Visiting a Quechua Village near Tena. June 16, 2013
After spending a week in Quito, Ecuador we loaded our gear into a truck that would be our home for the next couple of months and headed to Otavalo, a city of 90,000 people that is a few hours north of Quito.
Otavalo has a large market that operates everyday. The region is known for its handicrafts and so it is a good opportunity to buy locally made textiles, leather goods, wood carvings, fake shrunken heads etc. We spent more time looking than buying. Traveling around the world with a back pack limits you to purchasing only items that you really want as it means carrying it in your pack for the next seven months or shipping things home.
From Otavalo we drove south east to Tena, which is a small town on the edge of the Amazon rainforest region. Tena is a popular launching point for jungle kayaking and rafting tours.
Our day in Tena started with a drive to the Rio Napo which is a large tributary of the Amazon River. Once at the river our little group were given car tire inner tubes to float down the river on. As a long time river guide used to being in a proper white water raft I felt a bit vulnerable to the elements as I didn’t really know what was in the water.
We were explicitly warned not to pee while in the river. We were told that if you were to pee while in the river there was a good chance that a small fish called the “penis fish” would swim up your urethra and this would not be a good thing. Ok, point taken; I will not pee in the river. I looked into this matter afterwards and found out that the “Candiru” is a species of parasitic fresh water catfish native to the Amazon Basin with one modern day recorded incident of this happening.
All went well and we stopped at a nondescript pull over on the river. We walked through the forest for half a mile until we came to this little traditional Quechua Village that had one foot in the past and one foot in the present. I felt very fortunate to be a guest of the village and to experience a traditional meal of local fish wrapped in banana leaf and cooked over a fire. We learned about many things that day including how this village makes its own special version of “Chicha” which they make with manioc root and plantains and ferment the mash in a large hollowed out log container.
In the watercolor sketch of the kitchen hut there is a log container filled with plantains that will be made into “Chicha”.
A small village along the Rio Napo, a tributary to the Amazon River. Watercolor and Pen. Sold.
A page from my sketch book. Pen and ink.
Woman selling fruit from a wheel barrow. Watercolor and pencil
Pencil and Watercolor sketch of a Quechua Hut showing the fire pit and hanging baskets for smoking food.
Waiting For Our Luggage in Quito, Ecuador June 8th, 2013
Flying into Quito’s new international airport was a roller coaster type landing with a full on brake slam at the end for good measure. There was an older lady from Quito sitting near us and I noticed she was making the sign of the cross as we were descending. She said that this was a normal landing for Quito.
The fun was just beginning as our luggage never arrived and so sadly we headed into the big city with not so much as a tooth brush. Our bags did show up, one bag at a time over the next five days. There was nothing we could do about that and so we made good use of the time and explored the city.
Fortunately we had our cameras and I had my sketching gear. (More important than a toothbrush) The picture at the top of this blog entry is a watercolor and pencil sketch depicting a day of hiking in the hills above Quito. On one of our walkabout’s we came across a construction crew demolishing an old building. All these men standing around looking at a back hoe seemed like a scene I might see back in Canada. I guess construction culture is some what universal.
Quito was a good opportunity to acclimatize to the next two months of travel through South America and to start working on my Spanish.
A page from my sketch book. Pen and watercolor wash.
The View From The San Francisco Monastry
Exploring The Hills above Quito.
Old Man of the Mountains, Pencil and watercolour sketch
Boston. MA. May 31, 2013
Arriving in Boston from Vancouver, Canada by car was the kick off point for our journey around the world. We had a week to explore the Boston area before flying to Quito, Ecuador. We stayed with family in Lincoln County which is very close to where the first military engagements of the American Revolutionary War took place on April 19th, 1775.
Walking around Lincoln, Concord and Boston I couldn’t help but feel the presence of early American history. After spending a day in Boston learning about the Freedom Trail we also visited Walden Pond, where Henry David Thoreau lived in a small cabin from 1845 to 1847.
There is now a replica of his cabin very close to the original site. I have painted a small watercolor of this cabin with out the paved paths and roadway that is nearby. I like to imagine that in his day this cabin was a little more secluded and so I have tried to paint it more in the spirit of what I think it may have been.
I also painted a watercolor of the Old State House which was built in 1713. It is one of the oldest public buildings in the United States. It stands out in that it is surrounded by modern day high rise buildings and the contrast of this made for an interesting composition. I added five birds to the picture in honor of the Boston Massacre which happened very close to this building in 1770.
I look forward to our return to Boston after our trip as there is so much more to see. Our next stop along the way is Quito, Ecuador.
Built in 1713, The Old State House is one of the oldest public buildings in the United States.
17th Century Window looking out at Paul Revere’s House
Henry David Thoreau’s Cabin at Walden Pond
Watercolor and Pen sketch of a bronze sculpture, Make Way For The Ducklings by Nancy Schon. Sold.
Circus World, Baraboo, Wisconsin. May 28, 2013
Having seen the movie “Water for Elephants” we were curious to stop at Circus World in Baraboo, to learn more about the history of the circus in America.
In 1884 the Ringling Brothers began their first tour as a circus and during the winter months Baraboo was their headquarters. The museum is located on the land owned by the Ringling Brothers and is called “Ringlingville”. Their museum features artifacts and exhibits, including some of the movie set props from the movie Water For Elephants.
We spent the afternoon at Circus World and went to a small circus show at the hippodrome which is a permanent big top which houses the daily circus and magic shows. I found visiting circus world was a look back at a by gone era in America and to illustrate this article I thought that the one artifact that really struck me was of an old pair of clown shoes. I have also included a sketch of the little circus show that they put on daily.
Badlands National Park and The Corn Palace May 26, 2013
Camping at Badlands National Park was a serene experience. It was very quiet with only the sound of the wind and birds. We got up early and explored a couple of the short scenic trails in the park.
We didn’t see a lot of wild life however we had an opportunity to get very close to a rabbit that was staying close to this wooden walk way that he could easily hide under for safety. I found that the rabbit made a good subject for a watercolor study in that it represented life in what appears to be a very harsh environment.
The other three sketches are pen and ink drawings with watercolor washes. I drew them very quickly. The idea is to make quick impression studies. Sometimes over thinking gets in the way of an intuitive process.
Driving across South Dakota we visited the Devils Tower National Monument before we went to the Badlands and then we stopped at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. The Mitchell Corn Palace is a folk art wonder and was first built in 1892 to show case the rich soil of South Dakota and encourage people to settle in the area. When you are driving across the United States it is nice to break up the drive with little side trips like this. Our next little adventure takes us to Baraboo, Wisconsin which is home to the Circus World Museum.
The Start, Day 1, Leaving Home May 15, 2013
Three years ago my wife Lyn and I did a trip around the world. As a way to do justice to an eight month back packing adventure and to clarify the story of our journey I am going to post paintings and sketch’s starting from the beginning of our journey back in Squamish, BC, Canada.
Lyn and I had been planning this great adventure for some time and so when we sold our house in Squamish we had a big garage sale and put the remainder of our belongings into storage. With that done, we loaded up the car with camping gear with the plan of driving across the United States to Boston as the first leg of our trip.
Here is the story of our trip in sketch’s and paintings. Driving down the Sea to Sky highway from Whistler on our way to Vancouver, BC. we spotted a mother black bear and her cubs. We thought this was a great omen of things to come and a great way to leave our mountain home.
Follow us a we go back through a trip that took us to 96 cities and 15 countries on our eight month journey.