) and...

~ gorged ourselves in a cheap buffet place,
~ enjoyed dumb comedy shows on our enormous tv screen in our rather luxurious hotel room (the cheap options in town were... pretty nasty, even Tim thought so)
~ slept in our comfortable bed with the most comfortable (and clean) pillows we have had in a while
~ gorged ourselves again on the hotels breakfast buffet
~ and sat our asses down again for a 6 hour bus ride to Cuenca...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Banos through my grey lens

Banos, Ecuador... was like a themepark.

Stone at a church in Banos, founded by a Belgian.

A rhinocar driving around,
an old castle-tower with slides going down,
colourfully lit up churchtowers,
amusementpark-like plazas,
somewhat weird people, ...
We enjoyed it and were weirded out by it!

Banos gave us:

relaxing days
and the welcome veggiefood options (tourist heaven)

gorgeous hikes to somewhat strange religious artifacts

wonderful photowalks
Tim and I are like flies on a piece of cr@p with our cameras when we see one of these pretty doorhandles :)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Jungle bread

We visited the Siona tribe in the Ecuadorian jungle
and made and ate yucca bread with one of the women.

This is how it went...

The fire

The tools

The yucca (a sort of root)

Peeling the yucca

Washing the yucca

Grating the yucca
Rolling the grated yucca...
... and squeezing the juice out.

The yucca juice is used for soups and teas.

Sifting the yucca

A flour-like substance is the result

Just the yucca flour on a hot hot pan, nothing added...

Ready to eat!
I went for the pineapple jam instead of the tuna...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Jungle favorites

We've been back from the jungle for almost a week...
But I look back on my 10 favorite Ecuadorian jungle experiences (random order):

* learning about the walking palm trees from our amazing guide Jairo

* the Laguna Grande: all the sunsets, the swimming and the boatrides... It was like we were drifting on the clouds and were just above the treetops... but then there were the amazing and dramatic clouds above us. It was confusing and so absolutely beautiful (for the most amazing pictures, look at Tim's blog: http://vagabondurges.wordpress.com/2012/07/07/1327/)

* getting all cuddly with worlds tiniest monkey, the pygmy marmoset

Worlds tiniest monkey... and me.
Tim taking a nap...

* the delicious veggie food plates that the wonderful kitchen staff of our lodge prepared for me (loved the yucca!)

* playing ''pigs'' after dinner with our co-tour family (where can I get that game?)

* making yucca bread with a woman from a nearby village and then, of course, eating it (process, see next blog)

* NOT participating in the (to me) cruel game of fishing for pirana's on the Amazon river, but totally enjoying the excitement and fear of everybody in the boat and taking pictures of their proud/terrified faces with the killer fish (it wasn't easy to get the fish with their faces in the pictures because they wouldn't hold them close enough!)

* thanking the river for it's beauty by giving (loosing to) her my favorite toe ring on my first swim... I loved that thing, but it is pretty awsome knowing that my Nepali toe ring is at the bottom of the Amazon river.

* taking naps in hammocks and reading with the jungle rain in the background

* walking through the mud with rubber boots

Monday, July 9, 2012

Blessed and purified

Friday night, we got back to Quito from the Ecuadorian jungle.

I came back with a purified soul
thanks to Shaman Raul,
a medicine man from the Siona tribe in the Amazon.

We interviewd him and learned about how he became a Shaman.
We learned what being a Shaman means,
which rituals they use,
how they feel about the animals they hunt and eat (they believe that if there is harmony in the tribe, the animals in the jungle want to join them and they literally come towards the hunters, they want their spirits to be part of the tribe),
how they deal with depression and sadness (this doesn't really occur in their villages, but if it does they come together and drink a substance that gets them high...),

When they asked for a volunteer for him to act out his ritual of purifying a soul...
I felt like this was my chance.
I have been too scared to have a big hairy spider run over my hand
and too vegetarian to eat ants...
And my encounter with the cockroach in my bag was NOT voluntary...
So this was my opportunity!

They warned me I would have to take off my shirt AND that it would hurt...
But that didn't stop me.

So I ''stripped'' and sat down in front of Shaman Raul.
He started singing
and waving a bunch of leaves over my head and back.
I felt a warm flow come over me...
6 pairs of eyes were looking at me... I just focused on the sensations.
I felt relaxed, almost meditative...
Then the painful part started.
Shaman Raul started whipping my back with stinging nettles.
It burned a little but was not really that painful...
The 6 faces looked worried now... some of them just turned away.

During the whipping, Shaman Raul asked me if it hurt... ''Un poco'' I answered.

After the ritual, he rubbed my back a little and blew some air over my blisters.
The 6 looked at my back in concern... I was covered in welts.

And that was that...
I am purified now!
And if not that...
I increased my good blood flow and gained an interesting experience.

Now... back in Quito for the weekend I was blessed by a rather impressive birdpoop on my shoulder this morning (in front of a fully loaded tourist bus, ready for departure).
I am a happy, purified and blessed traveller!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

In higher spirits

Ecuador has made me challenge my fear of heights!
I have been ''in higher spirits'' on many occasions...
And I am not always keen about it.
This was me before I went on the Teleferico (cable car) in Quito.

It ended up being a lot of fun

and the views were amazing!

On July's very first day
I took the biggest challenge!
We visited the Basilica and went up and up...

and up..

And then we saw this:

And this...

Detail from big stained glass window.

And I climbed up this...

Window in clocktower.

We walked through this...

The heights were awesome and horrible...
but very much awesome!