Sunday, December 25, 2011

Feliz Navidad!!!

So its is Christmas in Ecuador.
On the eve of Christmas ever we became Santa's special elves and cooked until we dropped!
cooking hard! Panchi teaching us the correct way to cut cabbage!

my exploding coffee cake! forgot about the altitude rules!

cute Santa hat deserts!
Then It was time for lunch.. and yes we had a Christmas Picnic outside in the beautiful weather!

Christmas Eve
Christmas eve is the big day here in Ecuador.
We went to Lars's sisters house for Christmas lunch and presents.
The food was amazing!

All the pictures are on my cousins camera so they will come later...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Santo Domingo (the farm)

The boys and I went to the family farm. The girls were party poopers and didn't want to come!
The drive there takes about 2.5 hours. and it is all windy streets around the mountains.
 After getting a bit car sick from all the turns we made it to the farm. The family own so much land. on one side of the road they have started a development. That is where the house is. We started the night with a wonderful dinner. Clay oven slow roasted pork. fried and boiled yucas, salad, and amazing mango salsa.
After a very hot nights sleep we woke up and watched Jurassic park... Yes Jurassic park and we were all very excited about it. Great breakfast then it was time to meet Gloria and Oscar. 
This is Gloria. She is a Galapagos tortoise. Both her and Oscer were brought to Lars's father many many years ago. Although they are only native to the Galapagos islands they have been happy here. Lars and his brother have tried to give them back to the islands but it has been too dangerous there for this to happen. Poachers are still taking out these animals. 

We do not know the exact age of Either Gloria or Oscar. They guess that Gloria is around 80 years old and weighs about 250 pounds. There are 11 species of Galapagos tortoises still alive today. These tortoises are domed shaped because they eat vegetation near the ground. I don't know their exact subspecies but i would have to guess close to a porteri.
This is Oscar. Is is much bigger, weighing around 400 pounds. We think is is about 120 years old. You can kind of tell that his right leg is bent in at a weird angle. He got hurt about 4 months ago, no idea how. but he did not move for 3 months. The cool this about these tortoises is that they can go long periods of time with out eating. They can survive a year without eating or drinking. Because of this when pirates and sailors would go to the Galapagos to restock they would bring along many tortoises. That way they had fresh food that they did not have to feed or take car of on long journeys. 
Then we went to the farm!
They have tons of macadamia nuts around everywhere. Lars's father loved them so much that he names the farm after them and then planted thousands. They are so good freshly broken open!
Not yet ripe on the trees

Starting to split open. 
The outer shell is very easy to open and it naturally splits open when ripe and drying out. The inner shell is very hard to crack. We used our inner man strength and a rock! so delicious!
The farm has mostly cocoa trees. The trees that contain the seeds that make chocolate. He has so many species and kinds of trees

This one pod. The pods come in different colors and shaped depending on the type of tree.

Each pod contains about 40 seeds. These seeds have a white milky fruit meat around them that you can suck off and it is sweet. To make chocolate you have to dry the seeds is a very scientific fermentation process. .
Some cool animals I found walking around1

Before we left we had to go visit Gloria and Ocar again and decided to feed them!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

La Selva part 2

Day two started at 7am!. After waking up tangled in our mosquito nets we headed to breakfast!

The View of the mountains was beautiful in the morning.

Then we headed off into the jungle!. We were completely just trudging through no path to follow. We used a machete to cut through the foliage in order to continue forward. Our guide told us to chew this plant that he called lechuga de la Selva (lettuce of the jungle) but we were not allowed to swallow it. So we did!
It Turned out tongues blue! And not like a lollipop blue but it stayed that way for 2 days!
Then we found this tree that had green fruit on it. The bark has a milky substance in it that helps with headaches and sinus problems. So what did we do we tried it of course.
We added a bit of water and made a soup like substance. Then you have to snort it like you would a nasal spray. When you do it, it burns everything. And your sinus cavities drain completely. I had snot poring from my nose for 10 minutes. If was awful but when it finally stopped I was amazed. I could breath i had no pressure it was AMAZING!

Later during our hike we were getting thirsty. A water bottle can only get you so far. So we found a vine the cut it into pieces. Then you suck the water out of it. It was so fresh and very cold. DELICIOUS!
A bit later we were getting kind of hungry. Again the jungle provides! We ate heart of palm. This is a special palm tree. When you cut the trunk you can find a soft fibrous center that is sweet. So we had a little snack!
We made it to the river and before we went swimming we went fishing. But they were not biting....

Then we had to swim up the river to find a cave that had a beautiful waterfall. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Jungle!!!! Jurassic Park Style!

We went to the jungle!
First we stooped at a monkey paradise! This is where injured monkeys go live there for a few months then are released back into the wild. 

 The cutest monkey who thought I was his mother.

Took great pictures of Maggie with the monkeys but my pictures of me and the monkeys are on Maggie's monkeys!

Then we went to an Indian reserve!
Here we were supposed to learn handy crafts but they were in the middle of a Christmas celebration.
So we joined.  
We joined in their dances and drank their drink. 
We drank chicha! which is fermented yuca... Fermented  by taking the yuca and chewing it and the saliva helps the yuca ferment into an alcohol! ...
 I didn't know it was chicha until I drank an entire vat of it. 

We also got to practice using a giant blow gun... I was a natural!
Then we took a canoe trip down the Amazon river! Breathtaking!
Then we pulled in to our camp! And had lunch!
  And a friend joined us for dinner! we names her Lola. Apparently her husband was killed by a poacher and now she is so depressed that she refuses to fly.. Parrots are monogamous.
The we went off on a hike to a waterfall. First we needed a spa treatment so we had a mud facial!
Then we needed to have a spa massage.. so we went into the waterfall and had the water pound on our back!
After our guide was a stylist and a massage therapist.. he became a doctor. I complained of a sore throat so he took us to a tree and told me to eat some termites!!!
Then we hiked up a mountain to see a birds eye view of the jungle. We found a rope and decided to swing over the jungle. Absolutely terrifying but worth it. And of course i was the first to go because I am the bravest.. especially when compared to the boys!
beautiful view form the mountain top!
Then it was time for bed. We slept in a bungalo!
And we slept with mosquito nets! Some of us were better at it than others.