Archive for June, 2012


Ecuador is about the size of the state of Colorado, if you travel a few hours in any direction from Cuenca, you will find amazing and beautiful diversity. We have seen the Mountains, the Coast, the Cloud Forest and a Desert.   Our most recent adventure took us to the “Orient”, that is what they call the Amazon here in Ecuador.
Our friend Efrain picked us up early in the morning, and then we picked up Pablo, his fellow guide, and off we went for our travels.  The scenery was incredible, simply incredible. 
Along our journey on the first day we stopped in a town called Mendez. Our guide book  described this town as “more than quaint, this picturesque oblivion seems made to order for Witness Protection Program Participants.”   Too Funny.

We traveled on, and visited an animal Sanctuary.

This is the Ecuadorian version of a “Tasmanian Devil”.    

This is a Capybara, it is the largest rodent in the world.  He was about four feet long and about two feet tall, they weigh anywhere from 77 lbs. to 150 lbs.

His feet were cool!


Yup, that’s me.   I am still trying to get used to myself with gray hair!!!

These guys were fascinated by the cameras. They felt like little feathers, almost weightless.

We saw many, many more animals, Caimans, Tapirs, etc., but I can’t include pics of everything.  It was amazing.
We spent the night in a town named Macas, this Volcano is right outside the town, too bad it was covered in clouds the day we were there!!

Volcan Sangay
We traveled on to a town called Tena where we spent two evenings.  Along the way Efrain stopped and explained various monuments.  It was really interesting to come across these displays of major cultural importance in very out of the way areas. 

Our Lodge in Tena

The pool right outside our room. 

The first evening we were there, a group of local indigenous dancers came to the lodge and performed. 

Michael danced with this beautiful young woman.

I was given a cleansing from a Shaman. He used the cigarettes and water for the blessing. He lit the cigarette and blew smoke on my head. It seemed to go on for hours, but it was just a few minutes.

Sweet little dancer

Dancers Feet

The show was fantastic!
The next day we went Kayaking.  We had never been in White Water Kayaks before, so it was interesting, but our guide Jaime had first class equipment, and the scenery along Rio Napo was stunning.

As we hit our first group of “rapids”, and believe me, they were small, Jaime started paddling towards me because he said he read my lips, and I was saying “Oh Sh_t”.  We weren’t used to going over rocks, but these kayaks just glazed over them. 
It was a really fun day, something we hope to do again.

Our snacks while we took a break. They were served on Jaime’s kayak.

This butterfly hung out with Michael and his boat.  Check out the size of this guy!!

This is the beach where we stopped for snacks.

Long story about this fish.

The next day we visited a village in the jungle. We were treated to a traditional wedding dance, shown their “Holy Rock”, learned how to make Chocolate, and were served a fabulous lunch of Tilapia caught from the river.  We also visited a Botanical garden where we learned about Jungle plants and their healing capabilities.  We bought a few things, one for healing cuts and one for pain relief for things like arthritis.  They BOTH work.  We had been bitten by a few bugs and the liquid for cuts healed them, and the item for arthritis is wonderful. 
 How cool to find natural things. 
It was a wonderful day.

Our Boat to the village.

Traditional wedding dance.

This is a figure on the Holy Rock, from one side it looks like a Tapir, and from another angle it looks like a Toucan.

We were allowed to climb the rock with the local woman, but it had to be bare foot.  If you touch the rock with your hands, it is supposed to give you good “Kharma”.  Just like the Shaman, we were taking all the good Kharma we could get!!

She explained how they make Chicaha de Yuca. They no longer chew it and then spit it out, which was the usual way of making this beverage. Now they just smash it up and place it in a banana leaf for a few days. If it is fermented for too many days, it becomes an alcoholic drink.

This is a piece of tree bark that they used to grate the Yucca to make Chicha de Yuca, ingenious.

This guy did not speak Spanish, only Quichua, one of the languages of the indigenous people.  He was quite proud of his pet Anaconda he found in the jungle.  This snake is 3 or 4 months old.

We learned how to cook the Cocoa beans and make chocolate.

The chocolate was used to make us desert, we had fresh Papaya with Chocolate sauce.  Yum.

Our Lunch,  it was fantastic.  Tilapia and Yuca.
When we left the jungle we traveled to Banos.
We took cable cars out to see two different sets of waterfalls outside of Banos De Ambato, absolutley beautiful.

Just beautiful scenery along the way.

“Volcan Chimborazo”. 

It is the highest mountain in Ecuador.  Due to the earth’s equatorial bulge, it is also the furthest point from the center of the earth.  Our guide book said ” Tell  your K-2 climbing buddies you were there.”   People come and practice climbing before going to Everest.
It is higher than any mountain in North America.

Volcan Chimborazo with Guanecos

There is a shelter on the Volcano at 4,800 meters (over 15,000 feet). They provide coffee, hot chocolate and coca tea. We sat for a while trying to get adjusted to the altitude. It LITERALLY took our breath away.

There are tombstones scattered over the volcano to commemorate the climbers that have died here. 

Snowing on the Volcano.
Last week we took an adventure.  There are far too many pictures to include; animals, scenery, people, it was amazing and we hope to go back and experience more
One day we had monkeys hanging on us, the next we were kaykaing, then hanging out with Anacondas in the Jungle, and finally we were on a Volcano, and it was snowing.
Ecuador, gotta love it. 

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There are alot of “street” dogs in Cuenca, we are told that most are actually pets, in the morning the dogs are let out to fend for themselves, and at night the dogs return and sleep outside. The culture here is very different regarding the care of pets.  
One day I was coming home, I opened the gate to our neighborhood, and a dog followed me in.  He walked along beside me, but became frightened as we passed a neighbor’s home, they have two Daschunds, and two Goldens that bark like crazy, the poor stray got scared and ran off. 
Time went by, and one day we were walking Oscar down the road behind the house, and guess who showed up?  The stray dog.  He strolled along with us and Oscar quite nicely. He had gotten really thin, we realized he wasn’t really a street dog, they know how to find food, and are usually pretty wary of people.  This guy stuck to us like glue, and he had lost a lot of weight, which is why we thought he had probably been “thrown away” by his owners, and didn’t know how to fend for himself. 
We decided we couldn’t leave him without food and water, so we brought him home. 
There were a few problems, he smelled like an ELEPHANT, and he scrapes and bruises that were covered with flies.  There was NO WAY he was coming in our house.  We brought him into our enclosed, safe yard.  We fed him, and fed him, and fed him.  The poor guy was very hungry, but super gentle.  He didn’t make a peep the whole time he was here.  We think he was just happy to be safe, off the streets, fed and watered.
We decided to call him George, or “Jorge” in Spanish.
A few pics:
We think he might be a Boxer, or Boxer Mix.
What a sweet face

His ribs, spine and hip bones were protruding, he needed nourishment.
The guy just wanted affection, when I would sit down, he would walk over and plop his face in my lap. His really, really dirty face, in my lap.  LOL!!!!!
I sat and petted “George” for a while and my hands looked like I was a coal miner.  Not dirt, but soot or something.  I think it was a result of him trying to find somewhere warm to sleep at night. 

In the mornings, we would leave the back gate open to let him roam to see if he would come back.  During the day he would leave, explore and return.  We think he knew a good thing when he had it. 

Michael decided to try to put a collar and leash on George, and he was quite accepting of it.
George lounging in our yard.

The poor guy had scrapes on his face and a few open cuts on his ears and body.

We knew that there was no way we could give this guy a bath,  but he really, really needed one.
We weren’t even sure if we could keep him.  I made several calls trying to find a place we could take him to.  One shelter said they would take him, but they could not arrange to pick him up. It is a no-kill shelter we had seen on YouTube,  so we thought that would be a great place to bring
 “George – Jorge” to.  We called our friend Manny to help us.  He is great, we explained that the dog was way too smelly to be put in a Taxi, so he rented (means – we rented) a pick-up truck to transport “George -Jorge“.

When Manny arrived, he thanked us for not expecting that the dog would go in his Taxi.  The dog really, really smelled bad.  LOL!!!

We brought “George – Jorge” to the shelter on a Friday, we visited him on the following Monday, OMG, what a difference.  He was all cleaned up and playing with other dogs.  The attendant told us we could not adopt  
“George – Jorge”, until he was neutered, which they did not want to do for at least a week, they wanted to watch his health and weight.
OK, we were happy that the dog was safe. 
We went to visit  “George – Jorge” two days later, and guess what, they had already neutered him.  Down here, they don’t use the word neutered, I won’t mention how they describe what the procedure was, but anyway, 
“George – Jorge” was happy and running around. 
Apparently, someone had already come to the shelter, saw “Jorge”, and wanted to adopt him. The shelter told the prospective new owner that “Jorge” might already have a new home.   
We were going to the coast for a few days, and wanted  time to think about taking in another dog.  It was REALLY hard to find a place that would rent to us when we came to Cuenca, with one, very well behaved, very small dog, and now we were considering a second one.
We realized that we couldn’t take another dog.  It was a really hard decision. 

When we returned from Puerto Lopez, we knew we had to go the shelter to tell them that Jorge should be adopted, that we could not take him.  When we got there, it was really great to see the his progress.   He had become a total chatter box, yelping, barking, and playing.  We think he recognized us, it was very cool.  His wounds were healed, he had gained weight, he looked great.  What a huge difference.
The person that wants to adopt Jorge has built a dog house for him, but it was not acceptable to the shelter, they said it had to be larger.  How great, they are really looking out for the well being of the dog. 

I went to visit Jorge this past Monday and I cannot believe how great he looks. 

I am sad that we didn’t bring him home, but we know that we made a difference for this dog, and his life better. 

A small chapter on our life in Cuenca.

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