February 27th
2010
written by Bullet-Point Ben

In case you were worried about us, we’re just fine. We’re currently in Pucón, Chile, about 180 miles from the epicenter – about the same distance as Santiago. The earthquake felt like being on a really small boat in really rough seas for about 3 minutes. Obviously it was pretty scary, especially because it happened in the middle of the night (3:30am local time).  Possibly my new least favorite way of being awakened from a deep sleep. After the shaking stopped we started wondering what sort of effect it would have on the giant volcano just out our window. (no effect at all, apparently).  The town of Pucon seems to have been spared the worst effects of the earthquake.

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Interesting tidbit: you can (and probably will) get seasick from an earthquake.  Aside from the seasickness and having to go almost a whole day without internet, the earthquake wasn’t that bad.  Obviously conditions are a lot different closer to the epicenter in Concepcion.

February 23rd
2010
written by Bullet-Point Ben

The Patagonia region of South America is simply amazing.  I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, though to paraphrase Mark Twain, the difference seeing it and seeing the pictures is like the difference between lightning and lightning bug.  Every time I took a picture I wished you could zoom out more to fit all of the awesomeness in.

big_ice_pano

We signed up for an ice trekking expedition – aptly called Big Ice – that took us to watch chunks of the Perito Mereno Glacier break off and fall into the water for a while and then go hike around on the glacier.  The photos tell the whole story…

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February 17th
2010
written by Alonna

Here’s a few things Ben and I did while hanging out in the Galapagos Islands after our cruise…
 

Volcano Tour – By Horse

I’m no fan of horses. I guess it’s because I had a bad experience as a kid, but still I just don’t see the point. I’d rather walk than put my life in the hands of a strong-minded animal. So naturally I was disappointed when I learned that the only way to see the huge active volcano on Isabela Island was on horseback. But I really wanted to see the volcano, so I convinced myself that I could do it.

Long story short, we both survived and it was worth it. The horses were very tame and we didn’t have any problems, although I was completely terrified the entire time.
 

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February 16th
2010
written by Alonna

A peek at the Galapagos

A peek at the Galapagos

After our 4-day cruise, Ben and I stayed 6 more nights on the Galapagos islands. Our primary reasons for staying longer were:
    a) we had time before our flight out of Ecuador
    b) we heard that you can stay on the islands cheaper than a cruise and take day trips.

So we ended up on the main island, Santa Cruz (Puerto Ayora) and another island Isabela (Puerto Villamil) for three nights each. Staying on the islands gave us a completely different perspective of the Galapagos. When you’re on the cruise, you see these pristine, uninhabited islands with the native plants and animals – virtually unchanged for millions of years. The guide talks about history and preservation and you almost feel like you’re getting a secret glimpse of another planet. It’s not that this impression is misguided, it’s just a very different picture than you see from the Galapagos towns.

Untouched Galapagos

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Comments Off on Galapagos Islands – Unspoiled Nature?
February 13th
2010
written by Alonna

The Galapagos Islands are home to a range of very unique animals. They traveled here millions of years ago and have been extremely isolated ever since.  Most of them have never had predators, so they are not at all spooked by humans when we’re around. This makes it easy to see lots of animals and get really close to take photos. On the island of Genovesa, the birds are so dense that our tour guide even said to “be careful not to step on any birds.”

Here’s some of the animals we’ve seen on the Galapagos:

Blue-footed Boobies
The symbol of the Galapagos, these birds are found everywhere. Unfortunately we didn’t witness their funny mating dance, but I’m sure we can find it on youtube.

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February 10th
2010
written by Alonna

The Galapagos Islands are a totally unique place on Earth, so we decided to check them out while in the neighborhood (they’re off the coast of Ecuador). To see the different islands and animals, you have to take one of many expensive cruises. We found a great last-minute deal on a short 4-day cruise, and then decided to extend the trip by staying 6 more nights on the islands themselves.

We were lucky to get (more…)

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February 6th
2010
written by Bullet-Point Ben

Not every adventure is a rollicking success.  The first warning sign for this particular outing started when the taxi driver who took us to the bus station expressed great surprise that we were headed up to Las Cajas.  He kept saying “muy frio” and mimicking shivering.  The next warning sign came when the bus dropped us off along the side of the road, deep in the Andes and there was no big “Buenvenidos a Las Cajas” sign to greet us, no visitor center and gift shop bustling with tourists.  Just cold wind and rain and a shack with “abierto” (open, like a store) written on a piece of paper stapled to the door, some chickens out front and rocks holding the roof on.

Not the Las Cajas Visitor Center

Not the Las Cajas Visitor Center

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February 4th
2010
written by Alonna

Here is proof that I played soccer with a group of guys a couple weeks ago in Ecuador. Thanks to Troy for the photos!

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January 31st
2010
written by Alonna

After two weeks of Spanish classes, I found three new friends to travel with for a week in Ecuador. I’ve mentioned Stephanie in previous posts; she’s from DC and quit her job to travel Ecuador and Peru for 6 weeks. Jaime and Gareth are from England and like Ben and me, are traveling around the world for a year. In fact, our paths may cross again in Argentina, New Zealand, and Australia!

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January 26th
2010
written by Alonna

My favorite day in Quito was probably Tuesday, January 19th. Here’s a run-down of events…

7:00 am Woke up to my alarm
7:30 am Breakfast with Pancho & Ignacio. Coffee, scrambled eggs, bread, cheese, jam, and yogurt.
8:00 am Private Spanish lessons for 2.5 hours
10:30 am 30 minute break, sat outside in the warm sun with Stephanie, Jaime & Gareth to discuss our travel plans for the following week.
11:00 am Final hour of Spanish lessons
12:30 pm Lunch with Pancho & Ignacio. Mushroom soup, Chicken with white rice, veggies, and Sprite.
1:30 pm Met Stephanie and Troy to explore the Old Town in Quito. Stephanie is a friend I met in Spanish school from DC. Troy is a fellow travel blogger and photographer who currently lives in Quito – check out his site: FOGGOdyssey.com
3:00 pm The three of us visit the Basillica (a gothic church on a hill in Quito) and climb precarious stairs and ladders to get to the top of two of the towers. The sun was out, the city was beautiful, and we had fun climbing around and taking photos.
5:00 pm Returned to Spanish school for what I thought was a friendly soccer match with schoolmates. (more…)
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