Rambling Robert's Travels

This blog chronicals the travels of myself, Rambling Robert, on my next adventure to South America.

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I am a world traveller. I do not work as such. I have been homeless and unemployed since 1October 2003. I worked as a chef for 30 years in America.

Monday, August 22, 2005

first impressions of Ecuador

I finally left Peru and now I am in Ecuador in a small touristy surfer beach town called MantaƱitas. I left Peru with Angela on the 16th of August. I had used up my 90 day visa and didnt want to stay any longer. So we left to explore the Pacific lowlands on the West coast of Ecuador. At the border the Peruian guard tried to convince me I had been in Peru for 92 days and I would have to pay him a $5.00 fine for each additional day. I told him he was wrong and we counted off the days on our fingers and he agreed at last. Of course he knew all along and was only trying to hustel me for the 10 bucks.Good Bye Peru!!!
Hello Ecuador. They use American dollars as the official currency here and since I still have a few of these I dont need to change anything at the border. We get on a bus for Machala and get to about 20 kilometers from the city where we will change buses and go to Guayaquil (the largest city in Ecuador)but here we are stopped by a bloccade. It is a bunch of banana workers with machetes and 1 meter long lengths of re-bar standing around and apparently camping under a truck with no cab parked across the road. They are protesting poor pay and working conditions. They cant strike the plantations because the bosses will hire other workers for the same shitty wages so instead they work even harder than ever and block the roads so the bananas cant get out!
There are about 20 strikers and about 80 Police/Soldiers ( I anint sure what they are) standing around with M-16s and tear gas grenade launchers. Just past the truck/road block are a few felled trees, and after the trees dozens of taxis.
Having just been teargassed in Peru 3 weeks ago, I didnt want to stay around and find out what would happen (I think I knew what was going to happen!)So we walked across the picket line and shared a taxi with a French guy and an American girl who study together at McGill University in Montreal. We went to a little town called Puerto Bolivar and from there took a little boat to a tiny little island (not in the guide books)called Jembeli. Angela had been there a couple of years ago and said it was cool.
The island is about 10 kilometers long and 500 meters wide at the widest point. On the east side (facing the mainland) is all mangrove forest/swamp. On the west side facing out on the Pacific is beatiful grey sand beach. About 150 people live there year round ant there are about 50 hostel beds in about a dozen little hospedajes. We rented two bambu cabins on the beach for $12.00 per night (as in $6.00 per person) and Angela and I stayed for 4 nights on this beautiful almost empty tropical south pacific island.
Our hospedaje is run by a dutch womand named Philipa and her Garafuno lover named Angel. Philipa is about my age and has lived on the island for 10 years. Just a cool old hippy with nothing better to do. Angel is a man the color of milk chocolate about 30 years old with shoulder length dread locks who sings all day as he rakes around the yard,smokes ganja in the shade and plays with their 3 dogs. He also gives tours in a blue fiberglass canoe of the mangrove Forests.
On our third day we are tired of walking on the beach and skinny dipping and so we go with Angel for a 4 hour tour of the mangrove swamps and it costs $10 each including all the ganja we want and delicious coconut drinks.
There are a dozen un-inhabited islands covered in Mangroves with all kinds of beautiful birds and reptiles and fishes and crabs of assorted colors sizes and shapes. There are schools of green fish with concentric yellow circles on their backs. There are flourescent red and yellow wood peckers. Herons of various hues from white to grey to blue, there are neon colord red crabs. There are oysters and mussels and snails living on the mangrove roots. The salty water is brown and almost still, its so peaceful and quiet.
Angel sings and rows softly and points out iguanas and swimming lizards and fills the pipe and we are just too damned happy!!! What a great day. This is what my travelling life is all about, deserted south pacific islands with great friends and beautiful nature all around me and just PEACEFULNESS.
This night we eat at the hospedaje with Philipa who cooks a warm smoked fish with no scales that looks like sword fish but no sword and the meat is fat. Perfect for a warm smoker. She makes potato vinaigrette salad and Angela makes lettuce leaves and strips of peppers and carrot sticks and we all eat smoked fish lettuce tacos and this is like doggy heaven, where the good dogs go when they die!!
Blockades are over now and so we take the bOat back to the port and the bus to Guayaquil and then another bus to MantaƱitas and We have been here now for 3 days.
Yesterday we watched humpback whales jumping in the water 50 meters off the beach. They are very big mammals. They look grey with a white underside and kind of cone shaped as they stick thier heads up and they nuzzel each other and scrape barnacles off one another. There were about 4 of them. What a life I lead, huh?
There is an enormous national park about 40 km up the road from here. We will probably go there the day after tomorrow the entrance fee is pretty steep $20.00 but the ticket is good for 5 days so we will find a room there and do some hiking and maybe take a boat tour out to the Isla de Plata which is like a poor mans Galapagos with many rare species of lizards and 3 kinds of boobies all of which allow you to walk right up to them as they are very isolated and have no fear of humans. It costs about $800.00 to go to the Galapagos (part of Ecuador, made famous by Charles Darwin who did a lot of research there) but only $15 or $20 to go to the isla de Plata....
The full moon on the 19th was awesome over the south pacific and we have been watching Mars at night. I wish I was at RBs house or at Pesto Jims so I could look through their telescopes but being here and now has never been sweeter.
Next update in a week or two.
Love to all of you. As my friend Hobo Andy says (www.hobotraveler.com)
"life is good plan your escape"!!
Rambling Robert


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