bus
A seven-hour hot, packed ride on a local bus to San Carlos, the launch point for the Rio San Juan – land of infamous pirates from the Caribbean, lush jungle, monkeys and colorful birds, and the original location for the canal from the Caribbean to the Pacific ocean. Six hours on the Rio San Juan in two pangas and one dugout canoe (no roads in this area), we arrived at Base Camp Bartola in the Indio Maiz biological reserve surrounded by the jungle de Nicaragua.

rio san juan

Panga #1 on the Rio San Juan

Panga #1 on the Rio San Juan

panga 2

Dugout canoe transport to Base Camp

Dugout canoe transport to Base Camp

Refreshing coconut water upon our arrival. No ice or refrigerators here!

coconuts

Base Camp is located in a community of 26 families that host campers and provide meals and tours of the area. We were transported back in time where all food is prepared with wood fires, outhouses are the only facilities, and bathing and laundry is done in the river. Spent the days hiking the jungle, watching the monkeys, visiting a local finca, making tortillas, roasting cacao fruit, then grinding and cooking the cacao seeds into tasty chocolate balls, and awakening to the sound of the deep-throated howls of the Congo monkeys and a plethora of birds songs.

Our camp at Base Camp Bartola

Base Camp Bartola

banos

hike

Typical Nica dinner

Typical Nica dinner

Cacao fruit

Cacao fruit

Roasted Cacao seeds ready for grinding

Roasted Cacao seeds ready for grinding

Chocolate balls made from Cacao seeds

Chocolate balls made from Cacao seeds

Stocked with cacao balls we are off to our next Nica adventure!

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

bike shop5

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

gazing 2
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.
hammock canoa 5
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