The sign on the entrance at my next abode reads
“Don’t get too relaxed, you may never leave”
10 days later I am still here
Beaching it on the pristine coastline at Playa Gigante

A small cabana is all one needs
cabana
Morning starts with cafe con leche

cafe

Followed by walking long stretches of deserted beach

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Swimming in private bays
swim beach

Siestas under la palapa

siesta
Writing blogs
Gazing at the pelicans soaring and diving
Listening to the surf pummel the rocks

Crashing surf

Crashing surf


Catching up with all those books on my reading list

Enjoying tasty tacoines con queso y salsa

Tacoines

Or an iced Sangria at happy hour

sangria
Meditatively gazing at each stunning sunset
sunset

Appreciating how good life is!

La familia and casita a Puesta del Sol

Our familia

Our familia

A collectivo de muejeres
En el Pueblo – Puesta del sol
Who rent rooms and provide meals to touristas
Home cooked beans, rice and chicken in banana leaves
Fried plantains and pescado

La cena (dinner)

La cena (dinner)


Exploring Isleta Ometepe by motor scooter

moto scooter
Swimming in fresh spring water at los ojos de aqua

los ojos de aqua

los ojos de aqua

Surrounded by two majestic volcans
Conception to the north and Magdalena in the south

Volcan Conception

Volcan Conception


Enjoying the hibiscus vino made by the collectivo
The women separate the fruit from the pods

Preparing hibiscus fruit for wine

Preparing hibiscus fruit for wine


Then dry the fruit on large open screen platts

Drying fruit for wine

Drying fruit for wine

And did I mention the afternoon siesta in the hammocks?

siesta time

siesta time

Always a glorious sunset to close the day.

sunset

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If you have been to my casita in Tucson you know I love color
Los colores de Granada speak to me in their vibrant voices
Repainted in December for the holiday season and new year
Brilliant, flamboyant purple, turquoise, green, and yellow
Varnish the walls and doorways
Like newly applied makeup for a magnificent performance

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bike
Never did I think I would be riding a single speed! But how could I turn down a free bike at my guesthouse to explore the roads and sights around Granada. A bit tough pushing those pedals on the uphill with no fall back gearing. And no hand brakes – old school pedal brake only. I feel like a kid again!

There are plenty of options if you need repairs or parts – check out these local bike shops in Granada!

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bike3

bike shop4

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dock
A serendipitous journey
Making fortunate discoveries by accident
Maintaining sagacity or a keen perception
Wandering off the margins
Finding surprises when prospecting
Extending invisible antennas
Asking questions
Initiating conversations
Improvising
Getting lost
Finding the unexpected
All point you unknowingly
To what you are not seeking

Volcan Mombucho

Volcan Mombucho

Meditative Gazing

gazing 1a

Sitting on the beach
A daily pastime in Ayampe, Ecuador
Gazing at the sea
Each day the same
Each day different
The subtleties differentiate
The rotation of the tides
Swell of the surf

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Shifting breezes
Formation of the pelicans
Shapes of shells and geometric stones
Crabs scurrying about creating new digs
Number of surfers

gazing 1
Largeness of the clouds
Blueness of the sky
Understated to an unobservant eye
Profound to awareness
Meditative gazing
La buena vida

gazing 3

Beyond Relaxed

hammocks
Ecuador is the land of la hamaca, they come in many colors and fabrics, and they are everywhere – porches, balconies, living spaces, restaurants, hotels, in the jungle and on the beach.
hammock jungle
Yes, the Ecuadorians have figured out the art of relaxing en la hamaca! I cant think of a better way to kick back, put your feet up, chill, listen to the waves, and enter a more tranquil space. In a hamaca one becomes beyond relaxed.
hamock puyo 2

The simple hammock – a sling made of fabric, rope, or netting suspended between two points and used for swinging, resting, or sleeping. Hamacas were first developed by the native inhabitants of Central and South America. By suspending their beds above the ground they were able to avoid harmful snakes, biting insects, and perilous animals.
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They were later used aboard ships by sailors for comfort and to maximize available space and more recently used in spacecraft. Today the beautiful hand-woven hammocks of Ecuador are crafted by the various indigenous Indians.
hammock canoa 2

My secret is out – you know where I spend part of my day – communing with la hamaca.
hammock puyoyo

Stumbled into Same

fishing boatsLanded after dark in the small beach pueblo, Same (pronounced Sa me), located on the northern coast of Ecuador and our stay turned into an eight-day escape from the modern world.
same beach
Internet was sparse and slow, the locals an eclectic colorful tribe, the fish fresh, the Pilsner grande cold, wave cruising pelicans, and no gringos in sight except for Tex Mike who had a young Venezuelan wife, a place on the beach for eighteen years and more than a few stories of working the oil rigs.
peligans

We stumbled onto Same after dark when the bus dropped us off on the side of the road a mile past the dirt road leading to the town. We wondered back, schlepping our roller bags and backpacks, looking for the hostel, La Casa de Amigos, listed in Lonely Planet, which no longer existed. Several young local boys came to our rescue and took us to one of their father’s who is a caretaker for a house on the beach. We rented a room in the house, only we were the only occupants, thus had the entire house to ourselves. The house had an intriguing story – owned by a wealthy British woman who lived life big, played hard, and died of a heart attack at 54.
Casa de Diana

You never now what you are going to stumble onto next when you head down the road with no grand scheme.
palapa

big tree
Landed at Runa Huasi Lodge in Selva Viva in the Ecuadorian Amazon. We had the good fortune to meet a young teacher from Germany and a mother and son from Sweden on the bus to Tena – a jumping off point to the Amazonia.

Amazonia travel companions

Amazonia travel companions

We decided to join them at this small lodge – a 45min bus from Tena and water taxi to the lodge.

water taxi

water taxi


The native environment embraced us as we entered our thatched roof hut with no electricity – we did have running water.
thatch hut

thatch hut

Dinner was served by candlelight and consisted of Ecuadorian fare – Sopa verde, a main dish of rice, plantains, meat, and local vegetables, fruita fresca for desert.

dinner by candle light

dinner by candle light

The jungle hike and tour confirmed that life is large in the Amazonia. The fauna, flora, and forest grow gigantic with continual rain and humidity.

sombresa

sombresa

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Coconut carts are common sights on the streets of Cuenca, Ecuador. After an afternoon of walking I decided to quench my thirst and try a glass of the clear liquid (not to be confused with coconut milk made from coconut meat). Poured right out of a slightly immature coconut, sliced open with a handy machete the nectar had a subtly sweet taste with a slight hint of salt. And for .50 cents it adequately satiated my thirst and boosted my blood sugar for the short walk back to my guesthouse.

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Each nut contains about 200-1000ml of water and along with sugars, electrolytes and minerals to replenish dehydration in the body. Coconut water has been used with patients suffering with diarrhea in many tropic regions to reduce the need for IV therapy. Coconut water contains naturally occurring bioactive enzymes that aid in digestion and metabolism and is a source of B-complex vitamins. The water contains a good amount of potassium and some sodium and has been used by athletes post workout.

So is coconut water the trending elixir and touted as another of Mother Earth’s “natural waters” for a more healthful life worth the price or the hype?

In a recent article published in Time magazine 4 out of 5 nutritional experts said a resounding NO. Ranging in price between $1.99-2.99 for approximately a 10 oz. container, Nancy Clark, registered dietician and sport nutrition counselor and guru says, “I’d rather spend my money on natural food, and not an over-hyped fluid.” Yes it is a good source of potassium, but so are bananas, raisins, and potatoes. “

Coconut water has been famous for nutritional posturing,” states Todd Cooperman, MD and president of the independent tester of health products Consumer Lab.com. He found that most of the products tested failed to meet their mineral claims – specifically of the heralded electrolytes, magnesium and sodium. However, Kristin Kirkpatrick, registered dietician and manager of the nutrition services a Cleveland Clinics Wellness Institute defenses the liquid stating “it’s a much better choice than a sports dink loaded with excess sugar if you are looking for a break from regular water and you can use some potassium.

My recommendation: at .50 – $1.00 a glass on the street corner of Ecuador, poured straight from the coconut, it was a unique and refreshing beverage. At $2.59/container from your local natural foods outlet – I might just grab a banana, a handful or raisins, and my trusty water bottle after my workout.
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