I know that pictures are way more interesting than my rambling, but my camera does not seem to want to play nice with this computer-- I hope this means there is something up with this computer, not that my camera has decided to not be friends with computers in general.
I´ve been hopping about like crazy for the past week or so. After Canoa, I ended up in Puerto Lopez and went to a place called Isla de la Plata that is supposed to be the poor man´s Galopagos. It was alright, but kinda a waste of money for what it was. I did see a lot of blue footed boobies, and learned an important lesson about myself: I do not like guided nature hikes. People walk so slowly! And yes, the first blue footed boobie is perhaps novel enough to warrant a photograph, and maybe even the second, but 20 blue footed boobies later do you REALLY have to pull out your cameras again, people?! I found that about a mile into the trail I was starting to have the really evil urge to run full speed towards whatever was being photographed so as to scare it off. Although a few days after that tour, I met a girl who had a pretty nasty cut on her foot because one of the blue footed boobies bit her, so it´s probably for the best that I didn´t try to chase them.
I got stuck traveling with a crazy man with a stick for a few days. I don´t really want to get into the whole story right now, but should you ever meet a chain smoking 50 year old named Charles who likes to tell you about how he is young and free at heart, just run. Quickly. Due to a tempermental ATM and a small coastal town that wouldn´t change traveler´s checks, I had to go with crazy stick man to the town of Montanita, which REALLY reminded me of any old northern california surf town, only international. Lots of hippies drinking in hammocks, lots of people selling badly rendered drawings of bob marley and pendants in the shape of pot leaves. Think Stinson Beach, but international and packed to the gills because it´s Carnaval.
Oh right, it´s the last day of Carnaval right now. The last three days have been absolutely nuts. Everyone celebrates by (of course) drinking heavily and getting everyone ridiculously drenched. Everyone roams the streets with buckets and super soakers and water balloons and cans of something that is a cross between shaving cream and silly string, and no one escapes unscathed. I saw a nun walking around with a super soaker! Gringos are particularly attractive targets, so I´ve been more or less dripping wet since Friday. Unfortunately this holiday is not conducive to things that shouldn´t get wet (sketchbooks and cameras), so I don´t have much evidence that it happened.
After Montanita I went to Guayacil for a day, and then onwards to Cuenca. Cuenca is a beautiful city and is far and away the cleanest place I have been in Ecuador. Unfortunately no one was around because everyone had left town for Carnaval, so mostly I just walked around a very pretty ghost town. I accidentally watched the last five minutes of the super bowl from a bar in Cuenca.
And now I´m currently in Vilcabamba trying to head to this farm I´m gonna be working on for the next two weeks. It´s silly, but I´m mainly procrastinating on getting a move on because I am deathly afraid of having to try to speak spanish on the phone. But sooner or later it will have to be done.
I´ve been traveling with all sorts of interesting folks from a panoply of countries including Holland, Switzerland, Israel, Germany, Ireland, England, Norway and Australia. It´s been fascinating to hear about the politics and social structures of so many different places, and also to hear the international opinions on what´s going on in America right now. It seems the general international consensus is that our country has managed to fuck up a really staggering amount in the past 8 years, and that no American travelers like George Bush. Yup, seems pretty accurate to me. Oh, and most people cannot seem to wrap their heads around America´s educational system and its health care system.
I´ve learned that people from Holland have very large watches. Like twice the size of any other country. And apparently Bolivia has an amazing selection of watches from the 80´s-- big assymetrical day glow sort of things (I met a girl from Ireland with an 80´s watch fetish).
And if I had to give one piece of advice to anyone wanting to travel to Ecuador, it would be: make sure you have lots of small bills. When going to either the strip club orto Ecaudor, it is crucial to have a bit stack of ones. For the most part ATM´s only give twenties, and then it´s almost impossible to find somewhere to get change without being glared at for being such a terrible inconvenience.
Okee, I need to dash. Love to all.