Okay, I know many of you all are asking what happened to our Bolivia and Chile post. Well never fear, I’ll certainly get around to posting them. Truth be told we spent many days in Bolivia as well as a few in Chile with no access to wifi, blame it on the desert. Or, when we did have wifi, it certainly wasn’t strong enough to publish stories or upload photos. So here we are in Argentina playing catch up. Trust me it’s been a interesting times to get to this point. So without further ado, I’ll pick up the story from here.

Ruta 60 from Chile to Mendoza Argentina threw everything at us. Long dark tunnels, almost 30 switchbacks with hairpin curves, steep climbs and descents with no guard rails, but spectacular scenery. Finally reaching the Argentina border was a relief. Would we do it again? Absolutely!

Again, thanks for following and in a few days or so, I’ll post on our adventure through Bolivia and Chile.

Thanks

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A ghost town begins.

1924 , the Lautaro Nitrate Company Ltd., Chacabuco soon fell into ruin as the nitrate mining boom in Chile came to an abrupt halt at the end of the 1930s. Synthetic nitrate had been invented in Germany at the turn of the 20th century and by the 1930s and 40s had severely crippled northern Chile’s nitrate industry. What had accounted for virtually 50% of Chile’s Gross National Product fell to almost zero within a few decades. A total of 170 nitrate towns were shut down throughout Chile’s Atacama Desert. Chacabuco stands as a testament to those times.

“Concentration camp history”

In 1971, president Salvador Allende declared Chacabuco a Historic Monument of Chile, at which point restoration began. But in 1973, after the military coup, Pinochet turned it into a concentration camp until the end of 1974.  As a concentration camp, it held up to 1,800 prisoners many of whom were doctors, lawyers, artists, writers, professors and workers from all over Chile.

Chacabuco today

By the 1990s, Chacabuco was in need of extensive restoration and several international organizations began the restoration of parts of Chacabuco. In 1991, a former political prisoner of Chacabuco, Roberto Saldívar, returned to Chacabuco in order to live in the abandoned town and guard it against vandalism and pillaging. He lived there almost completely alone until January 2006. Pedro Barreda replaced Roberto when he left as caretaker of Chacabuco. Currently living in Chacabuco alone, Pedro considers himself to be Roberto’s apprentice and remains dedicated to the cause Roberto started.

We spent most of the day at Chacabuco exploring the ruins and imagining what it must have been like back in the day. Didn’t hang around to long before it got dark and you can imagine why.


Story by Scott Woodhams @Life all Out

Photo’s by Bernard Barbour

 

A bucket list item was to see Cholita’s Wrestling in La Paz.

We had an absolutely amazing cultural evening tonight, just outside La Paz Bolivia!

2 nights a week, local Choritas, get together and fight it out in a ring, located In a seedy part of town.

Choritas was once a derogatory name. It was describing mixed Indigenous cultures.

Recently this group of women have united and formed a wrestling coalition. This helps provide an income to the women who have been disadvantaged in the past, and provides entertainment to tourist and locals.

I even got into the act! One of the male wrestlers picked on me to punch in the face. The last act of the night was a bully male wrestler who started beating up a female wrestler. I became very vocal and boo’d him loudly and gave him the thumbs down.

After the fight, I took a close up picture of him laying on the ground beaten. He jumped out of the ring, grabbed a big box and came at me in my chair! I stood up (6’5″ mind you), him a mere 5’8″, and he stopped in his tracks, eyes wide! Bernard was right behind me for back up!

I advanced toward him, and he ran. The crowd roared laughing, because he was the bad guy.

We had just an absolutely great time! I even lost my voice hollering so much!20180208_203210.jpg


From deserts to the Andes, Lima, Cusco and so many places in between. Hope to come back some day.


Hola Amigas ! After more than a month in Ecuador we finally broke loose of Ecuador and are now in Peru. While we truly enjoyed, explored, toured, celebrated Christmas and New Years in Ecuador, it was time to get on down the road. We’ll certainly miss the cheap gas prices (making exploring the country on the cheap), the great food, the diversity of the landscapes and the wonderful people. So much to see and do in such a small country, the Galapagos, the Andeas, the Pacific coast and the Amazonian.

Driving through southern Ecuador towards Peru was very scenic. Coming down out of the high Andes and into the coast provided some spectacular scenery but was also very dangerous as we encountered many areas with rock slides, animals on the road, blind curves and very steep climbs and dips. Just taking it slow and paying full attention to the road and it’s conditions was the mantra.

Seemingly after hours of this type of driving we hit the coastal plain of Ecuador and knew the border of Peru was not far ahead. Not wanting to drive later into the dark we found a campground less than 30 minutes to the border and stayed the night. Awaking early the next morning we made it to the border before 8 am. We had heard from other overlanders that the borders of Peru were now overwhelmed with Venezuelans, leaving their home country for a better life because of the turmoil in their homeland.

Surprisingly we got there early enough to beat several bus loads of people processing and were in and out in a little over an hour. Now on our way to our first camping spot in Peru, things were looking good. We arrived at Swiss Wassi and were graciously welcomed by the host and other overlanders. A great way to end the day in Peru, right on the ocean and a fantastic place to stay for a while. Stay tuned, we’ll be moving on down the coast and more adventures to follow. Peru, we’re looking forward to discovering you.

Praise to the Penny, and a coincidental dollar.

Posted: December 27, 2017 by bernardbarbour in Expedition/Travel

Is there a correlation? I’ve been enamored with Ecuador currency situation since I’ve arrived. Of course I knew that the official currency was the dollar, but what I’d didn’t really understand was about the coins.

Ecuadorian centavos (coins) bear the numeric value along with the value spelled out in spanish, and the words Banco Central del Ecuador  on the reverse is printed with the portrait and name of a notable Ecuadorian, as well as the legend “República del Ecuador” and the country’s coat of arms. The exception is the one-cent coin, which rather than bearing a portrait, is printed with a map of the Americas and bears the legend “Ecuador, Luz de América” (“Ecuador, Light of America”). The coins are minted by the Royal Canadian Mint and the  Mexican Mint.

But the coin I love the most is actually the America Dollar coin “Sacagawea”.  You can read more about the coin here: Sacagawea history. Although the coin was barely circulated in the United States, here in Ecuador they are widely used. As a matter of fact, if you go into most shopping establishments and use an actual paper $1.00 bill you might get a funny look.

And thus this brings me to an observation, conclusion, coincidence, whatever you want to call it. Here goes. If you look at the Sacagawea coin with her carrying the baby, and looking around here in Ecuador you see the same resemblance.  Again, just an observation. Interesting to say the least huh? Your thoughts?

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When we first entered town, heading straight for the zocalo, I was immediately distracted. I thought I saw a monkey just run past me, snatch a soda from a kid, open the bottle and  attempt to drink the contents. I say attempt, because figuring out how to hold the bottle of soda right and not splash it all over the ground the monkey had not figured out yet. It was funny and sad at the same time as the kid, clearly traumatized, looked on. Did we laugh, you betcha, not the kid though.

So what do you expect when the main statue in the city park is Monkeys? A zoo without walls is what I’d call it. Going into stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and probably someone’s home if you’re’ not vigilant keeping your place monkey proof, these monkeys run the town.

 

Misahualli, the passageway to Coca, by canoe down the Napo River is the gateway to Ecuador’s Amazonian jungle. There is much to do here. Whitewater rafting, hiking, visit a butterfly farm. You can see some of the many butterfly species found in the jungle including the beautiful blue morpho butterfly. Our main reason for visiting was to experience the jungle, taking a canoe down river to visit an authentic village.

We found what we were looking for, taking a long skinny canoe just inches above the rushing Napo river to a Kichwa community. At the Kichwa community there were dances, a  food making demonstration, shaman services, a small zoo and a gift shop. After exploring the community we took the boat back to Misahualli for lunch.

Overall a great experience and introduction to the Amazon, less the monkey business.

 


Lets not talk about it. It so sad, actually it’s laziness! That’s what I’ll call it.  I said it out loud, just pointed the finger at myself.  Here’s why my spanish is still horribly wrong after driving through Mexico, Central and now South America, about six months.

Here’s a scenario, other than saying to the gas attendant  “llenar por favor” (fill up) I got nothing else. I mean now here’s one guy I should be chatting it up with right, “mucho practicar, si!”. We’ve got time, just standing there watching the gas pump run. But nope, can’t even talk about the weather. Yeap, sad like I said. However as we stand there, inevitably he’ll ask where I’m from “de donde eres”?  Then it takes me an actual minute to figure out what he said in spanish, translate what he said  into english, then translate the english response to spanish  without getting any German words mixed in. I was stationed in Germany for many years and speak German, but that’s another story. See it’s even difficult to explain. I’m sure hoping that I’m not the only person that has this problem.

I know my Spanish is bad, it’s the most horrible choked up Spanish that you’ll ever hear, I promise. Honestly, I think native Spanish speakers feel so sorry for me, so they try their English on me and then it all becomes Spanglish or Esperanto to whoever is listening nearby.

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Now here’s the hard part, once they start speaking to me in broken english we continue the conversation and never revert back to to spanish, thus my english is getting worse.

But, I digress, there is a little light on at the end of the tunnel and it’s not a train. I’ve decided to learn Latin now. That should help right? Latin is the root of all the romance languages and Spanish is 90%  Latin, I think. Either way I’ll keep you posted.

Felizmente bien!

Bernard

 


These last few weeks have been a whirlwind of travel and exploring Ecuador. From the Pacific coast, the Andes and down into the jungles of the Amazon, we’ve been smitten with this country. Cotopaxi and Chimborazo volcanoes, Banos volunteering, the Galapagos Islands, we’ve covered a lot of ground.

It’s hard to say what’s been the most exciting or unique thing we’ve done. It seems everyday I go to bed thinking what an amazing day, and the next day is just as spectacular as the one before. Viva Ecuador!

 


I don’t want to bore you with a long story for now. I’ll let the pictures do the talking. Of course I’ll follow up with a story you’ll not want to miss about our trek from the Amazon,  climbing Chimboroza and taking the “Nariz de Diablo” all in a few days. This Ecuadorian Life!