Snorkeling with Sharks in the Galápagos Islands

“Shark!”

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

Watching Hummingbirds at the Mashpi Eco Lodge in Ecuador

Booted Rackettail

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

Why the Galápagos Islands Are Worth a Visit (and how you can visit them)

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.

Tortoise, Galápagos Islands (©photocoen)

“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

Travel Memories – The Beauty of People

Workshop in Quito, Ecuador (©photocoen)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

Geocaching In Ecuador – Another Way of Slow Travel

Geocaching in the Netherlands (@Barbara-Ellen Vis)

Grandpa and grandkids found the treasure!

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

A Butterfly in Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest

Butterfly, Amazon Ecuador (photocoen)

“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

How Can Birds Remind You of the Airlift in Berlin?

Fishermen in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador (©photocoen)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

What Makes a Sunset so Special? – The Mashpi Eco Lodge

Sunset at Mashpi Eco Lodge, Ecuador (©photocoen) “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