Saturday, May 30, 2009

Quito, Ecuador

This post comes as we approach Quito for the second time after spending two months travelling around Colombia.

Plaza de la Independencia

La Basilica

We liked the Basilica because visitors have unrestricted access to climb to the highest points of the towers, from where there is a spectacular view of the historic centre.


Participating in a sweatlodge ceremony.
preparing the rocks for the sweatlodge

Art therapy at a restaurant:

Josh's depiction of his near-mugging.

Laura's depiction of Meg.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Nuevo Rocafuerte, Ecuador

Leaving our lancha behind on the 2 hour speedboat crossing from Pantoja, Peru to Nuevo Rocafuerte, Ecuador.

Arrival in the tiny town of Nuevo Rocafuerte, Ecuador

After a week of lancha food this freshly cooked meal was to die for!

Alberto teaching kids how to join the circus with his devils sticks, while we wait outside the police office to see if anyone will show up to stamp us legally into the country.

The immigration police had been out fishing when we arrived, and just as we were giving up hope that they would return, Josh spotted some guys with fish. This officer wanted a photo of himself with his catch.

The immigration office was inside this large police dorm room, complete with a Playstation and a tiny captive monkey. While this was the most relaxed border crossing experience we have had to date, their lack of computers or associated infrastructure with the rest of Ecuador meant 3 hour waits when tried to leave the country 10 days later and again when we tried to re-enter 2 months later.

The police also insisted we get a picture with this snake.

After clearing immigration, there was not much to do in Nuevo Rocafuerte except swim in the river with the kids who were supposed to be down there washing the dishes.

Early the next morning, we embarked on the 15 hour speedboat ride from Nuevo Rocafuerte to Coca:
It was a very full boat.

Unhappy Alberto's cigarette is put out by a wave.

Many games of chess can be played on a 15 hour bum-numbing boat ride.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Masato is a drink made from fermented yucca. It is traditionaly prepared by women who chew up pieces of yucca and spit them into a large bowl where they ferment. Masato is a culturally important drink within communities along the river. Most cargo unloading sessions were followed by a shared drink which was delivered by canoe from surrounding communities.

As a sign of respect, visitors are often invited to share a drink with members of the community. We had read that it is considered quite rude to decline masato when it is offered to you, so if you do not want any, hold the bowl up to your mouth and pretend to take a sip.

While I am normally open to new cultural experiences, I would have been fine skipping masato, but this was not to be. While wandering in a community during one of our cargo stops we were invited into a home to drink masato with the men. The women of the house brought out two large bowls filled to the brim and handed them to us to be passed around. The thing we read about pretending to drink is practically impossible when you are a foreigner as everyone watches you with their full attention. When the bowls had been passed around and were empty we were delighted to discover that there was an unlimitted supply in the kitchen.