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Between Yachana Lodge and Loretto…

“Please be a traveler, not a tourist. Try new things, meet new people, and look beyond what’s right in front of you. Those are the keys to understanding this amazing world we live in.”   Andrew Zimmern

Ecuador – As a child growing up in the Misssippi Delta, I was painfully shy and dreaded interactions with strangers.  A loner, I thrived when roaming the outdoors, inspecting wildflowers along ditch banks or immersed in the dense canopy of the woodlands, where I might sit for hours in hushed tranquility.

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My favored destination on my childhood roamings were big trees in dense areas.  – Ceiba tree Near Rio Napo – Ecuador

I am grateful for  young-adult opportunities of teaching art as well as speaking to groups as ‘A Gardening Artist.’   I realized that we all have strengths and weaknesses, and that unique threads connect us all.    Slowly I grew comfortable with interacting with strangers, and now I embrace those opportunities to know my fellow man.

After leaving Yachana Lodge on Good Friday,  friends Stephen and Xiomara and I embarked on a journey that presented many unique experiences which almost always included the locals.

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It was fun to see the old fashioned bus loaded with happy people.

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There was one section of road where we got out and walked while Stephen drove.

One charming and polite person climbed aboard near Yachana.   He credited his very-good English skills to Yachana Lodge’s training center!    Douglas, the owner of Yachana, had told us about someone in the area that was producing a very nice wood-smoked coffee, and that very person was our guide for the next hour of the trip!


‘Pull up to the green house,’  he said, and Stephen laughed to see the actual greenhouse for young coffee plants!

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Their precious daughter!


What a beautiful couple! She is an archaeologist!


Their coffee is presently not in stores but it’s  worth finding them if you’re in the Narupa area!  I’ll update that info when the label is back in my hands!


Stephen and Xiomara showed me some of their favorite places along the Sumaco National Park as we ascended the ‘eastern slope’ of the Ecuadorian Andes.

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Papallacta to Baeza to Cosnga to Narupa to Loretto to Yachana

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Stephen and Xiomara visit with the lovely owner of Cabana Cascada Hollin.

We stopped to see the waterfalls and a stop-over spot they enjoy when working in the Sumaco area or on their way to Yachana or the Yusani.

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We continued our drive until we approached the petite community of Cosanga; I asked Stephen to stop at the roadside restaurant to see if my friend Cecilia was there.   Cecilia was a life-safer while helping with the Pachamama Bird Journey in March.

She was standing in front as we approached the restaurant, so I ducked while he asked if there was someone named Lisa in Cosanga.  “No,” she stated then resumed her tasks.

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Stephen went inside, and I sneaked out and waited for her to look up.

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Our visit was quite brief, but it was fun to watch her break into that million-dollar smile!

Next stop would be the larger community of Baeza, where we planned to spend the night at Cabanas & Pizzaria Kopal.    Stephen phoned his friend to warn him we’d be stopping by, as the restaurant only opens at the end of the day.

P1250702 cabanas and pizzeria KOPAL in Baeza

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The deck is the most-recent addition to this lovingly-built restaurant/cabana – most of the work was done by the owner.

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I saw the white walls and immediately started brainstorming!

We checked in and went for a walk while waiting on the restaurant to open.    Across the highway and up a quiet street was a quaint neighborhood.   Cascading flowers graced the windows of one tidy home.

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While looking up and admiring the flowers, I was rewarded with the smiling face of the owner, who graciously allowed me to take her photo!

While Xiomara visited a little tourist-information booth, Stephen and I enjoyed visiting with the neighborhood children – all hopeful to interact with the gringos!

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Xiomara came outside about the time that Stephen was telling them he was 100 years old! They didn’t believe him, especially when the soccer scrimmage began!


We were a bit cold, but these children appeared comfortable in the Baeza climate!


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Over dinner I mentioned to the owner, whose home country is Holland, that I had paints and brushes and would be glad to paint something on the bathroom wall.   After tossing around ideas, he wondered if I could paint ivy.  The next morning he seemed surprised that his idea had taken root and sprouted during the night!

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It will be fun to return to this sweet little area and see if the ivy has grown!

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Before leaving, we walked through the village and happened upon the Flower Lady!

I am so thankful to be cured of my bashful nature!  Otherwise I would be missing amazing cultural and human experiences!  If you’re stuck and unable to take a wanderlust detour, check out this week’s submissions for the WordPress Challenge.