Wednesday, February 27, 2008
(Isla San Cristobal, Galapagos)- These are just a couple of pictures of Isabel, taken at various points around Isla San Cristobal.
Isabel stands on the boardwalk outside the Interpretation Center, at beach Playaman, in view of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
(Isla San Cristobol, Galapagos)- For our second day with naturalist Fernando, we would visit highlights on the land across San Cristobol. We hired a taxi for the day to take us across the island, to tourist and non-tourist sites.
We started with a trip to a working farm. Farming on the Galapagos Islands seems like perhaps something that shouldn´t be done. It requires the clearing of the land, which certainly would mean the destruction of some plants that are endemic to (only found on) this Island. There are heavy regulations for farming, to deal with these sensitivities. For instance, all crops are organic, and all new fence posts are now living trees... rather unlike the photo below.
We were shown the various crops: coffee trees, 5 types of banana trees, tomate and a wide variety of fruits. Isabel chased the chickens. The farmer picked fresh tomate for us to sample, cut watermelon for us, and had us milk their cows. Ame was really happy about the visit. She liked the idea of Isabel seeing where food comes from. Sure, we could visit farms in the US, but you don´t see many where they clear the lava rock, and you certainly don´t get treated to freshly toasted and ground coffee.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Ame looks back at Kicker Rock. Isabel is more hungry for lunch than sad to leave.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
(Isla San Cristobol, Galapagos)- As advertised, the sea lion population on San Cristobol is enormous. You don´t have to work very hard at all to find them. Just go to the beach and be still for a moment. If their movement doesn´t catch your eye, you will soon enough hear their barks, or smell them, if there are enough out of water.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
(Guayaquil, Ecuador)- While the weather in Quito had been damp and chilly, it had been much warmer in Quayquil, but with torrential rains for days, with massive flooding here and in many other coastal South American locations.
Here are two of Ame´s pictures from the air, as we approached Guayaquil´s Simon Bolivar Airport.
Friday, February 22, 2008
We really enjoyed how our fellow students were having fun with Isabel at the school.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
(San Antonio, Ecuador)- Sure, it's a tourist trap, but if you are in Equador, it would be silly not to visit La Mitad Del Mundo, the monument near the line for which the country is named.
To the right of Isabel, North America. To the left...
Folk dancers near the line. Actually, they cross the line, and nothing in particular happens.
(Nublin, Ecuador)- On the way to La Mitad del Mundo, we were treated to an excellent sidebar- the extinct volcano Pululahua.
The volcano is thought to have last erupted more than 2,000 years ago. Nobody thinks it's going to erupt again, least of which the farmers and homeowners who reside inside the crater! Observe:
Along the roadway to the volcano sits a modern interpretation of an indigenous temple. There is a nice museum inside, with displays and dissertations on things important to the indigenous peoples of the Andes.
Ame makes nice with a local llama on site. Isabel isn't convinced the llama is her friend.
(Quito, Ecuador)- We were lucky to have a neighborhood park just one block away from our host family's home in Quito. We didn't visit as much as we would have liked, thanks to the rain, but we did make it this morning, prior to heading out to the Equator.
KFC is everywhere in Quito, including the park. I read somewhere that KFC has more worldwide outlets than McDonald's. I found that unbelievable until I travelled internationally. In Ecuador, I saw at least eight different KFC locations, and not even one McDonald's.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
(Otavalo, Ecuador)- While the traditional clothes and handicrafts are a draw for tourists, locals buy food for the next week's consumption. It's definitely different from how we shop at Kroger's.
Bananas or plantains. Either was widely available. They filled the air with sweet aroma.
(Otavalo, Ecuador)- Here's the tourista must-see. Otavalo lies about 90 minutes northeast of Quito. The drive is wonderful, with mountains, cliffs, and river views that aren't a bad rival to the Pacific Coast Highway in California. The town is essentially an enormous open-air market every Saturday, with everything from freshly harvested grains to the tourist draws: traditional clothing and crafts.
You are expected to haggle here. Once, I gave the asking price to a woman for something. She was stunned, so much so that it took a moment for her to remember to thank me. It was like that scene from Monty Python's "Life of Brian", where Brian tries to buy a fake beard for a disguise.
(Otavalo, Ecuador)- Parts of the drive from Quito to Otavalo along Highway 35 rivaled the views found on the Pacific Coast Highway in California. That's a lofty comparison, but I can make it with some authority, having now ridden both.
This roadway hugs the sides of mountains and overlooks rivers in gorges. The winding, near-switchback roads made me glad a former policeman was driving. The limestone mountains have caves hollowed into them. And, thanks to the recent rains, the cacti are in bloom. The shortcomings? It lacks an ocean view and some areas are marred by graffiti. Have a look for yourself.
Friday, February 15, 2008
(Quito, Ecuador)- I took a great interest in the food that our hostess, Sonia Martinez, was making for us each night, so on Friday, she invited me into the kitchen to observe and take part in the preparation of the family meal.
The food is actually very, very simple. The meats will be roasted or fried in salt, garlic, and cumin. The latter is the key to the Ecuadorian flavors for meats.
The salads might be as simple as a lettuce and tomato item, or onions and tomatoes, but Sonia's homemade seasonings were great. She would rub sugar into the onion and then let them soak for about a half hour. She would rinse them and then dress any of her salads in vinegar, olive oil, salt, the juice of a small lime, and cilantro.
Plantains frying in oil.