For the past three years, Two Who Trek (TWT) have visited countries in Europe and Asia. We are now back in South America and enjoying our first visit to Cartagena and Colombia! An opportunity for a three week adventure to learn about another culture and to take more Spanish lessons was irresistible. An added bonus is the sunny 86°F weather here while it is 28°F, cloudy and snowy at home!
Flying South for the Winter — to South America, that is.
Something Fishy This Way Comes . . .
What do you get when you add salmon to a salted water pot of boiling potatoes and onions? If it’s South Haven, Michigan at National Blueberry Festival time, an amazing Fish Boil, Lake Michigan style! With over 40 years of fish boil experience, the South Haven Steelheaders (SHS) chapter of the Michigan Steelheaders and Salmon Fisherman’s Association, created a tasty treat for multitudes of hungry guests, including Two Who Trek, on August 8, 2015.
In reviewing our Galápagos posts, we found one thing we left out – the scenery. There has been a taste of the natural beauty in the background of some photos in previous posts. For our last post about our archipelago adventure, we’re sharing images of one of the truly amazing places in the world. We only visited a handful of the 61 islands and were not able to see all the different terrains that Galápagos offers. What we did see was fascinating and will stay with us throughout our lives.
The end of this story isn’t so much about ending a vacation within a vacation, but learning more about the creatures who share our planet. This experience was truly up close and personal and totally amazing! Continue reading
No blog about the Galápagos would be complete without a discussion of the archipelago’s reptiles. After all, the most famous residents of the chain are the giant reptiles that bear the island’s name — the Galápagos Giant Tortoise, the world’s largest tortoise and the thirteenth heaviest reptile, weighing in at over 800 pounds. So it is fitting we begin our review with Pepe.
There are More Starfish in the Sea
Galápagos seas are amazing once you look below the surface. Two Who Trek had opportunities to go snorkeling in the clear blue ocean. There are more starfish in the sea and we saw dozens of them. We saw majestic schools of fish, a few white-tipped sharks, sea turtles and rays. Joe even had a sea lion swim within two feet of him.
Ever watch a National Geographic or Discovery Channel special on the Galápagos Islands? Remember how they would show a school of fish from top to bottom of the screen swimming, say, to the right. Then suddenly the entire school turns to the left and flashes entirely different colors. We had always thought that such images were unique; difficult for camera crews to capture. Not so in real life. Every time we snorkeled, we saw similar displays of beauty from fish schools and each time it took our breath away (which isn’t necessarily good when you are under water). Continue reading
An Introduction to the Galapagos
Galápagos Islands (Archipiélago de Colón or Islas Galápagos)
Welcome to a world ranging from one and a half degrees north to a half degree south of the equator!
Galápagos means tortoise. The life throughout the archipelago is as uniquely precious as the giant reptiles for which they are named. We visited east, south and central islands on our five-day, four-night cruise. How do we share our diverse adventures in a sensible fashion? Tipping our paja de toquilla hats to scientists past and present, we will talk about specific zoological groups.
Saying Goodbye to Cuenca
Two Who Trek share some lessons learned (and not just Spanish ones)
It’s a gray morning in Cuenca – one of the few we have had. It’s also a sad morning, as our program host will be coming with a taxi about 7 to take us to the airport to start the journey home. As we share our last breakfast in the apartment (our favorite – a fresh fruit medley, pastry, milk and coffee, today made even more special by sharing a piece of tres leche cake left from the day before), we discuss how profoundly sad we are. But we knew this day had to come. Staying in Cuenca wouldn’t be the same – after all, the apartment has been sold, our fellow travelers (now friends) are heading back home, and even one of our teachers has been laid off from the school. So it was time to leave.
But why were we so sad? While there is usually a twinge of remorse about a vacation ending, this was a much deeper sadness. We concluded this trip was the best travel experience we have had to date, one we wanted to continue. Many questions were answered for us, such as:
Could we live in a foreign country?
Yes. While we did have some structured experiences throughout the trip, much of the time we were on our own. We negotiated in stores, found addresses, tried new restaurants, and saw amazing sites. The more time we spent in the country, the easier it was to navigate daily life. With more time, practice, and improved language skills, we would have a great living experience.
We only had one time when we had to ask our program host for interpretive help. Sherri had arranged to have a lovely blazer made to her specifications – two button, hip length, pockets – like one she purchased years ago and has worn out. When she went back for the fitting, a different seamstress waited on her and we couldn’t understand what she was saying. Program Hostess Christine came to our rescue, and found the seamstress was saying her associate had only measured for the fabric and didn’t take specific jacket measurements. After some quick measurements, we were done. By the way, the blazer is amazing and professionally done, all for $25 for the fabric and $45 for the labor.
Would we want to live in a foreign country?
Not at this time. We both realized we are closely connected to our family and friends. Sherri still has a job to go to daily, too. Continue reading
Some Cuenca scenes
Two Who Trek take an overall look at the city
As we prepare to wrap up our posts about Cuenca, we realized that we haven’t shown much about the day-to-day life in the city. Today we will look at some common city scenes.
Cuenca is actually the short name. Its true name is Santa Ana de los Cuatro Rios de Cuenca, named for the four rivers that run through the city. The word Cuenca means “river basin” in Spanish. Continue reading
Ingapirca: Living with the Past
Two Who Trek visit Ingapirca, leaving it in ruins (as it was when we got there)
Some ruins are remnants of the past and stand as a historical reminder of people who once lived here. Ecuador’s largest and best preserved archaeological site, Ingapirca, means Wall of the Inca in the Cañari language. This special place was first used for worship by the indigenous Cañari. It was called Cashaloma or Place Where Stars Pour from the Heavens.
Land of the Llama
Two Who Trek see their favorite animals
You’ve previously read in our posts that no ruin is complete without a llama. Now that we’re back from the land of the llama and fully immersed in the day-to-day, it’s time to reflect and share some things we didn’t have time to write about during our last week in Cuenca.
Llamas are members of the Camelidae family along with camels. Scientists tell us that camelids have been around for about 45 million years. About 10,000 years ago, llamas and alpacas were domesticated for food, clothing and transportation. Unlike cattle which are thought to have a common ancestor, llamas are believed to be domesticated from guanacos and alpacas from vicunas. Continue reading