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The Power of Habit – in 50 Words

Posted on 02 October 2016 (0)


I want to write 500 words daily, so I’m starting with 50. I love Leo Babauta’s six-week habit-formation plan. It’s why I now begin my day with 15 minutes of sitting meditation, eat vegetables at lunch, and practice my guitar for an hour each afternoon. Habit trumps discipline every time.

(Cross post at The Kindle Chronicles)

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Susan Carlson: Quilting in the Key of Life

Posted on 27 April 2016 (0)

Susan Longmont 4-23-16

Darlene’s teacher, Susan Carlson, gave a talk about quilts recently in Longmont, Colorado. It was the first time I have attended one of Susan’s presentations, and I loved every minute of it.

The quilts themselves are like paintings in fabric–lightyears down the road from quilts made of connected squares that kept our grandparents warm in bed. Susan’s quilts tell stories, and yesterday in a sunny church sanctuary she told the story of how she began making them, and where the road has led so far.

“I started working with fabric because of my Mom,” she said. A trained dressmaker and now an altered clothing maker, Susan’s mother has provided inspiration “for experimenting with fabric and trying different things out and seeing what happens if you do something.”

Susan earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in illustration at the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1983. Her first slide showed her senior project, portraits in fabric of her parents and grandparents. From there, she took us for a hold-onto-your-seats ride through increasingly colorful, vivid, dramatic, playful, big and wise images drawn from her life and imagination.

The Colorado Quilting Council hosted Susan’s talk, and in the pews were more than 100 women who followed every word and slide. There was just one other guy there, a husband who’d brought Sudoku puzzles to pass the time.

When Susan told her audience that she had brought a massive amount of fabric when she moved to Harpswell, Maine, where her husband Tom Allen grew up, I saw many heads nodding. Tom had questioned his bride about the need to bring all of that fabric, prompting this reply: “I’m moving to your home town. I’m taking whatever I want.”

Tom is in Harpswell this week, awaiting Susan’s return from a three-week teaching tour that took her to Texas, Australia, and now Colorado. He leads kayak tours of the Maine coast and helps his wife publish a beautifully illustrated, writerly blog about her art and her teaching.

“You experiment,” she told us. “You hear about things, you try some out, and you see what happens. And you never quite know where it’s going to take you.” (To listen to the full audio of Susan’s talk, including part of her introduction, click here.)

Susan Carlson’s experimentations in fabric collage have led her to explore the inner life of animals from household pets (a bird, a cat, and a dog memorialized in “Golden Temple of the Good Girls”) to bugs, a pink rhino, a dodo bird made of polka dots, a Costa Rican frog presumed to be extinct, a bat, and a crocodile named Stevie.

Stevie’s story brought the most oohs and ahs from the pews at Faith Community Lutheran Church. Slides showed him coming to life in Susan’s Harpswell studio, beginning with a single eye on a vast expanse of empty flannel on a design board. You can see what happens next in this time-lapse video. The result is Susan’s largest quilt to date, measuring 22 feet wide and seven feet tall. Stevie followed her to Australia on this trip, for a homecoming down under where his species is still thriving, the largest of all living reptiles.

You don’t have to be a quilter to be inspired by Susan’s self-deprecating, confident, and charming discussion of her work. What struck me most was the grace-filled connection between her own life and her art. We saw that most clearly when she presented portraits of our own species.

While living and working in Portsmouth, NH, she met vendors at the local farmer’s market. Over two years, she took photos that became a series of quilts, including one titled “Farmer’s Market: Chickens.” It shows a mustachioed vendor dude wearing dark glasses and a Panama hat, a real character with eggs below him and chickens above him. At a reception when the quilts were displayed in Portsmouth, he showed up in full dress, wearing his hat and shades.

Another quilt I love, titled “Surprise Me,” shows her husband Tom and his two college roommates, Joe and Mike. The arrangement captures their friendship in an immortal, manly way that made me smile and tear up at the same time. A photo is one thing. When Susan turns it into a collage of colorful fabric, the effect is mysteriously touching. Perhaps our deep, infant memory of the calming touch of cloth explains the emotional impact of these creations.

Darlene and I have met Susan and Tom’s only child, Sam, a 19-year-old studying musical theatre at college in Portland, Maine. Sam keeps his own counsel and does not suffer fools easily, so he is a young man I have admired generally from a safe distance. I got to know him a lot better thanks to a quilt Susan explained in Longmont titled “Peace, Love, Tie-Dye, Save the Whales.”  (You can hear Susan tell this story by moving the slider to 59:35 in the audio file.)

The quilt began with a photo of Sam when he was 13 years old, sporting long hair and round sunglasses that gave him a striking likeness to John Lennon.

“It had been 10 years since I had done a portrait of him,” Susan said, “so I thought ‘Hey, I’ll do one every 10 years.'” As she began working with the photo, Andy Warhol came to mind as well as a poignant connection with Sam when he was much younger. That led to a four wildly differing views of the same photo, arranged in a 2×2 grid. Susan continues the story as follows:

“Now at that time, at 13 years old, even all the way through high school, he wanted us to walk with him to the bus stop. He liked having company. He didn’t want to be standing out in any cold weather all by himself. But I knew that at some point he wouldn’t let me give him that hug and kiss as the bus was rolling up. So we came up with an alternative. And what we did was this:”

Here she made four hand motions–a peace sign, a hand sign for love and one for tie-dye, ending with a wavy motion of the hand, like swimming. That’s right: peace, love, tie-dye, save the whales. Four ways of looking at her talented and idealistic son.

“When you do it fast enough, it just looks like you’re swatting at a fly or something,” Susan explained. “He would start walking to the bus, and I would go, ‘Hey, Sam’ and I’d go like this, and he’d go, ‘Yeah, yeah’ and kind of do it behind his back.'”

When you hear that story and you behold the four brilliant images of Sam in the quilt, you have a good example of how intimately this artist transforms her life experience, especially her loves and explorations, into unforgettable quilts.


Postscript: As an experiment in 360 video, I filmed and posted to YouTube a few minutes of Susan’s class held at Lyons Quilting two days after her talk in Longmont. My Ricoh Theta camera recorded a somewhat blurred image, but if you have a Samsung VR Gear or other headset you will be able to experience being right in the room. Otherwise, you can try a two-dimensional view of the 360-degree scene video by moving the pointer with your mouse in the YouTube video rectangle.


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Train, Interrupted

Posted on 19 November 2015 (0)
Quito in Blue

Quito in Blue

The Tren Crucero tour was three nights and four days of travel, but we decided to skip the fourth day yesterday. Instead, we stayed in Quito, switching from the big, impressive Hotel Quito room included in the tour to the more personable and cozy Hotel Reina Isabel, where we have stayed several other times during our month in Ecuador.

I loved the first three days of Tren Crucero, but the Cotopaxi eruption in August resulted in a change in the itinerary that necessitated lots more bus riding between times on the train itself. On the last bus ride, day before yesterday, a two-hour slog from the gigantic Nevado Roses plantation to Quito, my legs were restless and I was jumping out of my skin. If we had stayed with the tour yesterday, we would have been on the bus six hours and on a different train in the Otavalo area for just three. That didn’t appeal to us.

By comparison, a full day in Quito to prepare for this morning’s depature was just right. We took a taxi from Hotel Quito to the Oswaldo Guayasamin Museum. He is Ecuador’s most famous painter. His work is passionate and fiercely tuned to the plight of the oppressed. I bought a print of his rendering of Quito, showing the surrounding mountains in blue. I also bought a black and white t-shirt of a painting he did of a guitarist, to remind me that several times this trip I have felt promptings to return to regular guitar practice when I return to the States.

Darlene and Deb visited shops near the hotel, and I spent a few hours at a good coffee shop recommended by Margaret of Ali Shungu, The Magic Bean. It began raining steadily yesterday afternoon, so my Panama hat got wet as I walked the four blocks to the hotel to get my rain jacket. The ATMs here have worked about half the time, but I was able to make a last withdrawal across the street at Bank Guayaquil. Then supper, then my usual fitful sleep before a long flight, and here I am now at the desk in the outer room of the suite, catching up with impressions of Ecuador with a Styrofoam cup of weak coffee from the hotel lobby and not enough sleep to write more than a blur of the past 24 hours of travel.

To conclude with more about Tren Crucero, I can heartily recommend the trip for train buffs, especially sometime in the future when the Cotopaxi alert is lifted and the train can resume its normal route between Quito and Guayaquil. The tour staff were phenomenal, making sure 50 people ended up where we were supposed to be at each juncture in the journey. Our fellow guests were an interesting lot, including a group of about 20 people mainly from Canada who have been traveling together for years. We met an engaging couple who spend half the year in Colorado and half in the Caribbean, Bob and Althea Turner, and enjoyed hanging out with them and a Swiss pair, Francoise and Charles, at dinners. Plus Sandra from Germany, my multi-lingual tablemate on the train. You get to know strangers quickly when you travel on a tour, which is generally a plus.

Next up: breakfast buffet at Reina Isabel, featuring their very clever orange-squeezing machine where you feed the oranges into the top, and fresh juice dribbles down into your glass. Perfecto!

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Zee Devil´s Nose

Posted on 17 November 2015 (0)
Our stop before ascending the nose-shaped mountain in the background.

Our stop before ascending the nose-shaped mountain in the background.

I love it when something exceeds expectations, especially ones that result from lots of hype. That was the case yesterday with a section of track on our Tren Crucero tour of Ecuador. It is named the Devil’s Nose, because the mountain looks like a huge nose, and it was clearly a devil of a job to carve track up its sheer face in the early part of the last century.

There is a Z in Devil’s Nose, because that’s the design of the train’s progress up the mountain. It goes forward, then the track is switched and the train backs up the middle line of the Z. After another switch of the tracks, the train proceeds forward on its way, continuously climbing into the Andean highlands of Ecuador.

Views from the left side of the train as it climbed the nose were beautiful and dizzying. You looked hundreds of feet down at the river we had been following until the ascent, and you could see the track, as if it were my old Lionel train set’s in the living room, looking perfect and new. Our guide on the train said 4,000 Jamaican workers were brought in to build the track through the mountains, and half of them died during the project.

We stopped a couple of places during yesterday’s 12 hours of travel by train. If I was grumpy about the lack of sleeper cars on the first day, yesterday cured me of that. This train ride is one for the ages, and if you have to sleep in hotels along the way, you won’t mind, if you love trains as much as I do. The scenery is simply breathtaking. At one point we could see a plume of dark ash rising from the Tunguragua volcano. Scenes out the big windows alternated between mountains, valleys, and colorful towns where the arrival of the train prompted curious waves from residents, returned by the travelers.

Dining room of the hacienda.

Dining room of the hacienda.

The only complaint we have about our hotel for this stop is that we will not have much time enjoying its antique charms. It is the Hacienda Andaluza in Riobamba. The rooms have antique bells outside them, as doorbells. There were red rose petals on the white bedspreads when we checked in last night. The dining room and lobby is full of antique knicknacks–typerwiters, agricultural tools, cash registers, musical instruments, and faded tapestries on the walls. Fat rabbits live in the big central courtyard, and this morning I am writing by a toasty real-wood fire in a fireplace. The buffet offered strong coffee at 5 am with a bowl of chocolate powder that you could dip into with a spoon to sweeten your cup.

Our two blue buses will return us this morning to the Riobamba station, leaving the hacienda at 7 a.m. As the red and black train chugs along at a stately speed, a team of motorcycle riders accompanies us. They zip from one crossing to the other, to make sure drivers or people leading llamas make no mistakes in judging when it is safe to cross. The motorcycle guys have white helmets, walkie talkies and maybe guns. Sometimes they ride beside us on the road standing up on the posts of their cycles, evidence of how much fun they’re having perhaps.

It would be easy to put together a tour highlighting the extremes of wealth and poverty in most countries, including the U.S. We are certainly seeing that disparity here in Ecuador. In a single day, we had dinner at this elegant hacienda after visiting an indigenous agricultural community outside Colta, where the manual work looks very hard to this pampered observer. I saw an old woman carrying a heavy sack of something on her back, wrapped around her shoulders by straps. I would guess she was 80 years old or so. She stepped carefully, with a limp, and I watched with respect as she made her way slowly down a street. After supper here at Andaluza, we were serenaded by four musicians playing guitar, mandolin, traditional flutes, and drums.




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All Aboard Tren Crucero

Posted on 16 November 2015 (0)

imageYesterday at the Duran station outside Guayaquil we boarded a bright red train pulled by a steam engine, the beginning of a four-day exploration of Ecuador via Tren Crucero.

Darlene, Deb and I were assigned seats in Car 1, a jewel of a space featuring friendly little face sculptures smiling at us over the windows, decorated with swirling design around them in gold paint. The train moved very slowly, and I was distracted for the first ride by an enlightening chat with my table mate, a woman from Germany traveling in Ecuador for the month. Her pearl, offered at no extra cost, was her utter freedom from Internet entanglements, even though she has an apparently responsible position with a unit of Fiat, selling trucks in Munich. She does not check text or email on weekends or when she is in Ecuador for a month. People don’t expect her to, because she has been consistent in her habits online. I was inspired to try yet again to maintain some sort of balance to my Internet habit when we return to Boston.

The observation lounge at the rear of the train.

The observation lounge at the rear of the train.

We sat in comfortable upholstered chairs with curved wooden legs and arms, looking at the countryside through huge windows framed by red curtains. Coffee and drinks were served, along with snacks. I never made it to the elegant lounge car at the back of the train, where there were wicker couches and a platform at the back where you could have made speeches like Harry Truman on his whistlestop campaign tour in 1948.

At Yaguachi, 22 kilometers from Duran, we got off the train and watched the steam engine be replaced by a diesel electric locomotive, also bright red. It was hot and humid at 15 meters elevation. Back on the train, it was a relief to return to air conditioned comfort and a tasty treat with plaintains.

I love the train, a project for tourists of the Ecuadorian government, and the enthusiasm of the staff and guides. But I have to warn fellow train buffs that this is not your Orient Express fantasy featuring a snug berth in a sleeper car. Your bags go from hotel to hotel by bus, and sleeping is not done to the rocking of the train and the clickety clack of the track. Ecuador is making the most of a train line that at one time connected Guayaquil to Quito but is now restored only in limited stretches.

That meant we switched from our bright red train to bright blue buses in order to travel to lunch at the Hacienda La Danesa in Naranjito. The estate was purchased 150 years ago by a Danish immigrant whose great-grandson met us at the entrance with a warm welcome. He earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Louisiana in Baton Rouge and a master’s degree in tourism at Melborne. I asked at lunch if he has lots of ideas for growing the hacienda’s tourism business that older family members are nervous about, and he said oh yes. He’s on track though, with providing excellent accommodations for day travelers like the 50 of us who arrived for lunch and demonstrations of chocolate making and cow milking.

I am typing in the near dark in a corner of the dining area while the staff prepares breakfast at D’Franco Hosteria in Bucay. I hear rain outside and the banging of pots in the kitchen. We leave early by bus to be reunited with our red train in our assigned seats. Today’s track will include the famous Devil’s Nose climb up a steep slope in the Andes.

Darlene and Deb walk to the chocolate demonstration.

Darlene and Deb walk to the chocolate demonstration.

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Hats Off to Cuenca

Posted on 15 November 2015 (1)
Efrain, my Panama hat salesman, and me. Photo by Lenny Charnoff.

Efrain, my Panama hat salesman, and me. Photo by Lenny Charnoff.

I had not planned to buy one of the Panama hats that are everywhere in Ecuador. My classic Tilly canvas hat is more sensible for travel, because you can crush it into your suitcase on a day when you’re not wearing it.

But when we stopped at a hat factory and store in Cuenca the other day, it was clear that I would walk out with a nice new Panama hat, made at the store by the same family for decades. Part of the reason was the pursuasive good spirits of Efrain, the fellow who attended to me in the store.

I initially picked out a hat with a bright red band that Darlene clearly did not like. She preferred one that Efraim picked out that cost $10 more, $30. It had an understated brown band. I tried to get Efrain to weigh in on the side of the red band, but he was wise enough to stay out of it. In the end, I liked the finer weave of the more expensive hat, and the brown band looked right.

Efrain also helped my hat fit my head by taking me down the street to introduce me to Fanny, his hair stylist. She cut my hair for $3 and I gave her a $2 tip. When I first indicated that fitting a hat might be a challenge, Efrain had offered to cut my hair at the shop, indicating a guy sitting in the back with scissors, cutting straw. For a moment I thought he was serious, before the big grin appeared. Nice one.

I returned the next day with my Cuenca expat friend Lenny Charnoff, who took a great photo of me and Efrain.

We are now in Guayaquil, about to be picked up for a short ride to the Duran train station to begin Tren Crucero, a four-day tour of Ecuador on several trains, some of them antiques. All aboard!

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Cuenca Calling

Posted on 13 November 2015 (0)


Yesterday we toured Cuenca, a city of about 400,000 and lots of Colonial architecture, in a yellow double-decker bus. Mountains rise on all sides, and red tile roofs paint a pretty picture as you look out over the city.

Our hotel is an old home converted for guests and run by the original owners, the Ordonez family. It is just a few blocks from a major park and square. I can assure you an Apple Watch will not unlock the door of your room here. Instead, each has a 100-year-old key that you turn in perplexing motions to lock or unlock your room. Instead of numbers, the rooms have names; ours are Carmen and Letitia.

Breakfast is on the first floor of a two-story atrium, and the stairs are of creaky old beautiful wood. One downside is that you can hear everything in the building. When I walked–softly, I thought–to my writing area this morning I drew the frowning attention of Maria, the Ordonez family member who checked us in Wednesday night, who informed me that “we have other guests sleeping.” Trying to fall asleep early last night we heard voices in the dining area that sounded as if they were on the next pillow. In my mind, this is a small price to pay for the venerable ambiance and fantastic location of the hotel.

In a few minutes my Internet buddy and namesake Lenny Charnoff will pick us up for what he called the 55-cent tour of Cuenca this morning. His wife Sharon is a quilter, so Darlene may have a chance to compare notes with her. Lenny recommended Casa Ordonez and has been very helpful pointing us toward a good experience in the city where he and his wife have lived since moving from the U.S. four and a half years ago. I am very interested to learn more about the expat experience, in case Donald Trump somehow ends up president of my country.

Darlene and Deb's guide to Cuenca, Andre.

Darlene and Deb’s guide to Cuenca, Andre.

Our guide on the city bus tour, Andre, agreed to give a private tour of the area to Darlene and Deb yesterday afternoon. He was a U.S. exchange student in Pittsburgh when he was in high school, so his English is excellent. They had a terrific time, and Darlene tried on one of the surprisingly heavy velvet skirts we’ve seen indiginous women wearing in Ecuador. She deemed it unflattering in the bulk it added around the waist, which is apparently considered sensuous here.

It was a shock Wednesday to leave the utter tranquility and safety of Ali Shungru resort in Otavalo and land at the Cuenca airport at about 7:30 p.m.We hailed a cab after having difficulty figuring out which lane outside the airport they used to pick up passengers, and the ride in to the central part of the city made clear we had underestimated how big a place it is. The hotel appeared to be a mysterious place on a narrow street, and by the time Deb tried to get her room open with the ancient key she was muttering about how soon we might relocate to “a real hotel.” We’ve since come to appreciate the unique features of Casa Ordonez and have figured out the keys, so I’m very glad we had a chance to stay here. By the way, the price is very reasonable, about $50 a night per room, given the location and good services–excellent breakfast included, comfortable beds, plenty of hot water, and decent Internet.

Lenny will be here soon to tell us all about the real Cuenca from an expat’s point of view. Onward!

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The Master Weaver’s Tale

Posted on 11 November 2015 (0)

Miguel Andrango outside his home workshop in Otavalo, Ecuador

We visited the home and workshop of Miguel Andrango, 81, described as Ecuador’s master weaver, on Monday November 9, 2015. Senor Andrango welcomed us with a few words of English and many smiles. He walked us through the process of cleaning, preparing, and dyeing wool for spinning into thread and then handweaving into fabric using a backstrap loom, technology in use for thousands of years.

His workshop had bare concrete walls and a floor of large, rough bricks covered at one spot by a woven straw mat. He sat on a bench beside baskets of raw wool and scraped the wool between two handheld carding tools. The scratchy sound was rhythmic and calming, punctuated by birds singing outside. He checked the wool and added a bit more, then continued carding. Andrango then moved to a long spinning wheel in use since his great-grandfather’s time. Prepared wool in a basket was drawn up to a rod where it was twisted into yarn when he gently began the spinning by pulling a wire, then accelerating the motion by turning a large wheel at the other end, about 20 feet away from where the yarn was collected. At full speed, the yarn formed in a blur from the rough feed of the wool from the basket.

In bearing, energy, and humility Miguel Andrango brought to my mind a little old Zen master, a teacher of life as well as weaving. As he walked back and forth between the big turning wheel of the spinner to where the raw wool was drawn onto the spindle, he appeared to forget that three tourists from the U.S. were watching him. His hands and eyes were all on the machine and the material. There was something so practiced, so flawless about his movements that he seemed to disappear into them, and so did we.

Miguel Andrango and his dog bidding us farewell after our visit to his studio in Agato, outside Otavalo.

Out in the courtyard of his home and workshop, he showed us where he hangs wool to dry after dyeing with natural substances like walnuts and seeds. He is no more than five feet tall, and he smiled as he pointed to the clothesline, saying it was low enough for him to reach. He wore a black fedora hat, turtleneck shirt and a frayed light denim jacket. His straw sandals were homemade.

Yes, there was a gift shop, and we were eager to find items to purchase, in support of Andrango’s craft and for remembering our visit. In our enthusiasm, we made some incorrect assumptions about what we were buying. A handsome sweater that I bought, which I thought he had made himself, turned out to be an import from Peru, and Darlene’s colorful wool bag is from Bolivia. But I’m confident that the coarse guitar strap that I purchased was made by Miguel Andrango in his workshop, or perhaps by someone else in his family. The confusion was entirely ours; our host made no representations, in English or Spanish, that all of the work on sale had been made in his shop.

It’s difficult to explain the effect that visiting Miguel Andrango had on Darlene, Deb and me. His age and size were probably part of it, but the main source was the kindness of his smile. He greeted us as if we were the first people who had ever found his workshop on a hill outside Otavalo in the Andes of Ecuador, as if he had been waiting for us for a long time. There was nothing tired or bored about his demeanor. He was lit up with years of creating beautiful things the way they have been created for thousands of years.

We hear his family is involved in the work now, perhaps bending it toward more commercial focus. But it seems clear that when he is gone a way of weaving will be gone with him. This makes us very glad we had a chance to meet him and to appreciate his craft in person.



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Morning Notes from Mindo

Posted on 08 November 2015 (0)


We leave Mindo today for Otavalo after three days of leisurely exploration. I left a rave review of our home here (in photo above), Sisakuna Lodge, at TripAdvisor. It is a collection of five high-peaked, two-story cabins and one brick-colored, rounded structure that reminds me of Santa Fe. A woman named Amada manages Sisakuna, and I believe her father owns it. They began building the compound, lush with plants, flowers, and birds, five years ago, and it has been open for two years. From our cabins, we were able to walk everywhere in Mindo but we did take a $3 taxi ride back from the butterfly pavillion, which was about a half-hour’s walk up a steep dirt road.

Avenue Quito is the main street, and in the evening it is a wonder of combined transportation. The cobblestoned street fills with kids, dogs, chickens, bicycles, motorcycles–and yes–a few cars, pickup trucks and an occasional bus. At dinner the other night we saw three pickup trucks drive by, horns honking and kids in soccer uniforms in the back cheering and waving flags. Someone must have had a good game.

Our bird-watching trip starting at 6 a.m. yesterday morning with Alex Luna, who moved here 15 years ago from another city in Ecuador. He introduced us to several varieties of tucan and other colorful birds, as well as to the role digital technology plays in bird-watching these days. I remember my Aunt Edna heading out with a small pair of binoculars and a small field guide book on her bird-watching walks decades ago. Alex arrived with a cannon-sized Pentax scope with 20 power magnification, a green laser pointer to show us where to look in the trees, and a Sony smartphone filled with thousands of bird calls. He used the phone once in a while to call a particular bird toward us, but sometimes they flew away instead. Alex also loaned us each powerful Swarovski binoculars, made in Austria.

Alex Luna, our birder guide in Mindo, and Darlene on yesterday's walk.

Alex Luna, our birder guide in Mindo, and Darlene on yesterday’s walk.

Mindo is a small town in the cloud forest northwest of the capital, Quito. The population is about 3,000. We saw just one other set of tourists from the U.S., a couple from California with a four-year-old daughter named Shiva. Mindo gets many Ecuadorian visitors, including a couple I just met here in the dining pavillion, Natalie and Sebastian and their one-year-old, Sara. They met in Montreal, where Natalie is from, and moved back to the Quito area, where Sebastian is from, three years ago. We ran into a group of about 20 students from Norway at the pizza place where we had supper one night.  They were traveling the world for a year, and their next stop is China. The next morning they showed up at the Rio Mindo, putting on life jackets for a tubing ride down the river. I’ve had a chance to practice my French with two groups of visitors from France. So it’s a varied collection of tourists that makes its way to Mindo.

This was a good place to settle in after the intense tour of the Gallapagos. This morning a driver will pick us up for the three-hour ride to Otavalo and the Ali Shungu eco resort, which sounds like an amazing place at higher elevation. Reviews often point out that the woodstoves in the cabins are kept fired up against the chilly mountain air.


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Gallapagos Gallery

Posted on 07 November 2015 (0)
Taken by Deb on the island of Floreana on October 29, 2015.

Taken by Deb at Punta Cormorant on the island of Floreana on October 29, 2015.


On a rainy afternoon here in Mindo, I am catching up with some favorite photos taken during our visit last week to the Galapagos.

We 13 Overseas Adventure Travel passengers navigated to and from our ship, the Carina, in two dinghies, called pongas.

We 13 Overseas Adventure Travel passengers navigated to and from our ship, the Carina, in two dinghies, called pongas.


At Post Office Bay on the island of Floreana we continued a tradition begun in the 1700s, of leaving and picking up mail for delivery all over the world. Our guide, Roberto, opens a bag of postcards left by other visitors.

At Post Office Bay on the island of Floreana we continued a tradition begun in the 1700s, of leaving and picking up mail for delivery all over the world. Our guide, Roberto, opens a bag of postcards left by other visitors.


Jerry from Delaware checks postcards at Post Office Bay, looking for one to deliver back home.

Jerry from Delaware checks postcards at Post Office Bay, looking for one to deliver back home.


Blue-footed boobies were in abundance during a ponga trip on the coast of Santa Cruz island.

Blue-footed boobies were in abundance during a ponga trip on the coast of Santa Cruz island.


Deb and Darlene on Santa Cruz Island.

Deb and Darlene on Santa Cruz Island.

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