Saturday, April 21, 2007

still shinin´

well, friends. you know life has been full and exciting when the blog doesnt get updated for two months!
these pictures can be a quick catch-up. From the top:
Two weeks on the beach of northwest ecuador really treated us right. You know, we just slipped right into the pace and the people and the daily pleasures.
Land of mangroves and long empty beaches, rico seafood in coconut milk, shrimp farms, and poor, smiling people. Hot, steamy afro-ecuadorian culture - frenetic music, slow days, late nites, and easy laughs over cold beer. Its a bit dangerous, they say, but all that means is that we never leave home with more than 10 bucks and the camera hasnt seen the amazing scenery. Our week there turned to two when we started connecting in with a nice group of folks. A colombian woman and her swiss husband, an injured, harley-riding vietnam vet slash sculptor named oso, and the german-venezuelan couple who owns the bar. We woke to stretching then tea with fresh baked goods. Then spend our morning in yoga and beach walks with the neighbors dog before the sun breaks thru the overcast or drizzle. A 20 minute walk to town for cheaptasty almuerzo. Our afternoons are spent relaxing and reading, strolling, doing art projects with the ladies, and tamara even started to try to ride the german´s horse, who is very stubborn and has never been ridden by anyone else. So, we stayed, deciding to spend our beach time right there before heading pretty directly to the jungle of peru!

Down the hot coast to Guayaquil and directly on up to Cuenca in the highlands, where we had left a bag. From there we travelled the lush mountain passes for two long days across the border into Peru.
From Vilcabamba (where we visited with an american building the fattest cob house i have ever seen), to Zumba, walking across the border, then on to San Ignacio, Jaen, and finally up to Chachapoyas, where we visited the remote (and soggy) ruins of Kuelap, at 12000 ft. (Yes, those are human bones!)

From there we continued down to the high jungle. Spent some time in Tarapoto, met a couple shamans and some 13 mooners. The rivers and waterfalls were tempting, and the bouncing blue morpho butterflies began to entice us to stay, but the reality of our time frame kicked in and we headed on to Yurimaguas, bought a couple of hammocks, and boarded the three day boat down river.

In the middle of the Amazon jungle, thousands of miles and days of river travel from any road connections, you can get Texas BBQ and ice-cold beer 24 hours a day (yeee haw!) Half a million people live here in Iquitos. There are few cars, but the streets buzz with the incessant moto-taxi traffic. Aggressive, under-employed tour guides tout jungle trips like pimps and attractive young ladies line the streets luridly waving packets of cell phone cards. Shamans have websites and visionary quests are optional activities of package tours. Monkeys perform in the plaza and caiman is grilled up on the street. This is the Iquitos hustle.


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