Archive for December, 2017

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!