Star Date:  September 2013
Ecuador II


Hello Dear Family & Friends!

(Greeting. Kichwa - indigenous Ecuadorian tribe)





"Who you are speaks so loudly I can't hear what you're saying."
(Ralph Waldo Emerson )


Simplicity.  Complex questions often require simple answers, as Einstein remarked.  No one ever said life was easy.  There are supposed to be ups and downs.  Look for, find and enjoy the good, the wonder the beauty.  Be thankful for all our blessings and gifts.  But wouldn't it be great if when things weren't going so smooth we had a way to cope better?  Whether we admit it or not with our modern lives we are thrown into a fast paced frenzy.  Never enough time.  Always rushing.  Our minds are always thinking, busy, full - monkey mind it is called.  No time to finish what needs doing, let alone time to be truly mindful, loving, caring for those around us.  There is a feeling that "when I accomplish this or that" things will be better.  That day never comes.  Admit it.  So we are left with a nagging feeling that there has to be more to life than this rut in which I'm living.

I stumbled on to a simple idea that can help with this dilemma of life.  Actually life gave it to me as a gift.  We traded music with someone along the shores of Lake Malawi in Africa several years ago.  In with the songs were a couple of talks by John Sherman.  Open to what life offers I listened to what he had to say.  He offers simplicity.  Just One Look ( offers just what I was looking for.  Simple.  Spend 5 seconds, right in the middle of your busy day, to remember who you really are.  Here the hectic frenzy, the non stop thinking and anxiety, the worry of our future and regrets of the past all vanish.  Space is created so one can breathe a little easier, live a little lighter on the earth.  Do this whenever you think of it.  It just happens and no one deserves this gift more than you.  Too busy to take 5 seconds?  Seems too simple?  Not a big, complicated, expensive answer?  Tuck this away until the need arises.  And it will.

A couple of pages ago our monthly visitor count topped 150,000.  Wondering if our current updates on Fukushima radiation would hurt our popularity we were pleased to see it has only increased our viewers.  People are starting to wake up and take appropriate action for themselves and their loved ones.  We are only trying to help.  May the force be with us all and our fragile environment.

Ecuador is a small country full of surprises.  Heading up into the Andes once again, the bus journey had spectacular views at every turn.  The drop in temperature was a shock to our systems once again but Quito made up for it and was a pleasure to walk around and explore.  The old colonial plazas and squares were rich with architecture, verdant parks, fountains and vendors sporting ethnic clothing.

While in Quito yet another surprise awaited us.  From South Kona (Hawaii) to South America.  We received an email from our friend Lee in Nicaragua.  Would we like mutual friend, Kayanna's, email?  Sure.  Thinking it was a long shot we fired off a letter and let the Universe take it from there - the modus operandi of our 25 year journey.  Heading north to Otavalo the following morning we were excited to have Kay write back that she lived 5 minutes from there.  Before we knew it we were hugging at the bus depot and whisked away to their beautiful home in Cotacachi.  We didn't even know that they had moved from Hawaii to Ecuador, mainly due to the increasing levels of radiation from Fukushima. 

What a treat to be welcomed so warmly into our friend's, Kayanna and Bobbie's home.  Thanks guys!  We caught up after 10 years, relaxed, cooked together, hiked and visited the surrounding lakes of Cuicocha and  Peguche Waterfalls.  We made the spectacular but long trip through the Intag to their farm in the mountains 4 hours away.  They have created a virtual paradise of organic gardens, small cottages overlooking spectacular views, along a meandering stream.  We gathered vegetables and made a delicious soup which we ate by the fire.  Nothing to get between you and Nature up here.

Joseph & I met at the funeral of Kayanna's son Micah, killed in a car crash 13 years ago.  A heartbreaking event, Kay told us later that us getting together was something good that came from that day.  The Phoenix from the ashes.  Now here we all were, sitting around a fire in the Andes of South America.  Totally by chance - or was it?  None of us could have written this script 20 years ago.  Trust.  Flow with the river of life.

Otavalo has a colorful, unique, immense Saturday Ethnic Market.  Wow!  The colors were dizzying as traditionally dressed Kichwas share their handicrafts in the beehive of activity.

On yet another twist of events, we were invited to visit the research station of San Francisco University in the Amazon, following Joseph sharing his vast knowledge of the importance of E-Text with the students.  Knowledge and education is the key to change and it was our turn to learn more about the Amazon.

We took a bus from Kayanna's to Quito and started descending from the Andes down to the jungle floor.  Stopping in Tena we enjoyed our time with a completely different group of people, with the tropical fruit and vegetables 'mercado' and the infamous juicy, writhing grubs in the market.  Walking along the river looking for a park to hike in we realized the footbridge was out due to construction so we just carried on with our day; now wide open.

A small little shop offered jungle trips so we stopped by.  There we met Misael, a local young Kichwa man anxious to share his culture.  Wanting to spend the day with him, learning about a completely different indigenous tribe we found ourselves, the following morning at the home of a shaman 'burondero', in a distant village.  "We go together whenever we can through the jungle, Chimbo has strong medicine and it's good to protect us from harm or snakes."  We hiked for 5 hours up, down, along, and through a river to reach Uchuculin and his home.  The jungle was beautiful but noticeably lacking in wildlife.  Unfortunately roast monkey is a delicacy here and with increased population, there are only so many to go around.  The same picture is being painted worldwide. 

Hot and tired we stopped to swim in the river.  Afterwards we were taken deeper into the jungle where the shaman chanted and cleansed our bodies with the leaves of the anaconda plant.  We felt connected to Mother Earth and wide open to receive her strength.

Climbing up a steep bank we arrived at a small road.  Misael's house was just down the way.  'Back to civilization' we met the family, cooked plantain, taro and ancient macaroni (haha) over the fire with Mama Carmela, and ate like we hadn't eaten for days.  Ecuador has provided some interesting food options from dried booby poop on the Galapagos, to jungle rat and fat squirmy grubs here in the jungle.  Please pass the macaroni instead!  Chimbo painted our faces in their traditional manner and showed us a very heavy blowgun used for killing birds to eat.  Accurate and deadly, no wonder the jungle fauna is thinning out.  Only taking 40 minutes to return to Tena by bus was a lot easier than our day in the jungle.  Misael is a kind, genuine, welcoming man and it was a wonderful way to get to know this unique jungle culture.  We showered and fell into bed, with visions of boa constrictors and 'chilt' (anacondas) dancing in our heads.



And so it goes.........................................Next traveling through no man's land into Guatemala, where we flew off to our home in Hawaii to visit family and friends.   Until then Keep Smiling and remember to take the time to appreciate the beauty of the world around us.  Doing nothing isn't an option.  Be a self appointed steward, walk your talk and help to protect this rare treasure we all share.  We are glad you stopped by. Thanks for dropping us a note once in a while!  Take care!



Love, Light & Laughter, 

xoxoox  Nancy & Joseph




Travel notes:


1 US Dollar equals one US dollar.  US currency is used.  A good
place to stock up on US cash if you are heading to Venezuela.

Hostal Rincon familiar.  Great location in old town, centro historico.   Flores N3-49 y Sucre
Clean, well run, old colonial hotel. Great value 12pp. Rooms vary so choose well.  Phone# 295 7050/228 5808
Friendly, helpful

Govindas Restaurant - great Indian food!

Esmeraldas OE3-119 y Venezuela

Near S bus terminal Hotel Gran Quitumbre
Safe, clean, good place before your trip out to Tena.

Universidad San Francisco de Quito

Very impressive, progressive university in Cubaya - 30 minutes outside of Quito.

This innovative university has 10,000 students and many international programs.  They have centers in the Galapagos Islands, the high Andes and Tiputini deep in the Amazon.  A bi lingual school they would be worth checking out for a year or a semester to remember!

Otavalo: Mashy's Hostal - choose a big window in the front for warmth - sun in the morning.  Friendly, clean
Oraibi Vegetarian Restaurant, Pleasant courtyard and quiet music.  Tasty food
Cristobal Colon

Cotacachi: - Thurs-Sun
Great pizza - thrift shop-coffee and goodies like chocolate covered uvilla clusters.
Voted one of the top retirement places for expats.  Lovely town with a combination of local traditionally dressed people and a small, friendly foreigner group.

Hostal Jireh:
Near the market/buses - the rooms in the back with 4 beds are large, airy and have a mountain view.  Av. El Chafer

Market vendors extremely friendly but aside from grubs not much ready made we could eat.

Akangau Jungle Expeditions, let Misael help lead you and teach you about his Quichwa tribe.  Indigenously owned, he can arrange just about any experience you want from hikes, to living with families, to Ayahuasca, to learning from the shaman.  He is passionate about conserving the jungle and sharing his culture.
12 de Febrero
email: He is highly recommended.
phone # 593- 06 2870464 






A little Kichwa girl waiting for her Mom outside the church.


Better check with Grandma before you buy!


A colorful group of village women singing and dancing
near Peguche Waterfalls.


Every colonial Spanish city centers around a town plaza.


Luscious fruits for breakfast.


Weekend shopping in Otavalo market.


Wish I could take this organic, non-gmo, radiation free market
with us wherever we live!


You can buy anything you want in Otavalo's
Saturday market.


Pretty in pink.


Kichwa women selling organic produce from their gardens
in the Sunday Market at Cotacachi.


Mountains, dusted with snow, encircle Cotacachi.


Lake Cuicocha.


I can fly!


Waterfalls at every turn in the mountains of the Intag.


Horses are the only way to transport cargo up to
our friends farm.


Home Sweet Home!


Kay and Bobbie have beautiful organic gardens.


These fun, lively neighbor kids brought us a basket of fresh
beans and lemons.


Peguche Waterfalls.


The majestic Andes of Ecuador.


Local beauties in Tena!


Wild orchids abound.


 Kichwa shaman or 'burondero'.  The best rain hat, compliments
of the Tena jungle.


The only lipstick I'll wear! (the lipstick flower.)


Butterflies of every shape and color.


A swim in the river to cool off.


A lizard blending into his surroundings.  Camouflage
is crucial for survival.


Chimbo cleansed us with anaconda leaves.


We hiked for 5 hours up, down, along, and through a river
to reach Uchuculin.


A rare green butterfly.  Most butterflies don't sit
still long enough to have their picture taken.


Misael, Mama Carmela, and Papa at their simple home.




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