El Paseo de Monos, ‘El Gran Circo de Titeres’, y mas...

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February 14th 2010
Published: February 14th 2010
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Chicas con sus uniformesChicas con sus uniformesChicas con sus uniformes

Marleigh with her 'Mundo Infantil' uniforme and Ansley with her 'Oscar Efren Reyes' uniforme

El Paseo de Monos y ‘El Gran Circo de Titeres’

Since the last entry - So much as happened! Every morning we get up early (6:15 am), grab a quick breakfast, and get the girls off to their respective schools (Ansley walks herself up to ‘El Oscar’ and we walk Marleigh to her school, Mundo Infantil). Then Andy and I stop at a local café for a coffee, jugo and pan, then take our 2-hr (privado) Spanish lessons. After lessons we have a little time to shop, explore or prepare for some activity at the ‘BIB’.

At 1:00 pm, we walk back up to Marleigh’s school, head home and stop at our local tienda to buy fresh pan, avocados or whatever else we need for lunch. A quick lunch, and then we head downstairs for the afternoon to work at the ‘BIB’ (from 3:30 pm to 6:00 pm). Every day at the BIB is different and always a bit chaotic. Resources are scarce, innovation is required and so is love, patience and humility. This past week, we have all been working on finishing up costumes, puppets and recruiting children for different acts in the show - More on that
Dog, Monkey, Man, ChildDog, Monkey, Man, ChildDog, Monkey, Man, Child

The welcoming committe at the monkey refuge

Last Saturday we had yet another unforgettable experience. We walked to the Banos bus station and took a bus from Banos to the town of Puyo. We took the road known as “Avenida de la Cascadas” as the road goes by numerous waterfalls, with all sorts of hikes and ‘tarabitas’ (like a zip line/tram) that go over the Ambato River. We also saw the aftermath of the landslide at the village of Chin Chin. We passed through 7 tunnels, which were very narrow and very dark. About 1 ½ hours later, we arrived in Puyo.

We found a taxi and told him we wanted to go to ‘El Paseo de Los Monos’, a reserve for rescued monkeys. About 20-minutes later, we arrived there. How can I even begin to describe this place, 'El Paseo de Los Monos'?? I’ll try, but will probably fail to do it justice. We walked to the gate and a worker told us that before we entered, we needed to empty our pockets of everything...and leave our wallets and backpacks and everything else behind, because the monkeys would take it and hide it…”O-K”…we said rather hesitantly.

We walked in and the first
Man with MonkeyMan with MonkeyMan with Monkey

What -- doesn't everyone carry around a monkey on their back?
thing we observed at the refuge was a spider monkey grooming a dog. The monkey was not only picking off the fleas and eating them, but the monkey was cleaning the inside of the dog’s mouth!!! That in itself was remarkable enough, but even more remarkable was that the dog seemed to take it all in stride, like this was a daily occurrence, which I’m sure it was.

Next thing we know a monkey is climbing up Andy’s leg, climbs up his leg, up his back, perches on his head and starts taking off his hat. Monkeys start climbing all over us. Incredible! At this monkey reserve, there are 53 monkeys that have been rescued. The majority of them were ‘pets’, many of them spent many, many years living in little cages. As such, they have little fear of humans. In fact, rather the opposite. I think that they think that we humans come there to play with them.

The refuge is about 6 hectares (don’t ask me how much land that is, because I don’t know…but it isn’t much), but joins forest land. While there is an indoor area and there are some cages, the animals are
Ansley's new friendAnsley's new friendAnsley's new friend

What -- doesn't everyone swing around a monkey, just for fun?
free to come and go - no fences, no nets. There are huge trees, rope swings and stashes of their favorite food hidden here and there. So, yes indeed we got mauled by monkeys, jumped by monkeys, groomed by monkeys and loved every moment of it!!! Monkeys were climbing all over us, playing with us and sleeping on our laps. We stayed for over 2-hours and will probably go back another weekend. What an experience; one I am sure the girls (and Andy and I) will never forget.

We got the same taxi to take us to this amazing orchid garden/jungle forest habitat. We started on this amazing interpretive hike…but then the rains came and came and came and came…and then they came even harder with the winds. So, after about 45-minutes of hiking in the rain, we returned to the interpretive center, had homemade cinnamon tea (from one of the plants on the property), dried out (no, we didn’t), and waited for a bus back to Puyo. Then, we had to wait in the rain for another bus from Puyo to Banos. We came back around 5:30 pm, wet and absolutely exhausted - but what an amazing adventure
Girl With MonkeyGirl With MonkeyGirl With Monkey

Ansley is not to be out done by Andy. She gets her own monkey; or one gets her!
we had!

Sunday was spent relaxing, drying out and as you all know….updating the travel blog. Marleigh didn’t feel too well, so we just walked around town looking into shops and being the average touristas. The following Monday, Andy and I took a bus trip to Rio Verde (about 35 minute bus ride and only 4 tunnels later) and hiked to El Pailon del Diablo Falls. We also crossed over a pedestrian, swinging bridge, over the Pastaza River.

The Gran Circo de Titeres (the grand puppet circus) is culminating this ‘fin de semana’ (Feb 12, 13, 14). All week the children and the volunteers have been coloring “anuncios” in the colors of the Ecuadorian flag (Red, blue and yellow) and Andy and I have been taking some of our “free time” to go around to the local merchants and ask permission to put up the announcements. Por supuesto, en espanol. We found that all of the store owners were both very patient with us….our espanol…and very supportive of the BIB. On Wednesday, February 10, 2010, Andy dressed up as the giant grand master 12 foot high clown. We stood first on a street corner near Marleigh’s school, then
Centro Rescate MonosCentro Rescate MonosCentro Rescate Monos

Monkey Refuge sign, Ansley and Andy
entered the school grounds to the squeals of delight from all the kids. What an experience!

Friday, February 12, 2010 was the grand opening of the ‘circo de titeres’. How does one describe the event…chaotic, noisy, crazy/loco, and really, really fun - as you can see from some of the pictures. The first night of the event, over 200 people showed up. Now, with carnaval in full swing and the weekend upon us, nobody knows what to expect for Saturday or Sunday.

Oh yes, perhaps we failed to mention Carnaval. A national holiday in Ecuador with all kinds of parades, celebrations and activities. It seems as though water balloons, flour/rice, more water, raw eggs, and a plastic substance…maybe a bit like foam/silly string is how folks celebrate. So much for a tranquil weekend…

After the Circo de Titeres and Carnaval ends, we plan to start up a photography program at the BIB. We are just starting to write up the curriculum and may start either this Monday or Tuesday. The idea is to teach the kids how to use the cameras (the ones we brought to donate), have them take pictures and possible put together a calendar
Flores de la SelvaFlores de la SelvaFlores de la Selva

Sorry, don't know the name...
that the BIB could sell…stay tuned for more on that project.

At the moment, Ansley is sick. We suspect that she ate or drank something bad as she started vomiting in the middle of the night and has horrendous stomach cramps - UGH. This is not an uncommon experience around these parts of the world. Of course we are trying to push the water and herbal tea and hope she feels better soon. Aside from that, the girls are really adapting well to this life and enjoying it immensely. It is wonderful for them to be able to walk to the nearby stores, buy fresh and local veg, or meet a neighbor down the street and start up a conversation. People here are incredibly friendly and warm.

We understand that Peru may be different. Folks keep telling us that Peru is a much poorer country, petty theft is much more common and their feelings toward extranjeros is a bit more distant. In anticipation of that, we are trying to jettison some of our belongings. Andy sold the electric guitar the other night and I am going to try to sell the violin we have (not to worry, we
Arbol de BananaArbol de BananaArbol de Banana

Banana tree
have a lovely little collection of instruments at home and certainly have much more access to instruments than folks do here). As well, we’ll probably donate some of our clothing and try to consolidate everything into 2 or 3 bags.

We haven’t set a date yet to move on from Banos. It is so comfortable here and easy. But there is so much more of our adventure waiting for us. Most likely we will leave from Banos around March 8th or 9th and work our way south to Lima, Peru by way of buses and many stops along the way. A few days in Cuenca, A few days in Loja/Vilcabama, a border crossing to Peru…a stop in Chiclayo and a stop in Trujillo, before taking the 9-hour bus ride to Lima.

From Lima, we would like to head over to Cusco (by avion) and stay there for several weeks. Then…depending on timing, weather and research, we may consider taking a bus from Cusco to Arequipa, then Arequipa back to Lima. Still lots of itinerary to work out. In the meantime, we hope that all of you are managing to cope with the crazy winter weather in the U.S.
Andres, El Payaso GrandeAndres, El Payaso GrandeAndres, El Payaso Grande

Andy, the giant clown (guess he found his true calling!)
and are enjoying your winter.

Con Abrazos y Besos a todos --

Additional photos below
Photos: 12, Displayed: 12


Nico and MarleighNico and Marleigh
Nico and Marleigh

Nico and Marleigh working hard behind the scenes
Practicing for 'El Gran Circo de Titeres'Practicing for 'El Gran Circo de Titeres'
Practicing for 'El Gran Circo de Titeres'

Practice makes....well hopefully better!
Mis ElefantesMis Elefantes
Mis Elefantes

My two dear elefantes...muchas gracias (y mi domador tambien!)

14th February 2010

Registro de viajes maravillosos
Su registro e imágenes son fabulosas! Estoy muy contento de que eres capaz de mantenernos todos informó sobre sus viajes. Su vida en Bend podría ser aburrido cuando llegues a casa. Valentín feliz! Abrazos y besos a todos-Betsy
14th February 2010

Registro de viajes maravillosos
Si, es verdad que la vida 'normal', despues del este viaje estara muy aburrido. Pero, tambien pudimos crear una vida nueva, con las memorias y con ideas nuevas...
15th February 2010

muchos monos
¡Qué intersantes y divertidos me parecen los monos! Une experiencia unica. Como Betsy ha dicho...¡su vida ahora es llena con mucho interés comparada de su vida aquí en oregon central!
6th April 2010

hello ansley
hello ansley I am one of your friendly of the school Oscar efren kings I am called david you remember my I hope that you return in a moment to baños de agua santa
7th April 2010

hola David
gracias para escribirme! a mi me gusta Banos mucho y espero que yo regresare muy pronto. Ansley

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