Category Archives: Travel Articles

Haquillas, Ecuador to Tumbes, Perú: A Confusing Crossing

I was under the asinine assumption that the border crossing from Huaquillas to Tumbes would be ridiculously smooth like the one from Colombia into Ecuador that I’d crossed five weeks prior.  That super easy crossing conditioned me to think that my next land pass over would be equally as easy.  Oh how wrong I was.

After a six-hour bus ride from the Andean city of Loja to the lowlands of coastal Huaquillas, I retrieved my red backpack from the bus’ conductor and asked him where the border was.  He pointed in one direction and told me to walk straight. After slightly less than a crowded kilometer away, I came to what appeared to be a border crossing between the two countries.

Bathing in Baños

After walking along a refreshingly misty and windy Baños street, I came to the Termas de la Virgen, one of a few thermal, public baths heated by Volcán Tungurahua.

Termas de la Virgen sits just beside -practically below- the Caballera de la Virgen waterfall.

After paying the $2 entrance fee I went in and glanced around in awe, finding five pools. They vary in water shade, size, and most importantly, temperature.

I was instructed to take a container, go to a changing room, put on swim trunks and place everything else in the basket.

After handing my plastic crate over I was given a band to put around my wrist.  There was a small wooden piece on it that showed the number of my container.  Two words came to mind while placing the band around my wrist: Über efficient.

3 Cheap Vegetarian Options in La Mariscal

I’m not going to lie.  I’m not a full-fledged vegetarian.  That means that when there’s no other option, I suck it up and usually end up settling for chicken and or egg.  I even eat beef or pork when it’s served to me in someone’s home.  Recently in Colombia I had liver on arepas or corn tortillas while at a home in Virjinia.

As time goes on, I continue to like the idea of vegetarianism more and more.    Even though I’m not a fan of labels, for the moment, I’ll loosely consider myself a virtual vegetarian.

The bottom line is that my goal going forward is to focus mostly on a high fruit, high veggie diet.

Popayán to San Agustín and 5 Pit Stops

The woman told me that the journey would take between four and six hours depending on the weather.  She also said that we’d be stopping for lunch.  I expected one stop.

From Popayán, the 10:30 am bus bound for San Agustín didn’t actually leave until 11:30 am.  I never figured out why we left an hour late, nor did I try to find out.

Hiking in an Andean Paradise

While on one of the three microbuses I took to get to the cute little town of Salento from Manizales, I thought about engaging in some hiking.  I’d heard that it was a major attraction there.  I pondered: I’m in the Andes, there has to be endless trails that are incredibly worthy of hiking.  I’d really like to get in touch with more nature, with my diverse earth.

What I didn’t know is that I’d end up going on four unique hikes in just over a week’s time.

After arriving in Salento and being brought to my hostel, I decided to take a stroll into the tranquil and idyllic Salento night.

Within minutes I found myself sipping straight rum outside of a small bar. I started talking to a few people that were already hanging out and shooting the fresh mountain breeze.

The Mini Metropolis of Manizales

 The smooth 38,000 COP or $20.93 minivan ride through the mountains from Medellín to Manizales reminded of a jaunt from Boston to New York City.  The picturesque Andean landscape is not what made me think of the Northeast of the United States.  I compared the two rides because the time and costs are similar.

Manizales is a city of around 400,000 people.  It sits at an altitude of 2,150 meters or 7,054 feet.  The average temperature is only 18º C or 64º F.  It tends to be very chilly in the morning and can warm up a bit during the afternoon.

How India Has Grown on Me

I didn’t understand why the majority of travelers I’d met in India were there for the second, third, fourth or even fifth time. I was wondering what caused their minds to sensationalize the art of drifting around the sprawling subcontinent. It’s that good that you decided to come back again . . .  and again. What’s so fantastic about India? I’m practically living in a sauna.

A Visit to the Village of Vardha

Waking up at the crack of dawn has recently afforded some great early morning drifting time.  Sunrise is the best time for feeling optimistic.  The temps are nice and there are considerably less people around.

The sun was coming up yesterday morning as I crossed the pedestrian bridge of Lake
Pachola.  At the other side of the water crossing a disgruntled cow was trying to shake hay off of one of her hooves.

A Day in Bombay

 The atypical day started with a focus on getting my on-the-move USB modem recharged, and to find a better value on accommodation.  The store wasn’t slated to open until 9am so I stretched, did push-ups and organized my meager amount of belongings as best as I could.

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 At around 9:30am I found the telecom shop that hadn’t yet opened.  I thought: I’m back in India.  Why did I expect them to open on time?  Take it in stride and head back later.

Health is Wealth

End of Inca Trail 1999 – Photo by Lisandro

I’ve had traveler’s diarrhea on at least a handful of occasions that I can remember in the last 16-and-a-half years.   Yes, I’ve been traveling on and off for at least that long.

It started back in ’94 in Istanbul. I awoke at around 4 am with a violent bout of the runs.  I remember running from my hostel room, down the hall and to the toilet every few minutes.  All the energy I had was sucked out of me.  Nothing more would come out even though my body was still trying to push fluid through.  It was my first ever occurrence with this discomforting and wretched watery bowel movement.  I didn’t know what was happening.  I didn’t know what diarrhea was because it was my first time dealing with it.