Indigenous Sensitive Ecuador

Llaqtakunaq atipayninwan, teqrimuyuta kuyuchisunchis – “When the villages work together, we will turn this world around.” (Quechuan Proverb)

During our current travel adventure, I’ve relished the privilege of observing some authentic cultural patterns manifested by the indigenous peoples of Ecuador. Representing over one quarter of the entire population of Ecuador today, many of these native inhabitants proudly trace their origin back to the days when the Inca Indian civilization thrived in the land that later came to be called Ecuador many centuries ago.

So you might ask what particularly intrigues me about one particular group, Ecuador’s Quechuan tribe, who are considered the country’s largest indigenous group out of fourteen native ancestral peoples in Ecuador. Perhaps it’s the humble aura I strongly felt during my personal encounters with those hard working Quichuan merchants as they patiently sold their wares at local shopping stands around the city of Cuenca. Or such praiseworthy observations might have been triggered by an innocent smile radiating from a Quechuan child when I said “hola” to them directly during our recent visit to the sacred Inca ruins at Pilaloma. During such face to face encounters with them, I also developed a high level of interest in the Quechuan dialect as many of these Inca descendants I listened to, chose to use their native spoken language in spite of Spanish and English predominance in Ecuador society today.

I also felt fortunate to obtain a healthy sample of the present day indigenous experience during our scheduled stop at the Quechuan Community Interpretative Center on our Ecuador tour. On one occasion, I captively watched a young indigenous woman mash sweet potato and yucca roots inside a homemade gourd that ferments over a short time into a potent alcoholic brew. I also took considerable interest in watching her tediously string narrow slices of tropical leaves into fine cords used for practical Quechuan tasks like fishing and weaving .

On a sadder note, the Quechuan people are now seriously embroiled in a long-standing feud with the Ecuadorean government for equal access to education, health care and improved road access to their community homelands. Thus, giving due consideration to the strong desire of Quechuans to keep their cultural traditions alive amidst such governmental turmoil, I challenge those who read my blog to contribute to the indigenous cause in Ecuador in any way you can.

Two excellent outlets to do that would be to contact Wichana Foundation: Ecuador Charity and choose a topic of interest at ( or inquire about volunteer projects to more directly serve the indigenous population of Ecuador at ( For by showing our gratitude for all people- near or far – humanity moves one step closer to unity’s attainment in our divided world today. Enjoy the photos.

Spanish Pursuit in Cuenca

“The best journeys in life are those that answer questions you never thought to ask.” ( Rich Ridgeway )

But in the beautiful city of Cuenca on our tour, a new question popped in my mind about how Ecuador might help me to practice my Spanish skills in real life situations. I might add that in Cuerca, there’s been a significant U.S.expatriate migration there in recent years making me more confident that I could find some “locals”willing to engage in such informal Spanish conversation. One interesting example of this effort that sticks in my mind took place yesterday when I complimented a middle age man of obvious Hispanic descent in Spanish about his shiny white shoes (zapatos ) . But instead of speaking Spanish back to me he kindly reported in perfect English that he was a long time resident of Minnesota who had moved to Cuerca a few years ago.

So I can thank our gracious tour guide for escorting our tour group to plenty of people friendly locations on this busy day. This gave me the opportunity to practice my Spanish at a local textile factory, an orchid planting facility, a hat store, and the city market. I can also report that when I lost a pair of air buds, I calmly entered an electronics store to purchased a new set speaking simple lines in Spanish with no problem. Enjoy the pictures from our Cuenca visit.

Andes Equatorial Enigma

“Over every mountain, there’s a path although it may not be seen from the valley.” (Theodore Roethke)

But such beautiful tropical fruits and dense trees strands that I would expect on the equator vanished somehow into a perpetual cloud mist as our tour bus now conquered the Central Andes range of Ecuador on our arduous ride to Cuenca. With elevations exceeding more than  13,000 feet and temperatures dropping significantly in this cloud rain forest environs.”, I imagined myself more appropriately in the Alps of Switzerland or Austria during their cool summer seasonal time. When the cloud cover finally diminished at Tres Cruces, the highest point of our ascent, another kind of fog seemed to occupy my mind. For I now felt noticeably disoriented and needed to feel a blast of cold air at this stunningly beautiful tour bus stop to regain my bearings.

So as I consider myself fortunate to have overcome my fear of extreme mountain heights , I look forward to getting back on track for some exciting equator views as we begin our descent into Cuenca. For at least I can see again where we are going. Enjoy the photos.

Guayaquil Equatorial Plunge

“I hope before long to press you in my arms and shall shower on you a million burning kisses as under the equator.” ( Napoleon Bonaparte )

The closest statement to reality that I can think of on our first day in Guayaquil, Ecuador would be diving into a hot sweaty bowl filled with strange equatorial images that I deeply desire to sense more deeply. For there are several lessons to be learned as I reflect quietly by the muddy river that flows slowly through the city.

Strange tropical trees, colorfully exploding flowers and indigenous people statues seem to pop out of nowhere to break up the craziness of this traffic snarled city surrounding them. A large iguana stands its ground when I approach along a quiet pedestrian square. A statued man looking stately beyond from his inviting park bench seat reminds me to slow down and ponder this “tropical soup” more deeply.

Then there’s the river itself that flows continuously from the Andes to mark the commercial importance of Guayaquil as an industrial center of Ecuador today. But I am most curious to know its origin up river to the Andes from where it has flowed from. For we head into these mysterious highlands of Ecuador’s interior tomorrow. Enjoy the photos

By the way, I loved hearing my wife scream with joy when she finally received her suitcase in our hotel over 24 hours after our arrival

Blackout Blues Burial

” Lost luggage is an opportunity to stay afloat.”(Chris Evans)

You know it’s not a good sign when you arrive in early morning at the airport to check in your luggage and observe huge piles of suitcases stacked incoherently in layers behind an American Airlines reception desk. In our case, the cause of this calamity at Miami International Airport as we were told came from a total computer shutdown at the airport overnight.

So it seemed imminent that one or both of our two boarded suitcases on our flight to Guayaquil, Ecuador would not arrive at our final destination when we landed. As expected, my blue suitcase came through quickly upon arrival in the airport baggage tunnel ok but my wife’s red  luggage bag did not.

Know then our tragic saga would now escalate when we found out soon after by email that my wife’s baggage would arrive on a  flight later that evening. But that flight from Miami would also be late, leaving the possibility that her luggage would not arrive by the time our Ecuador tour began the next day. So in the meantime I resorted to comically sharing my men’s clothing with her as well as some toiletries with hope that the situation would resolve itself soon.

But let’s take a more positive look at this most irritating travel predicament. In the absence of your travel suitcase, one might evolve into a person acting much differently than their previous ways. For it seems to be a matter of how one chooses to respond to such airport related crisis.

He or she for example might consider such loss of their material possessions as a “wake up” call to focus more on what really matters. With less stuff to carry, you can try to make life simpler for yourself where needs not wants become your primary focus. Or one might also consider the loss of their baggage as fresh start  to act humbler and more caring toward others who wish to  share with you in such trying times. Don’t waste these opportunities. Make them count!

Ecuador: A Balanced Travel Perspective

” Visionary decision-making happens at the intersection of intuition and logic.” (Paul O’Brien)

There’s never a perfect time for Ruth and me to travel these days but the opportunity cost of foregoing our next adventure must be seriously weighed with the personal value of actually going. In the case of next week’s planned adventure to Ecuador, I can therefore make a good case for conducting this upcoming journey from either a rational or intuitive perspective. So I’d like to proceed forward with this entry by showing such a balance minded mindset of both obvious logic and more deep seated emotions below to clear the air of any lingering travel apprehensions. As a side note, I just found out in the last day that a strong earthquake of 6.8 on the Richter Scale hit Ecuador yesterday near the Pacific coast, with the epicenter fifty miles away from our landing city there at Guayaquil.Of course I’m staying tuned in for current developments about this natural disaster, but with great relief I’ve been told by “Gate One” our travel company, that the trip will definitely go on.


I just celebrated my birthday yesterday so what better gift can I envision than embarking on an appealing travel experience abroad. Certainly with lingering personal matters going on with both sides of our respective families, those ten days of exploring Ecuador will also give my wife and me a nice mental health break from this impending crisis at home. Having completed several trips with “Gate One” before, we also have full confidence that their experienced tour guide choices for this adventure will serve us efficiently. With twelve pounds of weight loss in the last month as well, I look forward to being in better physical shape for hiking on this occasion. But if my cranky knees act up along the way, I’ll bring two walking sticks to maintain better balance as needed.


Ecuador in my mind appears to be taken straight out of the plot of one of my favorite novels – The Celestine Prophecy. For as several of the insights in this fictional account of a lone adventurer stick strongly in my mind, I realize there are hidden lessons to be learned from Ecuador’s unplanned chance encounters. So I dare to spontaneously experience Ecuador culture during our ten day tour that covers (1) densely populated cities, (2) mountainous Andes regions and (3) wild equatorial terrains. In fact those coincidences have already started as I’ve informally conversed with several South American born individuals in my yoga classes who’ve whetted my curiosity for exploring such homelands I’ve never seen. It relevant to me that I’ve also noticed my increasing interest in listening quietly to classical or New Age music most notably combined with light yoga sessions. For during those occasions, I am insightfully realizing that any negative thoughts about traveling through Ecuador do pass through my mind temporarily but eventually will be gone. In further exploring my intuition, I’ve arisen on several mornings, sensing a need to explore a new physical appearance, unshaven with a long sought intention to regrow my beard. Thus as I take a break from South Florida madness to hopefully enjoy Ecuador, this might be the ideal time to begin that experiment.

Most likely then, I’m in for a strong test of my physical stamina and emotional status during this arduous ten day journey upcoming to Ecuador next week. But I choose to overcome any lingering doubts, fears, or other unspoken apprehensions. Let the test of will begin. For I’m most certainly “up” for the challenge.

Rethinking The Old College Road (Part 2)

“ A long stretch of road will teach you more about yourself than a hundred years of quiet introspection..“ ( Patrick Rothfuss)

Last week, I presented part one of my recent mini road trip from Fort Lauderdale to Tampa with the intention of retracing the exact route I took in the mid 1970s during my undergraduate days to and from the University of South Florida.You might recall as well in this previous entry that  I planned to drive at a more leisurely pace so I could then stop along the way whenever I wanted, hoping past memories of notable landmarks would resurface at will. Using the cover photo of this blog and followup paragraphs, you can thus review the 2nd leg of this blog covering (1) past and present memories of two small towns along the Central Florida portion of my original route to USF along Route 60, (2) a noteworthy foot path I frequented to and from classes on this main campus itself, and (3) some memorable shoreline movement experiences along Old Tampa Bay.

Note in addition  that I will continue my re- assessment about this nostalgic adventure to USF in 2023, with regard to the following questions below that continually occupied my mind during that time.

1. What’s changed or remained the same from such visual impressions?

2. What self revelations about living my life in the moment more today can be revealed by such time observations?


The sleepy town of Bartow, Florida in my college days acquired its name from Francis Bartow, a famous Confederate general of the Civil War. Thus it’s no surprise that those drives through the town always impressed upon me with a seemingly unchanging “Old South” spirit where one could live, work, and worship peacefully likely among those of their own kind. Thus in waiting impatiently in the past to cross the old railroad junction along Route 60 to bypass Bartow’s downtown, I might have witnessed on occasion church bells from the 1st Baptist Church ringing to announce upcoming Bible sermons, company pickup trucks returning “blue collar” workers to the local phosphate mill, or a country hardened old timer” hobbling crossing the road. Based on on those previous memories, I could thus never envision during my latest jaunt in 2023 that Bartow would be making a serious effort to create a more inclusive public community involving a serious effort in to attract a more diverse and friendlier pedestrian appearance downtown. I thus realize that other small town Southern communities as Bartow with such a forward thinking growth management would make excellent places to stay on future road trips “off the beaten path”


Eight mile west of Barstow lies Mulberry, which I vividly recall from my college days as a factory company town victimized by a perpetual cloud of phosphate dust emanating from surrounding mills. But I would always try to ignore this putrid smell by counting on Mulberry as a convenient destination for simply finding a cheap gas fill up or a quick restroom stop before finding my way to or from the more congested environs of Tampa. In 2023, continuing phosphate mining operations on both sides of Route 60 now permanently scar the surrounding environs with sickening slag piles, unsightly factory shells, and toxic foul air. Such corporate greed conducted at the cost of environmental destruction is truly wrong. So with the impending climate crisis now threatening our earth, it seems the right time for me to actively participate in volunteer land and water cleanup efforts as well as citizen protest demonstration movements in South Florida and on our road trips when I can.


One of the attributes that immediately attracted me to the University of South Florida relates to its spread out landscape encompassing natural greenery of the region for over1500 acres. Such spontaneous moments like studying for an exam under the shaded canopy of an old oak tree or attending those intensely raucous rallies on the historic hill adjacent to the old Student Union definitely occupied my mind as I entered the campus again last week as a past alumni alumni graduate of the University’s Education Department. Yet I also recall that walking from place to place seemed quite difficult in those times given the considerable travel distance I hurriedly trekked then between each building in order to arrive at class on time. So it made sense for me to retake such a challenging hike along a familiar pedestrian walkway retracing my steps to and from those academic areas of music, social science, and education where my classes originally met. Shuffling at a slower pace on this occasion, I seemed quite observant of passing students briskly making their way around these spacious campus grounds as well as a rebellious student street protest taking place along an adjacent campus street. Such “now” impressions seemed to be a fitting welcome back to my college town home where serious immersion to attain well rounded academic excellence and serious issue involvement most deservedly continues on like I remember from 1970 to 1974. To never stop learning seems to matter more than ever to me now as I attempt to continue leading a fulfilling life in retirement.


I often wonder why my long road to the University of South Florida from Fort Lauderdale typically runs beyond the college itself. But I’d obtained a long history of enjoying Old Tampa Bay further west during my childhood when I spent several summers with my grandfather living in Tampa often fishing off old Courtney Campbell and Gandy Bridge and playfully exploring the shell filled shorelines. Such spontaneous frolic would continue during my college years as I “blew off steam” from academic pressures many times by parking my vehicle under a tree shrouded canopy to enjoy the silent presence of gentle winds over tranquil winds along the bay. So with high emotion, I settled into my most recent walk along Old Tampa Bay on the Clearwater side with similar thoughts of youthful nature enjoyment as both a recreational and mind clearing time in my present life. Thus as I practice these days more self help tools like yoga, meditation and kundalini, my recent travel experience to Old Tampa Bay powerfully reminds me to be at peace with myself whatever the circumstances and fully enjoy the now.

Rethinking The Old College Road (Part I)

“A long stretch of road will teach you more about yourself than a hundred years of quiet introspection.” ( Patrick Rothfuss.

This week, I took a two day road trip from Fort Lauderdale to Tampa with the intention of retracing the exact route I took in the mid 1970s during my undergraduate days to and from home to the University of South Florid. Understand that the lack of Interstate Highway coverage in Florida during those days required me then to meander 300 miles north and west along those less traveled backroads of U.S. 27 and State Highway 60 respectively to reach the main USF campus in Hillsborough County’s eastern side. Oftentimes then in my haste to show up for class or home on time, such scheduling deadlines dictated I speed along furiously while concentrating mostly to avoid bored police patrols looking for “out of towners” in rural towns along the way. So I reason that I often overlooked my actual surroundings.

Thus given the chance to do over this drive in late February, 2023 at a more leisurely driving pace, I would stop along the way whenever I wanted, hoping past memories of notable landmarks would resurface at will. In the cover photo of this blog, you can thus review the first leg of this inland map route that I followed from home through U.S. 27 north to State Road 60 then and now.

Thus hoping to re- assess this nostalgic adventure to USF in 2023, I continue this blog entry below with some thoughts about two key questions below that continually occupied my mind during that time.

1. What’s changed or remained the same from such visual impressions?

2. What self revelations about living my life in the moment more today can be revealed by such time observations?


Upon leaving Fort Lauderdale, I immediately entered the vast subtropical expanse of the Florida Everglades along U.S 27 north to tiny South Bay village. Making a brief stop along the way to Florida Everglades Sawgrass Recreation Park, I watched eager tourists line up in droves for those noisy airboat rides into endless swampland beyond. With luck, I reasoned they might spot a lazy alligator sunning along the canal bank or perhaps observe an idle nesting rookery for rare sea birds. How ironic that time inexorably moves very slowly amid the swamps here in spite of this tourist frenzy invasion. So let’s face facts now. Whenever I feel negative energy “burnout” from the urban frenzy of South Florida, I might make it a new habit to escape to the Florida, Everglades. For it remains a green oasis of solitude whenever I need it.


I’ve never actually thought much about Lake Okeechobee on those many drives to Tampa as I’ve sped through the small municipality of Clewiston to and from college. Yet extending along the eastern border of this of this sweet old town, Florida’s largest lake remains a hidden freshwater gem shrouded by a steep sloping berm. So in spite of the continued visual obscurity to my eyes on this latest pass by in 2023, I’m realizing for the first that this vast basin serves as the main source of water for boat recreation, flood control, and natural drainage throughout a sizable portion of the Florida peninsula. So it’s due time I take more seriously my personal commitment to land and water environmental protection given the impending climate change crisis in future years likely to occur in the “Sunshine State.” Looking most reasonably at the Florida Everglades then, I realize as well that this rare “River of Grass” could never serve as my personal urban escape nearby without the continued preservation of Lake Okeechobee.


Upon entering now the fast growing environs of Sebring, Florida, my focus normally veers to the right side of U.S. 27 as the shorelines of Lake Jackson showcase over three acres of freshwater recreational bliss. Yet on my latest drive, I more observantly looked left to observe the visually striking remains of Harder Hall, one of the famed ” Grand Dame Hotels” built in Florida in the 1920s. How tragic then that this magnificent Victorian style Hotel structure lies now in physical ruins surrounded by a barbed wire fence and an unsightly landscape appearance. So as I sense strongly that “time marches” on to erase the glory of “Old Sebring”, it’s due time I must personally “come to grips” with the inevitability of the aging process.


My most vivid college memories remaining of Lake Placid seems to be those profitable citrus groves that suddenly appeared outside of town as I approached this midpoint of my USF journey entering central Florida. Yet such luscious oranges, lemons and grapefruit now seem to be gone as encroaching suburban growth takes over this charming small town. Thus with plenty of retail parking space to take a break on this quiet Sunday afternoon, I chose to eat my picnic lunch at a random parking lot near the center of town. Know then that about five minutes into my lunch ritual, I casually glanced back to notice with utter surprise that Lake Placid Tower, extended within short distance to me over 270 feet into the sky. Abandoned since 1986, this stunning monument once labeled as “The Happy Tower” failed to survive as a tourist mecca over time. But there’s a definite aura that remains to be admired here reminiscent of a tall beacon of light shining on all from high above. Therefore, I reason on this latest Lake Placid visit how spiritual unity serves us well as we all share in this striking human connection of our limited time on earth experience to the eternal sky.

Molding A Healthier Me

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” (Frederick Douglas)

Some of you might wonder about why one should actually attempt to lose weight when taking a fantasy cruise. Yet in my recent experience from our recent Caribbean Sea adventure, my current loss of seven pounds has definitely made a difference in my self esteem and consequent motivation to proceed with this process. So I’d like to just “cut to the chase” concerning this matter. Know then that such leisurely sea travel seemed to affect my mindset much differently than how I normally proceeded with my daily routine at home.

In such case, I first of all anticipated myself cruising the Caribbean less susceptible to such persuasive influences back home as (1) continuous media advertising of unhealthy food, (2)  evening pressure to socialize around food, and (3) over-dependence on eating out at fast food venues via my car. For it seemed obvious to me in those slower sea travel moments that various combinations of these factors had encouraged me to either relinquish self control of my better health sense or to become more sedentary in South Florida each day.

Being granted more leisurely time to detach from such home life obsessions on the cruise, I now began to allot time for tracking my daily weight and exercise progress with health related apps loaded on my I phone. In this way, I could gain a more complete picture of nutrition, exercise, and other health changes that appeared to be more productive than just jumping on my weight scale at home.

With regard to nutrition, during those food tempting trips to the buffet deck for each meal on our cruise, the “eye test” proved to be my most effective tool for sticking to my plan. Thus I began to examine closely my chosen plate selection for each meal for sufficient vegetable, fruit, salad, and protein distribution along with skipping desserts and bread for sure. I also became more aware how my habit of piling on my typical portions of calorie ridden condiments like salad dressings, gravies, and other carb filled sauces would need to stop as my wife taught me to dip and sample for small tastes of these precious seasonings. In lieu of drinking those addictive sodas and fruit drinks, I began to substitute water as well.

So now that I’m home again, the real work begins. For serious changes to my daily routine must now be made on a more long term basis. I must stop trying to reward myself with food such as giving in to an enticing Subway sandwich deal or Panda Express wok special at my impulsive whim. With health matters coming first now, I’m in addition getting more serious about using my “Silver Sneakers” membership at the local gym. Accordingly, with age related conditions in mind, a continuance of my gentle yoga practice and periodic massage schedule means that that there’s both a “Yang” vs. “Yin” commitment that I must also undertake to obtain successful completion of this plan.

With our ten day tour of Ecuador coming up in late March, I foresee a fairly rigorous adventure for us ahead. Hopefully, I will have reached my goal of ten pounds shed by the time we board our flight to Quito then. In the meantime, I’ll learn to enjoy each moment on my own terms without obsessing on living too much to eat for a change.

My Cruising “Unwired” Challenge

“Exploring new places is a great way to relax and clear your mind” (Holly R. Patrick)

One might logically reason that a fourteen day cruise to eight exotic islands in the Eastern Caribbean region would resonate with passengers as a time to slow one’s pace for a restful respite from daily life struggles. Yet on the contrary, this latest cruise adventure of ours revealed to me little incentive for cruisers to change such fast paced behavior exhibited at home. In particular, I observed then that many of the on board activities seemingly designed for game show-like environs aboard ship kept passengers busy in high energy mode at various times of the day. So I often wondered why Princess Cruise Company daily announcements throughout the ship did not advertise more relaxing settings like the yoga studio, exercise area, and massage rooms each day.

Thus it seems we too might have become a victim of such sensory overload by witnessing other such lively ship routines as (1) the “bumper car” customer movement to and from the food buffet area, (2)  crowd gathering mayhem for passengers waiting for island  excursions to begin, as well as (3) the nightly barrage of high powered  entertainment offerings in various gathering points throughout the ship. Yet Ruth and I stubbornly prioritized a more relaxing experience according to our personal interests on and off the boat when we could. Consider then in the photo set below some of our “Yin” more than “Yang” experiences in our daily wanderings on and off the boat.

Mellow out on open deck to take in a vast ocean view
Quietly read a good book in the Central Piazza each night
Sit together on a shaded park bench and pose for selfies
Cuddle with a cute animal
Hang out with a lazy cat on a patio surrounded by nature
Grasp life’s essence in the beautiful skies above
Sip some nourishing coconut juice
Observe one’s “inner baby” state of mind.
Clown around to explore a change of character
Engage in warm conversation with island strangers at a local craft show

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