A Travellerspoint blog

Des oiseaux en plein vol

et des paysages qui donnent le gout de voler...

sunny 19 °C

Ayayayayai...
Tant de choses a raconter ENCORE sur Otavalo (meme si nous ne somme plus la depuis ce matin)...
Avant de vivre de nouvelles aventures, je veux d'abord etre certaine d'avoir partage le meilleur de cet endroit que nous avons TELLEMENT aime.

Nous avons eu la chance de visiter un centre de refuge d'oiseaux rapaces, des aigles, des hiboux et LE PLUS GRAND de tous les oiseaux qui volent, le condor. Wow, wow, wow! Tout d'abord le cadre etait superbe. Quel endroit merveilleux. Avec une vue a vous couper le souffle, a 360 degres. Des montagnes, des volcans, du vert, du brun, des nuages si bas qu'il touchaient les montagnes... de la neige eternelle... Je n'en revenais tout simplement pas. Ce pays a des paysages incroyables et chaque fois, chaque jour, c'est une autre decouverte, un autre point de vue, encore plus haut, encore plus beau.

Et puis ces oiseaux... moi qui ai toujours reve de voler ...

Quelques images... Malheureusement vous n'etiez pas la pour les voir voler. Sensation inoubliable. De les voir deployer leurs ailes et filer dans ce paysage ... Oh la la la la comme c'etait beau, beau, beau ...

D'abord une petite idee de ce paysage que je ne peux pas d'ecrire en mots ...
(meme si mon appareil photo n'arrive pas a saisir les details, les nuances des textures et des couleurs...)

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Oh la la la ...

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J'aime trop cette photo car l'oiseau devient la tete de l'homme ...

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Et encore ...

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Et le meilleur pour la fin. Le roi du ciel, le grand, l'elegant, le tout puissant ... LE CONDOR.

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Et oui, pour moi, il a ouvert tout grand ses ailes ...

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Et je suis tomber sous le charme de cette creature.

Besos volants

Posted by patsybrel 20:36 Archived in Ecuador Comments (8)

7 days in Otavalo and still going...

Street fiestas, beautiful women, gorgeous men, artesanias, toros and a new family

sunny 18 °C

Back to the writing pad. Sorry to all who have been waiting. It's just that this place has been too much fun and extremely busy and crazy and we moved in with a family and I have a bad cold and we started intensive spanish classes...

Arrived here last friday, just in time to get the last hostal room available. It gets crazy here on friday nights as tourists arrive in bus loads to take part in the famous OTAVALO MARKET (dates back to pre-inca times and is the largest crafts market in South America).

As well, our timing could not have been better as we arrived THE NIGHT of the beginning of 2 weeks of processions, music and dancing in the streets, fireworks, the election of the fiesta queen, and a ton of special food and drinks to celebrate the biggest party of the year, the FIESTA DEL YAMOR. Festivities which celebrate the recoltes, nature's gifts ...

It was a crazy first night!!! So much colour and craziness in the streets. A street carnival and processions like they still do in Europe (forget our Montreal street parades!). People in traditional costumes of all sorts with sequence, feathers, beads of all kinds and strands of golden decorations, dancing horses (no joke!- Brel was soooo impressed!), floats decorated with fresh flowers which were thrown among the crowd (Brel caught one!), big groups of INDIGENAS men all playing their ZAMPOÑAS (pan flutes) and all dressed in their traditional costume/uniform (which by the way they still wear everyday here)...

The perfect introduction to the mix of cultures that exist here. It is a blend of indigenas (Brel says they all look the same). The men all have a long pony tail or braid, white shirt, white pants, woven sandals and a poncho. They are beautiful I have to admit! And the women are absolutely gorgeous too with their long black hair, white embroidered blouses with coloured embroidered details on their poofy sleeves, strands of either coral colour or gold beads wrapped around their neck and both wrists and this wonderful pleated skirts that I have seen in all colours. They always carry something on their back, either a child or food.

And then there are the Mestizos and the Afro Ecuadorians (which were brought to Ecuador as slaves by the Spanish in colonial times). So you do see all shades of whites and browns here and during the fiesta they all mixed together, although each in their particular costumes and each dancing their own particular dances to their own music.

We watched the parade, tasted some of the food (tortillas= little balls of mashed potatoes stuffed with cheese and fried lightly + their own version of the skewer which of course included chunks of grilled banana- miam!). Tried every possible street that could bring us back to the hostal but it was impossible as the streets were completely blocked and so the fun lasted and lasted until Brel couldn't take it anymore and we found a crack in the mob...a way home.

Next morning. Saturday. Market day. I had heard and seen so many pictures of this thing but never imagined how big it could really be. Vendors of textiles, instruments, jewelery, art and clothing sprawled on every inch of street all over town. And the idea is to bargain because they never expect you to simply pay the first price they give. It is an art. And the prices are unbelievable and the quantities of things ....overload, overdose. Difficult not to buy anything, impossible to resist ... but no room in my huge backpack. Comment choisir et pour qui?

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Then there's the food market where women sprawl out in front of their mountains of corn (each grain so big that it looks like teeths).

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I have NEVER (not even in Mexico) seen corn with such huge grain! And entire pigs which they place cooked on their table top and serve you by digging inside with their bare hands....beans of all sizes and colours ...

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And then, some of the oldest women I have ever seen...and sooo beautiful. Some look like those peeled apples you leave on your window sill to dry in the sun, the lines on their faces, their little hands, so strong... they tell of an entire lifetime of work. And they are so small and carry such loads ...never empty handed and often bare footed ...

Sunday, the move to our family, an organized homestay through our spanish school. I'll keep the introduction of the family for the next entry but I will just say that it's been a GREAT experience so far, all in spanish, home cooked meals and the opportunity to participate in the daily life of a real family here in Ecuador.

And I almost forgot ... the TOROS. Yes, the bulls in all shapes and sizes enclosed in a ring with lunatics trying to provoque them in all kinds of ways.

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And then the most unbelievable thing I ever saw. They call it TORO GOAL and yes mesdames et messieurs, the idea is for each team to try to make the bull go in the other team's net, determined by empty boxes of beer. Totally crazy as each player tried anything to make the bull enter the net.

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And then it got crazier and crazier as clowns got into the ring and pretended they were in Spain, waving red, fuschia, yellow cloth...

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What people do for entertainment in these places is a little questionable, I say.

Monday the start of our intensive spanish class. 4 hours/day, for 5 days, each with our own teacher. Brel loves it! Mine is lots of grammar but very useful. Could be more dynamic and more fun but I am making great use of what I have learned so far and am perfecting the art of speaking spanish in the past tense. Nice to not have to stick to the present and future!

And if Brel's spanish class and schooling (because YES we are doing math + grammaire on the road) wasn't enough, he started CHARANGO classes today. We found a guy who owns an instrument store and he is also a musician. Brel asked him if he would teach him and so today he showed him where the notes are on the charango and the first movements. I picked him up an hour later and he had his first blister and hand pains, all with a nice smile. He's learning to play a typical piece from Otavalo. He's in heaven.

Bye for now ...

Posted by patsybrel 16:42 Archived in Ecuador Comments (8)

Looking back on our first days in Quito

And on blogging

sunny

I started telling you about our 3rd day in Quito because I had just experienced it and was still feeling so HIGH from the whole experience but I must also tell you about the rest of Quito in words and in pictures, of course.

Here's what I had written in my diary.

WELCOME TO QUITO
A gruelsome 8 hour overnight journey on a very bumpy bus. My head hit the ceiling of the bus 3 times it was so crazy. And I spent the entire journey holding on to Brel (sprawled all over me, asleep) with my dear life. As we got closer and closer to Quito, it got freezing cold inside the bus ... and so the shivering began and Brel also became my blanket and I spread all the clothes I had on hand to cover his entire body. Arghhh sooo uncomfortable the whole thing!

Arrived at the Quito bus terminal just passed 5 am. Pitch dark, rain and men in dressed in black from head to toe (including face masks through which only their eyes were visible) AND FULLY ARMED. That's just no way to make someone feel welcomed here. SHIT! Not reassuring at all after the countless stories I have heard (all sorts of armed robberies) from fellow travellers and warnings read all over my guidebook. It was clear now. This city is dangerous.

Hopped in a cab. That in itself is always dangerous but what could I do? Every move you make is a risk here. I just keep those eyes open all the time, hang on to Brel and hope everything will be alright. And my risks are always calculated. We made it to the hostal. Slept in till noon. Brel woke up in pieces and we both had bad headaches. To be expected ... Quito is 2850m above sea level.

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Took it really easy all day. Walked very slowly up and down the amazingly narrow colonial streets of the old town. Incredible views of the mountains, the crowded houses in pastel colours, clumped by colour. Somewhat like the clothes at the Salvation Army. Pink houses clustered together, then the blue group, the yellow ... GORGEOUS!

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My guide says that the old town is A MAZE OF COLONIAL SPLENDOR and that it is! TO WALK ITS NARROW STREETS IS TO WANDER INTO ANOTHER WORLD. Oh yes!

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The ANDES (finally we're here) are always present and nothing is flat. The houses make me think of x-mas gifts piled up under the tree; different sizes all wrapped up in a multitude of colour. I keep on getting flashes of Louise Nevelson's boxes/sculptures. Maybe she came here for inspiration! (Tried to paste one of her pieces here but was unable to, sorry).

Arrived at PLAZA GRANDE. It's the center of the Old Town. Almost as beautiful as the Grand Place in Bruxelles but here it is clear that religion occupies a much more important place. Cathedrals, churches, crosses and all kinds of museums. And sadly, lots of little children shoe shining.

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And a fabulous internet cafe. Finally a fast connection. For 3 weeks we tried connecting on the coast. A nightmare! They are connected to internet through their mobile phones. You just can't imagine how long it took just to log on to gmail...and to get to my blog, I won't tell you the frustration. So here we were able to upload photos!!!

And then for my sweet Brel who really deserved it... a movie. I had promised him that we would go to the cinema as soon as we got to a city. And this day was perfect for it since he wasn't feeling 100%. We took the TROLEY, a sort of bus on rails, to see LOS REYES DE LA OLAS in spanish of course (no subtitles) and Brel needed NO TRANSLATION.

DAY 2 IN QUITO
At breakfast we met an Italian that doesn't speak english or french. Our only common language was spanish. How funny is that? Long conversations between 2 Quebecois and 1 italian in SPANISH!!! He learned spanish In Buenas Aires and so his accent in spanish is quite funny and charming. Made Brel laugh a lot. Decided to walk back to the Old Town together.

Brel and I had a rendez-vous with ART. A fabulous ANDY WARHOL exhibition at the CENTRO CULTURAL METROPOLITANO was waiting for us. Oh art ... how good it felt, and they did such an amazing job!!! They recreated the FACTORY (his studio, meeting place for "happenings"), showed sculptures, films, book editions and lots of silskscreened series. Although I'm not a huge fan, I seem to meet Warhol on all my big trips. Even saw him in Sante Fe on my roadtrip to Mexico 2 years ago. I loved his illustrated silkscreened recipes. Lush colours and an edible line. Gorgeous and tasty.

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An afternoon walk to the MARISCAL (considered extremely dangerous after dark in my Lonely Planet). Not interesting. Hostal after hostal, restaurants (for tourists), and evrything else tourists might need and want. Not of much interest until we landed in front of the MINDALAE (Ethnic museum of Ecuadorian artesanias). INCREDIBLE EXPERIENCE THERE!!!! We had our own guided tour of this fabulous magical place in spanish (for our italian friend) and learned a ton of stuff about the shamans, textiles, weavings, pottery, hats, arms, animals, basketry ... The museum is completely new, not even a year old yet, not in the guides but what a treat it is. Beautiful building and incredible displays that through the light (and lack of when necessary) really recreated the magical ritual atmosphere. Sorry, no pictures allowed. Many little ceramic figures blew my mind. A KICHUA goddess who devoured all the men she slept with (had a second mouth hidden at the back of her head) was definitely my favourite. And the textiles- woven belts that indicate if a woman is single, still able to bear children ...And the beaded necklaces which depending on how many times they are wrapped around the woman's neck, indicate her status. So much info in their dress. Everything is coded, filled with symbols and meaning. Nothing is empty here.

Back to the internet cafe (the blogging takes hours I have to admit) and home in a taxi. I have to admit that I constantly feel the danger here, especially at night. There are armed policias EVERYWHERE.

Off to OTAVALO today (2 hours north) where Brel and I will take an intensive one week (4 hours a day) spanish private class and live with a family. Exciting! Brel says we should meet the family first before deciding to do the HOMESTAY so that we can choose to stay in a hostal instead if it doesn't seem so great. Not a bad idea. We'll keep you posted.

One last thing ... ABOUT BLOGGING. I have to admit that it is taking over my life. Won`t let me sleep anymore. It's too exciting. I wake up in the middle of the night with ideas, stories to tell and they keep me up because sentences run around in my head... and I don't want to forget...and i don't want to turn the light on to write everything down because I don't want to wake Brel up. I think of details and details that I see that I can`t capture with the camera. When will there be computers in front of which you can just sit and all that info in your head will just enter slowly, in detail with you just having to concentrate on the thoughts, the info ??? Somebody please help me. I can't type or write as fast as I think at the moment and I am blogging constantly (in my head). Arghhhhh.

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Besos de Quito

Posted by patsybrel 06:43 Archived in Ecuador Comments (10)

Oh Quito ...

Teleferico, mind blowing views, des chevaux et des nuages

Je vais d'abord commencer avec aujourd'hui, troisieme journee a QUITO.
Par ou commencer? Tellement c'etait extraordinaire.

Nous avons decide de commencer notre journee en prenant le telepherique qui nous a amene a 4100 m d'altitude pendant 2,5 km. Que dire? WOW, WOW ET WOW. Une vue de tres haut de cette ville tellement vaste, d'arbres gigantesques, de forets qui semblaient etre des brocolis (de si haut), des petites maisons entasses les unes sur les autres, des cathedrales et eglises partout, des volcans et de ces montagnes toujours presentes en arriere scene.

Et puis il fallait marcher et marcher, et ce avec le coeur qui palpitait, qui battait comme un tambour ... je pensais qu'il allait se sauver de mon corps ou tout simplement exploser. Et puis mes dames et messieurs, NOUS sommes arrives jusqu'au ciel. Et oui, le coeur et la tete dans les nuages. Et ce fut extraordinaire. Et Brel qui au debut ne voulait pas marcher. Il faisait tres tres froid la-haut et il avait mal a la tete et puis mal au ventre. Je suis rentree me rechauffer avec lui et puis il m'a attendu pendant que je suis partie escalader ces montagnes un peu. Impossible d'y resister!

Et la sensation d'y arriver, de reussir ... et la tristesse que Brel ne soit pas alle jusqu'au bout car le plus beau de tout ce voyage, dans cette petite cabine flottante dans le ciel etait ce qui nous attendait de l'autre cote, une fois sur terre. Et en marchant j'ai vu cette affiche ...

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CHEVAUX A LOUER ...

Et je savais que Brel voudrait faire du cheval. Et je suis donc retournee le chercher. Et je lui ai raconte qu'il y avait de magnifiques chevaux qui l'attendaient a seulement 20 minutes de marche. Et que ce serait un peu difficile (peut etre meme tres difficile) mais qu'il serait tellement heureux d'y arriver. Et puis je n'ai pas du le convaincre trop longtemps, il voulait. Il etait pret. Et donc nous sommes retournes tous les 2, main dans la main, et c'etait tres tres chouette. On y allait molo, tranquillement et le paysage en chemin etait a couper le souffle (litteralement). Tous ces verts, ces montagnes, la fumee, les nuages, la ville qui de la haut paraissait etre une ville miniature ...

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Et nous sommes montes a cheval (tous les 2 cette fois-ci!).

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Et avec notre guide nous sommes alles voir un cratere dans lequel coulait une petite cascade. Trop magique quand meme. Et Brel voulait aller de plus en plus vite et il voulait mener le chemin.

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Et moi qui ai quand meme peur des chevaux...
Et puis Brel et son cheval se sont regardes dans les yeux et se sont caresses par le regard. Tendresse pure.

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Bravo Brel

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et merci de m'avoir accompagne JUSQU'AU CIEL!

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Posted by patsybrel 19:05 Archived in Ecuador Comments (10)

PHOTOS FINALLEMENT/FINALLY!!!

TEXTES DE BREL/TRADUCTION PAR PATSY

sunny 20 °C

FINALEMENT des preuves qu`on est pas cache dans les toilettes de l`aeroport Trudeau...
FINALLY PROOFS THAT WE ARE NOT HIDING OUT IN TRUDEAU AIRPORT ...

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Neto, mon nouvel ami qui parle francais a Lima
Il m`a prete sa copie de RATATOUILLE

NETO, MY NEW FRIEND IN LIMA. HE SPEAKS FRENCH, A LITTLE BIT.
HE LET ME WATCH HIS COPY OF RATATOUILLE, THE MOVIE.

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CHAN CHAN, la terre de sable. La plus grande ville au monde en adobe .
CHAN CHAN, THE BIGGEST CITY IN THE WORLD IN ADOBE{SAND}.

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Encore CHAN CHAN ... c`EST GRAND!
MORE OF CHAN CHAN. iT`S A BIG PLACE!

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Le premier chien peruvien qu`on a rencontre.
Regardez son poils luxueux... oups pas de poils!

THE FIRST PERUVIAN DOG WE ENCOUNTERED.
CHECK OUT HIS NICE HAIR... NO HAIR ON THESE DOGS!

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Regardez celui=ci, il est ne avec un mohawk!
THIS ONE WAS BORN WITH A MOHAWK. KASIA, THIS ONE`S FOR YOU!!

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Ces bateaux sont incroyables. Ils sont faits tout en sorte de raphia.
THESE INCREDIBLE BOATS ARE THE SPECIALTY HERE. ALL MADE OUT OF A NATURAL FIBER, SOMETHING LIKE RAFFIA.

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Me voici dans un de ces incroyables bateaux de pecheurs.
Je n`nai pas pu resister!

HERE I AM IN ONE OF THESE INCREDIBLE BOATS USED FOR FISHING. I COULDN`T RESIST.

Et ca continue... A suivre.
MORE TO COME. WE ARE SOOO HAPPY TO HAVE FINALLY FIGURED OUT HOW TO UPLOAD PHOTOS. WE HAVE MORE THAN 3 WEEKS OF AMAZING TRAVELLING BEHIND US AND LOOOTS OF PHOTOS TO UPLOAD.

TO BE CONTINUED ...

WE MISS YOU ALL!
Patsyta

Oui, je m`ennuie de vous tous!
y quiero encontrarte janeta,abi,chai...
brelito

Posted by patsybrel 18:30 Archived in Ecuador Comments (9)

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