Shrunken Head And A Hummingbird

Also at the Museo Solar Intinan they had a display of a shrunken head.

The guide talked us through how they used to do it. Cutting off the head of the enemy, scooping out the contents which is apparently quite difficult to do without damaging the skin. Then boiling the head and drying it, I think that was the gist. They also sewed the mouth shut so spirits couldn’t escape.

Rather remarkable isn’t it? The one they showed us after that we weren’t allowed to take pictures of was really remarkable. The facial features still clear as day and also had a beautiful green feather head dress. You could still imagine what the full size would look like and it’s also kinda creepy.

While looking at the shrunken head a hummingbird flew by and paused right where we were. It was bright green and blue, would have loved to take a picture but at that time nobody had they’re camera out because we weren’t allowed to. It did make me optimistic that I would see another one and either way hummingbirds remind me of the Inca Trail and that made me smile.

They did have a big statue of a hummingbird that was easier to capture:

The Equator

The first morning of my tour started a little rocky. I went downstairs a little early feeling good, this was my first solo tour. I had made it this far and was looking forward to meeting the group I would spend the next four days with. I waited and waited, then the front desk clerk called Peregrine for me. There had been a mix up and the tour was starting an hour later but I hadn’t got the message.

Okay, no problem I went and had another coffee and croissant. Mauro the guide showed up and off we went to pick up the rest of the tour group, which turned out to be Carole from Australia. There would be just the three of us, here’s hoping that Carole and I get along!

As it turns out I feel like I have made a wonderful new friend and hope to see her again!

The first stop on our tour was the equator at the Museo Solar Intinan, which turned out to be really interesting. We stood at latitude 00’00’00′ and were told about the equator and strange properties it has. The guide at the Equator poured water through a portable sink to show on one side it circled left, on the other right and on the equator straight down. Also she balanced an egg on a nail, very hard to do but Carole did and got an Egg Mistress certificate!

Then we tried to walk a straight line on the equator but it’s very difficult, it’s like instant drunk. I would totally recommend going to see the equator, there is another facility close by but we didn’t make it to that one. It’s where they once thought 0’0’0 was but then remeasured and realized they had been a bit off.

It was cooler than I thought it would be and so far my trip was looking up from the mix up in the morning!

A clock at the equator:

Peregrine Tour To Quito And The Galapagos

I have so much to say about my trip that I don’t know where to begin.

It was amazing and exceeded every expectation, the tour around Quito and the Galapagos will always be one of my favourite vacations. Right now it is the favourite trip that I have done.

Part of the reason it was so great was the tour company, so that is where I will start with my posts.

I talked about how I chose Peregrine Adventure Tours (check out the link they have a lot of great tours) as my tour company here picking a tour.

Now I’ll tell you how they did.

First upon arrival in Quito at just after 11:00 pm the Peregrine representative was there as promised waiting. I had to wait briefly before heading to the hotel because there was another couple getting in from Miami that he was also picking up. In five days I would meet that same couple again on my Galapagos cruise!

The hotel was welcoming and I just settled in and slept that night as I would have an early start in the morning.

The next morning I was up and ready to go by 8:00am but I didn’t get the message that the tour start had been pushed back to 9:00am. Oh well I went and had another coffee and croissant to wait for the tour leader.

Mauro Ghovez (I think that is how it is spelt?) showed up and apologized for the confusion. He was very nice, we headed off to pick up the other person that would be joining us. As it turns out there would be only two of us and Mauro on the tour. We picked up Carole and we were on our way to the equator. Carole and I got along GREAT and you will hear more about her in future posts, especially our stay at the Stephen King hotel which I believe bonded us for life!

The tour went great, we saw almost everything on the itinerary. We missed a few stops but I enjoyed everything I saw so much and the company was so enjoyable that I have no complaints. Mauro was friendly, knowledgeable and loved talking about Ecuador. He was also a very good driver, funny and handsome to boot!

Leaving the four day Quito tour I was feeling very optimistic about how the Galapagos tour would go.

The night after my four day tour ended we met Diego Ch (that’s what the card says, is Ch a last name?) who thoroughly explained what would happen the next day, what we could expect from the tour and answered any questions we had. The next morning Diego was there on time to take us to the airport, he handled everything. Getting the tickets, checking our bags, explained that we needed to listen for the announcement of our gate and then bid us good-bye.

Listening for our gate was the most confusing part of the gate and it was as our flight time approached that Cathy (Cathy and Rod were joining me on the tour to the Galapagos) went and started to ask about our flight. It was confusing but we did make it on our flight. This was not Peregrine’s fault, this was airport confusion and I don’t see how it could be avoided.

In the Galapagos we were met by a guide and taken to see sea lions and then the tortoises before joining our the rest of our tour group for the cruise. It went very smoothly and once on the boat we met Fabian Bucheli, who is awesome! I can not imagine having a better guide. He is thoughtful, considerate, takes care of everyone, encourages everyone, knows SO MUCH, he is passionate about the Galapagos and Ecuador. He is a big part of the reason the cruise was such a great experience. He also got a Galapagos stamp in my passport for me. When we flew in we didn’t get a stamp but others on the cruise who had flown into a different airport did get a stamp. When we were leaving Fabian took my passport and got me a stamp at the arrivals.

I am so pleased with the way everything was run, with everything I saw, with the guides and will definitely use Peregrine again. When you go on holiday you don’t want to have to worry and I felt that I was in very good hands with all the Peregrine.

The following posts over the next few weeks will be about what I saw while on my tours. So much was packed into my twelve days and I already want to go back (also want to go to Easter Island and Tierra Del Fuego) South America is so welcoming and was just as wonderful as I remember from my Peru/Bolivia trip that I took several years ago. My love affair with South America will continue, perhaps with Peregrine!

Planning A Trip – A New Camera!

I debated for ages over whether to get a new camera or not. In the end I decided I really wanted one, I am going to the Galapagos and my pictures will be my main souvenirs. So I took the plunge and started to research camera’s.

I am a point and shoot girl who dreams of taking photo’s with a fancy DSLR, National Geographic style!

As I did research I decided that I was not going to go with a DSLR but still wanted more flexibility than a compact camera. I found the middle ground with the compact system camera’s. I don’t understand all the technical speak so I won’t even try to explain all the specs of the camera.

In the end I chose the Olympus EPM1 with the 14-42mm lens, it was at the low end of the compact system cameras, is still fairly small, I can buy more lenses as I learn more and it’s easy to use now. It has preset scene settings, some artistic choice settings and also an auto setting. Basically I still get the convenience of a point and shoot with more manual options similar to a DSLR that I can use as I learn more about how to manipulate the camera.

Here is my camera:

So far I LOVE it! It is easy to use, light, the menu is easy to navigate and so far the pictures I’ve taken have come out great!

Can’t wait to see how the pictures from the Galapagos turn out!

Planning A Trip – Icebreakers!

I can’t say enough good things about Icebreakers. I got my first one back in 2007 for my trip to Peru and I still have that one. Since I have added several more t-shirts and a hoodie. They are wool and therefore proclaim that they don’t stink. Which is almost true. You can tell that it’s been worn but you can wear these over and over without having to wash them. Wool is naturally antibacterial so they don’t stink like cotton does. It breathes better than cotton or synthetic shirts as well.

Also if you do have to wash one they dry quicker than cotton. The t-shirts are light and comfortable, I would say cooler than a cotton shirt but when layered warm as well. REALLY! They have many different styles and while they are more expensive than your average t-shirt even my first one is still going strong and looks pretty new. Well worth every penny.

I have four short sleeved shirts, one long sleeved one and a hoody these are pretty much the only shirts I pack. All I need to do is invest in one of the dresses (YES they have dresses) and I’ll be all set!

Also wool socks! Partly for the same no stink but also you are much less likely to get blisters with wool socks than you are with cotton. I wore wool socks when I did the Inca Trail and had no problems with my feet. They have cush and are really comfy, they also last a long time as well.

If you are going somewhere colder then I would really recommend one of their camisoles, I live in Calgary, AB and during the winter I wear it almost everyday for that little extra layer of warmth that really makes a difference!

My Icebreakers:

Planning A Trip – Things I don’t leave home without

There are things you should take with you because you don’t want to be looking for them when you NEED them.

I always take a travel roll of toilet paper, sometimes toilet paper can be hard to come by and if you need it you will be SO glad you have it.

If your a girl always take tampons or pads with you, travelling can throw your cycle off and you don’t want to be in the middle of nowhere with nothing.

I take Peptobismol tablets, a friend years ago told me to get some and then take one everyday to just settle my stomach. New foods and such can throw your system off and this usually works for me.

When the Peptobismol isn’t strong enough and things are moving too fast (you know what I mean) take Immodium with you. You do not want to be looking for Immodium when you need it.

Tylenol or Advil, some generic pain killer. A headache or aches can impede your fun and you didn’t travel all that way to be miserable!

I take 5 HTP, you can find it in health food stores. Take two and they help you sleep, with time changes and such these can help you get a good sleep. I also find they are great on long flights for helping me get some sleep.

Also bandaids and moleskin. Blisters can really be annoying and painful, moleskin can help prevent or help if you develop a blister. You want to be able to walk pain free and usually there is a lot of walking when travelling, comfortable feet are a necessity!

I also take some Emergen-C packets they help if you feel like your getting a cold and also help (alot) if you have a few glasses of wine and are feeling groggy the next day.

Other things I take are my head lamp. I got mine for a my trip to Peru and have taken it with me on every trip since. It’s handy for walking in the dark, reading when you don’t want to disturb somebody who is sleeping, the hands free is awesome! I use it so much and am always glad I brought it!

Now I don’t travel without my ITouch, it is my book, my calculator, a camera, takes video, my entertainment, my alarm clock, has my itinerary, is my connection to email and the internet (when there is wifi, looking for wifi? Look for a Starbucks). I actually don’t know what I did without it!

I am also lazy so I take address labels for postcards. All I have to do is buy the postcards and stamps, slap the labels on and I’m done. Usually I throw in a “Greetings from…” or something else equally lame on note side, I’m really bad at writing postcards.