Friday, October 24, 2014

Variety is the spice of life

There is a certain sameness to our days - hike ,snorkel, boat ride. For the first few days it was a choice of tuna (over cooked) or chicken each meal, until last night when they offered swordfish! I reminded these people on the eco tour that swordfish is endangered, but I didn't sway anyone's choice!

We dove yesterday at Tortuga rock. Now isn't that a name remembered from pirate tales! We saw huge manta rays, flying over us, and of course, turtles. There was a hammerhead shark at the end of the dive, but I once again only saw tail. We did have dolphins swimming beside the boat on the way back! That is supposed to be good luck!
We finished the day with happy hour at a beach restaurant under a beautiful sunset. Perfect!
I think this is a blue footed boobie.

 Birds call this rock home.
Tortuga rock

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Floreanna, the Galapagos islands

Pink marine igaunas litter the streets.
We arrived, after a 3 hour boat ride, to spend the night on Floreanna island, haunt of pirates. Before the 3 hour boat ride over, they asked if anyone wanted to ride up top with the captain and The Handyman and I quickly put up our hands. I guess the people in our group had no experience with boats, so they didn't know the view was much better up above.
There is fresh water on this island, but it can only sustain about 150 people, so that is the population of the island.

We stayed overnight in cabins on the beach. Our group had all the rooms. We snorkled with turtles and stingrays and finished the day drinking beer while watching the sunset over the equator! A nice long sunset with beautiful colour.
The next day we toured the highlands and surprisingly, it was full of greenery, growing all kinds of fruit and coffee (all introduced). We saw a colony of land tortoises - huge! This colony was started and maintained by the locals. The tortoises are about 70 years old. They posed well for still photos. We had no trouble arranging our shots!
Floreanna island,  the mainstreet of town.

The view fom our cabins.

Turtles on the wild.

Big land tortoise.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Another Bucket list checkmark

We arrived on San Christobel to a scrubby landscape of seemingly lifeless trees. The rainy season hasn't started yet. Tree sized cactuses and black volcanic rock litter the landscape.  But the island is teeming with swimming, crawling, flying and creeping life. This island has fresh water and quite a history in addition to Darwin's famous visit. It was also a penal colony for Ecuador. And the conditions were considered extremely harsh, because of the cruelty of the overseers.
We have already sighted blue boobies and many finches.

We went to kicker rock diving. This site is quite famous. The visibility was only 30 feet and I think this is normal. There was a lot of suspension in the water. The current is strong and you dive along the dropoff wall of rock. It really is a more advanced dive. We only saw the tail of a hammerhead shark. The people in front saw the whole thing though. "The better to eat you my dear..." As the old nursery story says.
We did see Galapagos sharks - very small, about 2 feet.
There were fish everywhere, particularly a beautiful King angel fish.
Not tropical like the Bahamas for instance. Different and strange. No photos, except The Handyman's, and you'll have to wait for the slide show.  The underwater guide has a video for us.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Arrive Quito

The mountains in Ecuador are greener than Peru.
The view out our hotel window, looking right...

Looking left..
 This is the best hotel yet! Definitely 4 stars. Great restaurant on the top floor looking out over Quito at night. Top it off with a blind piano player, playing "The piano man". Romance is still not wasted on us.

We met the new group for the Galapagos. The Handyman endeared himself. He sat down in the group and said to the guy beside him: wow you're tall.
Open mouth, insert foot.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

on to the Amazon!

Flying over the Andes.
Next on our itinerary is a stop in the Amazon. So we will be incommunicado for a few days.
When we arrived: Hot, hot, hot! The witch's words from the wizard of Oz, kept going through my head : I'm melting! Finally night comes to cool you down. I did see some of the birds on my list, toucan, hoatzin, black macaw. Don't have pics though. Saw some of t
The Handyman on the Amazon tributary. Our new friend dozes after the long flight.
he animals like caimans and capybara.
Family of capybara. Baby is scrambling up the bank after momma.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bucket list check mark

Got a check mark today. We went to Macchu Picchu . You have to watch  how you pronounce it apparently. When canadians say ma chew peach chew. That means "big penis". You have to say ma chew pick to. So now you know!
The Handyman was overcome. Wow exciting! Glad we did it while we can still hike. We got up at 4:30 to be on one of the first buses. Arrived at 6:30. Saw all the high points. This is a once in a lifetime experience!
The switchback road. A half hour bus ride to the top to begin  our tour. 
The Handyman made friends with the natives, but they seemed a little wooden.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Never in Canada

School children with lanterns
 we arrived in Ollyantaytambo in time for an anniversary of the school. The school children were carrying decorated tissue paper lanterns lit by candles down the uneven streets. Imagine getting permission to do that in a Canadian school. And it seemed to go off without a hitch. Dollars to donuts someone would have been burned in Canada.
We heard the sounds of a band in the distance and turned to look

Little conquistadors trying to dance and move forward on the cobblestone streets.
We have 4 teachers in the group, so we were charmed.

One of our stops was at a cooperative where the women do traditional crafts.
Most of us bought something. I got a Peruvian toque made of alpaca wool for skiing. They demonstrated weaving and dying techniques.