Wednesday 16 April 2014

A Peruvian Dream

         Hmmmmmm, home, home, home. This sad realization hits me harder everyday. What an adventure I just had. Nothing in the world has ever felt so good and so right. Seeing the beauty of other cultures. Discovering a new landscape and environment every time I get on and off of a bus, plane, train, boat, taxi, collectivo, horse, paraglider, zipline, bicycle, dunebuggy, or motorcycle. Plotting the most amazing things possible to do, and doing them. Meeting others along the way experiencing the same excitement. The high of world exploration running through your veins.  
        I miss the drastically changing Peruvian landscape. Where it all began. Lima was the hub. A city. Busy and a directional turn around of sorts.           
       Paracas. The first drastic landscape change. The clay colours and deserted openess. The vast rolling plains that became Paracas National Park. Massive cliffs and sky scraper high ledges over the ocean.
     The protruding rock formations jutting from the water in Ballestas Islands littered with barking sea lions ripping apart pelicans for lunch. 
      The endless mountain sized  sand dunes of Huacachina. Which loomed so high above the Oasis. Having a knights cap beneath the endless stars in the desert while curled up in the fluffy playground that is the " sand land ". 
      Then onto Nazca where the finely grated sand dunes turn into mineral mountains of many colours and ranges. And the desert heat beats down with fury. A place where you know there is more here than meets the eye. A special ancient energy guides this place.
        A 10 hour bus transports you from Nazca to Arequipa. Where the altitude really begins to hit for the first time. Even all the while slowly climbing above sea level from Lima. A drive that is completely shocking. The beauty and vastness of the size of the cliffs and unique drops while hugging the South Peruvian Pacific coast. Like another planet! sprawling in front of you for an infinite amount of  miles of sheer viewing pleasure. Sunsets that capture the widest of eyes till it is absolutely pitch black.
       Arequipa is marked by Misti. The majestic volcano marking the area. El Paca were running free on the mountainsides on the way to Chivay and the Colca canyon. Where the rare Andean Condor flies high above the impressive canyon. The ancient spectrums of Incan terraces and open views are something one can only dream of.  
      The next bus to Puno seems like it isn't possible to be shocked anymore. But then you see the oddly coloured lakes, ponds, and mountain fields. When you finally enter Puno, and see the brilliant royal blue colour of Lake Titicaca. Bursting with deep blue beauty beneath an impoverished town built into the mountain where a large cross comforts the locals from above. Not to mention the island community made strictly of reeds.
       From there, onward to the Sacred Valley of the Incans. Accessible through Cusco, it is like the cherry on the Peruvian cake. The bulbous mountains jutting sporadically out of one another. Getting greener and closer as you approach Ollantaytambo, the last beautiful, must see, hamlet before Aguas Calienté. The base mountain village of Macchu Picchu. The Peruvian gem that Guided me on this journey. Guided us all. Gargantuan drops and peaks and views which plunge off of death defying cliffs and terraces in the sky. Where El Paca act as lawn mowers for the grassy terrace kingdom that once thrived and is now shrouded in mystery. 
      The wonderful opportunity of experiencing earth's inner worlds , within their inner worlds, is priceless. 

Sunday 16 March 2014

Most Amazing Vacation Pics Snorkelling Galapagos!

So after a long and amazing vacation I finally have the bandwidth and time to upload some amazing visual to compliment the stories, wild times, incredible memories and life changing experiences:

Saturday 8 March 2014

The aftershock

             Some go by the saying home is where the heart is. But I disagree. I believe home is where the people that you love are and the places that you know. The heart lies in the adventure of discovering the places that you don't. I left my heart in South America somewhere. At Macchu Picchu, on Isabela island Galapagos, on the beaches of San Andres, in the Cocorra Valley Salento, flying high over the mountain tops on a paraglider over the Chicamocha Canyon. My home is my home.  It came to a point of about 4 months when thoughts of missing the company of those I love at home floated through my awe filled brain. Now that I am here, I wish the reality of life at home was something else. Somewhere else. Anywhere else. But the reward of surviving reality and all of it's tasks is the opportunity to go find my heart  in another new adventure. It's more accurate to say, that my heart carries a piece of all of these new beautiful experiences with it. Wherever I go I have the blessing of feeling lucky for a variety of new insights. To learn the customs of others and explore unimaginable landscapes in places I can only poorly visualize.This has been an experience of a lifetime and has left me thirsty for more. The swift skill of charting spontaneous unknown territory and executing plans with ease and strength in challenging locations , while ensuring each destination displays a new experience and a more impressive feast for the eyes. While also guaranteeing a unique local experience and a variety of jaw dropping sights to absorb.............on a budget. This is a gift I wasn't sure I had . I am happy to have been able to share it. With Ryan, with the amazing people I met, with the amazing animals i met, and also with those following my adventure.
         Please keep sharing my stories with friends and family. I will be reading this online journal for years to come. While in the meantime I will be plotting and saving for my next world exploration adventure. Now that I have learned a few lessons, maybe my backpack will be smaller this time,...................maybe not ;-P.

Wednesday 26 February 2014

It's a blong story

Me bloggy
        We were in  a taxi to the Palomino collectivo from the Santa Marta mercado, and about to go to the island of Mucura after this. But something inside me screamed out something different. I have been really interested in the island of San Andres since I arrived in Colombia. It is known for being the sea of seven colours.  The island is 32km around  and absolutely beautiful. True paradise. Really......  So when the cabbie pulled over at the mercado, I blurted out,! Wait!  Cartagena ! Autobus !  He looked back with a half smile, happy to take me wherever I pleased, but all the while knowing I had a spontaneous sub-plan emerging. So that's how I stumbled upon the new love of my life.... Mr. San Andres. ;-) but we will get to that.
        The bus from Santa Marta to Cartagena was more like a large van. I am unsure why they do this, maybe safety reasons. Regardless I rode up front with the driver like a champ, for,.....tourist reasons. Lol camera and journal in hand. Due to the split second decision , we had no pre planned hostal. So we did the extremely non recommended move of asking the cabbie. Aaaand of course he took us to his buddy's mid renovation hotel on the beach where he got a cut. He asked if we wanted the playa (beach) or the centro (downtown) . So I assume he had a cut wherever. But obviously this Pisces picked the beach. Cartagena is not cheap. So we decided to spend as little time as possible here. We stayed at Hotel Isla De Capri. The rooms were new and nice, but the rest was in complete construction mode. The room had huge windows facing the beach. No balcony. But the windows were so large that their windowsill became my perch.  Perfect for gazing over the MASSIVE waves and hearing their roar. Cartagena has a very long surf and many barriers to calm the water force.  So any Pacific swimming here would be risky at most times. We had no time anyway. 
       The hotel receptionist was acting quite odd. Refused to allow you to leave the hotel with your room key......ummmmmm huge red flag. He said you had to leave it at reception while you were out. So I am thinking,...." What the heck is the point of a key?!?! "  It's all of my things,  now in the security of a man, who is acting quite strange, who I am now supposed to trust ? Hah needless to say we didn't go out for food that night. And this happened after I already had some weird suspicions of his behaviour. Twice we walked in on him with my passport copy enlarged on his computer monitor in a copy and paste program. It resembled Microsoft Word  and Paint in one. And upon approaching him quietly from behind, he X'd out the screen when I gave him the 'wtf are you doing' look.  At this point I made a letter to the Canadian  fraud agency for good measure. But he told me that is was for Colombian immigration purposes. There is not much info in this topic online. But it does exist. And it is new and was implemented only at the end of last year. This was our first encounter with this. The ENTIRE time in Colombia. And it was just funny how we never caught Ryan's passport on the screen once. And even when Ryan caught him with mine up again, he was writing information down on a piece of paper which he quickly hid when we spoke. If nothing's wrong, why hide it? Riiiiiight? Anyways. Hopefully he was just a strange character. Lol hopefully. 
       We caught a swift 1 1/2 hour flight from Cartagena to San Andres.  What a  PHENOMENAL decision that was. It is called the sea of seven colours and it is extremely evident why, when you fly into this island. I have flown into various Caribbean locations many times, and this site was shocking. Like mouth dropped open and eyes open wide. Obviously there was no camera available for this......oooobviouslyyyy. But my mental picture will remain. It's actually hard to get this image out of your head. It is now my happy place ;-) .  We got right into a cab and stayed at Hostal El Viajero. It is quite reasonable considering the location. It is situated slightly uptown from the beach. But the walk is very close. You can see the turquoise sea colours from the balconies and top floor. It was very clean and the common kitchen area was convenient. Breakfast included helped to save a couple bucks too. So key waking up to a continental breakfast looking over the ocean. And surprisingly, no one really ever took the bar seats with the view! They all sat at the tables. Haha more for us.  We were only able to spend 3 nights here due to lack of time. Had we known the relentlessness of this paradise's beauty we would have left Taganga long ago. ....sorry Taganga, but caaaahhhh moooooonnnn. 
       The first day we just enjoyed staring at everything around us. Soaking in the fact that we were actually here and trying to figure out what we did to deserve this . Oh yeah, it's called research lmao. The decision was just made a little too late. Therefore I will be saving up to return here with an entourage. It would be selfish to keep this hidden gem to myself. I have NEVER seen water with such a drastic colour change so often and abruptly. You can literally see the line at which it changes from bright aqua, to glowing turquoise, to deep royal blue, to blue-green. It's unbelievable. The white sand is is so soft, you could bury your feet for hours in pleasure. The afternoon we arrived we went to the beach in the evening. I looked behind me and saw something awesome. A man in 'The Mask' mask. I was like omg Jim Carrey! Lol so we had a brief photo op. he continued to take funny pictures all along the beach. So funny. All I could say was yessssss. 
       On our first full day we rented a Jeep golf cart so we could tour the island ourselves. The only way to go is to rent a vehicle. We stopped at many locations. This island has SO MUCH to offer. The downtown core is confusing and has an annoying amount of one way street traps.  Essentially you want to be on top of getting to know your map. But unfortunately, the only way to know is by actually driving and making the same mistake multiple times. The following is what we accomplished in one day with a vehicle. 
       We began the day by visiting the Morgan people pirate museum. This was very cool. The antiques from the pirates are serious relics. Their tools were simple and innovative. They just simply made sense. Obviously my favourite part was the collection of old pirate weapons. There were many different types of muskets and daggers. Swords and hooks from hands. Canons and more. It was extremely hard not to grab them and play with them. We got to touch the coconut dagger though and take a picture. I had no idea Captain Morgan was a real man. Who pillaged and played on the Island of San Andres and Provedencia.  
       After this we went to a cliff diving spot. Straight into a volcanic rock enclosed swimming inlet with bright turquoise crystal clear water. It was extremely refreshing. The kids there didn't believe the height of our Canadian cliffs that we jump off of. From there we went straight to West View where there is an awesome waterside right into the ocean. There is diving and aqua helmets. Which look like astronaut helmets with oxygen lines attached so you can walk underwater. There is also a huge diving board off the side of the cliff. It felt VERY strange to be that high up on something bouncing and bending. Ya want to use the pop in the board so badly. But it was so high up I just jumped off of it like a cliff. I was scared of bursting into the air awkwardly and smacking onto the water too hard. If you just jump on it you will go much higher than the actual jump. West view also has a great bar and restaurant. 
      After this , we continued along the only road that surrounds the island to the natural blowhole. It's a hole in the rock , close in proximity to the ocean. When there is a large swell the water pours aggressively into whatever tunnel leads to this unique formation. If you time it right and stand over the hole you will have your socks blown off. My hair stood straight up like the Bride of Frankenstein !!! I almost lost my necklace and my sunglasses flew through the air. At high tide times of year it becomes a geyser shooting water high into the air. Very cool to see, and to feel it is a different story. 
      There are so many beaches along the way so leaving early in the morning to truly enjoy your time is wise. The beaches have lots of natural pools so you can just roll around in the sand in the heated shallow areas where the waves break into calm "natural kiddie pools" . I loved these. I felt the true taste of paradise having the freedom to stop at these whenever I wanted. There was lots of cliff action, so these relaxation breaks were a perfect contrast. 
      Once we had soaked up a little taste of paradise, we continued on to the Baptist church in La Loma. Iglesias Bautista Emmanuel, established in 1847. The view from the church is amazing. We literally climbed up into the rafters and the bell tower. It was a peaceful 20 minute chill sitting  in the very top enjoying the beautiful view accompanied by the calming breeze. The church is located on the highest point in the middle of the island.  
       Shortly after this, we went to the Big Pond. This is not a very popular tourist attraction. We were only made aware of this because a man in the street flagged us down. He informed us of 2 places. The Big Rock and the Big Pond. He gave us a very informative tour through the mangroves and the forest. We picked some unripened mangoes off the trees to eat. And ended up at the Big Pond. Here he made alligator calls and we played with some pond turtles. He said the alligators were local pets. We attempted to go to the Big Rock but ran out of time for our Jeep golf cart rental return, so we had to go back. But 2 days after this, we actually rented a reliable vehicle. A Ranger cart with some real kick. Upon our first test drive, our first thought was ...." Why on earth didn't we rent this the first time!?". The rates are so reasonable , and it is SO MUCH FASTER!  So we went back to all of the same amazing places again. But the Big Pond was the most unbelievable the second time. When we attempted to re enter, we were approached by a man on a motorcycle. He continued to show us his identification and tell us that there are many "pirate guides" who will make up guide t-shirts and take you to this location. He asked if our guide  was inside the gate or outside. We said we didn't remember. ( he was outside)  So upon the premise of only taking some pictures, he allowed us inside, making sure we knew there were people here pretending to be guides . We drove down the entryway and got approached by a man who tried to say we had a mandatory entry fee for the locals. We argued because the last time we came there was no fee. Just the "pirate guide" fee. The man who approached us rectified the situation saying we were just here for a picture. When we got to the pond a young boy came down from the amazingly fun looking Rasta farm.  We had just discussed that we had forgotten something very important to wildlife sightings. Bread! He had a full bag. And it was much cheaper than anything these "fake guides" were charging.  The farm was the boy's home. He has 6 alligators who came REALLY close!!! It was an unreal experience. When we had finished there, the previous man came down screaming and yelling losing his mind . Yelling " the boy!!! What did you give the boy?!?! " . I laughed and said  "duuuuuude you need to relax . Don't yell at me. What is the problem here?"  He continued to yell " ya gotta be seeeeeriouuuus mon!" Lmao I said "the boy who lives here provided us bread and a beer and he is the only one who can bring HIS OWN pets out, which you seem to be exploiting.So we paid him for his kindness and services." The man again screamed " NOOOO MOOONNNN ya gotta be seeeerious mon!!! Dat bwoy gon get what's coming to hiiimmmmmm!"  I said "dude your out of control, i thought you were here for justice of the land. Now your demanding money and  threatening a child. Here's your stupid 5 bucks. Now calm down. " ( keeping in mind the child had machete burn marks on his face ) The angry man went running up to the house where the kid lives as we left. And all I could say to myself was wow. Whose the Pirate now ??? 
          In the middle of the island there is something called the Big Rock. It is a small pond situated on a huge jutting flat rock face. With nice moss on parts of it and vines hanging down. On the way we were slightly unsure of it's whereabouts. So we pulled over and asked a group of locals. We said " excuse me, do you know where we can find the Big Rock?" Two guys shook their heads. And a woman on a motorcycle growled " we ain't got no rock here mon." They didn't look happy. We drove away confused and then realized what she thought we were referring to and I had to burst out laughing. Within 10 minutes we found the location on our own. 
       As I mentioned before, on our third day we ended up renting a Ranger instead of the golf cart. And re-did everything. The Ranger is a dream compared to the golf cart. The golf cart just putt putted around and pissed off other drivers. Once we had the Ranger for 24 hours we were laughing.  We drove all night and day just because it was beautiful and free and fun. We did not have much time left at this point so we made the best of it.  Not to mention picked up a very nice hitchhiker just because we could. He was very happy for the ride. We were just happy period. 
      The second day we took a boat to Rose Cay and Johnny Cay. Rose Cay is directly beside Haines Cay. Haha Haines Cay! Can ya believe that mom? The boats for all 3 of these Cay's leave at 10am everyday. We rode with the company Casa de la Cultura. It seems like a zoo of a mess, but they will find you. Rose Cay is a natural aquarium with many little pools surrounded by the incredibly coloured waters that open your eyes wider with every gaze into their beckoning distance. The snorkelling is the main attraction here. But after the Galapagos, nothing will ever compare again. Not to mention the gear they give you is torture. If you like to snorkel, definitely get your own.  100%. The only way to be impressed again after the Galapagos is to continue diving. And that is exactly what I plan to do.
        After this extremely crowded tourist attraction, we drove to Johnny Cay. Wow . What a site. It is a small island ran with a natty dreadlock theme. Needless to say I absolutely loved it. You can walk around the whole island and the water is so beautiful. The sand is perfect. And a huge manta ray came to say hello to me. No one else saw him and no one else cared. He knew I would care. He came to the right person. We swam together until I wasn't able to follow him any farther. There was a riptide barrier I was not allowed to pass. I appreciated the greeting more than he knew. We had to pay extra for a water taxi to return to San Andrés as late as we could. It wasn't cheap. But like I said before. Our last days in a continent that has captivated every ounce of my soul deserves all or nothing. 
     We returned to Cartagena and had some bad luck with the hostal we had hoped to stay at. So we decided to do something different for one of the last nights in Colombia. Splurge. We stayed at a place that reminded me of being in  the architecturally artistic streets of Europe. There was a nice terrace and the room had large ceiling beams, with clay tiles and 2 double doors that opened to the breeze that swept over the terrace. Amazing! In Cartagena, we visited the San Felipé castle . It was very cool. Well fortified. I really liked the inner tunnels of the castle. They were perfectly eerie. I told Ryan he should've brought his Jason mask from New Years in Baños . And hid in the shadows and terrified tourists. Lmao in a perfect world I guess. 
      After Cartagena, we took our last bus to Medellin. The one city we really wanted to spend time in. It's really beautiful. And not only this, but it was refreshingly adapted to our North American culture. We took a day trip to Guatapé. It is a very unique place. Like no other we had seen yet. After 4 months on the open road living out of a backpack, we were still finding new sights that resembled nothing else we had seen yet. On our last 2 days in Medellin we were truly pushing the limits. The steps that are stitched up the side of this impressive rock/random mountain like protrusion were a total of 740 I believe. The 360 degree view is ,,....... ( I am trying not to say the words jaw dropping again, but I am finding it hard lol ) panoramic and has everything you could want in a view. Water, islands, mountains, blue, green, and tonnes of sky. We took really funky vehicles up and down. Miniature cars. A miniature drop top old bug. And a horse drawn style cart with wheels. One up and one down as to not miss our last bus out of Guatapé. The town of Guatapé is very pretty. It was like a big Salento. Extremely colourful. The houses and tiny stone streets were sculpted and painted individually. Making for an original piece of art with every corner you turned. 
      We were anxiously awaiting seeing our Medellin friends that we met in San Gil. Paola and Andrés. Paola took us out to a great bar. Music by request, and a tree'ed in yard with tonnes of different tree stumps as tables and chairs. What a refreshing idea it was. We ran into a group of English people. And remember that DJ set I said at the beginning was my favourite mix before my iPod got jacked?! Like one of my favourite drum ' n ' bass dj's ?! Well we partied with his producer and ex girlfriend on our last night in random Medellin!!!!! Haha yup. The odds of that are juuuust ridiculous. I was SO happy with our final night on the adventure of a lifetime. Thank you Paola for a truly memorable last hoorah. 
      Our last day in Medellin we had one more thing on the bucket list. And the fact that this even happened is still absolutely SICKER THAN SICK!!!! It is not a popular tourist destination. And the locals will not help you get there due to a large amount of controversy. I had to do some research and really push our cabbie. It was like a treasure hunt. But we made it. To Pablo Escobars grave. His family's plot is the most elaborate in the cemetery. We had a moment of silence for 'El Padrino'. His full name is Pablo Escobar Emilio Gaviria. I have goosebumps writing this. We poured one down for the most successful gangster of all time. And this to me is one of the coolest pictures we could have captured in our last hours before our series of 3 flights home. And I got a bonus surprise! Yay. There was another historically fascinating person buried here as well. The Black Widow! The mysterious woman who religiously attended Rudy Valentino's mausoleum annually. Whose real name is Griselda Blanco De Trujillo. I found it ironic that the infamous Black Widow's middle name is Blanco. Which means white. I had a few silent words for her as well before we headed back to the hotel to pack in absolute sadness.
      But there are a few things I cannot have on the road and that is my mother, my family, my beautiful cat Angel, my homegirls, and my homies. And that is something I can not wait to return home to. These are things from home, that only home can give me. Nowhere else. As much as I will continue my adventures, I will always return home to the comfort, sights and smells of love and familiarity. 

Monday 17 February 2014

Adventure is mi Amoré

Okay I have to start by saying this. That spider I was talking about? That we stumbled upon in utter terror in the jungle at night? I did some research and it was the Brazilian Wandering spider. It is considered to be the MOST venomous spider in the world!!!!! Lol go figure. 2 arachnophobics find this thing. What can we expect hunting for species in the jungle at night though,.... Really.... Pfffft. I must say. Camping at home will never compare to camping at Tayrona. But at least I will know that these guys are not lurking near my tent. Lmao. My spine is tingling as I write this. But at least everything was balanced out by the sloth. He is by far the cutest species I have EVER seen in my life. I want to rescue them one day. Many of them. They are such loving, curious creatures. And unfortunately this gets them into trouble. Captive trouble. ;-( 
      Today we did our first dive ,......ever!!! Yayyyyy. It was the most amazing feeling. It is quite dangerous if you aren't totally zen about it. But if you are, it is a feeling of total freedom. The ability to do something humans can not. Breathe underwater. The deeper you get, the most you have to equalize, making for a strange crunchy orchestra in your ears. Snorkelling is fun and beautiful. But if ya really wanna get in there and crawl along the oceans floor, diving is the way to go. We were walking and sitting on the ocean floor like astronauts. I found some shells and saw tonnes of fish. Very many plant species. Some of which were a plant animal merge and acted quite quirky. You would turn around, see them, and turn back around again and they would be acting quite different. It was then I realized this was the little underwater shop of horrors and the plants weren't quite what they seemed. Hahaha we saw a sea turtle, but since this isn't the magical Galapagos, he was quite startled by us and didn't stick around for long.  The most amazing thing to me was how lost you can get. A few meters and your crew is gone, leaving you panicking and alone. But the watchful guide gave me the ol tap on the shoulder and signalled " that way" . A comforting experience. Because looking up not only distorted me directionally, but seemed a mile away. And if you go up too fast, you will blow your ears out. The weights on my belt, and my jacket decompressor made it much easier for this not to happen. Bubbles. Lots of bubbles. Thank you Nautilus Diving Center on the Taganga beach strip for an unforgettable day. You have fuelled me to get my liscence. But if I wanna spend my last days here seeing more of the northern Colombian coast, I will have to save that for future endeavours and get the heck outta Taganga. We are definitely at local status at this point. I love it, but it's time to move on. Thanks again to Hostal Graffitti for being absolutely wonderful hosts the second time around. We will never forget you. P.s. sorry about the sink lol 

Friday 14 February 2014

Ninja alien

Cabo San Juan

Colombian Beach Bummin

   When we made it to Santa Marta, we were SOOOO happy to see the ocean. After 3 months of trekking, we decided to just be beach bums. And it was something i feel we both deserved at this point. Straight from the bus stop we took a taxi to Taganga. The beeeeaaach! Yaaayyyyyy. We could have taken a collectivo for much cheaper, but we jumped on the first ride to the ocean. Nothing makes a Pisces happier than diving into water.  We stayed at Hostal Techos Azule. It was our friend, Sixo's suggestion. We enjoyed it. The hammock patio was amazing. So was the view.
     Taganga is very laid back. Where people just open up to you. Being yourself is exactly what it's all about. It's a very fun beach town, surrounded by mountains in a cove where the sun sets perfectly. The night life is " sittin in the corners by the convenience stores on the beach strip like Easy E " type fun" lol 
Night swims are great here because it's the perfect temperature. You can't go wrong diving off the rocks at the far end of the cove. While we were here, days and nights just flew by. A little too much fun on the last leg of our trip. ;). So we decided to isolate ourselves. And hike through the jungle to the very beautiful Tayrona National Park.
       To get to this beach you really gotta earn it.  It's about a 1 hour and 45 minute, advanced hike with all of your gear.  The first time in, we took a horse.  The EXTREMELY un attentive horse guide was very unprofessional. It seemed to me that they only cared about making the 32.000cop , and not the safety of the riders. Firstly I thought the horse would properly be strapped with our gear. He was NOT. The food bag full of canned goods and fruit was beyond heavy. They slung it from the right side of his neck and hung it off of the poor guys saddle. You could tell he was suffering. And we carried our own gear on the horse. They work these horses to the boooooone. I feel awful for them. There was a pen where they kept the horses that had literally been worked to almost death. You could tell they were sick and had the saddest giant eyes I have ever seen. Tears came to my eyes when I saw this. Also when I saw a tied together train of 7 mules. The 6th one was crying and doing everything in his power to NOT take the 1 hour and 45 minute, VERY difficult trek for god knows how many times that day again. Or maybe his saddle was poorly strapped and was pinching him. He NEEDED attention quite bad. The worker paid 0 attention to this and continued to drag the poor thing unwillingly. I don't even wanna know what happened to him on the way. These beautiful creatures are the only reason there is anything civilized that far into paradise. They were treated with very little respect. Sickening. 
     But back to my horse. He was very irate. I kept trying to hold up some of the weight on his neck from the ridiculously heavy food bag. He kept pulling at it. MANY times I tried to let the absent minded guide know of his discomfort. He didn't give a shit. He just kept smiling and giving me the thumbs up. It was annoying to say the least. After many attempts, I decided to move the bag onto my stomach by myself while riding. I went to un loop it and noticed it was ripping severely. I let the guide know AGAIN and he ignored the look of sheer terror in my eyes. Siiiigh. Sure enough it happened. The bag tore quite loudly and smashed on the ground. My horse spooked and took off into the steep jutting rocks and almost over a cliff !!! At the very last second he ripped a hard right and returned to the trail at full speed. I thought for sure I was dead. I was very tempted to throw myself off onto the giant rocks, because I had NO idea where he was going and if he would ever stop. But I made a final decision at the thought of crushed bones and decided instead to throw the rest of my luggage off and hold on for dear life. I racked my brain for the noise the stupid guide made to make them stop. After a few tries, I finally got it. And the galloping came to a light canter, then a trot , a walk, and then stopped. A this point I hugged his neck and thanked him for not killing me.. Needless to say after this experience the rest of the ride was quite unnerving. I was  sweating so badly and now holding the food bag and practically falling off on every steep downwards hill. He kept choosing a path, then quickly darting another way . Very unpredictable behaviour. So I was on ice the entire time. 
       Upon my safe arrival to the camp, I was very glad to touch ground. My knees hurt so incredibly badly I could barely stand. This all sounds very dramatic, but I kid you not. If you do have a lot of gear, also make sure whoever drops you off at the ticket booth, drives you to Cañaveral where the horses are. Or you have you walk an extra 45 min.- hour more. Not cool with that much gear in that type of heat.  Looking back, your best bet is to walk the walkers path and have an equally weighted mule carry your gear and meet you there. But if ya want a quicker, easier trail, you can also walk the mule trail.
       Once we started to see water it was a relief. And once we finally arrived in Cabo San Juan it all had finally paid off. This is the most beautiful beach I have ever seen in my life! The massive house and car size rocks that start to grow in size on the path get bigger and more shapely. The walkers path is by far the most scenic. It reminded me of some sort of mission in The Lord Of The Rings. These unique formations eventually guide you from the jungle to the ocean. This part of the journey is very rewarding.  We decided to camp at Cabo San Juan. When you see this campsite after the endless walk its like a sigh of sweaty relief one can never truly forget.  It is absolutely jaw dropping. The giant rocks and big waves burst into your vision like a mirage. You wonder if your dreaming. 
       We spent our days climbing massive rocks and finding cool nooks. There is lots of beach to discover and the power of the ocean has a very special energy.  It is a sauna in the tent but cooled down perfectly at night. So sleeping was tolerable. The best move we made was BRINGING OUR OWN FOOD AND WATER. Everything is very expensive here. Surviving off of fruit, granola, sardines, tuna sandwiches and peanut butter and jam sandwiches was just fine with me. Not to mention the abundant amount of fresh coconuts on the ground. The chore of extracting their insides got easier with every one. this was Ryan's job ;-P. We planned to stay for 4 days.  But ended up staying for 6. Depending on how much time you have, it is hard not to. #1) The view and beach is something special. #2) Who wouldn't want to camp in front of the rushing waves of the ocean on the edge of the jungle for as long as they could? And #3) Avoiding the trek for as long as possible is key ......Lol. After going through 22 litres of water , the weight of the gear on the way back is a breeze. We did it at night. Very cool because your all alone trekking the deep jungle with headlamps. We ran into an indigenous boy on horseback and many exotic sounds. 
        The night before that we did a night walk at camp where we could actually take our time. It was amazing! " We made the night walk !" Just for you Dario. Straight off the bat there were tonnes of huge bats. One went in my hair ( yes it's no myth) and into my face. Just off of camp, we encountered a lone white horse in the field. He was so beautiful. His bright coat on the pitch black background was a spooky and wonderful contrast. We continued only 2 minutes and saw some rather large glowing eyes. Then another pair. Then more. It was a pack of coatis! They are dog like raccoon relatives I believe. With long snouts and very long striped tails. Hooray. They crept us as we crept them. They stayed far away enough to watch us,......while we watched them hahaha. Creep-Fest. After this we realized how intensely my LED Energizer headlamp picked up the glowing eyes of anything with night vision. The spiders is what really got me though. The amount of spider eyes I could see beneath us increased DRASTICALLY as the night got darker. Until I was counting hundreds. Suddenly a pair of bright eyes really stood out to me. They were the biggest spider eyes i had seen yet. So I investigated . It was the MOST MENACING SPIDER WE HAVE EVER SEEEEEN IN OUR ENTIRE LIVES!!!!!!!! I thought at first it was a tarantula.  Upon closer inspection I realized how badly I was wishing for the tame pet like tarantula. This thing was the size of a hand. Hairy. It had a face for god's sake. And it looked powerful,  lemme tell you. It would be up your leg in half a second! Aaayyyeeeeeeebbbuudddyyyyy.... Whatever that means. Lol After getting some pics of this disturbing night hunter, we saw something even cooler. The biggest glowing eyes of the night. What at first appeared to be a monkey, sure didn't act like one. It's eyes were too far apart and it's very slight movements were very calm. After ruling out that it was a ninja-alien, we realized it was a three toed sloth ! He was right in front of us! Staring at us. Amazing. It must've come down for its weekly, nighttime excrement trip. He was beautiful. The biggest, kindest, glowing eyes. We felt truly honoured. After we left him, we decided to head back to camp because we were more than satisfied. Yessss night walk !  
            On our last 15 min before the final collectivo we had no way to the ticket booth/road stop. So we used our last Colombian Peso's for a refreshing swift motorcycle ride through the windy road back into civilization. It was exhilarating to say the least. 
     Oh yeah and some pathetic girls robbed me of my iPod and speaker box half way through our time there. This is a minor detail because it can be replaced. Their moral-less sad existence will live on. And so will my smile. They are not powerful enough to ruin my happiness in paradise.
       When we arrived back in Taganga, we had planned to stay one night only.  We found a hostel called Hostal Graffiti. It put a new spin on things. so we stayed longer than one night. But once again the Taganga trap sucked us in. It's been 6 days. ugh . It's way too easy to stay here. Many travellers we have met ended up staying here for longer than they had expected and just never left. We feared this. So we decided to do something spontaneous to break the chain on our last days here. Tomorrow we have a discovery dive booked with Nautilus Dive Center. If we like it, we can put it towards an international liscence. If not we say bye bye and head towards Palomino. I have never dove before, just snorkelled a lot. Can't wait. 

Monday 3 February 2014

Good pic of me on this link


   Well , we are far past San Gil. Our last day there we went to the Juan Curi waterfall. It was spectacular. We climbed very high, very quickly. For some reason on the path's were supposed to follow,....or not follow,....we keep ending up accidentally climbing mountains. Straight up. ..... Literally. Haha. But to end up at waterfalls like this? I would strand myself daily. We decided to swim in the ice water right where the ' water falls' the giant spiders were pissed we discovered their nook. 
      Our plan was to go to Venezuela . To see Angel Falls. The highest falling water in the world. Then to go to Margarita Island and Parque National Mochima. But unfortunately when we arrived in Cucuta we got malled. I have never had that many hands near me in my life . We changed as much as we could into Bolivars and some American dollars. Once we reached the Frontera ( border ), things got worse. It was clear to us that we were not welcome. And that the 50 people trying to illegally sneak is through was a sign. Not to mention trying to shove us in their vehicles. It's sad to say the political situation  there is not safe whatsoever at the moment. Especially for us. So we turned around while standing on the 800 meter walk through no man's land on the way to San Cristobal,Venezuela. I really wanted to see the beauty that Venezuela holds, and volunteer in any way possible, but sometimes my adventurous soul has to stop the trek somewhere. We were far outta the way when we made this decision. 
      We spent the day in Cucuta waiting for the bus to Santa Marta. We took the night bus. The 11 hour ride was slightly unnerving. It was a long and extended mountain cliff composed of rubble and MASSIVE drops. In the middle of the nowhere night. Lol I feel silly now, but at the time I was a wee bit terrified ;-P. I really wish I could have seen it in the daylight. The peaks were so high. Looming over us majestically. There's no counting the amount of times the bus came to barely a crawl. Just to not burst a tire on the jutting rocks or slide off the edge. Lol needless to say it was hard catch any shut eye. I was like a lemur constantly making a sight spot on the condensed window glass. Just to get a grasp of why it felt like we were rolling through a washing machine lol. 

Friday 24 January 2014

Las Lajas Sanctuary, Ipiales

Valle De Cocorra , Salento

Adventure and Beauty

      I forgot to mention that in Ipiales we went to Las Lajas Cathedral. It is the most beautiful church I have ever seen. It is like this castle nestled in the mountainside beside huge waterfalls that is it built around, over a river. The Virgin Mary appeared to many here. She has healed many of the sick here too. It is beautiful. You can climb right down to the river below and have a swim by the waterfall if you wanted to.  I lit a candle for Nanny here amongst the rock where rainbows of  endless wax has run down before. Then I said a prayer for her. And for little Cheebie too. I love you both so much. And I miss the hell out of you.  
     Also in Ipiales Ryan and I climbed to the top of a meadow to have a seat with a view for a couple hours. It was the best spot we could've chosen.  The grass was so so soft and thick. So we began to look for big pieces. Before you know it we were rippin on the grass kazoo's. It felt like childhood. A group of young local kids were also  hanging in the grass at the bottom of the hill. We kept seeing little heads popping up. And curious glances. As we jammed on at full force, they came over one by one. Till we were surrounded by all of them. And one by one we taught each of them how to put the grass between your thumbs. Eventually we were all picking handfuls to find the big ones and we were all a band of sqeaky  noises. It was amazing. They were so cute. I am pretty sure a grass fight instilled shortly after. It was a fun afternoon. 
           Once we arrived in Salento after a lot of bussing I was absolutely thrilled. It was so beautiful. The famous Colombian coffee zone is in the countryside . Nestled amongst mountains and rainforest. Lots of farming is in this tiny village, so to pull up beside a horse and buggy is not out of the ordinary. The clip clop of horses feet is always near , especially on the cobblestone. The Camino Real street of artesianal shops, cafés, and restaurants is painted white and multicolours. It reminds me of something Norwegian or even Newfoundlandish. The beautiful local artists chime this strip in the evening with their musical serenades, only adding to the quaint and comfortable vibe of this town. Don't even get me staaaaaarted on the food here. .......MOM?! YOU WOULD LOOOOOVE THIS TOWN!!! I thought of you the whole time. 
         In Salento we hiked the Corcorra Valley from 9:30-5:30. It's a 5 hour hike. We missed the turn around and climbed MUCH deeper and higher then we were supposed to. Haha like 12km straight up the mountain in the wrong direction. We were definitely lost in the jungle. The map the hostel gave us was completely a joke. And false. We found a real map at the top of the mountain. When we realized how friggin far outta the way we were!!! Taking a picture of this gave us guidance and hope that we would not be stuck under a rock all night while the rainforest poured on us, listening to wild animals hunt. Lol phew! The valley is the home of Colombias national tree. The wax palm trees. They are SO tall and skinny and loom so high above you. The mist and clouds are always moving and shifting so quickly it makes for constant jaw dropping scenery. There were also many very rickety suspension bridges wired together, over waterfalls. Best hike so far. We also took a looooong walk to the Finca of Don Elias. It is a fair trade organic coffee production farm. They show you from plant to fruit to bean to roast to grind to cup. This coffee was delicious let me tell you. Wow. And Mom ? Again, you woulda loved the coffee ,.......and the Don ;) lmao. 
           From Salento we took a gruelling 2 buses through Bogota to San Gil. It is also nestled in a mountainous region. On a river. Due to it's surrounding of national parks, there is lots of adventure here. Tonnes to do. We arc staying at Hostel Santander Aleman and have met great people here. We had an amazing night ! Everybody had muchos bebidas and many hookah flavours. I had never tried Jasmine before and it was absolutely delicious. Thanks Paola and Andres. You two are amazingly talented. We all put our musical talents on display this night. I sang and rapped . Ryan rapped. A few played the guitar and sang and Andres blew to top off of the ENTIRE jam with his contribution. He didn't tell us he was an INSANE opera singer. He stood up to a classical instrumental and showed us. His chest is a speaker box. I am still in shock. Unbelievable. Thanks everyone for an unforgettable night. 
      The next day, Ryan and I went paragliding. I went twice. The first flight we flew over the Chicamocha Canyon!!! Like soooo high up in the clouds. And just cruised around. It was absolutely AMAZING. I would do that all damn day . No questions asked. The second one I did was over the valley with a view of the Canyon where the wind was high speed. Here I did some air acrobatics. It was intensely awesome!!! These paracute pilots have the best job in the world!!! Wow. Your just floating n zippin n steering through the sky all day. Everything is a good view from that high up!!! Ya reallllly gotta know how to manipulate the wind though or your done. Lol that's the beauty of it though. There's no hurting yourself . Haha it's all or nothing. So free. Free as a bird. We are currently in San Gil being lazy and awaiting tomorrows events. Waterfall trip and pool chillin will be the answer I am sure. Because it's vey hot here. 

Friday 17 January 2014

Readers feedback

I am trying to give every detail, is this becoming too much of a chore to read? It's a lot to write I know that. Just don't wanna miss an experience. Please let me know. Thanks :) 

Not so sketchy after all

Once back in civilization we were happy to stay at Hotel D'Mario. Had to spend a buck to not get stuck in a sheisty place. It was refreshing after sleeping in tarantula nests. They fed the crap out of us in the jungle, so to hit the treadmill felt great. That was followed up by a dip in the pool. Dbl bonus. And the hot clean shower ? Well that just put the cherry on the cake. And for dinner we had tuna and onion open faced sammy's. Topped with our favourite condiment that we cannot live without now. The infamous Ecuadorian hot sauce,....Aji . IT-IS-GOLD JERRY!! GOLD!!!  From Lago Agrio we took a bus to Tulcan. It  was beyond jaw dropping. I did NOT expect that. At all. It was the most beautiful rainforest drive you could ever imagine. The green canopy jutting so high into the sky in bulging mountain tops. Over many rivers and waterfalls. The way the clouds sat so high in the mountains I could've cried. The entire ride took my breath away. My camera died at the first part. I would've saved the battery had I known it was about to get even more beautiful. We took the very twisty and steep edged mountain side road the whole way. It was dirt and it hugged the beauty perfectly for 8 hours. I was so satisfied. Especially when we literally rode through the sky. Into the clouds. It was like something out of a fantasy. 
       When we arrived in Tulcan the Ecuadorian border town, it was nighttime. We felt a little sketchy about it, so we did some research at a local Internet cafe. It's quite unbelievable the amount of horror stories we read. Basically that is was a zoo of people. All of which are there to rob you, pickpocket you, stab you and fake officials to rip you off. Insane line ups where you held your hands above your head just to fit. So we woke up at 5am to avoid the crowds and sure enough , we missed them. And it turned out to be the smoothest, easiest and quickest experience one could imagine. Lmao just goes to show ya how exaggerated shook inexperienced people can be.
        We  got stuck in Ipiales. The Colombian border town for a night to wait for the bus to Cali the next night. It was there we realized we forgot Melvin ;(;(; !!!!!. (If I haven't already mentioned him. He was our troubled shell-less turtle puppet from the Galapagos. He had a great story and was such a character. We adopted him and brought him everywhere. I slept with him every night. I hugged him when I was scared and talked to him when I was alone. He was our best buddy) I cried. So yep we did it. We crossed the damn border again in the afternoon back to the Tulcan hotel in Ecuador on a hope and a whim for a goddamn puppet. Sure enough the maid lied through her teeth and you could see it. She had given him to a hotel child and it was obvious. First she said he had been given away. Then she said she hadn't see him when she saw the look in my eyes. Now he has to live in Tulcan. Where he is probably getting tortured and is covered in some rugrat's sticky taffy. He must've been buried in blankets the day we left in a hurry to beat the border lines. I am SO sorry Melvin. I came back for you! i tried. But they lied buddy. They lied.........;(
         We went online and all traveller warnings said "you would have to be insane to take the Ipiales -Cali bus at night ". That sometimes the route is blocked due to high alert warnings of robberies and paramilitary guerrilla warfare. We wanted a day bus, but they were all sold out. So we did the night bus. Lmao I haven't had that good of a bus sleep all trip! I felt the safest I have felt on a bus since coming to South America. There were 4 police checks in 10 hours. Like how much safer can you get?! People can be so stupid. Lol wow.......
     We arrived in Cali this morning. And jumped on the next bus to Armenia. We are on that bus now. This kid behind me reeeeeeks like sausage and onion. Lol I keep looking back and expecting a sausage factory in production. And the festive accordion music that is blaring on the speakers would be perfect for that scene. Hahaha!!! Once we get to Armenia we are going straight to Salento if we can, to the coffee fields. It looks beautiful and I can't wait to be off a bus. Been on one since 7pm last night. 

Monday 13 January 2014


Oh and I forgot to mention that the 5 meter long anaconda we saw today had freshly eaten and had an alligator in its digestion tract?!!! It was SOOOO fat . In one bulge. Amazing. 

Writing to give the full experience

        From the Galapagos we flew into Quito, Ecuador. And went straight to the bus station. The people here were not very friendly to us, as we had expected. So we went straight to Baños. This town is an adventure town for all walks of life. It's nestled in the mountains beneath a volcano. It has tonnes of different waterfalls.
       We arrived on the 30th so we could spend New Years Eve here. BEST decision we could have made! In the daytime there were guys dressed as women in the streets of the main highway stopping traffic with a rope sometimes. They danced and hooted and hollared in order to make a buck or two and then let traffic pass. Whether this went back to the community or not I am unsure. It was SOOOO funny. Everyone dressed up. Including us. I can't even imagine what they do for Halloween.The customary tradition is to make bodies. Of burnable materials. The tradition originally started as building one's self, and to burn it on the turn of the year as to leave all the negative parts of you behind in the former year. An idea I love. Now the locals build whatever they want. It can be a celebrity, a cartoon, a superhero, or someone who has passed on, or yourself. We saw a memorial for Paul Walker "doll " . A few Bart Simpson's of all sizes. Lots of cartoon characters. The memorials to those that have been lost were definitely my favourite. On top of these random burning pits in the streets at midnight, anyone, of any age, in any place could light whatever fireworks they wanted! It was SO dangerous. Therefore,..... Amazing! I cannot count the amount of times I got hit by fireworks! Lol in the eyes especially. It took me a few times and some training from Ryan before I fully felt comfortable bursting lit fireworks into crowds of people doing the same. Due to my Canadian upbringing of regulated firework activities, this should be understandable ;-P .  
     This town is filled with things to do.  The hot, warm and cold water healing baths are what the town is named after. Thermal Baths. Hence Baños. They are located at the bottom of the waterfalls in the main town and this is the water that they use for the baths. I loved them! Pisces fish that I am. ;). We stayed at 4 different hostals here. They just got better and better. Met a lot of cool people. We did some ziplining which was absolutely amazing! There's nothing like pretending your an eagle flying high over the canyons and rivers below. We also did a waterfall tour on cable cars. It was beautiful. We did also a 1 day tour to the jungle by Puyo in the Amazon. Here we saw a monkey rescue center...,( once they are better, let them go!!! isn't that the point of the rescue?!?!...ugh anyways). We rode a hollowed out tree canoe down a river and hiked to a hidden waterfall lagoon. This made my day.  It was so healing for my soul that day. We then went to a swing which swung HIGH over the cliff of a mountain. And river basin far far below. Wow. Talk about a rush. I loved it! Would do it again. Saw a shaman, and a random baby monkey jumped on me and thought I was its mother and kept trying to go inside my shirt. Lol very very cute little guy he was. He made monkey noises and clung to me when I tried to pull him off and clung to my iPod string. :-( . 
      ALAS!!! We cancelled our flight on January 8th and decided to go back to the jungle for 4 days! BAMMM smack dab deep into the Amazon rainforest. We travelled for 10 hours by bus, then waited for 4 hours in a small town called Lago Agrio. Then another 2 hours on a long wooden canoe down a long Amazonian river to the lodge. Guacamayo Ecolodge. Here we sleep in wooden huts that are fully open. I am not kidding when I say WE ARE LITERALLY SLEEPING IN TARANTULA NESTS!!!! That's what the Effin roofs are made of! Leaves . That house families if tarantulas ! Not only that but poisonous wolf spiders and all other kinds! The 10 hour bus was absolutely one of the most terrifying bus rides of my life hands down. I prayed . I thanked the universe for my existence. It was absolutely puking rain in the middle of the rainforest getting deeper by every kilometre. Permanent sharp turn arrows and sharp turn curvy road signs. We didn't go straight for more than a second or two ever. At points I swear we were driving through lakes . We actually did drive through a waterfall! Literally. In my mind, with every turn we took we were rolling down the massive cliffs, that we stared down at every opening. The bus was pitch black and people were literally hissing at us in the dark. So Swiss army in hand fighting the urge to sleep the entire time. I had such anxiety I couldn't even hold Ryan's hand. I had to keep them together just to pray. It's funny now. But not then. Upon arrival we were like " Jesus Christ , we just took the death bus to terror camp!! What in god's name is wrong with us?!?! Are we nuts?!"  Lmao but here I am alive to tell the stories and MUCH less arachnophobic than before. If I ever shriek and run and hide from a Canadian dock spider again, please slap me in the face...................................Chandi ;-P 
           At Guacamayo Ecolodge, we went on many jungle boat rides. We did day treks and night insect walks. I miss the untainted nature of the Galapagos animals. These animals we really had to be creepy to see. But it was a whole new world of creatures. To add to our list of earths beautiful creatures we have tarantulas, wolf and social spiders, anacondas, caiman alligators, scorpions, parrots (macaw and others), toucans, carpentero woodpeckers, snakebirds, kingfishers, night herons (and 3 others), screaming pias, monkeys ( cappuccino, wooly, howler and squirrel), bats, sloths, pink river dolphins (rare), tree frogs (of many kinds with the circle fingertips), geckos, stick bugs, stink bugs, stinky turkeys, leaf bugs, lobster bug, butterflies (various beautiful kinds), night dwelling marsupial, marching wasps that live with ants, termites, and we heard the sounds of ocelots very close by on our night insect walk, and fresh Jaguar tracks. ........aaaand breathe. Lol  And I can say that I swam deep in the Amazon, in water I could definitely not see in. The clay is way too thick.  Hah sorry mom, there were definitely piranhas in there somewhere and anacondas that would devour me.  But the dolphins did it sooooooo, I figured it was okay. Amazing!!!
         Our last day there was my ABSOLUTE favourite day!!! We started our day by joining our new Dutch friend at the watchtower at 6 am for some viewing. There was a hawk eyed, lodge staff member there with his scope and binoculars. He was incredible. His sight and spotting skills have left me in a state of bewilderment. It looks over the tiny lodge and into the canopy surrounding us. We saw tonnes of wildlife. Much more than the boats down the river. The gentlemen was doing monkey calls and there were tonnes! I was thrilled. Everytime he called out the monkeys made really funny faces . They are so animated and fun. They were anywhere from 10-100 meters from our view tower. There were families feasting on fresh ripe fruit from the trees. And having a blast in the sunny morning hours. Jumping with gusto from tree to tree on some very small branches. Impressive. This spot is where we saw Toucan Sam and Woody Woodpecker in the flesh. Hooraaayyyyy!!!! Lots of parrots and other birds too. 
        After breakfast we went to see a shaman who we didn't catch. On the way we stopped to look at some different species of flora and fauna. The giant rainforest Ceiba tree was amazing! So huge and beautifully majestic with vines you can climb and swing on. Also there was the tree that anti-malaria medication is made from. And the ants that produced the acid that insect repellant is made from. The guide Dario put Ryan's hand on the huge ant nest and let them crawl all over. Then he squished them all. The smell was different and reeked of this 'acid ' Very cool. Also a garlic tree. It looked normal, but smelled like Max's cooking, so I asked. and sure enough the bark tasted exactly like garlic!!! Soooo weird! I took a piece and chewed it. Ryan literally took a bite out of the tree lmao.....anyway......The shaman was not at his usual ritual spot that day. He was probably doing much more important things than presenting himself to tourists. Such as collecting herbs, gardening, or tending to the sick. His name was Alberto and was the son of Tomas who passed on 2 years ago. Their spiritual and medicinal knowledge is ancient and passed on through generations. It's very crucial to the surrounding villages. They produce Ayahuasca and harvest the vines to make the most powerful hallucinogen in the world. This gives them vision into the sick to heal their ailments and gives the unsick a head on demon facing experience for the first time,...or few. Depending on how many you have. We saw his special potion and the roots he grew in his yard. It was a very solemn feeling leaving that place. You could feel the power and a deep appreciation washed all my emotions away to a zen that opened my eyes. 
        After this we went to a village to farm some yucca and have a lesson in indigenous cooking. We gave back to the community that day and that felt good. We also got to shoot wooden blow darts out of a long blow gun used for hunting. Hunting animals or defense from other tribes. It was SICK! They poison the tips and put cotton on the ends. I could do that all day. It was very fun. 
       That night we did the insect walk and got creeped out. It was exciting. Flashlights and lots of large creepy crawlies. Spider webs that were insanely woven with very strong silk that you could pull with your fingers and stretch and would just snap back to shape. You could catch a kite on that stuff. Black scorpions and tarantulas ready to pounce. Poisonous snakes and tree frogs. Lobster bugs the size of your hand. Hunting ocelots we could hear. Night wasps that were very focused on building a nest. Bug eyed marsupials. Just wow. A very unique experience. I LOVED the frogs. Sooooo cute and beautiful. 
         The next morning the whole group went to the watch tower hoping to see the canopy zoo again, but didn't have the luck that we did the previous morning. There was this funny spider. His web attached to the tower railing and the hydro wire. As soon as we all came and sun began to rise he LITERALLY started cutting his own web down. It was bloody brilliant. One by one he clipped his main supports and began to pack up his web into a ball like a tent!!! Lol it was almost like he was in a hurry to gather his things privately like we were allll pressuring him or something. But I was the only one who saw. So I brought Ryan to see this and really put him under the pressure cooker. Haha it seems he didn't want anyone to know his spot. What a quirky little thing he was. Like pulling in a fishing net. This was a first for me. I had to wonder if his net just pops back up at night like a tent too. But I highly doubt that. 
             We are now back in civilization (kinda lol) and have decided to go to Columbia to relax (hopefully). But the exitement of backpacking is that you never know what will come up. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep following because it's only the readers I am doing this for and it takes a long time to get this all down. I love you all. Kisses to Angel, mom, Chandi, Craig, Papa, Rod, Marg, Zeek and Lucy, Leah, Nike, Krysia, Sarah, Dew,  and Cheebah, Nanny, Kirk and Nugget's souls dancing in the universe above. Big ups to B & Pj, Nivek , googly Kevin, D, Bug and Tyler. Keep it real homeflexes. <3 

Mi Amore

The first day in Isabela we had a nap first off. All we did was eat after this. Food food and more food. God I gotta drop this extra 15 lbs when I get back. Yeah I said it! I got fat here dammit lol. Then we saw our friends from California from Santa Cruz and San Cristobal. They suggested a tour of Los Tuneles. These are very unique lava formations above and below the water. We took the advice of our totally awesome friend Tyler's family, and booked it for 2 days after that. 
       Our second day we rented bicycles and took the most beautiful bike ride I have ever seen. From the main road, to the Wall Of Tears. This was a place where a penal camp was located and this Wall's purpose was to punish prisoners. It was a U.S. outpost during the 2nd world war and they hauled massive volcanic rocks by hand into a large wall. l which they were forced to contain themselves with. It was surrounded by old soldier stations, and a sign that read " Where the strong cry, and the weak die"....... Pretty powerful stuff. We experienced something unique there. But if ya wanna know what it is ya gotta ask me personally........The  bicycle ride to this place is filled with endless joy. On the right there are volcanic tunnels and protected one of a kind wetlands. Followed up by the 2nd best view of the Galapagos I think I saw there. The first being Frigate Bird Hill in San Cristobal. Only this one was an island , feast for the eyes. On the left was multiple jaw dropping beaches and a volcanic rock bay. From here led a mangrove path and "Hobbit" tunnel to my favourite place. The hidden lagoon. It was where the freshwater and salt water merged to make a cove that was a perfect swimming pool. It was a hidden sand lagoon that you could run and dive in made naturally. I have ALWAYS wanted to go to one of these. Dreams coming true once again. 
     To start the day to Los Tuneles,we saw penguins swimming around in the bay beside the pier. On our way to the lava tunnels (which are very unique), we saw them. The angelic,.......endemic,........ One of a kind MASSIVE Galapagos manta rays!!!! During our ride to the tunnels they were dancing and mating. I have never seen or even heard of such a large beautiful creature. Their wing spans were 4-6 metres long!!! When our guide, Fabricio, told us this previously we were sure he meant feet not metres. But sure enough it was metres. We all jumped in the deep dark Pacific to try and have a swim with them, but they are too fast and too swift. I could see them above water splashing and their white under bellies, but to actually catch them still through a mask was a difficult task. It was my personal highlight. After this we went to the lava tunnels and when we jumped off here the first thing we saw were 2 GIANT mating sea turtles. Haha I felt creeping swimming with them taking pictures of their intimate act, but c'monnn. Who wouldn't ? ;)  As we continued along the inlet there were many more huge turtles peacefully swimming along. Who seemed completely oblivious to us. It was beautiful. As we squeezed , ducked , and weaved through the mossy, volcanic passages more wildlife came to life. Sea lions played. Turtles emerged. Sharks sleeked quietly around us. There were octopus hidden beneath the surface and golden rays zipping along. The only word for these islands is magical. The docile nature of these untainted creatures warms your heart in a  way only going there can describe. On the way home we stopped and searched and  found the also endemic giant sea horses! Hah and their size is only 5 inches! Biggest in the world. In Africa they are a millimetre long and are the same colour as the coral. How you would find those I have NO idea. But the ones we saw were SOOOO cool. Just clinging to the sea grass and extremely cute. Wow. Like something out of a fairy tale. The same way you think of a unicorn. When you see one, it's like a childhood fairy tale just unfolded in front of your eyes. What a special Christmas Eve day.
       Oh wait! Did I mention I saw my first amazing school of flying fish on the way from San Cristobal to Santa Cruz? They were beautiful!
       On Christmas Day we decided to do something completely different and special. We decided to climb the famous Volcan Sierra Negra and Volcan Chico. We woke up at 5 am very groggy from the night before and hauled ourselves onto the transport. This was a 6 1/2 hour hike to 2 volcanoes. The giant crater of Volcan Sierra Negra was the first. The crater was massive. 10 km across. Like a sunken city of rubble. The second was Volcan Chico. It was a huge climb. Many levels. The shapes changed the more we climbed and so did the colours. The view of the Pacific Islands and all the land was incredible. That when it hit us. We are climbing volcanoes for Christmas Day. Truly unique. The colours and lava exit points were unbelieveble. The shapes were so varied it's hard to explain. Some reached out to you like faces, some vomited and stopped in mid air, some were smooth like a baby's skin. Some were red, some were orange, some were jet black, and some were every colour of the rainbow. It was still active, so when you put your arm inside the steaming holes you could cook inside them. They were literally little ovens . When we got the top the huge crater pit from which it last spewed was something I cannot describe. Earth at it's rawest. You could vividly picture, from all the evidence leading up to this point, the last time it spewed hot magma in 1979. We followed it's trail backwards to the heart of the artery from the earths core. And had a 360 degree look from the top of the ocean, islands , volcanic rubble, and Isabela landscape.  If you ever do this trek I cannot stress this enough,.... BRING LOTS OF WATER!!!!  We ran very low, and became very desperate very quick. We ran into a man with 2 horses about an 8th of the way up. He was saying " Water. Water ." We were like , " thank god, we would looove some water !". He looked at us and said " mmmmm, sorrryyyy . It's for the group. We look at the group (who is all holding full 2L bottles of icy cold water) and we said please señor. We are really thirsty.he shrugged his shoulders and said "lo siento" . Which means sorry. Only after I had to secretly ransack the horses giant 4 gallon bottle to fill our small sized bottle did we realize it was Christmas Day again. Pfffft. Thanks bud. 
     The next few days in Isabella was like one universal blessing after the other. I originally went out to see the penguins because I had not swam with them yet. The sea lions were being characters as usual. The Iguanas were going out of their way to climb over the sea lions. ( who communicate like very social humans in a polygamist family btw) . And then we saw the penguins. They are so fast. So I got in the water with my snorkel to capture them underwater but the Humboldt current brought so much mineral rich material that I couldn't see anything but hoards of little fish. On account of the current that day I was the only one in the water. My lucky day. A feeding frenzy happened! And I was in the middle of it! I was surrounded in hundreds and hundreds of Blue Footed Boobies. They were everywhere. Swooping  in waves all around me. They shot out of the air diving like bullets into the water. Hundreds flew straight at my head. Their wings swept my ears while the bright blue webbed feet smacked me in the face. Then the penguins came. Then the sea lions. Then the golden rays, pelicans and frigate birds . It was a spectacle!!! At that time the boats started to arrive . Everyone stopped with their cameras and I am definitely in many spectator videos. It was INCREDIBLE!!! I would live and die on Isabela. It was and will always be my heart.