A Travellerspoint blog

Day 2 Galápagos islands

sunny 30 °C

Day 2 Galápagos

The art of slow travel yields excellence when paired with a bit of patience, and a willingness to get lost. There are many types of travellers on the road. Some like exuberant hotels and gourmet meals, others enjoy communal hostels, adventure and sport. Sometimes they fall somewhere in between. I think there is something to be said about slow travel, that is, minimal planning and allowing the day to unfold without having to rush off to the next big sight. This way, like today, one can find hidden gems that might have been unnoticed.

Today, was an allotted save money day! No spending unless it was on food, ice cream and water. I walked to the local market to pick up some empanadas and water for lunch. I sat in the park, munching away, looking over the map of Santa Cruz island. I decided to check out the Charles Darwin research centre. On my way there, I stumbled on a small artisan market tucked away between buildings. Through the mangrove forest, past the cemetery and the playa. I wondered around the research centre and into the turtle rehabilitation area. This area was a sanctuary for the famous giant tortoises of the Galápagos Islands. Here they are able to breed and hatch their young in safety, to be let out into the wild. The work this organization is doing is amazing. I absolutely love conservation and education. There was a small botanical garden, and I learned some local flora names. I continued to wander, with no destination in mind.

Eventually I made my way onto a side path, past some of the research buildings and through an open gate, it was open right. I walked along the sandy path and came to a absolutely gorgeous sandy beach, with not a gringo, or local, in sight. The waves crashed on the volcanic rocks in the water. I found sanctuary under a manzanillo tree, one of the most poisonous trees in the world, but rather awesome shade producer. I spent the greater part of the morning and a bit of the afternoon under that tree, reading, taking pictures and watching the iguanas surf the waves. Hakuna Mattata. I even had a little siesta!

For dinner I went to this little outdoor funky and creative eatery where I had a local delicacy. Fish ceviche and frittas. The ceviche was like a cold salad soup with local fish. The frittas, which is popular all over Ecuador, is fried plantain. Paired with a refreshing iced tea. I decided to eat here after first of all, seeing how creative the atmosphere was and second, their history on the menu explained how much they love life, love and peace. People who love life always have good food.

Love you all,

Seth

Posted by Islandboi99 12:50 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Day 1 Galápagos

sunny 30 °C

Day 1 Galápagos

Rise and shine! The early bird gets the..er.. Beach to himself. Today I awoke at 5am, Desayunos at 6, and was at the beach with my snorkel and mask by 8. Walking through the cobblestone streets at such an hour, the air was still and light, the sun gave everything a warm glow. Passing by the local cemetery, I was moved to stop and give a moment of appreciation at how beautiful it was. Think, New Orleans cemetery meets tropical botanical garden. Old burial houses and flowers, lots of flowers. I didn't think it respectful to take photos. Continuing on the mangrove forest path, iguanas find sunshine to warm their bodies. Snorkelling with schools of tropical fish, past mounds of obsidian black volcanic rock contrasting with white sand patches.

Decided to break into my credit card reserve a bit, to either, hire a boat to go to a top snorkelling spot or learn to surf. Decisions decisions. I have some time to gain clarity, tomorrow will be a day in the shade to recover from my, accidental, sizzlin nap on the beach. I picked up some 'after sun' lotion, but the long list of chemical ingredients turned me off. Managed to find some aloe Vera in the garden next to where I'm sleeping. I cut off a bit and bathed my lobster body in the ooey gooey medicine. Plants to the rescue, again!

Currently, in between my adventures, I'm reading a psychology book by Robert A. Johnson, entitled, Transformation. It talks about the three levels of jungian consciousness development available to humans. How the true work of maturity is to work through these levels to a self realized state of completion and harmony, and how Don Quixote, Hamlet and the Faust characters of literature seem to accurately portray these levels of consciousness. An attempt at a basic reference to the levels if I may. The simple consciousness is Quixote, living in his imagination to the exclusion of the external. Chasing the windmill dragons of thought. This is medieval Europe and most of the non colonized world. Hamlet moves into all of the western colonized world of consciousness. A world of external to the exclusion of the internal, of anxiety, tragedy and indecision. This is the point where we leave the simple and carefree Garden of Eden. Next is the enlightened state of Faust, which has realized himself in the third world and appears to be like that of the first, only having the self realization. At the end of each characters life, they all see the next step.

I'm about half way through.

Until next time!

Big love,
Seth

Posted by Islandboi99 05:18 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Guayaquil to Galápagos Islands

sunny 30 °C

Guayaquil to Galápagos Islands

If there's one thing better then being somewhere, it's the process getting there. I look forward to the days of travel where the roads of uncertainty lie ahead.

Today, I traveled from Guayaquil to the island of Santa Cruz, one of the Galápagos Islands. After waking early for my morning Desayunos, I set forth. I was excited to be leaving the big city of Guayaquil. I found it hard to settle in there. Was it the noise, the air pollution or the local vibes? Probably all of the above. I received an email the day before from the hostel I had booked in Puerto Ayora, on Santa Cruz. Stating that they were undergoing renovations and could no longer honour my accommodation. Another one of those opportunities to choose between love or fear. Essentially that's the only choice we have at any given moment. Looking back I see these choices are a crossroads of timelines. One timeline leads to panic, distress and possible brash decisions. The other includes space, breath and a willingness to accept the moment, leading to possibilities that might have been missed in the panic state. Long story short, I managed to find a hotel with a hidden hostel that could accommodate me. Not only was it the same price as the first hostel, but nicer and includes Desayunos. Score!

I am half a block away from the ocean. The energy here is incredibly different then that of Guayaquil. The air is not as humid, thank god! ;tho the sun, radiates like the powerful force it is. After our plane had landed we took a bus to the ferry, seeing the turquoise waters got me so excited I may have peed a little hahah. After taking a short ferry ride, I grouped up with a couple from Germany to share a one hour taxi ride across the island to Puerto Ayora. The bioregion was so foreign and alien, like we had just landed on Mars. Arid, dry and volcanic red. As we continued on in the taxi, we came to the middle of the island that was wet and tropical, such a difference in such a short distance!

I've now seen the biggest Brugmansia I have ever seen! Was ginormous!!

By this point, we are entering the town and I can barely hold my excitement in. The uber cute front desk attendant showed me to the single room. Privacy and a double bed! You know what that means! ;) I can sprawl out and walk around naked again hahah. After two plus weeks of sharing accommodations, it's a welcomed change. I wasted no time, I threw my backpack on the bed, and off I went exploring. Gurgle gurgle.. Oh yea, I should probably feed this body. I found lunch along the pier, in awe at the beauty of this tropical turquoise place. I let the sensation of astonishment take over me as a big smile appeared on my face.

After lunch, I hiked through a mangrove forest to a beach on the way to the Charles Darwin research centre. Passing by a group of sea lions without a care in the world. No doubt, you can get within petting distance of them, and they don't mind. Still in bliss, I clambered over volcanic rocks to the waters edge. Dipping my feet in the cool, soothing water. How I've missed my beloved Pacific Ocean. Tropical fish swim around my feet. I find a spot on the beach and lay. I've made it to the Galápagos! Overwhelming feelings of gratitude take over and I contemplate gratitude and the time I have left on earth. It feels right.

I finally had coconut water straight from the coconut! One of the missions I had while being on the coast. I nourish my body with the delicate sweet juice. Watching play and happiness around me. It feels right.

Tomorrow, Desayunos then snorkelling.. All.. Day... Long!!!

Big love,
Seth

Posted by Islandboi99 17:59 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

El Malecon

25 °C

El Malecon

Happy Saturday everyone!

First, a verse from a poem by one of my favourite queer poets, Walt Whitman. Song of the open road

The earth expanding right hand and left hand,
The picture alive, every part in its best light,
The music falling in where it is wanted, and stopping where it is not wanted,
The cheerful voice of the public road, the gay fresh sentiment of the road.

O highway I travel, do you say to me Do not leave me?
Do you say Venture not—if you leave me you are lost?
Do you say I am already prepared, I am well-beaten and undenied, adhere to me?

O public road, I say back I am not afraid to leave you, yet I love you,
You express me better than I can express myself,
You shall be more to me than my poem.

I think heroic deeds were all conceiv’d in the open air, and all free poems also,
I think I could stop here myself and do miracles,
I think whatever I shall meet on the road I shall like, and whoever beholds me shall like me,
I think whoever I see must be happy.

-------------------------------------------------------

Another beautiful day in paradise. The birds are singing, the weather is sweet, makes me wunna move my dancing feet. Speaking of which, my plans to meet LGBT people at the drag queen dance club fell through unfortunately. People kept telling me it's just too dangerous for white people down there. No biggie tho, wasn't meant to be. But how cool would it had been, of a story to tell, that my first legit gay bar experience was in South America haha. I do know tho, there are always new adventures around every corner, all we have to do is say yes.

Jatun Sacha update realness. I met some pretty spectacular people while I was working in the Amazon. I do miss them. Fortunately social media has made it possible for us to continue to keep in touch. A brief overview of what Jatun Sacha is. Jatun Sacha is an ecological conservation reserve in the Amazon rainforest. It's mission is to preserve, protect, research and educate people about the ecology of the forest. For those not aware, it's paramount we have these organizations to protect the last remaining forests. It's been under attack by big oil companies and agriculture. I'm so happy I was able to be a small part in protecting something so close to my heart.

Update one. When social creatures get together, there is no doubt, that there will be drama and social issues. I thought I would go into detail about this, but to be honest, I don't want to read about it ten years later. There was a guide working at Jatun Sacha, who has a history of being not very gentleman like around the foreign lady volunteers, if you know what I mean. I felt pretty uncomfortable around him as well. Many of the females that had ill done by him, didn't want to say anything. Some, thankfully, wrote letters to their organizations. I too gave a thorough review of Jatun Sacha to my organization, Global Volunteer Network. The good news, he is no longer working there. Si' se puede!

Update two. After talking with the ladies who are still at Jatun Sacha for another month, they had mentioned that Jatun Sacha had decided to sell some of the land to be cleared for agriculture. Not even going to get into how this makes me feel. This is the reality we live in, where capitalist greed overshadows the people and the planet. But, as investors in this project, I believe we have some leverage. So, I'm doing my best to work with my organization to not allow this to happen. Especially when so many of us have poured our time and money into helping this amazing project. Will keep you updated.

Guayaquil is a beautiful city. Whizzing by colourful mountains of houses in a taxi. I take a stroll along the El Malecon. A 5 km stretch along the rio Guaya. Yummy foods, colourful vendors and huge mangroves. I watch lovers, consumed in their world of affection. And elders, savouring the day. I learn so much, by walking and observing. A million worlds in a grain of sand.

---------------------------------------------------

I leave you with another verse from Song of the open road.

Now if a thousand perfect men were to appear it would not amaze me,
Now if a thousand beautiful forms of women appear’d it would not astonish me.

Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons,
It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.

Here a great personal deed has room,
(Such a deed seizes upon the hearts of the whole race of men,
Its effusion of strength and will overwhelms law and mocks all authority and all argument against it.)

Here is the test of wisdom,
Wisdom is not finally tested in schools,
Wisdom cannot be pass’d from one having it to another not having it,
Wisdom is of the soul, is not susceptible of proof, is its own proof,
Applies to all stages and objects and qualities and is content,
Is the certainty of the reality and immortality of things, and the excellence of things;
Something there is in the float of the sight of things that provokes it out of the soul.

Now I re-examine philosophies and religions,
They may prove well in lecture-rooms, yet not prove at all under the spacious clouds and along the landscape and flowing currents.

Here is realization,
Here is a man tallied—he realizes here what he has in him,
The past, the future, majesty, love—if they are vacant of you, you are vacant of them.

Only the kernel of every object nourishes;
Where is he who tears off the husks for you and me?
Where is he that undoes stratagems and envelopes for you and me?

Here is adhesiveness, it is not previously fashion’d, it is apropos;
Do you know what it is as you pass to be loved by strangers?
Do you know the talk of those turning eye-balls?

Posted by Islandboi99 07:23 Archived in Ecuador Comments (1)

Banos to Guayaquil

overcast 30 °C

Banos to Guayaquil

Hola familia!

Traveling on the cheap is a challenge in frugality and creativity. One finds ways to experience the moment to the fullest without breaking the bank. Banos has a ton of extreme adventure sports to be experienced, if you got the cash. It being a big tourist destination, things were not cheap. I found pleasure in the simple day to day things. Eating is always something I look forward to, even tho one doesn't really come to South America to eat gourmet. Also, sipping a te de coca or an ice cream cone in the town square, listening to the bells of the basilica and watching the Ecuadorian life buzz by. It's a privilege to travel.

I managed to get into the hot springs just a few steps outside my hostel door, next to the sacred waterfall of the Virgin Mary. Although incredibly crowded, felt amazing. I sensed this slight friction between the elder Ecuadorians who come to the springs on pilgrimage, a reverie. And the young, who played light heartily in the extreme temperatures. Two sides of the same coin, I thought.

On the road again! I took an 9 hour bus ride to Guayaquil. It was amazing to see how many bioregions there are within a short distance from eachother. The first part going deeper through the mountains was arid and dry. I recall seeing my favourite edible cacti, the prickly pear. Through the highlands passing tribal groups of Quichua peoples tending their flocks of sheep and collecting grassy plants. A elderly man sat next to me after hopping on the bus at one of our stops. He seemed intent on having a conversation, even if I couldn't understand his Spanish Quichua mix language. I nodded and smiled. He pointed out the names of mountains and different land marks as we sped on by. I shared my pollo and papas with him (chicken and fries). One of the things I love about bus travel in South America, is at every stop, there are three or four people who jump aboard selling anything for the local snake oil to delectable yummyness. Then we napped. At this point we were winding down the narrow road, down through the cloud forests. On one side, cliff going straight up, on the other, cliff going straight down. Holy doodle. He got off at his tiny village shrouded in mist, with a handshake and a smile. It was a delight to see the Brugmansias, not so shyly, presenting their gigantic flowers.

I have to pee! Over 7 hours and still no pit stops. Thought I was gunna pee myself. Coming off the mountains onto the coastal low lands reminded me of British Columbia. Banana! Banana plantations as far as the eye could see, fer real. A part of me delighted in seeing the home of a popular western food. What's with North Americans and bananas anyway? Haha. Another part of me felt for the indigenous plants and groves of mangroves that used to inhabit this area. It's as humid as the Amazon now.

The tropical city of Guayaquil. Much like any North American city, South American style. I found a small ma and pa restaurant close to my hostel, where I'll be going to eat most of the time because, let's face it, can't go wrong with a $2 meal.

If anyone is planning on going to South America, among most good advice, prepare to have your clothes destroyed. My white shirts are not white and I think I've lost some clothing along the way. Lavenderias are operated by people, I have yet to see one self serve. So, i had to find another shirt at the local mall, so I have something to wear tomorrow.

As I adjust to city life. Tomorrow, I plan on venturing down town for my usual wanderlust adventures. In the evening, Vulcano! A local gay bar with drag queen shows on Fridays and Saturdays. Being a gay person in Ecuador has been like going back in time 50 years of civil rights. Sure, they may have just been granted the ability to get married, but there are stories of police still raiding the bars and clubs. Much like stonewall. The machismo attitude is alive and well here. There's been a few times where I felt I wasn't 'passing' enough. They recommend bringing your passport, or a copy of, in case the cops decide to shut things down.

Until next time

Big love,
Seth

Posted by Islandboi99 12:25 Archived in Ecuador Comments (1)

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