Hard Road to Travel

I’ve got a hard road to travel and a rough, rough way to go
Said, it’s a hard road to travel and a rough, rough way to go
But I can’t turn back, my heart is fixed
My mind’s made up, I’ll never stop, my faith will see, see me through

 

I set out in February of 2013, after a Christmas present from my then wife Kim, of enough cash to start a Travel Blog. I have loved to travel for over forty years and began as a buyer for Six Flags amusement parks in the early 70’s. I would spend two months a year in SE Asia and dealt with family manufactures, in many countries. Our days were usually long (over 12 hours) and we really only took one day off our first trip. We hit fourteen cities in nine countries and I was hooked. In addition, my Father was a journalist (a real one not the pre-fab attention getting farces of today). I am sure he is rolling over in his grave at the ridiculous charade called journalism today. I learned to write through his guidance.

 

I was surfing the Internet in regard to somewhere I might be able to afford to retire, as there have been a couple of financial fiascoes in my life and I wound up with no Golden parachute or nest egg after 50 years of laboring away. One day I came across a video from Barbara Weibel of “Hole in The Donut Cultural Travels“, in regard to Ecuador and I instantly thought “I could do that”! I became mesmerized and started making contact with travel bloggers and two stood out as Texas friendly and were amiable to this old man. They actually responded to me, when I posed a question and both became my mentors in design, name and advice about my Travel Blog to be. I cannot thank these two enough for giving me the courage and aid needed to launch the Nomadic Texan. Thank you kindly Lauren DiMarco and Leah Walker Puckett from the bottom of my heart! Of course it didn’t hurt they both were from Texas.

 

Lauren DiMarco of "Where in The World is Lola"?

Lauren DiMarco of “Where in The World is Lola“?

 

 

Leah Walker Puckett of "Leah Travels"!

Leah Walker Puckett of “Leah Travels“!

 

 

After setting up my Blog I cam across a very intelligent young man, with a big heart and a great mind! In addition, he always tells it like it is, regardless of your position or if it might slight your opinion or feelings. My type of man. He graduated from The University of Texas, served in our country’s Air Force and has started a charity for inner city kids that he asked me to help with. Does this young man really know me (I know you are asking that)? I of course said yes immediately and will help Erick Prince Heaggans, The Minority Nomad walk through fire if I have to. He has become a true friend and confidante, ever since I was an hour late to eat Thai food with him in Austin and conduct my first interview. I was highly embarrassed and he just laughed it off. One of my closest friends in social media for sure! Hook ’em Horns Prince!

 

 

Erick Prince Heaggans, The Minority Nomad

Erick Prince Heaggans, The Minority Nomad

 

Let me tell you, I’m all alone, this lonesome road, I roam
I’ve got no love to call my very own
Oh, the river gets deeper, the hills get steeper
And the pain gets deeper every day, yeah

 

After two weeks in Cuenca Ecuador and a three day weekend in Tijuana building a house for an indigent Mexican family in Tijuana last year, I headed off to my first Travel Blogger Conference in Toronto and was completely blown away from the networking and Speed Dating processes. Because of my Panama Hat and apparently my overall brand, created in just under two months. A multitude of bloggers introduced themselves and strolled across the room at parties and functions just because they recognized my hat. Of course at my age I was only able to identify a few and tried valiantly to observe their name tags, without alerting the bloggers to the fact I had no idea what their name was. I recognized faces, as I have always been able to do, but names escaped me in many cases. At the conference I also made contact with a man who was destined to help me enormously and fast became a confidante and mentor, Stephen Oddo of Walks of Italy. I can’t thank Stephen enough for his help, his mentoring and his friendship. He is a class act!

 

Stephen Oddo giving a speech at #TBEX Toronto.

Stephen Oddo giving a speech at #TBEX Toronto.

 

As I left the first night’s event I had to use the facilities and was accosted by Ted Nelson of Traveling Ted from Chicago. He was one of those people whose face I immediately recognized, but I struggled to recall his name. I had no alcohol either! We hit it off immediately as we both have a sick sense of humor and love the outdoors. I more so in my younger days! At one of my Speed Dates in Toronto, SATW had asked to meet with me. They told me I had to have 10, 000 followers on Twitter to qualify. I had around 2, 000 at that time and I asked why the appointment. They told me with 2,000 I could qualify as a photographer. I just laughed and thanked them. I did make it a personal goal to attain this number as soon as humanly possible, but I wanted to do it legitimately and not “purchase” followers, which some people do.

 

Traveling Ted (Ted Nelson from Chicago)

Traveling Ted (Ted Nelson from Chicago) Friend and Mentor

 

I’ve got a hard road to travel and a rough, rough way to go
Said, it’s a hard road to travel and a rough, rough way to go
But I can’t turn back, my heart is fixed
My mind’s made up, I’ll never stop, my faith will see, see me through

 

The months rolled by and I was asked to visit Palestine Texas for a weekend and produce a post that covered the city’s attributes. I wound up writing eight posts in total and fell in love with this charming small community. I still broadcast on social media for the town and this has led me into a couple more visits next spring of Tyler and Nacogdoches, both historic and beautiful Texas Towns. I can’t wait to visit each and cover their sites, via my Nomadic Texan blog.

 

Breezy Lake-Wolfe of Palestine My Hostess

Breezy Lake-Wolfe of Palestine, My Hostess

 

One more thing, I dream of a home, far beyond the sea
Where there is love and peace and joy for me
Oh, in my eyes, I see troubles and danger for me
But destiny where it leads me, I must go, hey

 

One day about a month after I finished my obligations with Palestine, a post went up in a Facebook travel group, announcing a FAM/Press trip to Thailand and Malaysia. I was drooling and couldn’t submit my application fast enough. It was to be a 12 day adventure aimed at 5-star hotels, restaurants and spa activities. Anyone that reeally knows me understands this was my cup of tea and I hit the send button within seconds after finishing my application. It was announced that there was going to be a quick turnaround and they were going to choose the travel bloggers quickly. I couldn’t sleep.

 

The stars must have been aligned and God was in my corner. Bingo I was very fortunate and became one of three travel bloggers chosen along with three freelance writers. I had died and gone to heaven! I have loved SE Asia every since my youth and the first time I set foot on this continent’s soil way back in 1973, as a buyer with Six Flags amusement parks. In addition this trip established friendships that I cherish to this day, not to mention the social media benefits I received from starting my Instagram and Pinterest accounts, which have become fantastic platforms for my blog. Had no idea what I was missing.

 

James Bond Island in Phang Nga Bay Thailand

James Bond Island in Phang Nga Bay Thailand

 

I’ve got a hard road to travel and a rough, rough way to go
Said, it’s a hard road to travel and a rough, rough way to go
But I can’t turn back, my heart is fixed
My mind’s made up, I’ll never stop, my faith will see, see me through

 

Upon my return I went to work and produced somewhere between 25 to 30 posts even though a significant less amount was all that was required. I genuinely cared for the sponsors representatives and made what I what I hope to be lifelong friends. These four individuals are some of the funniest people I have ever traveled with and were a joy to be around on a daily basis. Can’t wait to travel with them again! Thank you kindly #Tourism Authority of Thailand, #Thai Airways and #Tourism Malaysia USA. You are all wonderful human beings!

 

Help me somebody, somebody please

 

I returned generated my posts and my life unraveled. After 36 years of marriage my wife and I decided that we could no longer live in a toxic situation and it would be better for the both of us to divorce. I was devastated and still am. I can find no way to unravel the mental anguish I go through on a daily basis. It is like a fog that surrounds my body and never disappears. Thank God that I have social media and my blog, or I am fairly certain I would not be here. Of special note is a Facebook and Travel friend Talon Windwalker of 1 Dad 1 Kid who through the divorce and through my growth as a travel blogger, has always been there and helped this old man immensely. I finally had the opportunity to meet him in person recently in Austin prior to moving to Dallas. I was thrilled to say the least!

 

Talon Windwalker of 1 Dada 1 Kid

Talon Windwalker of 1 Dad 1 Kid

 

Through it all I have struggled and worked to attain that magic number! I can remember a little less than a year ago how elated I felt when I hit 5,000 followers on Twitter. I knew with a little help and perseverance, eventually I would hit that magic number and qualify for the SATW! It has not been easy and I have worked until the middle of the early morning more times than I can count, but my efforts finally paid off and on November 24, 2014, @VacaRentalz of Vacation Bargains became my 10,000 follower on Twitter! Thank you kindly, to all the young women and young men who follow this old man on Twitter!

 

CLIFF, JIMMY

*** Lyrics By Jimmy Cliff from 

 

Jimmy Cliff – Hard Road To Travel Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Why (and How) I Write: A Blog Hop Post

Recently I was invited to participate in a Blog Hop about one of my favorite subjects (Writing), by two of my favorite bloggers, Bret Love and Mary Gabbett of Green Global Travel. They are both very kind people with a high interest in Ecotourism, nature/wildlife conservation and cultural preservation. They are both truly unique individuals with a perspective on “pouring every ounce of their passion, energy, love and dreams for their family into the site on a daily basis”. Just a few facts about each of them before I answer the four obligatory questions.

 

Bret Love and Mary Gabbett of Green Global Travel

Bret Love and Mary Gabbett of Green Global Travel

 

Mary Gabbett

 

1) Mary was born in Staten Island, New York and lived there until she was 14.

 

2) Because her family had a French graduate student who worked as her au pair, her first language was French and she remembers none of it now, even though she studied it in high school!

 

3) Her parents would take off work every Wednesday during the summer, for family vacation and they would visit museums, art galleries, theatre and amazing ethnic restaurants in New York City.

 

4) Her first big trip as an adult was a month-long vacation in India, where 5 friends and her stayed with one of the girls’ extended family. That’s when she discovered she was a die-hard travel-lover.

 

4) She has a degree in Pyschology, and worked for 10 years doing personality assessments for corporate clients. She gave Bret an informal assessment of himself on their 5th date.

 

5) Bret and her met at a Universalist Unitarian Church Christmas party she threw at her house in 2008. She was just coming off a painful separation, and had only been dating for 5 days when they met.

 

6)  She moved in with Bret 14 months later, after her mother was hospitalized (she’s OK now), a tree fell on her house (it’s OK now), and a wanted rapist was arrested in her front yard. Clearly, the Universe was trying to tell her something.

 

Bret Love

 

1) Bret was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and has never lived more than 30 miles away from the hospital in which he was born.

 

2) His first trip abroad was a 3-week tour of Italy with the Atlanta Boy Choir when he was 11. It included 15 cities in 21 days, and performances for the President of Italy and Pope John Paul II (in the Vatican).

 

3) He grew up in an urban neighborhood that was 98% black by the time he got to high school. When he was 15, they moved to 32 acres in the country, with a majority-white school. Talk about culture shock! His GPA that year dropped from 3.6 to 2.5 due to constant bullying.

 

4) Bret got his first tattoo– of a Native American shaman, from the cover of National Geographic– when he was 23. He originally got it primarily to cover self-inflicted scars from his late-teen depression. But the more tattoos he got, the more he liked them. He now has 6, all of Native American or Celtic art.

 

5)  He’s a big fan of hip-hop, and had his own hip-hop/noise-rock band, The White Aphros, in the ‘90s. In 2000, he was hired by Sprite to put together a compilation of Atlanta hip-hop for a web-based project. They bought two of his songs, which were released under his rap pseudonym, B. Love.

 

6)  All his life, he’s had a policy not to date someone he works with. So its ironic that Mary and him now live, work and play together 24/7/365… especially because they rarely argue. She has definitely changed forever his definition of the word “partnership.”

 

 Green Global Travel Mission Statement

 

In 2000, Bret traveled to South Africa’s Kruger National Park on safari. The immense power of the experiences he had there– seeing cheetah cubs frolicking on the open plain, watching wild dogs digging under a fence to get back into the park, having a massive bull elephant coming so close to his Jeep that he could feel the breath on his face– changed his life forever.

 

It wasn’t just the beauty of seeing these magnificent animals in their natural habitat that moved him. It was the passion with which the park rangers and guides spoke of preserving this incredible gift for generations to come, and the way locals spoke of ecotourism as their hope for a better and brighter economic future. Ever since then he has dreamed of using his abilities as a freelance writer and photographer to help make the world a better place, not just for he and Mary, but for their children and their children’s children. Mary and him have launched Green Global Travel to do just that.

 

They launched Green Global Travel because they are insatiably curious about new people, new places, new experiences and new ideas, and love sharing those things with other people in a way that will hopefully inform and inspire.

 

They launched Green Global Travel because they are passionate about ecotourism, and believe in its potential to help save the world’s precious nature and wildlife by encouraging sustainable practices that both benefit and respect local indigenous cultures.

 

They launched Green Global Travel because they truly believe that the words, photos and videos they capture along their journeys will both entertain you and help draw attention to the importance of environmental conservation.

 

They launched Green Global Travel because it is their dream to save the world, one story at a time.

 

Tam of the Amita Thai Cooking School in Bangkok Thailand and The Nomadic Texan

Tam of the Amita Thai Cooking School in Bangkok Thailand and The Nomadic Texan

 

1) What am I working on/writing?

 

I just finished a series on the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War. It was very educational and I learned that there is a huge circuit of reenactments, involving a large population of Civil War buffs. These people make the rounds dressing in period costume, which are by no means inexpensive. I was literally astounded by the number of people following the various events and the amount of money they freely invest in items that replicate the period, or happen to be authentic pieces from the various battles. Its amazing to me that at almost 65 I had no idea of this segment existed in our society.

 

I am taking a trip to Japan for six weeks, beginning the Friday after Thanksgiving and I am sure this will spark or generate a ton of photographs and blog posts. I will be in one of my favorite countries in the world and have a great deal of spare time, given I will be staying with my oldest son and he will come back to Austin for a week. He also must do that “Job” thing and work daily. This should allow me a freedom to explore and walk the streets trying to gather stories on the fabulous culture, the people and obviously the fantastic foods of Japan. I am drooling over this prospect and can’t wait for the trip to materialize.

 

One of my first stops will be at a chain of sushi and sashimi restaurants that carry the dishes via a conveyor belt. In 2012 when I last visited it was one of two restaurants that we ate at twice. I love the different items and luckily my son has a deep passion for these foods. So I see a blog post for sure on this experience. Then we can begin discussing the Ramen places, the Udon Noodle places (OMG I love Udon noodles), Soba noodles, Yakitori (skewered chicken cooked over a flaming grill) and anything to do with seafood. I might even do a Tempura meal this time and will have to probably do a great deal of these during the day, or when my son is absent. He gets rather embarrassed when I take photos of my food (if I can remember, as I forget half the time, until there is nothing left and it dawns on me I never took a photo and all my food is gone).

 

2) How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?

 

I am not sure I truly have a niche or a genre as many more experienced travel and food bloggers are constantly telling me, “I need to find a specific niche and generate my writing in that area”. I can’t tell you how many travel bloggers have stated this. I find this too difficult at almost 65 years old and absolutely love all aspects of travel and food. I love to cook and try to take cooking classes in every country I visit and maybe that is a difference, as I am not positive if others go out of their way to take cooking classes in every country. What better way to get to know a culture than through the foods they consume and the methods they use to prepare the dishes?

 

I also am a fan of architectural structures like cathedrals, temples, and shrines which SE Asia has a plethora of and one can turn any corner and stumble upon a new and different religious artifact or building and be drawn into the design and layout. In addition I am attracted to doors, windows and balconies. Specifically those with intricate layouts and impressions.

 

3) Why do I write what I do?

 

One area that is very special to me is volunteerism. This past year I helped an organization build a home in Tijuana Mexico over Memorial Day weekend, with my two youngest sons. It was a very emotional and gut wrenching process. I also walked away know that my sons had seemingly overnight turned into young men with purpose and were driven to help others. The biggest impact though, was when I asked the Mother of the two young children what she would like best about the new house we were building. She answered very quickly and very honestly. She loved that when it rained going forward, she would never have to worry about their dirt floors in the old home turning into mud again. I cried like a baby and had to walk away before I completely fell apart. It was one of the most humbling moments in my life!

 

I also write to help others learn about the countries that they will never ever have a chance to visit, or an experience that I think is unusual and will be appreciated by my subscribers and followers. What has come painfully apparent to me, is that an extensive portion of our society for one reason or another, has not, nor will they ever, venture outside of a 50 mile radius of where the grew up. I feel an obligation to share my experiences with these individuals and hopefully allow them to live vicariously through my travels and adventures.

 

I also have started spending time in Texas towns and writing a series on this experience. I am a huge history buff and love to write, photograph and experience anything to do with the Lone Star State. I have only done Palestine thus far and walked away with eight posts ,from the three days spent in this magnificent Pearl of East Texas. I also have written several posts on my hometown and the city I was actually born in, Austin. This coming spring I have been invited to perform the same function in the towns of Tyler for their Azalea fest weekend in March I believe and in Nacogdoches, both located in East Texas. It has been difficult to have the Convention and Tourism Boards in the mid-size to small towns around Texas understand the true value of social media as a Marketing concept or tool, but the walls are slowly receding and coming down in some cases.

 

Lately, after meeting online and getting to know Bret and Mary I have started looking into environmental processes and what can be done to help us save our planet for future generations, especially since I have three sons that will experience what we leave them. It all started with the movie “Blackfish” and I was so enthralled and captivated by the Killer Whale’s story, that I began to look more closely ate specific stories and posts involving this area, like the recent debacle over swimming with the dolphins at TBEX in Cancun. I had no idea how they were trained or given preparation for the swims. It breaks your heart to see the actual process. Not to mention what happens with Elephants in their training for humans to ride them, or the pain associated with a massive weight on their backs from the saddle.

 

I also have a vested interest in the war against GMO’s and the obvious damage they present to the human body. Thank God each time I venture outside of the US, I am reminded of what actual organic food tastes and looks like. Not to mention the fact that in the two weeks to a month in county, I always lose ten to fifteen pounds. There is no comparison and the taste is 180 degrees from the bland GMO structured “foods” we consume in my home country the USA. All supposedly in the name of furnishing cheap and healthy foods to the populations of the world without sufficient supply. I am sorry, but that is a load of horse manure and these people will eventually obtain the attributes that our society has taken on like Diabetes and obesity. I will argue all day long if your position is of the opposite side and will never, never settle with you!

 

My last tidbit in this area is in regards to healthcare and the continual plundering of our population, by big medicine and all the participants. Try getting sick in let’s say Ecuador and see what a real Doctor that is truly concerned with your health and not taking a CYA approach from fear of a lawsuit involving malpractice. Not only will you be shocked at the genuine care given, but the costs will place an arrow directly between your eyes, as it more than likely will only be about 5% to 10% of what you would have paid in the US. And my apologies, but you cannot come back on me and say the Doctors here are so much better qualified. They are of equal value and trained mostly in the US. They practice exactly what you would expect from an American Doctor and have the same abilities.

 

4) How does my writing process work? 

 

My writing usually revolves around placing selected photos in chronological order on my draft page and then I fill in the gaps so to say by reliving my experience visually with the aid of the photos. Every time I place a photo on the draft page it brings memories back, as they cascade across my brain and flood my gray matter with flashbacks of, or perceptions and involvement in guided tours, spa events, cooking classes and restaurants that make me drool from the recollection of the flavors associated with the countries and meals I have tried. I have been very fortuitous in my travels and been able to cultivate a wide array of trips and recollections of my travels.

 

Most of the time I schedule a time after morning coffee and surfing the Internet to devote strictly to my writing. That way there are no distractions and the words flow freely most of the time, given the photos ability to open up my thoughts. Just like others though there are times when mental issues or stress associated with life come between me and my writing. When this happens I get up and try to do other functions like eating (Ha!) or a minimum of house work. I have washing the whites down real good as I wear mostly white undershirts and white socks. Sorry Fashion patrol, but it is a fact! Usually it only takes a few minutes away to get my thoughts straightened out and then come back and finish.

 

The hard part and probably the area I dislike the most is editing and viewing my grammar, punctuation and run on sentences. I hate this necessary function sometimes! It too bad I can’t just blink my eyes and my draft be checked and repaired of all the errors.

 

And now I’d like to introduce you to my Blog Hop invitees!

 

Brianna Jellerson Simmons of the Casual Travelist.

 

Brianna Simmons of Casual Travelist

Brianna Simmons of Casual Travelist

 

Hi there, my name is Brianna and I’d like to welcome you to the Casual Travelist. I am a travel writer and blogger balancing my love of travel with a full time career. I prefer laid back luxury where the focus is on the experience and in particular culinary, city and nature travel. This blog is dedicated to having great travel experiences and making the most of your limited time to travel.

 

Welcome to the Casual Travelist! This blog focuses on experiential travel and in particular culinary, city and nature travel. I’m just a regular person with a full time career, friends and family that I love and a cat I adore; trying to balance my home life with my passion for travel. I aim to show that you can have great travel experiences whether it’s for 2 days or 2 weeks.

 

I’ve always loved exploring new places. I had a fairly nomadic childhood as a result of my father’s job living throughout the United States and stayed on the move after I joined the US Navy where I got my first taste of traveling abroad. After my stint in the Navy I got married, earned my doctoral degree and began a rewarding career as a physical therapist. I love my home life but the drive to explore remains. My travels have brought me to Europe, the Middle East, Central America, Canada and throughout the US including Alaska. I’m a big fan of traveling locally, you’ll often me exploring around my home state of Virginia as well as the Mid Atlantic.

 

Alison Abbott of the Green With Renvy blog.

 

Alison Abbott of Green With Renvy

Alison Abbott of Green With Renvy

 

Founder and writer Alison Abbott has been a multi discipline designer for all of her adult life. She is a serious design advocate, content creator and small business strategist, who is enthusiastic about keeping it local whether at home or abroad.

 

A passion for travel took hold early in her career, after production trips to the Far East for the fashion and design company she established in 1978. Twenty five successful years later, she segued into the world of renovating houses with an eco-friendly twist. A desire to combine that passion for travel with her growing knowledge in the world of sustainability led her to the launch of Green With Renvy. You’ll find the blog is an enjoyable riff on the concept of renovating your travel and lifestyle in sustainable shades of green. Reducing your carbon footprint can come in many forms, and even small steps can have a significant impact. Sharing these ideas and discoveries with her readers is what Green With Renvy is all about. When not searching for the best of artisans, growers and locales that make a destination unique, Alison shares her time between Boston and Nantucket.

 

Alison is a brand ambassador and Boston Local Expert with Afar Media. Recent work has been featured on Westin™ Finds from Afar, Stonyfield and Trip Advisor B2B. She has provided content creation and photography for both Chase Bank and Afar Media as they relaunch their web site​. Alison’s coverage of The Flower Markets of India was featured in Leaf Magazine. ​ ​ Visit Philly and Visit Aruba have partnered with the site, and she has reviewed hotels around the world.​ Her self guided walking tour of Nantucket – A Faraway Isle was published by Visual Travel Tours and is available for download.

 

As a writer, she explains, “Nothing could make me happier than hearing from a reader who has changed her travel plans for her son’s graduation to stay in an eco-friendly hotel that I recently recommended. Having a subscriber and her husband take a page out of my itinerary in Kerala, India because it sounded like the perfect start to ease them into the chaos that can be India is very rewarding. Something as simple as trying one of my Meatless Monday recipes with great results can make my day. I firmly believe that as individuals become better traveled and more mindful, culturally aware citizens of the globe, the world will be a better place”. With that thought in mind, Alison shares the experience of eco-friendly travel and lifestyle through Green With Renvy.

 

Let’s make a difference together.

 

Jim O’Donnell from Around The World in Eighty Years.

 

Jim O'Donnell of Around The World in Eighty Years

Jim O’Donnell of Around The World in Eighty Years

 

I was born to a middle class white family in a small town in Southern Colorado. We lived in a modest 1920’s stuccoed Spanish colonial style house made of cinder blocks and painted solid white. The roof was peaked and shingled gray. There was a chimney, but the fire-place didn’t work. A great black American Elm grew in our front yard. I lived there from birth to eighteen years old. My mother is still there.

 

In the backyard she grew roses, lilacs and rhubarb for pie. She made my younger brother mow the grass. My father had a plum tree for homemade jam and the lady across the wire fence held a massive wounded crow captive in an oversized cage.

 

On weekends we went to the mountains. In the Huajatollas we crashed up old mining roads in our International Harvester Scout. In the Greenhorns we ate fresh trout from Lake Isabel and picnicked on the grass next to Ophir Creek. In the San Juans we perused places like Rico, Dunton and Sawpit and climbed steep paths dappled in aspen.

 

At Monarch we skied, in the Arkansas we rafted, and in the mountain ghost town of Victor my dad bought a miniature, tumble-down miner’s cabin, from which we explored Long Hungry Gulch, Wilson Creek, Little Pisgah and Grouse Mountain. To the cabin we brought the things we found scattered over the nearby hills and mountains. It was Victor’s past: giant star shaped drill bits, amethyst colored bottles, blue and white Lenox porcelain chunks, milk-glass, pewter cups and rusted open-top cans.

 

I also brought to the cabin a curiosity for the mountain bluebirds, vireos and hummingbirds I saw, the elk that cut our path, the mountain lion we hoped to see, the bear tracks in the mud, the butterscotch ponderosas, the fescue, the Columbine and the way the wind blew rain from the West onto my face in August.

 

Yet, I failed to understand the pits the rain dug where the cows had eaten all the grass. The streams I wasn’t allowed to touch that flowed from the mine tailings. The hill sides that sloughed where all the trees had been cut.

 

The reason I couldn’t hear wolves howling at night, no matter how hard I tried. In the ruins of the ghost town there was a nutty old woman with spiked white hair and breasts that sagged to her knees. Her name was Mary and she collected fossils and miner’s lamps. She said the wolves had been massacred in the 20’s and 30’s and that they would never come back.

 

At some point along the way, I decided that I had to see the world.

 

 

Photo of The Day #71, Panaderia Deluxe at The Oro Verde Hotel Guayaquil

As I stumbled down to the coffee shop in the lobby of The Oro Verde Hotel, I told myself the trip to Ecuador was just beginning and I needed to just have coffee and something healthy, in a manner of speaking. I had no idea I would encounter such a plethora of sweet items that challenged my desire to remain healthy. After all I was on a 5-week trial run to see what the real cost of living in Cuenca was for a month. I knew my fiend Efrain of Mio Tours would be there soon and I had to make a decision.

 

Assorted Sweets for Anytime of the Day

Assorted Sweets for Anytime of the Day

 

I decided I would eat healthy when I got to Cuenca and settled into my condo. To heck with being healthy, when all this was staring me in the face. Not only was I pondering the quantity and assortment of sweets to ingest, I actually had serious debates with myself about the assorted sandwiches and salads displayed in this case below. Decisions should never be made when you are hungry! I knew this and also was very familiar with the process of having Mio Tours (You Tube Link) drive me to Cuenca. I knew full well that we would stop at a restaurant my friend Efrain favored in Puerto Inca. The lunches with juice and soup run around $3.50 per person and are very tasty.

 

Sandwiches and Ready to Eat Items

Sandwiches and Ready to Eat Items

 

Then of course another challenge is the magnificent bread they prepare all over Ecuador and since it is so inexpensive you want to buy every type of loaf available and see what is in line with your tastes and what isn’t. Down deep I knew I couldn’t buy more than one type of bread at a time and would have to wait until I got to Cuenca and shop at Maria’s Alemania Bakery. This bakery has the absolute best breads in the world, bar none!

 

Loaves and Loaves of Fantastic Bread / Pan

Loaves and Loaves of Fantastic Bread / Pan

 

Oh how I wanted to box up one of these whole cakes and take it with me to the Condo. I could then bury my face in all that sweet goodness and eat like a pig! No one would see me and no one would know. So why not you ask? Because rather simply put, I have to live with myself and couldn’t do this without totally stressing out! Oh well maybe next time. I absolutely love all the Panaderias in Ecuador and they make very delicious goods. Most are so inexpensive it is almost embarrassing. This shop was nothing really out of the normal and is fairly representative of the bakeries in Ecuador. One of life’s small pleasures and I can’t wait to get back to Ecuador and eat my fill of sweets! Waistline? What waistline? I can always walk it off in Cuenca! After all it is situated at around 8500 feet above seal level and that takes more than a little effort when you are my age.

 

Take Home Cakes and Other Sweet Delicacies

Take Home Cakes and Other Sweet Delicacies

 

 

 

 

 

Photo of The Day #70, #TilleyEndurables #RuggedClothing for the Adventure Minded

In June of 2013 I attended my first #TBEX (Travel Blogger Exchange) conference in Toronto Canada. It was my first conference and my first time in Canada. Ahead of time we were able to make appointments with travel companies, countries and points of interest around the world. Additionally, clothing manufacturers like Tilley Endurables were available and I was fortunate enough to secure an appointment with Tilley.

 

Hat Only is Tilley

Hat Only is Tilley

 

At the meeting I secured my Tilley Endurables as my first sponsor and as I am fairly well known for my Panama Hat, they decided to send me two different hats of my choice to test. I have worn these all over the world in the last year and I will tell you they are very, very durable. I love smashing them flat and packing them in my suitcase and when I arrive I just pop them out to wear. They will last forever I assume.

 

Hat Only is Tilley

Hat Only is Tilley

 

I am happy to announce that our partnership will continue and I am preparing to order additional items of clothing to test. Tilley Endurables is a great company and they stand behind their products 100%! My type of vendor.

 

Can’t wait to reach out and order, after I finish my diet and lose my extra weight. If you need a tough long lasting line of clothing take a look at their line. My earlier post today reminded me of my original post on Tilley and the hats and brought back memories of Ecuador and my Ingapirca tour.

 

Hat Only is Tilley

Hat Only is Tilley

Photo of The Day #64, #NomadicTexan

Last march Kim and I had the pleasure of visiting Cuenca Ecuador. Kim had never been and wanted to see why I was so excited and in love with Cuenca. We stayed at the Casa Ordonez, run and managed by Alberto Ordonez. Alberto is a master of great customer service and he is like family to me now. He always has time to help, regardless of his schedule and he knows everybody in the entire town I think.

 

Earl and Max who Made Our Tours Great!

Earl and Max, Who Made Our Tours Great!

 

Kim and I wanted to see Ingapirca, the Incan Ruins site. Alberto mentioned that a couple of gentlemen staying at the Casa were going and might just allow us to tag along. We met them in the lobby the next morning and they agreed to let us go with them. It helped us both reduce the cost of the tour. What we did not know was how entertaining and friendly these two would be. We thoroughly enjoyed their company and communicate back and forth now.

 

 

We visited El Chorro waterfall one day and a debate, lesson or discussion broke out about bamboo between Max and Kim. It was hilarious to me and I caught a portion of it on video. Hope you enjoy and thanks Earl and Max for letting us tag along. We had a blast with you guys!

Photo of The Day #41

Deluxe Hamburger

Deluxe Hamburger

 

The Cilantro Cafe Restaurante in Cuenca is a fabulous place to eat an economical meal. It has daily specials that follow the traditional meal platform, with a soup, entree and dessert for $4.00. It also has a wide array of vegan dishes.

 

 

I chose to eat their deluxe hamburger and as most in Ecuador, it came with a fried egg, a slice of ham, cheese, lettuce and tomato slices. Additionally it had bacon, but I don’t eat bacon. At first I was unsure if this combination would be edible, but I found myself going out of my way to eat this style of hamburger and I highly recommend you give it a try! Saludos!

Photo of The Day #37

Colon Campos at Work

Colon Campos at Work, Engaging Customers

 

I have traveled extensively around the world and had the pleasure of meeting many interesting individuals. I met Colon Campos recently when I ate at his restaurant, the Don Colon  in Cuenca Ecuador. I even wrote a blog describing one of my experiences, entitled Don Colon Rules. Today I received a thank you and an email urging me to come back and he then advertised my post on his restaurant blog. I was blown away.

 

Most restaurants acknowledge they like your posts, but rarely does one go out of their way to this extent. This gentle man understands that service is key to success in any business and he is genuine about your relationship. He really does want to engage with you and learn your story. If you find yourself in Cuenca Ecuador, at the Parque Calderon or the New Cathedral, you are across the street from his restaurant.

 

Stop in say hi and tell him the Nomadic Texan sent you. He will talk with you and then serve you an excellent meal, at a very economic price. Well worth the $4.00. Colon I can’t wait to get back and stop in and surprise you! You are a friend for life! Saludos mi amigo!

Photo of The Day #36

Australian Tree Ferns Growing in the Wild

Australian Tree Ferns Growing in the Wild

 

I have always loved flora and fauna and have several plants I am most partial to. One such species is the Australian Tree Fern. I travel extensively, but have never been exposed to so many ferns. I am most partial to this particular plant as a result of its lovely umbrella of fern leaves, branching out from its trunk. It strikes me as an anomaly of the fern species and has a grandeur more regal than any other fern in my book.

 

Baby Australian Tree Ferns

Baby Australian Tree Ferns

 

 

As you drive between Guayaquil Ecuador and Cuenca, a little above sea level, at the base of the Andes, you run into about a 15 mile stretch, where the ferns grow wild in forests and the sight is absolutely beautiful. I have only seen them as potted plants in Texas. I have never been able to photograph this brilliant parcel of the highway. Fortunately this time I was able to capture a few photos from the car. Enjoy nature’s bounty!

 

Australian Tree Ferns on Side of Mountain

Australian Tree Ferns on Side of Mountain

 

“Here and there a tawny brook prattled out from among the underwood and lost itself again in the ferns and brambles upon the farther side. Save the dull piping of insects and the sough of the leaves, there was silence everywhere–the sweet restful silence of nature.”

~Arthur Conan Doyle, Sr. (May 22, 1859-July 07, 1930)

Photo of The Day #33

Woolen Hats

Woolen Hats

 

I have been debating purchasing one of these hats with the tassels, while I am staying in Cuenca. They are quite popular across all age groups here in Ecuador. They appear to really be a heavy wool and have great flaps to keep your ears warm.

 

I am just afraid that if I wore these back in Texas I would get a plethora of adjectives hurled at me. You know I love #Hats, but this might just be a little too much. Guess I will hold off until my next trip! Saludos!

Photo of The Day #32

Street Fruit Vendors

Street Fruit Vendors

 

 

One of the common sights one sees when walking the streets of Cuenca, is the fruit vendors selling their wonderful items from a wheelbarrow. I think the wheelbarrow business would be a good business, as the vendors are set up almost every two or three blocks. Mostly locals purchase these items, but occasionally I see tourists buying the fruit. It is so cheap and so good looking that one has to avoid temptation, unless they have the materials needed to cleanse the fruit appropriately.

 

 

I have learned over time that fruits and vegetables grown by root source (like potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, etc) must be soaked thoroughly in the cleansing treatment or one will have a visit from the Grand Amoeba and trust me that’s not fun. The tree fruits and vegetables are safer, but still require a good cleansing. Ecuador has a bountiful supply of fruits and veggies, but I would urge you to make sure you treat them prior to consuming! Saludos!

Photo of The Day #23

Pizza So Good I Forgot to Take a Photo

Pizza So Good I Forgot to Take a Photo

 

 

If you find yourself in Cuenca Ecuador and are ravished for a pizza, I recommend trying La Fornace on President Borrero off Sucre. It is fantastic. Kim instructed me before I left to make sure I did not eat my pizza with my hands, as it is bad manners in Ecuador. One must use a fork and knife to be in acceptable status.

 

 

No worries. I used both utensils as required and even though it felt strange at least the taste was phenomenal. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I apologize as the aroma was so enticing, I did not take a full pie photo, but rather dove in and ate half of it before I realized I needed a photo. I think you get the idea!

Photo of The Day #21

Hot Chocolate at the Cacao Plantation

Hot Chocolate at the Cacao Plantation

 

 

I visited the Casa Ostrica Cacao Plantation this past Wednesday in Santa Rosa Ecuador.and learned all about chocolate and the process by which the chocolate is extracted from the beans. After grinding the beans I was extremely hot and perspiring. They served me a cup of hot chocolate and I immediately cooled off. It was so good I asked for a second cup.

 

 

It is a wonderful end result and I will never forget the fabulous taste of the fruit that surrounds the beans in the seed pod that I was fortunate enough to sample. If you ever have an opportunity to explore a Cacao Plantation do it!

The Chocolatier

Heading out of Cuenca early last Wednesday morning, we passed the Feria Libre Market. This is the biggest market in the city and one can wonder for hours, bartering, looking and touching everything from quinoa, rice, fish, pork, to fruits and vegetables. It is a magical place. I could not believe the amount of activity at this time of the morning. People were unloading trucks and carrying merchandise to their stalls.

 

We headed out to the lower portion of Azuay Province. I displayed the geographical lay of the land in my Banana blog, but one item I didn’t show you is below. It seems that a large portion of the chocolate beans are brought up to this region from the Coastal growing area and the beans are laid out to dry in the sun for two days. They have to be brought in at night to avoid the moisture in the air and placed back on the concrete drying beds again the next day. They are then bagged 100lb bags and transported to their processors.

 

Cacao Drying Beds in the Dry Area of Azuay Province

Cacao Drying Beds in the Dry Area of Azuay Province

 

We did the banana tour and headed 30 minutes away to Santa Rosa with the Cacao Plantation’s owner in our car. We had time to discuss why he had resumed his cacao business seven years ago and Byron Trujillo Erazo told us it was simple mathematics. The chocolate industry was booming and he wanted to get back in it again after a forty-year lay off. We arrived at the Casa Ostrica and it was similar to what I expected. It had a tropical look and was filled with all kinds of plants and flowers that one would expect in a tropical setting. This is an example of the orchids growing on the entry poles that line the driveway. Amazing in my opinion!

 

Orchids Growing on the Entry Poles

Orchids Growing on the Entry Poles

 

The resort was constructed with a great deal of bamboo, which grows in large clumps on the Plantation and is used for a majority of the wood needs. This photo is what you see as you enter and arrive at the lodge. There are little cabanas all over the resort. I am guessing the resort can handle about 75 people at one time. Enough of this talk. Let’s head out to the Cacao Plantation ane see the process in action.

 

The Casa Ostrica Lodge

The Casa Ostrica Lodge

 

As you enter the Cacao section and look ahead all you can see is a plethora of trees filled with varying colors of the Cacao seed pods. The bright red ones are the ripe pods and are ready for harvesting. Each day the workers journey through the Cacao trees and harvest the ripe seed pods for processing.

 

One Red Seed Pod Ready for Harvest

One Red Seed Pod Ready for Harvest

 

Our guide showed us the method used to harvest the pods. He had a huge machete and I had no reservations about letting him do the cutting. Knowing how much a klutz I am, I figured it would very easy for me to lose a finger or two and I let him do the job.

 

Harvesting the Seed Pod

Harvesting the Seed Pod

 

He then started the process of cutting the seed pod off and making the delicious fruit inside available. A lot of people are more than likely not familiar with the fact that the huge seed pod has fruit that surrounds the interior smaller beans.

 

Staring the Process of Harvesting the Fruit

Staring the Process of Harvesting the Fruit

 

He hacked into the seed pod and tore away a section of the outer shell. The seed pod is actually quite hard and he does not hack gingerly. I know I would slip and hurt myself, if it was left to me. I had an idea what the interior looked like, but had no idea of the taste. There is a white fruit that surrounds the beans and this has to be removed to get to the beans. The guide gave us a sample and I was floored. Once in my life have I had such a delicious morsel of fruit. That was in the Philippines when I tasted Mongusteen for the first time. I was addicted immediately. I scooped out about half the beans and ate them one at a time as we walked the Plantation. I cannot describe in mere words how wonderful the beans fruit tasted. It made the whole day worth the drive, etc.

 

Interior Cacao Beans with Fruit

Interior Cacao Beans with Fruit

 

Normally the beans are taken up to the drier climate and sun-dried for two days, but they had a quick way to dry the beans and that was using a wok like skillet over a bed of coals. You stir the beans over the heat until the outer shell becomes brittle.

 

A Shortcut to Drying the Beans

A Shortcut to Drying the Beans

 

When the beans are ready you individually shell each bean. At first it seems a very daunting task and I couldn’t get it right. I kept breaking the beans apart and not harvesting solid beans. I tasted one of the beans after shelling and it was very bitter. I couldn’t believe that this would turn out to be a tasty treat. One of the ladies helped me and showed me how to snap the bean which left you with the entire bean in one piece. A much better step and saved the beans.

 

Diana Shelling the Beans.

Diana Shelling the Beans.

 

The next step was to place the beans in a contraption that had been used for a long time and physically break the beans down into chocolate. I though, okay once through the grinder and it would be a piece of cake. Oh contraire. I had to keep scooping the chocolate residue back into the grinder and re-grind the concoction about six times. By the ends of the process I was hot, sweating and thankful I had my Tilley Hat to block out the sun from my face. The young lady broke down and the crew got her a hat, as she was starting to sunburn. By the time we got through I was worn out and my arms ached.

 

Nomadic Texan Grinding the Beans

Nomadic Texan Grinding the Beans

 

After I finished the grinding it was time for a chocolate drink. This photo shows that they do not waste the seed pods and use them to serve the drinks in. One also receives a dark chocolate bar from their cacao plantation and the illustration shows a cross-cut of the seed pod.

 

Interior of the Seed Pod, Candy Bar and a Chocolate Drink

Interior of the Seed Pod, Candy Bar and a Chocolate Drink

 

Okay I had worked up an appetite and it was time to eat a traditional meal from Casa Ostrica. Obviously Mr. Erazo wanted us to taste ostrich and that was what we were served along with rice, salad and fried plantains. I have taken a liking to the plantains and didn’t think I would. For the record the ostrich tasted just like beef to me. The others thought it had a gamey taste. Before the meal they served us a hot chocolate drink made from the chocolate shavings. It was so good I had to have a second cup. It also acted to drive my temperature down as the Green Tea in Asia does. Caught me off guard.

 

Traditional Meal of Ostrich, Rice, Salad

Traditional Meal of Ostrich, Rice, Salad and Fried Plantains

 

I talked with my wife Kim prior to our trip and she asked me to bring back some of the cacao beans if at all possible. I obtained a bag and literally scooped the remaining beans from the wok like pan over the BBQ and let them cool down. They gave me the large ball of chocolate from all my efforts and I will try to bring it home. Wish me luck as I am not sure they will allow this to enter the US. We will see. Please cross your fingers for me. I hope I can and that way my family can sample the dark chocolate. I wish that there was some way to bring home a seed pod and let Kim try the taste of that fruit. It is one of the highlights of my trip to Ecuador.

 

My Chocolate Ball and Cacao Beans for Kim

My Chocolate Ball and Cacao Beans for Kim

 

I am thankful that Mio Tours allowed me to accompany them on this fabulous trip and I learned so much about Bananas and Cacao. This El Oro Province is amazing and you drive and drive through a vast amount of banana plantations, the number one export of Ecuador, but you also are privy to all kinds of fruit trees growing wild alongside the highway. For the purposes of full disclosure both Mio Tours and Tilley Hats are sponsors. Regardless I have to say that this a fabulous tour and tasting the Cacao fruit is worth the entire trip. I also have to say a tour of Casa Ostrica is a fabulous way to spend a day in Ecuador. If you get the opportunity to take this tour, jump on it! Saludos mi amigos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo of The Day #20

Cacao Seed Pod -- I Love Chocolate

Cacao Seed Pod — I Love Chocolate

 

 

After the tour of the Banana Plantation we drove thirty minutes to Santa Rosa, Ecuador in the El Oro province. This is where Casa Ostrica is located and where the Cacao Plantation is. I was so thrilled to get involved with Cacao and see what the real story is, as so many people are making a big deal about it these days. Cacao Plantations are springing up again in Columbia, Ecuador and the Ivory Coast of Africa.

 

 

In South America the Cacao operations went away at the advent of bananas popularity in the US. Now the Cacao operations are on their way back and are holding a prime place in agriculture in South America. I was honored to participate in this tour and will relay more information with an impending blog.

Photo of The Day #17

Hamburguesa Deluxe

Hamburguesa Deluxe

 

Okay I admit it. I like to have a hamburger every once in a while. I just can’t help myself. The burgers they serve in Ecuador have a little bit different spin that we are used to in the US. If you look closely you can see there is a slice of ham on this burger, and a scrambled egg. Some restaurants offer the egg over easy.

 

 

I was slightly intimidated the first time I saw this on a menu, but it turned out to be a fantastic preparation and very tasty, You can try it at home! I just don’t think you could find this in the US for the $3.20 with tax (soft drink, fries, and deluxe burger). Saludos!!!

Photo of The Day #12

A Typical Restored Door in Cuenca

A Typical Restored Door in Cuenca

 

 

I am not totally sure why I am so drawn to old doors, but I may be obsessed  when it comes to capturing the multitude of door images that abound in the world. Primarily my “Collection” is from Cuenca Ecuador and the El Centro or Old Town part of the city.

 

There are examples all over the world of fantastic carpentry and artwork. At least that is my interpretation. You can go to my Facebook page and see a multitude of examples from past trips. I hope that you enjoy the various photos and think they represent a segment of art as I do. Saludos!

The Road Most Traveled

 

Every time I visit Ecuador I fly into Guayaquil and stay over night. There are no “direct” flights to Cuenca from current airline operations. I can either fly back to Quito spend the night and then fly into Cuenca or I can stay overnight and take a shuttle to Cuenca the next day. At my age the Quito route is about 25 hours total and too taxing on my body. So I opt for the shuttle from Guayaquil. Besides, I would miss all the gorgeous scenery if I flew into Cuenca.

 

Mangos Growing Wild

Mangoes Growing Beside the Road 

 

I always know that I can count on my friends at Mio Tours to insure my safety and guaranteed arrival. Lately some of the more illegal shuttle companies have been falling into trouble with the government militia, as they are not official and have not secured the appropriate licenses to transport individuals along this route. I would caution you to investigate this issue and make sure your shuttle service is licensed. Other wise you just might be stranded alongside the road, as a few tourists have been lately.

 

Toll Booths at Puerto Inca

Toll Booths at Puerto Inca

 

The road is nice and there are a few tolls, but you go from sea level basically to a high of about 13,000 feet in the Cajas National Park. Along the way you pass many items of interest. The current road is great, but the Ecuadorian Government is widening  the road to four lanes and it will be a smooth ride from Guayaquil. We usually obtain lunch in Puerto Inca about and hour into the ride and the special is $3.00 per person.

 

Government is Improving the Highway and making it Four Lane Like an Interstate in the US

Government is Improving the Highway & making it Four Lane Like an Interstate in the US

 

 

You pass through many small towns that have various methods of shuttling their population around and one can only guess what the experience is like. Unless you have been to Asia and are familiar with the Tuk Tuks, then you are very acquainted with this system. The taxis vary in color and structure, but are usually built in the same manner and have the same open door look for passengers, with a motorbike front for the driver.

 

Tuk Tuk Like Taxi in Rural Area Towns

Tuk Tuk Like Taxi in Rural Area Towns

 

As you move into the more remote areas you see a different style of taxi as pictured below. They run around the countryside on motorbikes and shuttle the locals back and forth to their homes along the dirt roads. It is difficult for me to imagine there is enough business for this many “taxis”, but apparently its a lucrative operation.

 

A Form of Taxi for the Locals at the Base of the Andes in the Country

A Form of Taxi for the Locals at the Base of the Andes in the Country

 

 

You also find open fish markets where the locals buy their fresh catch. The fish are transported from the coast and made available to the locals for a reasonable price. It is a very unique approach and has been the same for all the years I have visited Ecuador. I just would like to see a little ice under the fish for safekeeping.

 

Local Rural Fish Market

Local Rural Fish Market

 

 

We always stop at several random spots so that I can take photos and this one is a reflection of the valley below and the cloud structure that covers Guayaquil at higher elevations. One begins the ascension and starts to have indications of altitude by ears popping, etc. The vehicle struggles a little more and doesn’t have the same get up and go as it does at sea level, but it is more than adequate to navigate the Andes. After you rise above the clouds (yes that is at a very high elevation) the view is magnificent and the skies are clear. Many photo opportunities exist at this altitude and the guides from Mio Tours always stop when I ask to take photos or if I need a bathroom break.

 

 Looking Out Over Guayaquil

Looking Out Over Guayaquil

 

As you hit the continental divide in Cajas National Park, you know its all downhill from there and you will be in Cuenca within an hour. The anticipation starts to rise and my thoughts increase as the wonderful city approaches. I am and always will be, totally in love with this city, its people, its culture and its lovely food. The great thing about driving is it gives you three and a half hours to prepare yourself and anticipate how wonderful it is to be in Cuenca. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

 

Day Two Road to Cuenca and Cuenca 2013-03-08 011 30X30 Blog

 

Photo of The Day #9

Cuenca Street Art

Cuenca Street Art

 

 

I absolutely love street art and actively search it out, no matter where I go in the world. Cuenca has some of the most appealing street art I have encountered. This photo was taken on a stairway from the Rio Tomebamba up to Calle Larga. The steps have wonderful art on both sides and it is mesmerizing to see. One can’t help but stop and admire the quality of the work and catch a breath or two.

 

A large portion of this area’s art resembles work done for the Yellow Submarine album from the Beatles in my opinion. Regardless, it is very appealing and when you visit Cuenca Ecuador make sure you search for all its valuable street art! Saludos mi amigos!

Photo of The Day #7

  Vendor-selling-fresh-water-crabs-on-the-HWY-to-Salinas-Blog

On my first trip to Ecuador in October of 2011, I learned that they have a plethora of crabs available and the crabs are packed up in large bundles for sale at road side stands. It is an amazing site. I am positive I will see many again when I return to Cuenca in a few days, unless there is a seasonality to the crabs.

 

This will be the first time I have traveled to Ecuador during their winter. Kim wants me to measure how cold it really is, as she absolutely hates the cold and feels it down to her bones. I think it is actually getting worse the older we both get! I thought you might enjoy a little local food. I sincerely think though, that you better have a huge family, a party with about 20 attendees or an enormous appetite, if you make this purchase!

Is It Possible to Eat Ice Cream and Lose Weight

One of my passions in life is very unhealthy, completely degenerate in nature, filled to the brim with sugar, butter fat and other high caloric ingredients, but I can’t help myself. I am addicted to it. I love sampling the many flavors and I love the various methods of serving it. At home in the US, I cannot purchase it without gobbling down approximately what is considered three or four servings (at least).

 

I usually make do and hold my urge to feast on the entire package and devour it in one sitting. I am so unlucky, because in Texas we have what is arguably the best in the world for sale in every grocery, convenience, drug store, mass merchandisers and warehouse stand alone membership venues like Costco and Sam’s Club. It is frankly a losing battle and if one does not have a strong disposition you will suffer the consequences. That is simply the enormous expansion of your waistline or what becomes a middle tire effect.

 

Mixx Heladeria with 80 Flavors with Jim and Connie Joliff

Mixx Heladeria with 80 Flavors with Jim and Connie Joliff

Obviously by now you have deduced I am speaking of ice cream. It is so hard to shop at my local HEB and pick and choose from all the wonderful fruits and vegetables offered and try to stroll by the Blue Bell ice cream section, without grabbing two or three half gallons. Yes I said half gallons. In the old days when all three sons were living at home and playing athletics, it was nothing to go through five or six half gallons a week.

 

Growing young men need their calories which burn off in the Texas heat, of one hundred degrees plus at their particular sport’s practices. Of course Mom and Dad needed excessive butter fat to enable us to do all that screaming for our sons prowess or at the officials, which usually dominated the yelling. Somehow our referees, umpires, etc were always below standard, or at least that was the case when we were losing!

 

Mixx Flavor Creations

Mixx Flavor Creations

 

My weight would fluctuate enormously with the advent of late spring and the high temperatures. How else would one cool down? Thank God I realized by the end of summer that I had to cease my ingestion of massive quantities of ice cream and behave normally again as the cold seasons arrived, or else I would have looked like a Goodyear blimp.

 

As I aged each year it became harder and harder to shed the excess weight, punctuated with a little syrup and more than likely whipped cream. Kim gravitated toward flavors like Butter Pecan, Vanilla and and anything with Carmel flavor. I was infatuated with Banana Pudding, all things Chocolate and many of the seasonal short term offerings.

 

Mixx Flavor Options

Mixx Flavor Options

 

Over the years we cut back and started only eating ice cream on holidays and other celebrations. I pined away my fifties knowing I could not continue this charade. Then it happened. I visited Ecuador. A country full of organic fruits, vegetables and untainted food supplies like we have in the US, with all the GMO’s and preservatives.

 

I quickly noticed that there was a Heladeria on almost every block. Most were the run of the mill shops and served a gelato style ice cream with basic flavors and all serve a soft style, as rule. We talked with a few local Ex-Pats and they recommended Mixx Heladeria run by a Canadian genius.

 

Mixx Choice of Serving Methods

Mixx Choice of Serving Methods

 

This place has all types of flavors, including Mojito, Red Bull, Amaretto, and tons of fruit and tasty creations. The sign on the front says 80 Sabores. I am guessing that is correct. Once you walk in, it takes a while to decide which flavors you want to try. There are so many that are appealing. You also then get to decide what vessel you want the ice cream served in, a waffle cone, a waffle dish, or a normal cone.

 

Then, you get to decide if you want it dipped in chocolate! My word it is tasty. I have attached several photos for your pleasure and I am sure in a few days when I am back to Cuenca, I will head to Mixx and start testing the various new flavors. Somehow with all the walking in Cuenca I manage to eat ice cream and lose weight at the same time. Now that is my kind of experience!

Mixx Flavor Creations

Mixx Flavor Creations

 

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Amateur Traveler Episode 471 - Travel to Austin, Texas



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