Monday, April 30, 2012

I am in Puerto Francisco de Orellana (El Coca) in the province of Orellana, Ecuador. I enjoyed the festivities today celebrating the founding of Coca, this town, plus the inauguration of a large, beautiful bridge called Puente Mejestuoso Rio Napo, attended and led by Ecuador President Correa.

Monday, April 23, 2012

I am in Puerto Misahuallí, a town in the Ecuadorian Amazon Jungle. The coolest thing about this town is that Capuchin monkeys roam free through the town, and they are super entertaining to watch--always playing with each other, jumping through trees, running across the ground, climbing up parked cars and trucks, sliding down the windshields, climbing poles and buildings. They love to shake things, including empty restaurant tables, and knock them over. They use tools, including rocks as anvils, and they are adept at learning from imitation. They learned to use a lighter, turn knobs to open doors, turn caps to open bottles, break jars open against the ground or dropping them off ledges, etc. I plan to visit a natural, cultural museum of the indigenous tomorrow, and visit a waterfall with a swimmable pool a the bottom tomorrow. In two days, we plan to depart by bicycle to Coca (Francisco de Orellana), where we will eventually catch our first boat in a series of boats on the Napo and Amazon leading us across the continent, to Iquitos, Peru; Leticia, Colombia; Manaus, Santarem, and Belem do Pará, Brasil, at the mouth of the Amazon river, where we will then take to the roads of the coast of Brasil by bicycle.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hey everybody, I am in Quito still. Well, actually now based in Tumbaco, at the other casa de ciclistas. A few things happened that made me stay here a few extra days. Our new plan is to leave this Friday towards Pifo, Papallacta, Baeza, Tena, Puerto Misahuallí, and later Orellana-Coca, Nueva Rocafuerte, Iquitos, Leticia, Manaus, Santarem, Belem, Fortaleza, Natal... I took a tour through Quito today, walking at first. I first went to the health clinic to see if they offered a shot I have read about and heard about that boosts immunity to malaria. They did not have it; they said only pills exist and I would have to see an independent doctor in order to get the pills. I walked out of the clinic and saw a store with sewing machines. My jacked needed a bit of stitching repair, and I asked them if they could repair it. They only sold machines there, it turned out. I asked a cop for a place where they do sewing repairs, a sastreria, which is so common in Latin America. The cop directed me a couple blocks away to a shop next to where they make fresh juices. I went there and first ordered a orange-grapefruit-carrot juice for eighty five cents. It was awesome. I soon found a repair shop for my jacket. The guy spoke Quechua to his coworker as he stitched my jacket, then my coin purse, and then my kindle case, expertly. He charged a dollar for the jacket and fifty cents for the purse. By the time he got to the kindle case, he had interviewed me about my bike trip and no longer cared to charge me. He invited me to a Quechua wedding on May 6. Though I don´t plan to be, I told him if I was still in town at that date, I would go to the wedding with them, near Cotopaxi. There will be a live band playing typical Ecuadorian music, and lots of traditional booze. Sounds nice, but unfortunately I believe I will miss that. We later found out that he is, coincidentally, exactly ten days older than I am. After leaving the tailor shop, I made my way to a restaurant that offered soup, a plate of rice, potatoes and gravy, chicken, and berry juice, for a dollar fifty. I left satisfied, and then poked my head into the entrance to a private highschool, in the Franciscan tradition, located behind the gorgeous San Francisco church. The campus has a beautiful backdrop of colonial oldtown Quito. The kids were leaving campus, and many hung out to socialize and participated in afterschool sports. I left there and headed towards Panecillo, which is a lookout point on a hill with a statue of an angel. Unfortunately, it is dangerous to walk up there due to muggings, a fate which one of my cycle touring friends still currently in Quito suffered recently when he hiked up there alone. I did not want to pay for a taxi up and back, so I then opted for a twenty five cent trolley ride to the historic, and still operational train station in Southern Quito. It did not disappoint. The station itself is impressive with its early twentieth century architecture--it was inaugurated in 1906--its tiles floors, murals. An more impressive still are the restored engines and traincars displayed on the tracks, and the gorgeous, green mountains, plus pastel colored houses in the backdrop. Later, I read my kindle in the coffee shop of the train station, then kept reading as I took the trolley all the way to the other, North end of town for just another twenty five cents. Now at the terminal I write you.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Plan is to leave tomorrow, cycling with Gary Tran, over the hills and into the Amazon! Provided I can obtain the package from customs today. Quito and Construbicis Ecuador has been an amazing experience. Thank you Carlitos, Mónica Coba, Ramona Toa, Santi, Daniel, Lorena, et al. Yesterday was the farewell to Javier Camacho Reviriego and Pedro Alonso--may you two have excellent trips heading South and perhaps we will see each other again in Rio at Gary's restaurant. Thank you, guys, for sharing the trip from Guatemala to Ecuador, from Maya Pedal to Construbicis Ecuador--it was a rich, enriching, and memorable experience.