Monday, October 27, 2008


I was walking down the rocky path when I stumbled over a gregarious sea lion. Lying on the ground, trying to collect myself, I was startled when an iguana fell upon my head and two blue footed boobies began whistling their cry of distress for others to come to my aid. Am I dreaming, I wondered? Then, when I saw a sea lion trying to climb a light pole, I pinched myself and asked the waiter what he put into my cerveza. “Senora,” he said, “welcome to the Galapagos Islands.”

The Galapagos Islands are incredible! Only 0.02% of the world’s population have visited these islands. What a privilege to be included in that number! We started our journey by flying from Quito onto the tiny island of Baltra. Isla Baltra or “The Rock” served as a US Military base in World War II. After taking a bus, ferry, and a bus, we arrived at Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island) to board the Amigo Yacht, our home for the next 5 days. The Amigo is a 16 passenger, semi-dated, cruising vessel that took us safely to 5 islands.

As we set out to explore the Galapagos Islands, we were prepared to go on long walks and find the animals that make this place incredible. We have visited National Parks before, and know that if you are quiet and keep your eyes open you may see some wildlife. Before visiting the first island, our guide instructed us to stay 1-2 meters from the animals. We hoped to get that close! During our first walk on the island we realized that life is a little different here. In the Galapagos you have to step over the animals, and someone needs to tell the animals to stay at least 1-2 meters from the humans! When we arrived onto land from our panga (dingy boat), we had to step over a sea lion on the small foot path. Next, our guide put his arm out to the right and there were 15 land iguanas 5 feet from us. They did not budge and if anything a few of them came closer to see why we were there. Yep, this is different.

The “Blue Footed Bobbie” is a bird we could not wait to discover. Partly to put a face to the endless Boobie jokes and also because of their famed presence on the islands. We did not see any Blue Footed Boobies on the first day and thought that they must be hard to find. All we had to do was set foot on Espanola Island and before we knew it we were being charged by a pair of Blue Footed Boobies coming down the trail. We even had a few baby sea lions try to determine if we were their mothers‘. Wow! This is one reason why the Galapagos islands are special, you get to experience nature as a participant rather than spectator.

The Galapagos Islands are unforgettable and we hope that one day you too get to visit them!
Below is a link to our pictures and we have listed many of the species we observed by island location.

Galapagos Endemic Species viewed by location:

Santa Cruz IslandBold
Sea Lions
Marine Iguanas

South Plaza Island
Sea Lions
Galapagos Land Iguana
Hybrid Iguanas

Santa Fe Island
Bull Sharks (cancelled our snorkeling because they tend to be very aggressive)
Sea Turtles
Santa Fe Land Iguana
Lava Lizards
Sea Lions
Mocking Birds
Incense Tree

Espanola Island (Punta Suarez and Gardner Bay)
Blue Footed Boobies
Nazca Boobies
Swallowtail Gulls
Galapagos Hawk
Espanola Marine Iguanas
Sea Lion Babies frolicking
Darwin Finch

While snorkeling:
Star Fish
Trumpet Fish
Swimming Sea Lions

North Seymore Island
Blue Footed Boobies
Sea Lions
San Cristobal Island
Sea Lions

We are off to Peru! Wish us luck (Well, Jen at least) with the high altitude hiking at Machu Picchu!

Jen, Ryan and Joe

Saturday, October 11, 2008

De Cuy Con Amor

So it turns out that guinea pig (cuy) is a delicacy in Ecuador. I’m not talking about your cute little fuzzy household pet, but rather an industrial sized fuzzy version of the guinea pig. The guinea pig is “ranched” like cattle and they are advertised as being fed only alfalfa, making them a healthy meat alternative. So did we…….eat them?????? When in Rome, si! Our Spanish Profesoras took the three of us on a field trip to the best Cuy Restaurant in town. The restaurants proudly display their “cuy on a stick” on the grill in front. Cuy tastes more like duck than chicken. It was a lot of work for little meat and Joe keeps asking, “how did they get rid of all the hair - it isn‘t like plucking chickens?” Cheers to more culinary adventures!

Interesting Ecuadorian Foods:
Llapingachos: mashed potato pancakes with cheese and onion mixed in and is often served with a fried egg on top.

Choclo con queso: large kernel corn on the cob with cheese chunks on the side.

Humitas: the masa part of a tamale mixed with corn, cheese and butter.

Chulpi: toasted corn kernels with garlic, onion and salt. Samples may be available in Colorado at Christmas.

Ceviche de Camarones: Our Ecuadorian Madre made shrimp ceviche for us today. Not that different from what you get in the US.

Jugo Fresca: Fresh fruit put in the blender with water and sugar. We are served this with every meal and have tried local fruits such as tomatillo de arbor (tree tomato…..tastes nothing like tomato).

Vino Hervida: warm spiced wine that keeps you warm on a cool night while over looking the city lights!

Favorite Spanish Phrase:
“La cama llama” = The bed calls

Otavalo, Ecuador:
Huge indigenous craft market. Our Christmas shopping is almost done!

Peguche, Ecuador:
Leisurely walk into a beautiful waterfall. People were repelling down the waterfall. A nice break in between shopping locations.

Cotacachi, Ecuador:
Famous for its leather markets and great shopping.

Volcan Pichincha:
The Teleferiqo, a mountain gondola, takes you part way up Volcano Pichincha to 4100 meters elevation. We hiked part way to the top and took in the spectacular views of Quito and the surrounding mountains. We also ran into a few mountain eating clouds.

For the past three weeks we have been living with Eulalia (Ecuadorian Mother), Amelia (Aunt) and Estella (Grandmother). They are wonderful and gracious people who have welcomed us into their home. Estella has 10 children and 6 of them live in Quito (including Eulalia and Amelia) and come by the house frequently to visit, play cards and eat lunch. Eulalia cooks us three meals per day and Amelia does our laundry. Joe and Ryan had a great time teaching them a dice game (Farkle) while only speaking their “own” version of Spanish. Many laughs were had by all!
Enjoy more pictures at:

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Our World Adventures

Welcome to our Blog! We hope you enjoy it and laugh along with us. We are having a fabulous time!


Doesn’t everyone need a South American name? The nickname of people named Jose in Ecuador is “Pepito.” So, if Joe (Jose) can have such a cool name, shouldn’t we all get one? I’ve officially decided that all humans should be granted a South American name. Thus, Ryan will be called by Francisco’s nickname “Paquito.” Why Paquito you ask? Simply because I like it and it goes well with Pepito. Meet the South American Blues Brothers, “Pepito y Paquito!” Well, Jennifer isn’t a very South American name and I am, after all, traveling with Pepito y Paquito. Our Ecuadorian Grandmother (home stay) thought my name should be Juana Locquita (Juana a little crazy). And so it shall be. Let the adventures of the Latino Trio begin!

Quito, Ecuador
Elevation: ~9300 feet, the second highest capital in Latin America (behind La Paz, Bolivia).

Number one safety issue: Sidewalk/road hazards (random holes to the middle of the earth and if you don’t at all times watch where you walk, you will find yourself there).

Transportation issues: The local buses don’t actually stop for you to get on or off. You have to run and jump to get into the bus or hit the ground running to get off.

Best street vendor: One vendor sells gum, candy and replacement gaskets and blades for you blender.

Safety First: Crossing the street is a game of its own in Quito where the cars always try to beat you. The stray dogs have adapted best by using the crosswalks and looking both ways before crossing the streets (seriously)!

Funny Spanish Speaking Stories:
What was said…….What it means………Explanation……..(Guess who said them)!

”Hijo de Pooh” = Son of pooh . . . . (no explanation needed).

“Yo compre una pequeno chompa de cuero para mi hijo de dios. El hijo de Dios tiene dos y media anos.”= I bought a little leather jacket for my little baby Jesus doll. The baby Jesus doll is two and a half years old. . . . I bought a leather jacket for my godson (ahijado).

“No mas puntas!” = No more XXXXX! . . . . . No more points (while playing dice game…puntos).

“Me gusta mierda!” = I like shit. . . . I like dinner (merienda).

“Pasame la maquina por favor.” = Please pass the machine. . . . . Please pass the butter (mantequilla).

Mindo, Ecuador
Sixty kilometers northwest of Quito (2.5 hours by bus) with lush jungle-like vegetation. It was very hot and sweaty (as you can see in the pictures)….except when lying in a hammock :) We had two stray dogs that lead us on our 6 mile hike to Cascada Nambillo (waterfall). We named the dogs “La Guia” (the guide) and “Umberto.”

Other Places visted (more to come):
Otavalo, Ecuador
Peguche, Ecuador
Cotacachi, Ecuador

Next destination: The Galapagos Islands!

View our pictures!

Hugs to you all!

Jen, Ryan and Joe