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Andean Music, Wine and a Warm Fire

View South America 2008 on jtlande's travel map.

We stumbled upon an unexpected treat when we got back to Caskaffesu. Susan and Luis were rehearsing their Andean music in the dining room in front of the fire. They have a bunch of different instruments, including a funky guitar-like instrument called a charango that´s made from an armadillo´s shell. The two of them have been playing music together for many many years, including during the 15 years they spent together in Chicago while they were saving up money to move back to Quito and open their hotel and cafe.

Susan and Luis invited us to sit and enjoy the music, and she poured us each a glass of red wine to sip while we listened. Their music was very good, and it made for a magical end to our night.

Here´s a picture of them playing their music for us.


Here´s a better picture of them we took earlier in the morning:


Posted by jtlande 14:47 Archived in Ecuador Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

...Got Some Catching Up to do...

sunny 89 °F
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We´ll have to fill in some details and post some of our photos over the next few days, but to quickly catch you up with the (mis)adventures of Jason y Joanna:

23-Feb: Got a last-second phone call at our hotel in Quito Saturday night (we were supposed to catch an 8am flight on Sunday morning) telling us that our Galapagos boat was now out of commission due to electrical problems and that we had been rebooked on another boat named the Coral II. Jason and Joanna briefly fly into a panic since an email with all the details had not arrived yet.

24-Feb: Go to the Quito airport, figured out who we needed to talk to to get on the new boat. Oh, and enjoyed a meat piroshki for breakfast.

24-Feb to 02-Mar: Had an amazing time on our 8-day Galapagos cruise. Our ship-mates turned out to be fun and good-natured folks; our naturalist was a kick in the pants; the flora and fauna (marine iguanas, land iguanas, sea turtles, giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, cormorants, Galapagos hawks, eagle rays, white-tipped sharks, manta rays doing flips above the water, pink flamingos, and sea lions swimming only inches from us) were simply astounding.

Oh, and we discovered the culinary delight that can only be called a spaghetti omelet.

Photos and more details to follow!!

Posted by jtlande 00:38 Archived in Ecuador Tagged cruises Comments (2)

Galapagos...Now With Photos!!

sunny 89 °F
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IMG_2993.jpg IMG_2739.jpg IMG_2831.jpg IMG_2874.jpg

The Galapagos Islands were so damned incredible. Being moved last-second to a different boat with a different itinerary than we´d planned proved to be a blessing...the boat was an upgrade, the friends we made on the boat were fantastic, and we can´t imagine seeing more mindblowing landscapes and animals.

  • We traveled to nine different islands.
  • We saw sea lions, Galapagos hawks, flightless cormorants, lava lizards, land iguanas, marine iguanas, pink flamingos, frigate birds, blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, Darwin´s finches, sea turtles, giant tortoises, storm petrels, Sally Light-Foot crabs, white-tipped sharks, penguins, Galapagos mockingbirds, and more.
  • We met folks from Holland, Germany, England, Ireland, Australia, Ecuador, Chicago, Vermont, Portland, and Washington D.C. on our boat.
  • There was a jacuzzi on the boat (we kid you not)

If you want to see more details about our itinerary or the yacht you can go here.

Alright, ´nuff said. Here are a bunch of photos for your viewing pleasure...


Whew. It took a lot of work to upload those photos. We have some Spanish studying to do, so ´bye for now...

-J & J

Posted by jtlande 21:33 Archived in Ecuador Tagged cruises Comments (2)

Donde es la clase? Lost in Quito...


We made it back from the Galapagos Islands--tan, tired and a little fatter for all the buffet food we ate on the Coral II.

Now it is time to get down to business of learning the local tongue. After a restful night at Casa Bambu hostel, we headed into Quito to research Spanish Language schools. There are supposed to be over 60 Spanish schools in Quito . How does one choose with so many options?!?!

Luckily, we were able to access the South American Explorers´Club for their recommendations on where to start looking. They recommended about 15-20 schools, most of which is in the trendy, touristy New Town. The hard part was actually FINDING these places. Street names have changed, street numbers are hard to come by, and some places just no longer exist. Not to mention our unfamiliarity with the city!

After an afternoon of walking, talking broken Spanlish, and scratching our heads, we settled on the Apu Inty, which is situated in a converted house. It had a really nice casual feel and offered morning classes as we were hoping for.

The rest of our day was spent exploring the shops and cafes of New Town........

Tomorrow - a new language and Old Town.

Posted by joannacez 18:45 Archived in Ecuador Tagged educational Comments (0)

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