05/07/2016, Cusco, Peru
And Finally Machu Picchu
The rainy season was supposed to end here the first of April, but it has continued into the end of April (El Nino, global warming?) It has been quite cold at night getting down into the 40's. Afternoons have been nice when it's not raining. We have gotten to know the town and have seen most of what is here, we are starting to feel like locals now after six weeks. I (Dave) have been taking guitar lessons from this old hippie rocker (Mike is 68) who is still going strong. He wants me to make a debut on stage with him. I don't want to embarrass myself. Leiann was able to help out at a local school teaching 1st & 2nd graders English, she said it was mayhem, but she loves kids. We finally headed up to Machu Picchu the 3rd of May. The weather has cleared, cold at night, but sunny and warm during the day. There are a few ways to up to the site, one way is to walk the Inka Trail (we have no interest in doing that). You can take the train most of the way, or you can go as cheap as possible and take a shuttle then walk the rest of the way or catch the train for the remaining 10 miles. Trying to save cash and doing the alternative thing appealed to us. We caught the shuttle van at 7am (very cold out). It was a six hour ride up to Hidroelectrica which is where they dump you off to either walk for three hours or pay another $28 US to ride the train up to Aguascalientes, there are no roads going all the way up. Leiann was car sick even though heavily medicated. She did not enjoy the ride at all as it was very curvy all the way up. One up side to the shuttle ride was taking the mini death road. The road like the "Death Road" in Bolivia is dirt, one lane mostly with a 500 to 1,000 foot drop off. Though not nearly as long and the drop in Bolivia is 2,000 feet (not that it matters much after the first 500). I told Leiann not to look and she mostly laid on the back seat not having much fun. At one point the van turned onto a very old wooden bridge that looked like it was not safe, no railings just wood planks. We all said to ourselves (he could not be serious). Over the bridge we went as we held our breath and looked down into the raging river below us. Hey it's all part of the great adventure. We got to small town of Hidroelectrica and decided that we would opt for the train as Leiann was not feeling to hot. We had a little incident with the police there after I voiced my displeasure with the tour operator. She had us climb up this rocky dirt path, several hundred feet, with us believing this was the way we had to go to catch the train. As it turns out she just wanted to take us to a rustic restaurant that she most likely was being paid to bring tourists to. We ended up missing our train because we now had to climb back down the rocky dirt trail to catch the next train. I was not happy and when I found the tour operator I asked why in hell did she take us on this goat trail only to miss our train. She said she spoke no English. At this point her male friend came to her rescue and we exchanged a few choice words and I walked away thinking that was the end of it. But later as we waited for a couple of hours for the next train here came the guy with the police claiming I pushed the women (total fabrication). After explaining (in Spanglish) to the police that I did not touch the woman and that her friend had came over and "chest bumped" me and he began yelling at me and after some more heated banter Leiann's calming voice took effect and the police shook our hands and left. Leiann was not to happy with me, but hey I just felt the guide should be held responsible for her actions, that maybe she might not pull this crap on the next tourist. Getting up to Aguascalientes we found our room to be very acceptable for the $31 a night. The next day we drank coffee until 11 and got on the bus up to the site. Most people like to go early in the morning but it is more crowded then. Hence our plan to head up when most would be heading down. The site is about 2,000 feet above the town, the bus zigzags its way up. One can take the path which has 2,000 steps but we chose the bus. We had been told by many that Machu Picchu stands up to the hype. We walked up onto the high side of the site so that our first view would be from above, taking in the entire site. I think it is impossible to express the feeling of seeing Machu Picchu up close and personal for the first time. We sat for half an hour just taking it in. Thinking about the people who built this city in the clouds. Machu Picchu was only occupied by the Inka for a little over a hundred years. A hundred years of continuous building with rock. Some archeologists believe that the site was not started by the Inka but by an earlier people (a controversial theory). One of the highlights was seeing the Inka Bridge, the emergency exit of the site. If being pursued Inka could pull the bridge behind them and then continue across the cliff face (you would have to see this yourself to fully understand it, but you can see the pictures). It would be way to long of a story to tell here to describe all of Machu Picchu but you can see lots of it on You Tube. One thing not to many people notice is the difference in the stone wall construction. Many walls are of very precise stone work where others are just stacked stones. Some walls start of with precise cut stone and then halfway up turn into much less precision and then just stacked stones. This to me would give evidence of an earlier people doing much finer work and then later people getting lazy, hey it was hard work! We had a great three days and finally getting to see Machu Picchu after five years of heading south did not disappoint. We took the train all the way back down and a short taxi ride to our apartment. Leiann liked this method much better then the trip up. We have just learned that the Physical Therapist that I trained and worked with in Boquete, Panama was tragically killed in a car accident leaving her son with cerebral palsy in critical care. We were asked if we could come back and help out with the clinic as they now had many patients and no therapist. We had planned to stay here six months and to go up to Bolivia to see Lake Titicaca but we feel compelled to return to Boquete to see if we can train another therapist as the clinic we worked at has very little funding and can not pay a therapist much (like $5 a day). Jackie the therapist I worked with had no formal training but had been taking her son to Physical Therapy for 15 years so was able to use what she had learned to help treat handicapped children in Boquete who had no ability to pay for care. I was able to work with her for two months teaching her as much as I could about anatomy, physiology, assessment, and treatment intervention philosophy. She was very intelligent and was a sponge, soaking up whatever I taught her. I suggested sources online she could go to for continuing education. It was very satisfying working with Jackie and knowing years later she was still there taking care of patients I had worked with. We had always planned to return one day and it is devastating to learn of her short life. She will be be remembered for her commitment to help those that had no where else to go. We are now making plans to return to Panama at the end of May. Stay tuned for more Chrysalis Adventures
03/18/2016, Cusco, Peru
Chrysalis Adventures Blog Update
We left our little home in Cuenca, Ecuador at the end of February and continued our trek south. We took an overnight bus crossing into Peru. We were quite groggy at 3am checking into Peru getting off and back onto the bus. Just falling back to sleep when we reached our destination Mancora, Peru. As we came off the bus again disoriented and in the dark we were greeted my multiple guides wanting to sign us up for a tour or sell us something or change money for us. After saying NO many times they left us alone sitting on the sidewalk in the dark in an unknown little not so clean or safe looking town and it was 5am. First priority get off the street! We hired a Tuk Tuk (a three wheeled motorcycle with a canvas roof) to take us to our hostel. Again it was 5:30 in the morning and the only thing around our hostel, which was fenced in, was dirt. Thankfully our driver knew where the call button was and we were able to check in very early. After a nice nap we got up and checked things out. Our hostel was a bungalow with lots of bamboo and other than a few ants trying to eat my sandwich before I did and a couple cockroaches it was fine. After a dip in the pool, 15×20, but hey it was cool, we headed down to the beach. The beach was a short walk and we walked on the sand down toward town. The water here is quite cool because of the Humboldt current bringing cold water up from the Antarctic so we were not tempted to jump in. We found a little grass hut to have drinks and a little to eat while we watched the local surfers. We walked the town a bit, not much to see, mainly a surfer hangout and a poor tourist town. We made plans to catch a bus the next day and headed back to the hostel. The next day we headed out to Piura, a short two hour trip. We had booked a night at a hostel which turned out to be a pretty nice place. Piura had about as much appeal as Guayaquil in Ecuador. Big, dirty and not to safe looking. We found a modern mall to our surprise and had a nice dinner at a Chile's restaurant which we also did not expect to see. We had dinner and took a taxi back to the hostel. We had booked a flight to Cuzco from Piura as we found that the Northern Peruvian coast was mostly desert all the way to Lima (the view doesn't change much) and the cost to fly was about the same. We arrived in Cuzco without issues and a taxi took us to the hostel we had booked. It was a shock going from night time temps in the 80's to overnight temps in the 40's. Cuzco is at 11,400 feet so it's cold! In the day time when it's not raining it's nice in the 70's. It is weird to see snow in the mountains so near the equator. We spent two days in our little hostel before finding more permanent housing. Leiann found a house totally furnished for $600 soles ($175 US)! Our house is 350 years old built in colonial times, the walls are built of adobe and are 3 foot thick! We really liked living in a historic place but soon found out that the home has not heat (as most old homes) and we were freezing at night even with four heavy wool blankets. So we began to look for another place. Leiann found a place advertised for $94 month for a room with a fully stocked kitchen! We had lived in a "flat" with other people in Medellin and found it fun so we had not qualms about renting just a room. When we got to the place it had security fences, under ground parking and an elevator, it looked pretty up scale. We were scratching our heads, this for $94? When we into the apartment we really looked at each other, it looked brand new, fully furnished, huge kitchen, new furniture and china on the table with a full pitcher of water? Something was definitely not right here. The owner spoke broken English. We asked again how much was this place? She said $25 a day! That's $750 a month. We told her our budget would not allow for us to pay that and she asked how much could we pay. We told her $500 max. She said that if we allowed her to rent the other room out for $25 a night when she could she would give it to us for $500. So we have a totally modern apartment (with A/C and heat)! So if any one wants to come down you can rent the other room for $300 for a month. Pretty good deal when you consider you have full kitchen that you would not have in a hotel not to mention $50 a day at a hotel adds up fast. We have been exploring our new playground and there is lots to see. The town is the oldest continuously occupied city in all the Americas so there's lots of history here. We have hit seven museums, squares, little cafes and three churches so far. The famous perfectly jointed stone wall is right in town (see pics) as well many other stone walls made of Inca stones that were stolen from various Inca sites. Nearly all important religious Inca sites have been torn down and a Catholic church built on the foundations. We plan to visit Machu Picchu in the end of April when rainy season is over. We will be visiting many ruin sites soon a well as traveling up to Lake Titicaca in Bolivia. Lake Titicaca (say that three times fast) is the highest lake in the world at 13,000 feet. So stay tuned for more Chrysalis Adventures and be sure to check out the photo gallery.
02/25/2016, Cuenca, Ecuador
Updates on the "Chrysalis" Adventure
January and February as usual have been busy. We had four friends visit us, a trip to Vilcabamba and a trip to the Galapagos. We always enjoy sharing our adventures with others and the last two months we have been able to host our four friends: Jacob our pastor on the run, Thomas our digital vagabond roommate from Medellin, Casey our motorcycle traveling friend we met in Medellin and Ellen our good friend from Washington State. After returning from our trip to Vilcabamba (see last blog) we had Thomas show up and we showed him the town. We toured Inca ruins, took him to the jazz club, Leiann and him drank Cuba Libras at home, told stories of past adventures and had a great time with him. We hope he continues to enjoy life as he travels the world doing his digital vagabond life. Then our friend Casey showed up. We met Casey in Medellin watching the Sea Hawks as he was also from the Seattle area. He had rode his motorcycle from Washington State to Florida, shipped it to Colombia and now is riding to southern South America. We again drug Casey all over town and to our favorite hangout the jazz club. We wish him well on his journey. No sooner did Casey leave and Ellen showed up. We also drug her all over town, to the jazz club, then left the next day for our trip to the Galapagos Islands. We began our trip taking a bus over the Andes Mountains through Cajas National Park, where we saw wild lamas running around and the scenery was breath taking. We took a taxi from the bus station to our hotel/hostel. The taxi had a tough time finding the place winding through the back streets of Guayaquil. The neighborhood was not looking so nice and we were getting a little worried. We gave Ellen a little hard time as she had booked the place. We finally found the place in what looked like a back alley. We entered the tiny office which looked a little dubious and now wondered even more about our accommodations. Ellen was a bit unsure of this part of our trip but hey we wanted her to really experience the "real culture". We finally got to our room which was fine, sparse but clean, safe (inside anyways) and it had A/C which we really needed after staying in the mountains for the last four months, Guayaquil was hot!
The next day we took a bus to the Malecon area and on our walk from the train to the tourist area of the Malecon a guy ripped Leiann's cross off her necklace. She yelled at him and started to chase him, then I now being alerted took off after him but he was quicker. Leiann was a little shook up so we took her to a bar and filled her with alcohol. Afterward we had a nice walk on the Malecon had dinner and took a taxi back to our room. Suffice it to say Leiann does not have fond memories of Guayaquil, but like any city of two million there's gonna be crime. The next day we flew out to the Galapagos, a two hour flight. We then took a short bus ride to the ferry that takes you to the main tourist island of Santa Cruz. Our accommodations were again basic but did the job, four nights for the three of us for only $260! The bad part was our room was on the fifth floor with no elevator, good exercise! The next day we went to visit the giant tortoise farm. The tortoise run wild here so you can walk right up to them. You are forbidden to touch them or get closer then six feet from them. We walked the farm with our taxi driver Wilson who was nearly bi-lingual and knew the farm well, as he takes tourists here daily. We saw a dozen tortoises and walked through three amazing lava tunnels. We had lunch and drinks at the farm and enjoyed the trip. The tortoises are amazing to stand next to, the males are three feet across and older then we are, many live over a hundred years. We got back to town and walked out to the Darwin Research Center where they breed tortoises. It was a lot further then we thought it was going to be and hotter then hell. We jumped from shade to shade as much as possible and we were glad they had a bar when we got there. We were a little disappointed at the center as the baby turtles raising area was under new construction so we could not see them. The adult tortoises were in pens and did not look too happy. The tortoises on the Galapagos are endangered but are making a come back after many years of sailing ships stopping by to load up on them as they provided meat and lasted a long time in the hold of a ship without food our water, sad. The next day we took a boat trip over to Isabela Galapagos as we had heard that it was a cool place to visit. The boat ride was two hours of pounding, but it was beautiful. We walked the little town and beach. We found three pink flamingos in a swamp very near town. The beaches were beautiful and had marine iguanas running wild all over the place, as well as sea lions. We wished we had not booked our hotel for four nights as it would have been cool to stay longer on Isabella. At one point I went to go for a swim and wanted to put my things on a bench, which was surrounded by lunging sea lions. I got a little too close to a mother with her pup and she came after me! I retreated quickly and tried to come around the other side to the bench, nope she was not having it, I quickly backed up again. I snuck my stuff over the top of the bench as she looked back over her head at me. Don't mess with momma. After Ellen and I had a nice swim we loaded back up on the boat for another two hour pound back. The highlight of the boat ride was seeing an eight foot shark on the surface eating something. When we got back to our hotel we were wiped out. The next day we headed out for a canyon filled with crystal clear water that you can swim in that we had heard about. We were told to take a water taxi, then it would be a five minute walk to the canyon. Again it was very hot and we tried to stay in the shade as much as possible, as Leiann and Ellen were already sun burned. It ended up being more like 30-45 minute walk and I was really ready to jump in when we finally got there. The canyon is a crevice in the lava that makes up the island. It is about 40 foot deep and 30 wide. The water is a little on the cold side but after the hot walk felt great. The canyon was about 100 yards long in three sections. The sections were divided by algae covered rocks. It was a little dicey climbing over them but was rewarding as no one else did and I had the other side all to myself. It was cool swimming on my back looking up at huge rocks that looked like they would fall at any minute. Ellen jumped in after some coaxing from Leiann, but Leiann did not want to take the plunge as getting out required one to climb the slimy rocks and she could not see the bottom which is not her favorite swimming situation. By the time we got back to the hotel Leiann was nearly dead from the heat and hike, with me and Ellen not fare behind, the five floors back up to the room about killed us all. We had heard about a beach that was a don't miss (Tortuga beach). Leiann was definitely not going to leave our air conditioned room. I told Ellen if she wanted to go see the beach I would go with her. She decided to go after some deliberation as she was tried. I told her "they" said it was only a fifteen minute walk and that there were supposed to be sharks that you could wade with there. After fifteen minutes we arrived at the gate into the park. The guard did not want to let us in as the park closed at 6pm and it was 4:30. He said it was a 30 minute walk to the beach each way. I told him we would be muy rapido. He let us in so we jogged for as long as we could, five minutes, walked, jogged, walked and got to the beach at about 10 to 5. The beach was very beautiful and very long, at least a mile long. Ellen wanted to walk the beach and take pictures. I wanted to see the sharks which happened to be at the far end of the beach. I jogged and walked as fast as I could only to find out that the tide was too low so no sharks! I walked and jogged back up to Ellen it was now 5:30. There were slower people behind us so we were able to walk at a leisurely pace back. By the time we got back to the room again Ellen's ankles were badly swollen and her calves were all splotchy. We made her lay down and put pillows under her feet. After some rest I went to get us some take out pizza so Ellen would not have to do the stairs again. My last time up the stairs was slow going and about killed me again. We defiantly got our exercise on this trip! The next day we were up early to catch the bus to the ferry and onto to our plane. It was a fast and furious few days we were glad to get back to our place to chill a little. The next day we took Ellen shopping and some last minute sight seeing. We put her on her plane at 9pm and wished her a good flight. We feel a little odd now that no one is here with us but we really enjoyed sharing our adventures. Now we are planning the next phase of our trip. We will take a bus to Peru on the 29th of Feb. Then stay at a few beach towns on the north coast of Peru. We plan to ride the bus all the way to Lima and then fly to Cusco from there. We plan to be in Cusco around the 10th of March and plan to stay form a couple months maybe more. Besides Machu Picchu there is much to see in Cusco which was the Inca capital of 400 years. Stay tuned for more adventures and don't forget to check our pictures in the picture gallery.
01/23/2016, Cuenca, Ecuador
Lost City of the Inca Vilcabamba
After being here in Cuenca, Ecuador for three weeks we felt the need to get out of town and see a little of the country. We had heard of a town only and hour or so away called Loja, so decided we would jump on the bus ($7) and check it out. We were not sure how far it was and reports were sketchy as to how long. As it turns out about 90miles and four hours up and down and around and around, through winding valleys and over passes (we are in the middle of the Andes). It was definitely a good thing we had bought Leiann some anti nausea meds, I was temped to take one myself and could not read for the onset of nausea. We stayed the night in Loja and just happened to be there for the start of Carnival. There was a small parade and boys chasing girls in the streets to throw water balloons, eggs and flour at them. Apparently is is OK to be really bad during Carnival and then you pay for it during Lent. We walked the streets and found the squares and churches, but compared with the history, churches and colonial past of Cuenca, Loja was a distant running up at best. We met a new friend Jessica on the bus to Loja and then we caught up with each other again in one of the squares. Jessica was a world traveler and wrote about spiritual healing/living and all the places she had been. She was definitely a different being than you would normally meet and we enjoyed her spirit and we spent the evening together and vowed to meet up again somewhere down the trail. We jumped on another bus going to another place we had heard about, Vilcabamba. It was supposed to be a little town way up in the mountains where people live to 120 years old and was the last refuge of the Inca trying to evade the Spanish. Our bus as usual was a deal at $1.30 each! Along the way the bus broke down so we were hanging out with about 30 other passengers none of which spoke a lick of English and our Spanish is progressing painfully slow. The place the bus broke down could not have been better we had a view of farms on the hillside going straight up to the peaks of the Andes. The little houses built on the hillside were far apart and had no roads going up to them. Anything needed was packed by human or horse up the hills. The pastures were vibrant green and the home of happy and well exercised cattle. I spoke to an Ecuadorian standing next to that it looked like a very hard way to live with much work, he looked at me and said "total tranquillo". I had to admit it did look like a very simple life, probably no WiFi. We got into Vilcabamba just before dark and found to our delight a Chinese place with fantastic and cheap food ($5 for chicken and vegetables). We finally found our hostel/old run down hotel after an hour of walking and asking. It turns out there were two with nearly the same name, the first of which was way up a hill. Our room was OK but had a slight sent of sewer wafting up from the shower drain, we kept the bathroom door shut all night. The next morning I could hardly walk as the bed was to soft for my old back. The place was probably the swingingest joint in town thirty years ago but now had become run down. With a little work and million dollars it could be one again, as the courtyards were filled with plants and trees that had taken years to grow. The next morning we headed out hostel hunting and found a nice little place, with a hot water shower (run down place cold shower) but later it had a rooster farm across the fence. We found earplugs at the pharmacy, it's all good. So we ended up spending two days in this very little town, only one Catholic church. The town square was very nicely treed with benches to sit on and watch the world go by. Around the square were many little stores, restaurants, coffee houses and places selling healing potions of one kind or another (Vilcabamba has become a healing mecca for hippy healers, taking advantage of the reputation of the residents tendency to have long lives). Leiann tried an elixir that was called "get over it", lemon juice, thieves, a red sauce that was supposed to kill and heal anything you might have, peppermint and well were not sure what else, but she felt zippy afterward. While we were there the first day of Carnival had started and a little tiny carnival was just setting up, we rode the snail train all over town with the driver zigzagging on both sides of the road with the music blaring loudly and boys threatening to throw water balloons at us. The next morning we met Ruththira, who had started her own coffee house "The Midas Touch" a few years ago. The building was an old adobe building (as were many in town), it looked ancient. She had done a wonderful job of creating a warm, artistic atmosphere. We chatted for an hour while we enjoyed our espressos. She told us how she came to be here, falling in love with an Chilean poet living in town and now expecting. We were sad to leave but knew we would be back and may stay for awhile next time. Back at our little casa we enjoyed live jazz last night hoping to meet back up with our new friend Jessica, but her mother had an old injury flare up and they could not make it. Having our morning coffee we are now planning our next adventure taking a friend out to the Galapagos Islands.
A little history of the "Lost City of Vilcambamba.
"The Inca brought together all those of the royal blood he could find, men and women alike, and retired to the wild forest of the Antis to a place called Villcapampa where he lived in exile and solitude as one can imagine a dispossessed and disinherited prince would live, until one day he was slain by a Spaniard whom he had sheltered and protected from enemies who had sought his death."[
The location of Vilcabamba was forgotten.
The first outsiders in modern times to rediscover the remote forest site that has since come to be identified with Old Vilcabamba (Vilcabamba la Vieja) were three Cuzqueños: Manuel Ugarte, Manuel López Torres, and Juan Cancio Saavedra, in 1892. In 1911, Hiram Bingham with his book Lost City of the Incas brought to public attention the site of the ruins of the city at the remote forest site then called Espíritu Pampa, 130 kilometres (81 mi) west of Cuzco. Bingham, however, did not realize its significance and believed that Machu Picchu was the fabled "Vilcabamba", lost city and last refuge of the Incas.
In the 1960s, the explorations and discoveries of Antonio Santander Casselli and Gene Savoy finally associated the Espíritu Pampa site with the legendary Vilcabamba. Their 1970 book Antisuyo brought the site to even wider attention. Researcher and author John Hemming provided additional substantive confirmation as to Espíritu Pampa's significance in his 1970 The Conquest of the Incas.
In 1976, Professor Edmundo Guillén and Polish explorers Tony Halik and Elżbieta Dzikowska continued to explore the long-known ruins. However, before the expedition, Guillen visited a museum in Seville where he discovered letters from Spaniards, in which they described the progress of the invasion and what they found in Vilcabamba. Comparison between the letters' contents and the ruins provided additional proof of the location of Vilcabamba.
In 1981, the party of American explorer Gregory Deyermenjian reached and photographed parts of the site, soon thereafter generating a popular article concerning the site and its history.
Later extensive archeological work by Vincent Lee, and especially his exhaustive study, his 2000 book Forgotten Vilcabamba, gave further and even more precise confirmation that has made Espíritu Pampa the definitively accepted site of the historical Vilcabamba.
On 16 June 2006, a museum in Cuzco[which?] unveiled a plaque that commemorates the thirtieth anniversary of the 1976 Vilcabamba findings.
Stay tuned for more adventures.
It's been a couple weeks since we updated the blog. Our last couple of weeks in Medellin were filled with fun with our roomies. We had a great Christmas dinner with our friends from around the world, Gina from the Leavenworth, WA. (yep believe it or not) Eilidh and Sandy from Scotland, Magnus from Denmark and Travis from Texas as well as our new friend from Seattle, Casey. Some of us went paragliding again on Christmas Day and the day after we took a trip up to Guatape (a beautiful little town up in mountains, where we zip lined and walked up 740 steps to the top of a huge rock. We were again sorry to have to say goodbye but that's the way it goes when traveling. Hopefully we will see each other again down the trail and we can stay in touch on the computer. We flew out of Colombia on New Years Eve. At the airport we got there nice and early so as to avert any problems. We went to check in with our airline and they said we could not board unless we had a return ticket out of Ecuador! We had heard of some people having this problem but it seems to be an issue with some airlines and not with others. The agent told us we could buy a bus ticket from Ecuador to just over the border of Peru. After two hours of trying it seems you cannot buy a bus ticket online that crosses the border, it has to be bought in Ecuador. Our old roommate said that he avoided the problem by using a website that prints out a fake ticket. I looked for half an hour and finally found the site, not knowing if this would work or not. We looked up a real flight for three months in the future and filled in all the blanks on the website form, hit print and voila we had a ticket. Now we were not sure if they would take it. Leiann showed the ticket on her I-pad to the agent who didn't look twice and we were on the plane, yay! We cleared customs in Ecuador without issue and a taxi took us to our room, no issues except that across form our hotel the music (at 11:45) was blasting but hey it is Latin America and it's New Years Eve (Happy New Year!). During our stay at our Hotel (which is a little more like a hostel with private rooms, we met Jake. We talked to Jake at breakfast and found out that he was a former minister and was bringing his family to live in Ecuador. He had come down to check things out first and find a place for them to stay if all looked well for them. We had already rented a place with an extra bedroom so we invited Jake to stay with us as we believed that that's what God would have us do. It has worked out great so far and we enjoy our discussion about spiritual living, exploring new places and what God has in store for us.
We have now been in Cuenca for four days and so far we love it. We have rented a nice apartment with two bedrooms, two bath, 1800sq ft, place with a security gate for $380 a month including utilities (we pay for the internet, $35 a month). We have been running around getting our bearings, finding out where the grocery stores are, bus lines, taxi's, strolling the town, and finding a place to watch the Seahawks! There are 16 cathedrals in town not counting the small churches. The old town is very cool with lots of history) (oldest church was started in 1557). There are several town squares and parks. There are four rivers running along and through the town. Cuenca sits slightly over 8,000 feet so even though it sits at the equator it is cool (45 low max at night to 80 high max during the day)We will most likely stay in Ecuador for six months with a break to go down to Peru for a month, so seven months total and we have to leave the country or get our citizenship. We are only allowed to stay in Ecuador six months max in any 365 days. Stay tuned for more adventure as we head out to the Galapagos islands, explore Inca villages, visit the Amazon and take a trip to Machu Picchu.
12/14/2015, Medellin, colombia
More of our Colombia adventure
It is now Dec 14th we have been in Colombia for a month and a half, time flies. We have had roommates come and go at our "Flat" including our paranoid schizophrenic. We have volunteered at the Angels of Medellin foundation and with the help of many of our friends, family and followers were able to raise $500 to make this Christmas a happy one for these poor children. Volunteering is always a highlight of our travels and we encourage all to give it shot as you will feel better about you! I (Dave) was able go para-gliding again, which is always amazing. However this was a first for landing at the same place we took off. Our take off was at 8,000 feet we then spiraled up to 10,000, so I would have lots of altitude before taking control. I was able to "drive" for twenty minutes which was also a first and was really KOOL. I talked my friend Dennis into trying para-gliding which he agreed to after telling me he was afraid of heights! He valiantly jumped off the cliff and said he had a good time until they had to spiral up which gave him motion sickness. I told him at least now he had bragging rights. We had a great time with our friends from Panama, Dennis and Rona. Strange as it seems we have now seen four people we've meet on our previous travels (Quatemala, Honduras and Panama), here in Medellin, unplanned. We have become adapt at using Medellins subway and cable gondola system, which is a very progressive plan that allows the poor in the north to make it to work in prosperous south. We attended the parade for the Dia de la Vialetas (Day of the little candles), which celebrates the Immaculate Conception. The parade was very strange, it seemed more along the lines of Mari Gras and had many images of death, monsters and no Christmas stuff. We asked about this, we were told that the theme is Myths and Legends, that explained a lot. Also we checked out the famous Christmas lights of Medellin, 31 million lights and none with a traditional Christmas theme? There was a Santa though. The light s were pretty amazing and we enjoyed the festive crowd. At one point there was a parading circus troupe moving through the crowd doing acts, interesting stuff. We went to the famous Botoro exhibits of fat statues and painting? The museum was great with lots of art portraying the period of violelencia (period of violence) and many other great Colombian art and history. yesterday we spent the day checking out the castle of Medellin. Built in 1930 by a rich Colombian who died nine months after it was completed. It was a Spanish design of European influence, pretty KOOL. We have tasted many foods of Colombia to include there main staple the "Arape" (a thick tortilla fried til crisp topped with cheese, beans, shrimp, beef or chicken, similar to the thick tortilla in Guatemala but crisper and with the toppings. Before we leave in two weeks I hope to para-glide one more time and we plan a trip up to a Colombian "must see" town of Guatape. We will fly out of Colombia to Cuenca Ecuador on the 31st. Stay tuned for more Chrysalis Adventures and be sure to check out all the pictures in the gallery.