Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.

    VALERIEMAHA   52,520
50,000-59,999 SparkPoints

Endings...and beginnings, Part 2 (#8, Ecuador, 2013)

Monday, April 22, 2013

As I get increasingly enmeshed with *this* altered state since returning from Ecuador March 19, the vividness of the experiences blur slightly and the matters that I just *had* to attend to have diminished in importance just a bit. But I continue to persist in pursuing the dreams that spawned during this odyssey (odyssey: a long series of wanderings or adventures, especially when filled with notable experiences, hardships; any long eventful journey).

In this last Ecuador blog I would like to share a few photos from my day-trips to Podocarpus National Park and Vilcabamba, as well as musing a bit, as I move forward into spring and summer in the good ol' U.S. of A.!

Podocarpus National Park occupies 360,000 acres in the low "V" of southern Ecuador, near its border with Peru (I reside one hour from the northern border with Colombia) and is the only protected area in southern Ecuador. The park is important for conservation, according to The Nature Conservancy, because of its high concentration of endemic species. The elevation generally varies from 6560 ft. to 9840 ft. Podocarpus takes its name from having the country's largest contingent of the Podocarpus or romerillo tree, the only conifer native to Ecuador.

Gonzalo, the noble taxista. I paid him $10 round trip upon arriving to the park (for the one+ hour round trip on a partially horrible unpaved road with potholes). We agreed that he would return for me in four hours, at 4:30pm, before the park locked the gates at 5:00pm. I implicitly trusted this man I got to know during the drive there, and knew he would be there as he promised...and he was! Good thing too, because the park is very remote and I would have been royally stranded otherwise. I ran into people only twice on the trail!

In a mindless moment as I left the hotel, I forgot to change my shoes and put on the much more appropriate hiking boots! This was after just a couple minutes of walking...already lots of mud splattered on my feet and sandals, which you really can't see, aka "Before." Too bad I didn't take an "After" photo!

The trail is generally well maintained.

Some parts of the trail are quite steep, and squishy with mud 1-2" deep, which made it quite *sucky* lol! After my initial horror, it got to be fun, though my sandals were trashed and it took me days to wash off the mud, which actually stained my feet and calves (seriously!).

Because of some recent severe storms there was also the occasional tree over the trail, although the worst problems had been cleared.

Lots of bamboo stands along the way.

And lots of moss too.

Air plants (genus tilandsia, the bromiliad family) galore!

One of the trails I loved in a full-on rainforest. The 20 min. is a joke...with the condition of the trail, it took three times that, but it was SO worth it. It reminds me so much of portions of the Kalalau trail In Kauai.

This beautiful, delicate little butterfly felt like my guide, as it hovered about and ahead of me, disappearing and suddenly reappearing, for probably 1/3 of the hike. It was quite magical!

Om my! I have way too many panoramic shots to post. I took one series of 12 moving the camera from left to right across the vista at one point high on the trail, so I'll post those 12, the first being far left and the last being far right:


Dusk as I near the trail head, and with this I leave Podocarpus. The next day was a day trip to Vilcabamba, a 45 min. ride in a taxi co-op from Loja.

Once again passing the entrance to Podocarpus, I continue to Vilcabamba. The valley (bamba, aka pampa) is overlooked by a mountain called Mandango, the Sleeping Inca, whose presence is said to protect the area from earthquakes and other natural disasters. The etymology of "Vilcabamba" apparently derives from "huilco pamba" (in Quichua, the Incan language, still heavily used by the Otavalan Indians where I live in northern Ecuador). Huilco denotes the sacred trees that inhabit the region and pamba is a word meaning a plain.

An interesting and unique village, with a controversial reputation for extreme longevity, Vilcabamba has often been cited as an area with the oldest inhabitants in the world. The claim has been called into question in recent years, though.

In any case, it is a beautiful with an abundance of agriculture, and this particular equatorial sub-area is said to have fruit, roots and herbs that offer some of the strongest anti-oxidant protection in the world.

The community has an overabundance of ex-pats from many countries, as well as an alive-and-well alternative community. For that reason, I easily found a vegan restaurant, owned by an American woman. I shared a table with Mia, a healer from Thailand. We enjoyed an exquisite lunch and delightful conversation. After lunch she took me to a bakery owned by a French couple, where I bought a delicious chocolate croissant. We had an espresso at another cafe on the plaza and then parted ways.

Concluding my day in Vilcambamba and my tenure in Ecuador are miscellaneous photos of my afternoon in the village, posted in order taken:

As I attend to the realities that confront me, my spirit whispers dreams to my heart that I am beginning to quietly explore -- as always, being called to...

I do not take for granted the freedom which offers me the joy unique to travel -- I never tire of strange places and new faces. Dear friend Don Doorn made reference to a musical hero of ours in his early blog comment, so for me it feels very fitting to close this Ecuador chapter with Richie Havens' legendary clarion call:

Richie Havens opening Woodstock in 1969
RIP, January 21, 1941-April 22, 2013

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
ME_HERE_NOW 5/9/2013 12:47PM

    i love your adventurous spirit, how you meet new people and make new connections, how you go out in the wilderness alone, travel far and wide. i feel like you are light years ahead in your spiritual development, it is truly an inspiration to me that makes me want to open up and enjoy the world & give things a chance instead of staying curled inside myself 'protecting' myself. i have a fondness for butterflies who flit along with me on walks as well ;) i look fwd to reading more of your life's adventures! man oh man, i'd love to write down the story of your life!

Report Inappropriate Comment
SLASALLE 5/8/2013 5:56PM

    I know how much time it took you to upload all these photos along with descriptions, thoughts, feelings and all such things. Truly beautiful journey, my friend. As always, thank you for taking the time to share this incredible piece of the world.


Report Inappropriate Comment
ABURRIS2 5/6/2013 10:00PM

    You are a wonder! Thank you for sharing the beauty of this adventure.

Report Inappropriate Comment
PEACEFULONE 5/4/2013 10:49PM

    Reading about your travels is always a treat! Thank you for sharing!

Report Inappropriate Comment
MTRACHEL 5/4/2013 10:31PM

    I'm thinking that the whole walk in the mud is a metaphor for so much about your trip ( and your future wanderings) ..trusting that you've started in the right place and that someone will be waiting for you when the journey is done. Deep gratitude to you for sharing all of this!

Report Inappropriate Comment
DOR2BFIT 5/4/2013 8:28PM

    You are a true adventurer! Love this: "my spirit has started again to whisper things to my heart that I am beginning to quietly explore, radical though these messages are, as always calling me to... Follow your bliss...!"
emoticon emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
GOANNA2 5/4/2013 8:20PM

    Thank you Maha. Enjoy the yoga.
I love the song - took me back to the 60's.
Namaste! emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
SOULFISH80 5/3/2013 5:23PM

    Your travels are so inspiring!!!!

Report Inappropriate Comment
CARRAND 4/23/2013 8:49PM


Report Inappropriate Comment
DDOORN 4/23/2013 4:31PM


Check out song # 6 from this unique, superb gathering:

Listening to Richie Havens all day...RIP Richie, such a fine performer and human being!


Report Inappropriate Comment
JESPAH 4/23/2013 10:17AM


Report Inappropriate Comment
KALIGIRL 4/23/2013 8:17AM

    Here's to letting living life get in the way!

Report Inappropriate Comment
JUST_BREATHE08 4/23/2013 12:51AM

    Looking forward to more. emoticon


Report Inappropriate Comment
GOANNA2 4/23/2013 12:37AM

    Waiting with bated breath Maha.
Have a woderful yoga session. emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
GETSTRONGRRR 4/22/2013 8:45PM

    I can't believe you left us hanging in such suspense!!!

Report Inappropriate Comment
SNOWYOGA 4/22/2013 6:31PM

    Thank you emoticon It's like having a vacation thought you! Can't wait to see, hear more emoticon

Report Inappropriate Comment
WATERMELLEN 4/22/2013 6:05PM

    Looking forward to more!!

Report Inappropriate Comment
HIPPICHICK1 4/22/2013 5:54PM

    Yay for Yoga!!

Report Inappropriate Comment

Add Your Comment to the Blog Post

Log in to post a comment.

Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

Other Entries by VALERIEMAHA