I was looking out over the Mediterranean dotted with a couple of sailing boats. Low rolling hills line the horizon. The image was framed by Corinthian columns covered in flowering vines. I felt as if I was on vacation in Greece, Italy, or Spain. Did that make sense, with my being 9,350 feet above sea level, in Quito, Ecuador’s capital? Not really. Continue reading
It was almost like a dance: seven rambunctious Andean Condors hopping around chunks of mule and calf. On other days the carrion might be alpaca, sheep, or rabbit. Males generally have the first go but Awu is a female that is able to stand up for herself and makes sure she gets the piece she wants to have. When two condors wanted the same piece they each tore on a side of it as if it were a game of tug-of-war. Continue reading
“Ready? Off we go!” José, a guide, unchains the two-seater carriage with David, another guide, in the back and me in the front. David starts pedaling and all I have to do is to be in awe. The latter is not hard to do when you are transported along a 655-foot cable that at its highest point reaches 200 feet above a riverbed. We are cycling among 100 to130 foot tall tropical trees in the Mashpi Reserve, which lies at a 3-hour drive from Quito, Ecuador’s capital. Continue reading
“If you turn around you will see the entire row of pyramids,” Alice said. I pulled lightly on the reins and Esthela immediately reacted, at which I quietly breathed a sigh of relief because truth be said, I was not so sure that she would listen to me. Continue reading
I was facedown in the water, mesmerized by schools of surgeonfish weaving their way among the rocks, yet the word registered loud and clear. I looked up and saw Coen waving frantically, pointing to something underneath his body. I swam towards him, careful not to make any sudden movements that might scare the fish away. Continue reading
Purple-Crowned Fairies, Green-Crowned Wood Nymphs and Violet-Tailed Sylphs were fluttering all around me. Had I just landed in an elf forest? It most certainly felt like it. Surrounded by a towering wilderness of forested mountains with gray clouds closing in or receding just as suddenly, the area felt mystical enough to be one. Continue reading
Do you go on a cruise, or do you stay in a hotel and find your own way around? Do you need a bag of money, or is the Galápagos a destination for low-budget travelers as well? Let’s take a look what the islands have to offer, and to whom.
“Look there’s one. And there’s another!”
Words from the seat behind me made me sit up straight and look out of the window. All I saw were grazing cows. What were they talking about? Continue reading
In Quito, Ecuador, Coen and I camped in a car workshop for a couple of weeks. We were surrounded by broken vehicles and mechanics whose overalls were black from grease and dirt, and the noise of a blaring radio. This was not the first time we were camping in a workshop; we had done so before during our then ten-year overland journey in Asia and South America.
You get used to many things when traveling for a longer period of time, but each time I am flabbergasted by the hospitality of people and the confidence they have in us. Continue reading
I feel as if I’m swimming in my grandmother’s tropical fish aquarium; the fish have the same bright colors, the same vertical shapes. All around me are yellow-purple-striped king angelfish, ivory-colored barber fish, and black stripe and deep-blue surgeonfish. Continue reading
It is just one of these perfect days. The sky is blue, the sunrays are pleasantly warm. The heat is gone, the air is fresh and cool. Like one of those beautiful Indian Summer days. We go geocaching and walk to Quito’s Parque Metropolitano.
Most hills are covered with forest and soon I am following in Coen’s footsteps on a narrow trail winding among Eucalyptus trees. Around us people are hiking, mountain biking and even hugging trees. The energy is strong, people are happy, enjoying themselves. Continue reading
When we returned from the Galápagos Islands and I looked back on a trip full of magic and wonder, my eye was drawn to a sticker above my seat in the Land Cruiser.
“The Journey is the Destination“
And I realized, once more, how true that is. Continue reading
“Happiness is like a butterfly. If you chase it and chase it directly, it will elude you, but if you sit quietly and busy yourself with other things, it will come and light upon your shoulder.” ~Old Chinese Proverb
What’s so special about a butterfly, you may ask. Well, I got a visit from one who cleaned my keyboard. Seriously. Continue reading
A couple of weeks ago, Fernando Polanco Plaza invited us to Hacienda Zuleta, his family farmstead in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador. Continue reading
I can’t remember the name of the book but it was a fiction novel about Germany right after the war. In high school, World War II had been a major topic in our history classes so I thought I knew quite a bit about it, yet when reading this novel a couple of years later, it was the first time I heard about the Airlift in Berlin. Continue reading
“You know what would be a great idea?” Coen asked as we moved up the last steps of the stairs that brought us to a 30-meter-high watchtower.
“What?” David, our guide, asked.
“To serve champagne upstairs. Wouldn’t that be a fantastic surprise?”
David didn’t respond and we continued our way up. Continue reading