South America by Geezer

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by RexBuck, Oct 14, 2012.

  1. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,103
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Thanks Gary. I think the Iguanas were my favorite animal there - certainly tops in the ugly category.

    The rule there is you are supposed to keep 2 meters from the animals - kind of hard sometimes. The guide kept claiming the meters we use in Canada must only be about a foot long. Well, hell yah - we fish in Canada. :wink:
  2. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,103
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Got back to Quito, sorted out all of our stuff needed from lounging around on a boat stuff to riding two up stuff. Had left the bike and a ton of stuff in the ample storage of Casa Helbling. Now just leaving a ton of stuff.

    Headed east for the town of Tena in the Amazon Rainforest. Going to a place called Hakuna Matata. At this time I have to give some big props to MotoTreks who directed me to both Hakuna Matata and Casa Helbling. It is a huge help when we can rely on other traveler’s experiences to identify the great places to go.

    A spectacular road through the Andes. Ecuador is making a great effort to upgrade most of their main roads and are doing a wonderful job. Great pavement, great engineering and spectacular scenery. The only bad habit they have is to build these really nasty v-shaped ditches on both sides of the road so, very difficult to stop and get decent pics.


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    Strange having someone on the back of the bike – everything is a bit different. But, we got along fine until the road into Hakuna Matata. It had started raining and the road was unpaved and a bit slick slick in places but quite rideable.

    Came upon this little suspension bridge and we are going up the middle but I couldn’t figure out why I seemed to be slowly veering to the left . . . towards the boards for cars which are raised a couple of inches. Looking back.



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    I glance at the suspension cable on the left which is low enough at that point that falling on it will do nothing but act as a giant fulcrum as we launch over the side into the river below.

    Finally decided a combination of me going too slow and Mrs RB intently looking over my left shoulder worrying about the little holes in the bridge ahead were giving the steering a life of its own.


    Woke up and gave it a little right hand and got out of there with no problem.



    Noticed the rocks in the road are now a lot rougher than on the other side and were pretty slick from the rain and crap on them. Figured riding two up (which I’m not particularly good at – hell, I’m not particularly good at riding one up . . . ) on these wet rocks wasn’t a good idea. So, stopped to let Mrs RB off to let her walk up, my foot slips off the rock it's trying to cling to and promptly dumped her in the weeds – see, told you I wasn’t that good. (Sorry no pics)

    Got righted again and hauled ass up the road no hay problema. Waited for her at the little Indian community a ways. She decided to walk the rest of the way to the resort – that was probably a good idea.


    I was checked in and unloaded when she finally showed up. She was yakking on about a snake she saw on the road along the way. We went down to the restaurant and had a look on Google for “Ecuador Snakes” and, I shit you not, this is the one she identified:


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    Mmmkay! Snigger . . . Showed it to one of the guides and amongst their sniggers, (I was guffawing by now :jack) he told us what she saw would likely have been one of the Giant Earthworms found in the area which look similar to this thing. Apparently the Indians cook them up and eat them . . . another delicacy I think I’ll pass on.

    Hakuna Matata turned out to be a delightful place. Nice big rooms, beautiful location in the jungle, great food and the altitude is just high enough to not have mosquitoes.



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    They served an outstanding breakfast and dinner.


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    Decided we would do the Amazon Rainforest trip through the hotel. Pick us up along with our guide Fausto in a cab - typical cab for the area



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    and drive for about an hour to the edge of the Napo River. Hop in one of these long, narrow river boats and head off down the river.



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    All of a sudden the Native boat driver starts acting weird and turns the boat around and starts to kind of howl . . . for a few minutes. We are drifting towards this island and we find out this is where he lives and he is calling his wife (I’ll have to try that when I get home) to come out to the river. She finally shows and he throws her a couple bags of fish and we carry on.


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    The river gets quite shallow in places - it is hard to see in this photo but there is probably a good one foot drop off from the calmer water in the foreground to the shallow rapids



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    Branches seem to meander all over – we finally head down one narrow branch that is so shallow that the boat is sliding down the rocks – tough wood. This empties into a different and smaller river and we now head upstream. This seems like right out of the movies – jungle right down to the shore, lots of jungle sounds.


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    Finally spot our first monkeys, Wooly Monkeys



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    These guys are pretty beefy



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    Then a bunch of little Squirrel Monkeys


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    Boat drops us off and we start hiking through the jungle. Why they give us gum boots


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    The roots of this tree grow above ground and have some really nasty thorns on them. The natives use these like a grater for their food.



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    Little poison mushrooms


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    Fausto finds this very poisonous frog – the red on the back is where the poison is


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    Finds some of these nasty Conga Ants whose sting is apparently worse than any other. They are almost an inch long. I can now understand why survival in the jungle can be difficult for the inexperienced.



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    See these termite nests all over the place - at first we thought they were burls


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    Stop at an animal rescue place and look at all the animals they have. Mostly seized from smugglers trying to get them out of the country. Of the animals they receive, a third die, a third are released into the wild and the remainder are unable to survive on their own and are kept in their sort of zoo facilities.


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    Came across this guy paddling a traditional dugout canoe


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    Stop at a Amazon Native village. See how they make pottery, taro root drink and pan for gold.


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    They cook then mash up Taro root and let it ferment for a week or so then, party on. This lady had a big cup of the fermented stuff and passed it around. Let's just say it didn't suit my taste. Fausto grabs the cup and downs the whole thing and seemed quite pleased with his score.


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    Pan for gold with wooden pans - can get a few grams a week.



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  3. Sunday Rider

    Sunday Rider Adventurer Wanabe

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Oddometer:
    870
    Location:
    North of T.Ho., Ontario
    Great update RB.

    When you say you dumped her in the grass, I assume you are talking about the moto and not Mrs. RB?

    Glad everyone is doing well and no exotic bites from the locals.:lol3

    Wishing you a continued safe trip.
  4. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,103
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    No, that would be both of the hers . . .

    It's all part of the experience riding behind the Great RexBuck!
  5. Vernonpedro

    Vernonpedro Gravelrash

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2012
    Oddometer:
    8
    Location:
    Okanagan Valley, BC
    Perhaps, RB, you should admit to your gentle readers that Mrs. RB rides her own GS800, and that hers has rather fewer scratches on it than yours does. Just sayin'..............:lol3 Pedro
  6. Pete_Tallahassee

    Pete_Tallahassee Out Standing Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2006
    Oddometer:
    137
    Location:
    Tallahassee. FL. USA
    Ouch!
  7. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,103
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Oh Hell, everybody's 800GS (get it right, eh?) has fewer scratches on it than mine but mine has character . . . and stories to tell. And, there will be more. Trust me . . . :freaky
  8. Vernonpedro

    Vernonpedro Gravelrash

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2012
    Oddometer:
    8
    Location:
    Okanagan Valley, BC
    Well said, Stevo - definitely scars of honour! And I'm looking forward to hearing many stories over many scotches. Stay safe, buddy, and don't drop that beautiful Mrs RB again. Hugs to her, envious grins to you. P.:clap
  9. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,103
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Oh, when have I not been able to regale you with more BS than normal people can handle when you ply me Scotch or, Bourbon or, Tequila or . . . I may be easy but I ain't cheap. :wink:
  10. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,103
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Couple of people we met at Hakuna Matata were Ricardo and his girlfriend Alia. They are travelling around Ecuador on Ricardo's new 650GS. Super nice people which just reinforced my very positive experience with South American people so far.


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    Left Hanuka Matata for Baños - a relatively short ride of about 180km. As soon as we got to nearby Tena, it started raining, then it rained harder. Had about 2 hours of everything from drizzle to downpour.


    Stopped outside of Puyo for a break and some gas and a coffee and get chatting with this guy in the store. Turns out he used to be the mayor of Puyo and that city had some sort of sister city arrangement with Vancouver, BC. He was able to travel to the Great White North a couple of times and received a royal tour of BC back in the 90s. He was at this store with his son who has a milk processing plant and was delivering a pickup load of milk to a bus who was taking it on to another city a couple hundred miles away. Novel way to deliver milk.


    West of Puyo the road got real interesting again as it ran up this valley. Curvy and a whole series of tunnels – some pretty long and just because they were in a tunnel didn't stop people from passing each other. Pretty canyon.


    [​IMG]



    Came out of the last tunnel and Ricardo and Alia pull up beside us so we stop to say hi. After they left, we are looking over the gorge at these waterfalls and all of a sudden hear a bunch of screaming and see this contraption heading across the gorge. Gotta do that!



    [​IMG]


    Mrs RB wasn’t too impressed. Tried to talk her into doing the zipline that ran parallel to the basket . . . she was able to express her displeasure with that suggestion with very few words.


    [​IMG]


    This guy was the "operator" encouraging this contraption to drag the basket back and forth over the gorge.


    [​IMG]


    The waterfalls apparently used to be a lot larger but they built a dam up stream and cut a lot of the water off.


    They even had a Zebra - don't see many of those around here . . .


    [​IMG]




    Arrived in Baños which is a really nice little town.



    [​IMG]


    Then headed up the mountain to Luna Runtun where we had a reservation - another successful MotoTreks recommendation. Great ride up the mountain, beautiful grounds, great food and a super view.



    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Spectacular view of Baños from our room


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    From the hot tubs


    [​IMG]


    Were supposed to be able to see the glow of the Volcan Tungurahua behind us at night but the clouds weren’t cooperating keeping the peak blanketed. So, thwarted once again to see something on fire from a volcano.


    Went into town the next night and stayed at the Hosteria Floresta - a great hotel for bikers. A bit more of what I am used to. Good parking, good internet and a block from town center.


    [​IMG]


    Went to this great little Spanish restaurant which had a Tapas type menu. Outstanding sausages apparently made by Nuns up in the mountains using Spanish methods.



    [​IMG]

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  11. moto-treks

    moto-treks Back Home

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,809
    Location:
    Spokane Washington
    Great stuff RexBuck, love the pics :clap You're making me wish I was back down there exploring the sights, sounds, smells and food.
  12. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,103
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Thanks. I can really see wanting to come back to many of these places for longer periods in the future. But then, there are a lot of other places in the world to see also. :wink:
  13. GaryWild

    GaryWild Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    Oddometer:
    10
    Location:
    Vernon, BC, Canada
    Hey Rexster,

    Enjoyed the entertaining anecdote about Mrs. RB's solo jungle hike. I think that your judgement is getting clouded by the high altitudes. I can only imagine that if I were to abandon my wife alone on a steep, wet mountain road to "walk the rest of the way up", she would come up with similar stories as well.

    Have fun, sure am enjoying hearing about your trip back here.

    Gary
  14. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,103
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Thanks Gary. Actually the altitude there was below 3000 feet so must have been something else clouding my judgement.
  15. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,103
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Mrs RB had a meeting with Montezuma last night but insisted she wanted to travel today. So, decided to change our route a bit to the coast and make it two easy days instead of three.

    Had a nice ride on some back-roads from Baños around Ambato. Stopped for a break in a small town and saw this example of Latin American versatility. This guy's vehicle is a Taxi. He can take a couple of people somewhere in the front, he can fit a dozen or so in the back as a labor truck, he can put some benches in the back and have a bus, he can haul crap away, he can deliver stuff. He can accommodate everybody's transportation needs.


    [​IMG]


    Once we got west of the Panamericana we encountered a spectacular highway. New pavement in the style of Ecuadors new roads with their goofy ditches on the sides so very little stopping. Lots of curves and beautiful vistas.


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    Some of the little farm plots


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    New corn. The rows are a little more crooked than we are used to as this corn is planted by hand, one seed at a time. It is cultivated by hand and picked by hand. Straight rows aren't so important.


    [​IMG]


    As we gain altitude it gets chilly, down to about 6C (43F) as we passed the summits at 13,000 feet twice. Between the two peaks we hit the construction building more of the great road we were on. It wasn’t too bad for a construction road but still a bit bumpy for those with ratty stomachs. Good thing they have that creek down there to catch all those boulders.



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    Heavy equipment builds the road but the concrete ditches are done by hand by these small crews.


    [​IMG]


    Even have some women working on them. They are usually on the wrong end of a shovel or a pick.


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    Landscape is well above the treeline and where it isn’t being farmed, it gets pretty barren.

    [​IMG]


    Saw our first Llama up near the peak.
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    Seeing the ladies in their hats and the young girls in their skirts and hats. Sorry, many of these aren’t great pictures as I was trying to take pics with my camera mounted on a Ram Mount on my handlebars. Tough to get rid of the vibration, even on something as smooth as an 800GS.


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    The climate was different on the west side of the Andes. As we started to descend after the second peak the farming changed a lot of mixed crops to just forage. Weather changed from just overcast to really foggy for the next 5000 feet of altitude – couldn’t see Jack . . . . or Jill . . . . or even the frickin road.

    When it gets foggy like that, it likes to drizzle also just to make sure anything in front of your face will be completely opaque. You can’t get enough circulation behind your glasses (visor is useless) to keep them clear and you just have to bare eyeball it. I guess there aren’t a lot of bugs flying around in the fog so, didn’t lose an eye.


    Finally came to a little town and stopped for some great street food. Little pork, little corn, little llapingachos and some salad. Corn had kernals about the size of garbanzo beans and was quite good. Those little fried things were kind of like llapingachos but the lady called them something like patates. Whole meal really hit the spot . . . at least for me.


    [​IMG]


    Stopped in the large town of Quevedo . . . what a dump. Had 2 hotels we could find – took the way overpriced one. Huge black clouds rolling in so, makes sense. And, then it rained, from about 4:30 until 7 the next morning. Jeebus!
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  16. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,103
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    We are looking out the window first thing in the morning and thinking this is going to be a long day in this downpour, well at least they have great roads here. Not so fast there Sparky! Rain stopped right away but as soon as we left we were transformed into the back-roads of Central America.

    Road started off fine then quickly deteriorated to a potholed mess – about 10% pavement and the rest dirt/potholes. Lasted for at least 70 km – took about 2 hours to cover that. Mrs RB still not feeling great so try to keep the bumps down . . . not a great job of doing that but zig sagging from side to side of the 2 lane road helped to sneak between craters. Had to pick the right spot to pass so you didn’t run into a pothole field just as you complete the pass when there is a bus suddenly bearing down on you.


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    A comment here about tolls. You may recall how I gushed that Colombia is such a great country because motos go through toll booths for free. As I’ve mentioned, they have their own little lane to just skip right through the toll booth and skip right around those trucks and other slow moving vehicles.

    Arriving in Ecuador, motos go through the toll booths paying the princely sum of 20 cents. Not gonna break the bank. It’s a PIA though to give money (any amount) to the toll booth person with one hand that has a glove on it. Sometimes I would just turn off the bike, take a glove off, fish the money out, then put the glove back on and restart. Finally found a little pocket in the back of my tankbag where I could stick some quarters and that worked ok – I’d just drive off before they could give me my receipt and nickel change – what are you going to do with a receipt and a nickel in your hand riding down the road?

    With Mrs RB along, I put her in charge of tolls. So, the first tollbooth we arrive at heading out of Quito, she is ready with her quarter and the guy in the booth just waives us around the barrier. Huh? OK, cool.

    The next one we arrived at which was a couple of days riding later, Mrs RB ready with her quarter and a cop is standing in one of the lanes frantically waiving at me. OK, you want me in that lane? So, now I’m almost up to the toll booth and he’s still frantically waiving at me and is now yelling. Well, I’m starting to get a little hot myself as I couldn’t hear him and I really just wanted him to get the F out of my way so I could carry on.

    Now I see that he is gesturing at a Moto Lane – well, who knew? But I’m almost up to the toll booth and I’m fine with paying my 20 cents. WTF? Now he wants me to turn around, ride back against traffic and go through the moto lane. I’m sure he can hear me now . . . If you don’t want me to pay, GTF out of my way and I’ll go around the barrier which only covers half the lane. :jerko

    Mr Self Important Cop would have nothing to do with that and stood in my way. So, turn around ride back through a bit of traffic, turn around again and go through the moto lane. Mrs RB was indicating that a universal gesture at this point would not be appropriate . . . she could sense my left hand levitating.

    All of the toll booths we came across after that either had a moto lane or they waived us through. So, don’t know if the rules have changed or moto tolls are only applied in certain parts of the country. Ecuador certainly raised itself up a couple of notches on the Moto Toll Scale.

    Back to the day. The road finally settled down and we were able to get back to cruising speed. Generally pretty flat – varied from 100 to 400 metres in altitude so, definitely jungle. Lots of bananas, stuff that looked like mangos and orchards I couldn’t identify. Lots of cattle on the poorer quality land.

    These small towns got the big dump of rain also and the streets were pretty muddy, but didn't stop the fruit vendors setting up


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    A little pollo for dinner


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    This guy pedling his three wheeler cart down the street in this town was neither in a hurry or felt an overwhelming desire to do something original, like GTF outa the way. :asshat



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    Arrived at Puerto Lopez and Hosteria Mandála. Man, are we impressed. RexBuck hits one out of the field again. I think both of us have made up our mind we could stay here for awhile – planning for a week.



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  17. moto-treks

    moto-treks Back Home

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,809
    Location:
    Spokane Washington
    On man, that place looks nice!
  18. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,103
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    More pics to come
  19. Sunday Rider

    Sunday Rider Adventurer Wanabe

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Oddometer:
    870
    Location:
    North of T.Ho., Ontario
    Very nice update. Hope the Mrs. feels better soon. Sure looks like a nice place to recover.
  20. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,103
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Sorry to those with slow internet, this is a little picture heavy.

    Mandála was designed, built and is owned by an Italian couple Aurilio and Jira. Incredibly creative people and great hosts. Good restaurant, good beach and a great room.

    Everytime you turn around you find something new. Everything is made from wood they had milled for their specific requirements. Sometimes you have to look at some woodwork twice before you notice the picture carved in it or some carving of sealife hidden in trees and bushes. They even made the chairs for the restaurant.

    Here are a couple of shots in the restaurant. While there are tables and chairs inside, most everybody spends their time in the huge veranda going around three sides of the main building. Oh yah, they have five dogs, each with a hefty chunk of Great Dane in their genes. Great dogs. Pretty imposing though when they think they should investigate something on the beach and all rush out together barking and carrying on.



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    Upstairs are some sitting areas if you want a bit of privacy or just to relax. A large book exchange along with a musical instrument collection that anyone can borrow at any time. I looked for a kazoo . . .


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    They also have their own beach with palm trees and little shelters that you can string up hammocks in.


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    Long wood walkway out to the beach.


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    At the beginning of the walkway is a gazebo with this compass rose floor


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    The surf one afternoon


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    They have a real passion for sealife and whales in particular. This whale skeleton is at the front of their beach. Along the road coming in from the highway and along the road in front of the hosteria are dozens of boards with information about whales in three or four languages.


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    A dolphin totem on the beach



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    Our room was cool. Two floors with screened windows in all four walls.



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    Front door


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    Which was right next to this tree outside had the nastiest looking thorns I'd ever seen


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    We had a number of iguanas that hung around. They were hilarious, sometimes sitting in the trees and other times walking across the roof. Every once in awhile a couple of them would get in a fight on the roof. Could hear them scampering around. The looser would either be knocked off or jumped off the top, landing on the ground three floors below. Sounded like someone dropped a 5 pound bag of sugar. Land with a thud. Didn’t seem to bother them as they’d scramble back up a tree.


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    Walk into town on occasion – about 15 minutes or a $1 - $2 cab ride. Town is mostly dirt streets which suits me fine.

    Went to the market a few times and once we went in so I can get this bitchin haircut. Paid $4 then find out locals pay $2.50 . . . but I figured that since he also trimmed the nose and ears, actually used a razor on my neck (haven’t had that since the 70’s) and rubbed smelly stuff on my head - it was worth the extra. The locals still laughed at me.



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    Public transportation is largely these three wheeled moto-taxis.



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    Easy to change a tire


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    Everybody has to have their water hauled in. This was one of a few trucks delivering water. I'm figuring some enterprising guy took one of those squashed culverts, welded some ends on and wallah, a water truck. :eek1



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    Thank goodness Mandála had their own


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    Little Sunday truck maintenance downtown at the beach. Oil change


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    Engine job


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    Beach in town. Those are fishing boats moored out. The town is a fishing village with some small processing and ice plants. Large processor in the next town just around the point to the south.


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    Fishing boats getting ready to go out


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    Looking up the beach


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    Couple of interesting construction techniques. Bamboo shoring for a concrete floor


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    Man-lift


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    Took a 40km ride down to Mantanita one day. Nice town. Surf town. Lots of restaraunts. Lots of Gringos. Apparently parties all night. Geezers don’t do that . . . as much . . . any more. Just sayin.

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