Posts tagged ‘Rain’

There was so much we loved during our weeks in Ecuador but here are the standout “Number Ones” from each of us:

Paul’s #1 Thrill:

Paul’s #1 Thrill: Riding the “milk truck”

Riding the “milk truck” on a journey that seemed to climb its way to the apex of a very remote and stunning area of the Andes. We enjoyed the open air with the camaraderie of the locals who, like us, were taking the only ride out of town that day. The only thing missing was a thermos of nice hot coffee because we did have the luxury of an endless supply of fresh creamer right at our fingertips.

Peter’s #1 Natural Wonder:

Peter’s #1 Natural Wonder: The captivating Quilotoa Crater Lake

The captivating Quilotoa Crater Lake was a supremely blissful start of our 3-day trek through the remote Andean highlands. Every step of our walk was beautiful but the splendor of Volcán Quilotoa’s turquoise water was the most dazzling of all.

Paul’s #1 People:

Paul’s #1 People: The group of young Ecuadorian hikers we met

The group of young Ecuadorian hikers we met at the waterfall near Baños. If they are an example of the young and upcoming generation in Ecuador I have great hope for that country. I was thoroughly impressed with their enthusiasm, curiosity and manners not to mention they were just plain fun.

Peter’s #1 Animal:

Peter’s #1 Animal: Felipe the Cat

We encountered countless friendly critters in Ecuador, but none endeared our hearts like Felipe in at our hostal in Chugchilán. This lovely little cat spent every moment with us: purring on our laps, rambunctiously playing with peacock feathers, knocking over beer bottles, sneaking in the dining room to sniff our food, and generally being an entertaining nuisance. Oddly the owner said Felipe was in “mourning” over the recent death of his sister, but to us Felipe was always in the highest of spirits – he certainly lifted ours.

Continue reading ‘Peter and Paul’s Numero Unos of Ecuador’ »

Scenes from Samaipata: Paul amid the peaks ~ Peter chatting on the parrot phone ~ El Fuerte archeological site ~ Easy rider Paul

In Quechua the town means “The Height to Rest” – and indeed this is where Paul and I found a relaxing and picturesque place to kick back for a long weekend.   We were coming from steamy, tropical Santa Cruz in the eastern lowlands of Bolivia in search of cooler temperatures and an escape from the crowds.  It was our last weekend together in Bolivia before Paul had to return home.

Samaipata is something of an anomaly for Bolivia.  Blessed with a delightful subtropical climate and tucked in the easternmost folds of the Andes mountains, the area has attracted foreigners for centuries: first the Sephardic Jews expelled from peninsular Spain during the Inquisition, later some Italians and Croats, and finally a sizable number of expats (mainly artists and free-thinkers from Europe) starting in the 1970’s when the road from Santa Cruz was paved.

Perhaps the most celebrated foreigner to come to the region was Ernesto “Che” Guevara in 1966 during his ill-fated attempt to bring Socialist revolution to South America.  He was killed almost a year later in the nearby village of La Higuera.

Today Samaipata remains a sleepy backwater with quiet colonial streets, a peaceful Plaza Principal filled in the evenings with locals on promenade and traveling hippies playing music and selling hand-made wares.  The resident expats are barely visible but present, often running businesses catering to tourists.  Samaipata hosts organic farms, Buddhist meditation retreats, ecological construction (my superadobe instructor from La Paz is based here), and a large number of reveling cruzeños from Santa Cruz on holiday weekends.

Samaipata is an especially agreeable place.  It reminded us of what San Miguel de Allende in Mexico may have been like decades ago.

The quiet streets of Samaipata: wandering cows, unpaved roads and the parrot phone booths

Continue reading ‘Finding R&R (Rest & Ruins) in Serene Samaipata’ »

Here’s a 3.5 minute video of our eight-hour journey through the Bolivian mountains from La Paz to Cochabamba.  We saw all sorts of inclement weather, beautiful terrain and unfortunate accidents during the trip.  Thankfully we arrived unscathed.

Scenes from scenic, sacred Lago Titicaca

After a chokingly long week in congested La Paz, Paul arrived and at our first chance we were off in search of cleaner air, a less-harried town, and some water in land-locked Bolivia.  I had finished my first week with Kiva, happily making friends at the Emprender loan offices and completing a couple borrower visits. It was time to celebrate my recent success with Paul!

So off we went to Copacabana on the shores of the magisterial Lago Titicaca.  Standing at 3,812 m (12,507 ft), the lake is the highest navigable body of water in the world.  The Copacabana region, or kota kawana in Aymara (which means “view of the lake”), was considered by both the Tiwanaku and Incan empires strategically, economically and spiritually important.  Consequently Copacabana was settled long before the Spanish arrived.

Today it is a quaint town of 6,000 residents and a tourist hub for both backpackers and Andinos alike.  The Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana, a hallowed shrine dating back to the 16th century, is home to the patron saint of Bolivia.  This so-called “Dark Virgin” purportedly has magical healing powers.  Her reputation is so great that pilgrims flock to the cathedral all year long.  Revered far and wide, the Virgin even inspired the naming of a now-famous beach in Rio de Janeiro.

Paul and I instantly bonded with Copacabana.  Laid-back, friendly and geographically and culturally interesting, we both relaxed within minutes of getting off the bus from La Paz.  On the ride there, I couldn’t remember if I passed through this town back in 1999 when I made my first Andean circuit with my brother Erik.  At the time, I recall, I was quite ill from the flu and my recollection was fuzzy at best.  But as soon as I saw the distinctive Basilica, fashioned in the mudéjar style of Islamic Spain, I instantly remembered being here.

One tidbit I do remember from my first visit was changing $100 USD at a local bank since Copacabana was my first stop in Bolivia, having just arrived from Peru.  There were no ATM’s in the town then and the bank teller patiently counted out a pile of small-denomination Boliviano notes.  I made my way back to my hotel with a stack of bills as thick as a brick, what a feeling!

The first afternoon Paul and I just wandered idly around town, poking about the markets, climbing the Cerro Calvario which has great views of the town and the lake.  We enjoyed a cold beer as the sun sank on the western shores of Lake Titicaca and delivered an almighty sunset.  The vote was unanimous — Lake Titicaca was a perfect place to be for a few days.

Continue reading ‘Lake Titicaca: At the Copa… Copacabana!’ »

Museo de las Momias, Guanajuato, Mexico

An unusual rainy spell has struck pretty much all of Mexico, and here in San Miguel de Allende the high altitude has made for some pretty cold temperatures with daily highs only in the low 50’s F.  This chill, combined with the non-stop rain showers, have made the past few days rather unpleasant.  Normally warm and sunny with bright blue skies during the day and cooler, dry air in the evenings, the high-altitude desert of Guanajuato state is usually an ideal locale to spend some time during the winter months.

Yet the region has had a significant drought in recent months, with the normally wet summer producing inadequate rainfall.  Wells are low, the lakes far below the normal depths, and there are reports of cattle dying in the fields.  Mother Nature has not been kind to the region last year.  Sanmiguelenses had been praying for rain – fortunately for them past few days have generously spawned downpours and frequent passing showers.  This soaking rain will go far in replenishing the local supply of fresh water much to the satisfaction of all of us that depending on it.

Continue reading ‘Las lluvias del invierno… Museums and Mummies in Guanajuato’ »