Thursday, January 7, 2010

Ecuador - Day 11

Jan 4, 2010

Guyaquil by night

During a layover, i had a few hours back in Guayaquil. I didn't meet my chicas from Day 1, but I did enjoy some quiet time by the river.




And Scene.

Ecuador - Day 10

Jan 3, 2010
Latacunga

I love this town. The morning market sells, among other things, a plethora of organic fruits, vegetables and grains. The small towns aren't normally big on fresh fruits and vegetables for public consumption (the country makes more money exporting its produce to the States). But this day, you could get whatever you wanted. "Yappa" by the way is what to say to get them to add a little extra to your bag no charge. It's a secret of the locals.











I adore the folks of Lata. Clever is Ana's brother. He's incredibly smart, as well as curious about my life -- as one of the few Americans he knows and as the sole Jewish guy he's actually talked to.



La Señiora - Ana's and Clever's mother. She's very eccentric and sweet, and insists with a her gaspy speech "sientate. Comé. Cante. para mi, por favor" Sit down. eat. sing for me, please." I sang a folk song for her, and that triggered her to burst into song. She's a lovely woman who gave me room and board for a night, and she's a lot of fun.

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My friend Martha. She's teaching English to 7-year-olds. One of the gentlest souls I know.


A running gag was that I was mentioning my girlfriend, Jenn, during the trip. The only thing cornier is making a PDA with a photo.

Ecuador - Day 9

Jan 2, 2010
El Museo de los Animales, y El Communidad

Again, thanks to Ana, we joined a small group to get a discount trip to a local animal sanctuary a 15-minute boat ride from town. Most of the animals were free to roam around, and the wary visitor often had his path crossed with one of these characters. When you get tired of seeing animals in cages, this is a beautiful change.

A White-throated Toucan (Ramphastos tucanus)


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A capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris)
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Yellow-footed Tortoise (Geochelone denticulata)


A feral pig (sus scrofa) that's not so feral. He followed this lady around like a puppy.
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Unidentified pigeon-sized fowl


Brown Woolly Monkey (Lagothrix lagotricha)



Moments after the above photo was taken, this monkey leaped straight over my head and onto a skinny drooping branch behind me. She rocked on the branch and gently knocked against me before leaping away.

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Ecuador - Day 8


Jan 1, 2010
El Parque de los Monos a.k.a. Monkey Park

By the rio on the edge of Puerto Misahualli is a riverbank beach. That's where families play and lady walks around with a catcalling parrot.



However the beach is also adjacent to a huge grove of trees that connect to the density of the forest, and in those trees the Capuchin monkeys play, rest, and generally act like monkeys.










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And yes, you can easily make contact with them. I've met many dogs and cats and consider most of them pals. But to meet a monkey is a different experience entirely. I felt like I was meeting my cousin. No offense, Josh.





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When the monkeys are not picking apart grasshoppers, hopping from tree to tree or else doing any other typical monkey behavior, they are harassing the visitors. I had a little plastic bag with two rolls of bread in it. A monkey jumped over to me and grabbed the bag. I swung it around like a fun-park ride, but even after one roll fell to the sand he held on. After a few seconds the bag tore apart, and the monkey grabbed the whole thing - rolls, plastic and all - and ran to his tree to assess his conquest. In a minute we found pieces of bread he didn't like falling from the tree like rain.

Suddenly, a kid started crying, and a monkey was darting toward a tree with a soda bottle in his hand.

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YOU NAUGHTY LITTLE MONKEY!

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A lifeguard found his job to be climbing trees to retrieve the belongings from the children. He was completely unsuccessful. The monkeys dropped their trophies from the tree when they were good and ready.





Ecuador - Day 7

Dec 31, 2009
Puerto Misahualli - pronounced MeSAwaJEE - is a relaxing but tiny vacation spot for Ecuadorians. Also a great place to get a roasted plantain for a quarter.



Of course, there are other ways to get your hands on some grub.

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The New Years tradition in Ecuador is to build or buy paper-mache dolls, similar to the way we make jack-o-lanterns. These dolls are called "Viage Año," or "Old Year," and at midnight on New Years, the people set the dolls aflame to burn to cinders. It's a big outdoor bonfire. Some dolls are made to look like pop-culture icons, too. During the day is games and social-type fun.










Ana was able to hook us up with a Jungle Lodge a 5 minute boat ride from town. It was a 15 minute walk to and from, and the view was unbeatable.





Some of our neighbors during our stay:





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Ecuador - Day 6

Dec 30, 2009
TENA is a town in the lower Amazon region. It was sunny every morning and rainy at night. I knew I wouldn't be near a phone the next two days, so I called my parents and my girlfriend from a "porta" phone booth to wish them a happy new year. This was my view from the booth:



Tena from my window:
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Plantains!




Ana and I strolled down the street and found an off-road that led up a hill - it was a residential avenue adjacent to some wilderness. As we climbed the hill, the houses began to look like this:







At the top of the hill was the highway. Crossing the highway was another residential dirt road. The dirt road led to a path of wooden slats into the dense jungle. Then, as Doc said to Marty, "Where we're going we don't need roads."






We sat on a log and spied a citrus bush with its fruit so ripe they was falling onto the soil. We had a lunch of jungle grapefruit. Whatever they were, they were bland but extremely juicy. I took a couple in my back pocket with me as we headed back - and were intercepted by a super-sized butterfly.





Ana makes a friend.



Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ecuador - Day 5

Dec 29, 2009 - Baños

Some images of town

Here's a restaurant in Baños that unfortunately doesn't serve mushrooms.





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It's an honor to have worked on a program that gets bootlegged in third-world countries.



Some images of the country - accessible by a 30km bike ride.