A Travellerspoint blog

Tena

Whitewater Rafting!

rain 20 °C

Hello everyone,

First off.. I´m sorry, I haven´t blogged much, my last one was 4 countries ago. I´m not sure why, I guess things have just been a little crazy, or maybe I´m just a little lazy. Either way, not much has been blogged by me, sorry.

So, now we are in Tena. It is a small town in the Orient of Ecuador. The Orient is a very jungle-y area, with lots of rivers, sometimes it is called the mini-amazon. Its a pretty nice town, not too big, not too small, not too hot (at 600m above sea level), and the best thing about it, is that it is the whitewater rafting capital of Ecuador.

We are staying in this really nice hostal (at $5 a night) in our own room. It serves a cheap, easy, and good breakfast, which we´ve taken advantage of both mornings. The only downside of it is that its way outta town, at least a 8 minute walk to anything, no big deal.

Yesterday was a day to chill. We all wandered out into town (when it stopped raining.. it rains a lot in Ecuador) just to explore. Later, I went out and actually bought something (a bag.. probably not for me). Also, while I was out I found some good icecream, and talked to another traveller who we met crossing into Ecuador. That night, we met a guy named Neil who was staying at our hostel, and the four of us went out for a cheap, fast meal.

Today, well, today was an exciting day. We didn´t chill, I definately wouldn´t call it that. We went whitewater rafting! We headed out with the hostel owner, two guides, and Neil. After a 20-30 minute drive, we hopped out of the truck, and organized gear. The next thing we did was a half-hour rediculously muddy walk (Ryan is gonna throw out his shoes) to the river. Then, after a quick lesson on oru guide´s commands, and various other river-smart things (that I already knew.. of course) we hopped into the raft, and our second guide got into the safety kayak. Then we were off.

For probably around an hour and a half to 2 hours, we plowed through waves and scraped over rocks. Till we met where this river met another. It was awesome. I ended up falling out near the end of this session because of a huge wave, and was able to swim correctly and bounce off a nice sized rock (with my feet) and grab the raft again. I was helped back in and we continued on.

Where the two rivers met, we had lunch. It was really good, and really filling (suprising for a tour lunch). Then we were back on the river. The water got much bigger for this session. We did less craping on rocks, and more plowing through and over waves. It was even better! Soon (probably too soon in my books) we came to a road, and this was the ending point of the tour. We beached the rafted, cleaned everything off, and got everything up to the roadside. Then we had a great game of throwing rocks at trees, and throwing rocks at other rocks (guides included). Soon, the truck came, and we threw the raft up top and barreled down the road.

We got back to the hostel, got into dry clothes, other to wander into the rain to find an atm (we wandered for a long while, then gave up and took a taxi, cause it was pouring rain). Then we came here, the internet cafe.

Tomorrow we are off to Baños (which means bathroom in spanish.. but whatever), then after that, we are off to Cuenca, then into Peru (our last country!).

Take it easy everyone, I hear the weather is improving way up there.

Peace

-Craig

Oh.. I forgot, we are now in the southern hemisphere, and the toilets don´t flush the other way.

Posted by iamcraig88 15:41 Archived in Ecuador Comments (8)

Ocean passage, Caribbean Islands, Sailing!

- sounds terrible right!?

sunny 30 °C

BUT NO! Its was amazing!

OK, before I get into to the details, I have to explain ( or at the very least, try) my love of sailing. As most of you know I absolutely, wholeheartedly, and passionatly in love with sailing. Whenever I think about sailing... or any of my sailing expaeriences.. I get shivers running up and down my spine. (Even as I type this, after being on a sailboat for five days.. I still get excited and the shivers don't stop, not ever.) I have only a limited number of things that do this for me, There is Sailing, Snowboarding... and recently, Diving. Those three things are the only activities that make my body physcally shiver with anticpation. (Much like a dog does, just before you throw the ball... I know, I'm comparing myself to a dog, but its in an attempt to explain just how excited I get.) When I think of sailing (or either of the other two activities) I get a crazy twich that runs up and down my spine, I actually start salivating, and I lapse into memory of an event, nothing else in the world could possible make me unhappy, or even think of anything else for that matter. For those few minutes I am utterly absorbed in my thoughts, memories and future ambitions in that activity, I become entirely at peace.

Ok, so back to the present, We went north to Portabelo, Panama to board the Vagabond Prince, at about four o'clock in the afternoon. (after leaving my Tilley hat at the hostel and having to rush back from the Panama City bus station to the hostal, and back out the the bus station.. all in all took about an hour! But, I got me Tilley!) We arrived at about six o'clock at this pizzaria, in Portabelo, and had ourselves a pizza, while we waited for the crew of the Vagabond Prince to come in from the boats morrings in the bay. We probably didn't get aboard until eight thirty, at which point we headed to bed. Our bed consisted of a strange shaped.. possibly queen sized bed, which fit the three of us.. well tightly, if nothing else. We spen the entire next day lazing around on deck the next day waiting for Fabian, the capitan, whom we met in Panama City, to get back. We made a trip into town to get some supplies (which consisted of Gadorade, chips and a $3.75 bottle of rum, which was premium... this stuff was high quality.) and I looked for some kind of drugs since my throat was killing me! We had been told the night before that there was a storm brewing to the west of Cartagena, Columbia (Pronounced Car-ta-hen-ya) from the same drunk captain who told us that the Vagabond Prince wasn't even in the harbour! What it turned into was a miracle...but more on that later. The crew told us that we would probably set sail that night (Metaphorically since there was no wind that night) and arrive in the San Blas Archipelago early in the morning. Fabian finally arrived (not that we were that anxious to leave, we hung out on the boat soaking up the sun and just chillaxin!) and we paid him most of what we owed him so he could go grocery shopping and get supplies. That night at around 9 o'clock we weighed anchor and chugged our way to the most pristine and without question, the most beatiful place I have ever been. I awoke relatively late since my throat was bothering me still, but once I smelt breakfast cooking I was hightailing it out of bed! After a breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast, I hit the water with a snorkel and swam around looking for coral and fishes. After I re-boarded the boat, we headed to our the next Island on the agenda (The place we would anchor for the night) andfound ourselves in between three small Islands. (One was quite small, having only four or five palm trees and sand as white a snow!) The water had the visibility of pool water! Undeniably the most amazing place I've been, no doubt about it, you could se the bottom perfectly.. and it was twenty some odd feet down! The local tribes are called the Kuna and they live in small hut scattered about these small beatufil islands, harvesting coconuts and fishing in their dugout, seafaring, canoes! They also make some of the most intricate textiles we've seen to date, beadwork that covers their entire arms and legs, all of which they try and sell you by paddling up to the side of the boat and hanging all of it on the life lines of the boat. I felt bad because all I wanted to do was look at and take in the culture a bit, not actually buy anything, so they kept piling things on the boat and telling me prices. In the end I did buy a bead bracelet because I figured I needed something to remind me of these truly amazing people and the beautiful place they call home. later that afternoon, we took the dingy over to an island that honestly had no more than.. five palm trees on it, it was 30 ft long by maybe 20 feet wide, composed entirely of white sand. Had some good times trying to get a coconut down, and it took some actual planning to get down. I had to get a nearly dead palm and prop up a log against the palm tree and then climb the log and thrash at the coconut. It was worth it, I conquered that coconut good. That night was spent at anchor between these three stunning beach islands and let me tell you waking up and looking out a porthole to see an aquamarine colour of water is undescribable. It is as if you are in a caribbean magazine, living in those photographs. We sun bathed for a good portion of the day, and the Kuna continued to visit our boat which was very cool because Fabian knew most of them (Since he is there twice a month or so) and he was talking and joking with them. He even got into one of the canoes with the entire family and was given the little toddler to hold. I have agreat picture (which are few and far between for the Kuna people because they do not like pictures being taken.) of the entire family. When they were finally done trying to sell their fabrics and such, they asked if anyone wanted a ride over to the island. I was all over that because, as mentioned before, I was enthralled with these seafaring canoes. Once in the boat I was immiadiatly asked what my name was, how I was doing and if I liked the islands. I responed and asked what their names were, which I would never be able to pronounce again even if I tried. It only took a few minutes to get to the beach of the island and once I was aground, I was quickly handed the babies. This absolutely blew me away because they were opening up quite easily and it was as if I was just another person... not a backpacker to get money from. I was trusted (not that I shouldn't be!) to carry the little ones ashore and as a cultural experience, definately rates as one of the highest. After lunch on the boat, we all headed to the island to explore and take in the beauty. We found that the side facing the opposite directrion had a beach to die for and we swam around for a good houros so, marvelling every five minutes how incredibly stunning the views were. Also worth not, we saw a one palm tree island. Yup, thats right... just like out of the cartoons. That evening after eating dinner, we weigheed anchor to begin our journey east, towards Cartagena, on which we would lose sight of land completely! I had been told on the island by another sailor that the winds were changing and would be comming from the north, whereas usually they come from the north east. I was ever hopful that the winds would blow this way because that would mean that we would SAIL!!! After having gone to bed that night, I remember hearing the motor shut off, and the boat healing over. (means Leaning to one side for the landlubbers out there) I was only barely aware of these things, and contuinued to sleep blisfully, until i was rudely awaken by Fabian yelling my name. "Ryan" and then having Alex one of the crew come towards the cabin saying the captain wants you. AHHH, what did I do.. I was asleep! I headed topside (Again, for you landlubbers, means up on deck) feeling a sensation of complete and utter excitment. We were sailing! I was in a bliss moment while I recalled the incredible sensation of flying through the water, all by the power of the wind, all natural yo! Fabian was half asleep, but he stayed awake long enough to tell me "your on night watch, two hours" WAHOO! I felt like I was part of a crew again! I looked around us and there was nothing but darkness, we were on the open ocean, nothing in sight but the stars and the ocean itself. I watched our speed, cruising around six knots and watched our little triangle move across the map towards Cartagena and every once and a while, I popped my head out from beneith the canopy to look for other ships. At around 3 am I was relieved by one of the crew and I headed straight to bed. Not even the adrenalin could keep me from my bunk.The next morning I awoke to the same sensation of being tilted over 20 degrees and crashing into the swells. Now that it was light out, the fact that you could no longer see land became very clear. That entire day consisted of sun tanningm and breaks underneither the canopy to make some hemp necklaces. As mentioned before, this change in wind direction was a miracle, it was if mother nature knew I wanted to sail. Fabian called me a (excuse my use of language in this quote) "lucky mother fucker," because he never gets to sail going from Panama to Columbia. I damn well felt lucky, because here I was doing my absolute favorite thing in the world, and doing it in the caribbean, one of the most beautiful places in the world. I spent a lot of time with a sailing harness on at the bow of the boat holding on for dear life itself and having the time of my life doing it. There were a few times that the entire bowsprit (landlubbers this is the protrusion off the front of the boat that allows a sail to be larger tha just the length of the boat.) was submerged I I was up to my knees in sea! I suppose I must have loked funny up front, just standing there with a stupid grin plastered on my face, since other than going up and down the waves, there really isn't much else going on. Its hard to describe why I love the sensation of sailing, but what I can say is that it is similar to the sensation of weightlessness when you come crashing down overtop of a swell. Because of a sailboats design, it is a "water cutter," if you will, and you never feel as if your on somethig significant, and thus, you get a senastion that you aren't actually going through the water, but simply flying through air. Then a large wave comes, covers you in seawater and you are brought back to reality with a crash of the hull driving into the next wave. And it all starts over. I would then return to the canopy with all of me smiling and simply briming with adrenalin, to the other people aboard. I believe with such passionate views, my feeling on sailing is infectious because noone could help but smile back at me. That night I found it hard to go below to sleep simply because I knew the sailing was comming to an end, the next morning we would arrive in the port of Cartagena. I finally let my exhustion take over, and I stumbled into bed. A few hours before sunride I heard the engine start up, and I knew we were very close to the port. Eventually I crawled out of bed and got my first view of Columbia, and boy, did it ever look similar to everywhere else I've been! The colonial architecture is just on a larger scale. The majority of the day was spent waiting around for the port authorities and immigration to decide we could come visit. Finally, our time on board the Vagabond Prince came to an end, with a free ride from Fabian's taxi company to our hotel. Fabian gave us his phone number, cell number and even his wifes cell number saying if we needed information on Columbia, don't hesistate. We also wereintroduced to his wife and son. (his daughter is a divematser and was at work.)

And thus, ended one of the most memorable experiences I've head down here. I will cherish this experience and when i sail again, it will be one of the memorries that takes me to that place of utter and complete contentment.

Happy trails all,
enjoy the reading,

Ryan

Posted by Nomad18 18:03 Archived in Panama Tagged cruises Comments (5)

Update and immidiate plans

Long over due I know, but people were on vacation here!

sunny 30 °C

Ok, so I've heard talk of a few parents calling one another wondering where the hell their children are and why they aren't keeping in contact! Well, the answer is, were living it up soaking up the sun on deserted white sand beaches. Actually, Costa Rica was a blur of experiences (To be blogged later) which left us exhausted, let alone no extra time to haul ourselves to the nearest internet cafe.

So here I sit in our hostel in Panama City blogging my ass off to keep everyone in the loop!

Alrighty, hold on to your hats, this plans gonna come out quick! First of, we are taking a sailboat from the Caribbean coast of Panama to the northern tip of Columbia. The sailboat, as we've learned today, is 47' cruising yacht capable of taking approximately ten passengers. The itinerary is this: Tomorrow afternoon we head to the coast to board the yacht and spend the night at anchorage. Saturday morning we sail out to the San Blas Archipelago, getting or exit stamps from Panama. There we will spend another night at anchorage, no doubt snorkeling to our hearts content. Next day we sail to another island in the archipelago and do it all over again, soak up some sun, bake on the pristine (nearly empty) beaches, and to cool off, snorkel for a couple hours. From the last of the San Blas islands, its a three day sail to Cartagena, Columbia. Here we intend to spend the only extended period of time in Columbia. SCUBA Diving, exploring the city, and a national park are all on the agenda. From there, we intend on taking four days to get to the Ecuadorian border and crossing ASAP. In Ecuador, a river rafting tour is a must, as well as a hike of some description. After Ecuador, Peru comes in fast! We head straight for Cuzco and Machu Pichu taking alost 50 hours in bus rides! AHHH! From there, depending on time, we go to Lake Titikaka for a few days and then off to the Nazca Lines. The Nazca Lines are the crazy designs you have all seen on the discovery channel that are still one of the worlds greatest mysteries. After our airplane tour of the Lines, its back up to Miraflores (outskirts of Lima) to await our flight home!

Its short but sweet, if much changes, you'll read about it in future blogs, possibly as its happening! Anyways I hope the parents can rest a little easier now that you've got a rough itinerary for the rest of our trip! (which by the way, only has 5 weeks left!! WOAH!)

take it easy everyone,

Happy trails,

Ryan

P.S.: Mom I'm going to try calling you at work tomorrow, it was much to busy in the common room here at the hostel tonight to have called. I'll try my hardest to get a hold of you, but just in case I don't, I am alive and well were doing gret, seeing some incredible things..still! I love you, I'm sorry I missed you in Costa Rica. Miss you,

Love Ryan

Posted by Nomad18 21:46 Archived in Panama Tagged backpacking Comments (4)

Bar tour!

Bocas Del Toro bar hop, to the extreme!

sunny 30 °C

Bocas Del Toro T-Shirt, $20.

Three Cuba Libres (Rum and Coke) regularly $1.50, this night, $0.

One "Anti-Freeze" cocktail regularly $4, this night $0.

One Orange rum punch regularly $2, this night $0.

Two Panama Beers regularly $1, this night, $0.

One Banana Colada regularly $5, this night, $0.

One shot of Jose Cuervo tequila regularly $2, this night, $0.

One Atlas Beer regularly $1, this night, $0.

Two Pineapple rum punches regularly $1.50 - 2.50, this night, $0.

One Balboa Beer regularly $1, this night $0.

One Mango cocktail regularly $3, this night, $0.

One "OrangeHappy" cocktail regularly $3, this night, $0

Two nights on the town regularly a large empty space where once there was money, these nights $0.

Fifteen bars visited, drank in, and enjoyed regularly $15 - 31.50, these nights, $0.

One T-Shirt with this many memories, priceless!

Happy trails all,

Ryan

Posted by Nomad18 19:44 Archived in Panama Tagged armchair_travel Comments (1)

puerte viejo, bocas, panama city

panama

sunny

in puerte viejo we stayed at this really cool hostel and they had nothing but hammocks and places to set up tents, we shopped for a couple of souvenirs and got some food. we had to leave the next day in the morn so we hit the hay early, we left for the boarder early in the morn and met this 53 year old man from ottawa on our way to tortoungo, he was an interesting fella, he talked about nothing else but girls, we hung out with him for most of our stay in bocas del toro. we stayed at a cool hostel on this little island, the first night we desided that we would get wasted so on our way to that point we bought this shirt, it has the logos of 27 bars in town and when you go to one of those bars you get a free drink. we were only able to get 3 drinks in before the bars closed at 10 so we decided to get wasted the next day.

the next day we went on a boat tour to do some snorkling and relaxing on some neighboring white sand beaches, the wildlife there was really amazing, it wasnt anything compared to utila in honduras but it was still really amazing. we got burnt, mostly on the backs of our arms, we have tanned well enough in most other areas. when we got back we got a drink, did some internet, went to another bar had a drink, went to another bar had a drink, went to another bar, had a drink, had dinner, and went to a bar and had another drink, i stayed at our hostel after that as well as craig, ryan wanted to get more done, he ended up going to five more bars and came back quite smashed. i dont know exactly how drunk he was, but we was drunk in the morning still. so ryan withstanding, we got packed quickly and went to the water taxi, it was about and hour ride, to a small town that we didnt get to know very intimately, there we hopped on a coach bus to panama city, ryan had sobered up by then so he was feeling pretty hungover while i felt fine, the bus ride really made ryan and craig sick because it was up the crazyest turning road ive ever been up not only was it turny but it was up and down so they felt really bad until we got to the bottom of them mountain on the other side, after a 10 hour bus ride we made it to panama city. we took a taxi to the hostel and arranged the for the sailboat to columbia, it was about a 5 day trip so we have to find some entertainment for the boat and the bus ride. i wont be blogging until i get back so if no one hears from me for a week dont be too worried, i will be on the carribean sea sailing to columbia but i will be back on when i get there

dont worry its not a drug sailboat,

missing everyone back home

leigh

Posted by leighner 12.04.2007 19:14 Archived in Panama Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

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