into la amazonia – ecuador’s amazon basin

canoe ride

We flew from Quito to Coca (aka Puerto Francisco de Orellana), a small city that serves as a hub for oil companies and tourism activities.  Coca is a 27 minute flight from Quito, and for a while I wondered “Why even fly if it’s such a short trip?”  I learned later that although the distance between the two cities is only about 120 miles as the crow flies, it’s about 180 miles by driving.  The elevation drops from 9350ft to 834ft above sea level and it’s apparently a windy (as in following a curving or twisting course rather than marked by or exposed to strong winds) trip that takes 11 hours by bus.  Our guide also told us that it’s a scary trip.

clouds and water spray over the napo riverClouds.  Our lodge was about a 1.5 hour ride east by motorized canoe on the Napo River, a tributary to the Amazon River.


oil trucks on a barge on the napo river

We were never far from oil company influences.  There were many barges with trucks, tankers, and equipment as well as a number of gas flares that we saw along the way.  Apparently the flares (example here) are for burning off the natural gas that comes out of the oil well.  They haven’t built the infrastructure to capture the natural gas, so it is burnt off as waste.  It’s estimated that this type of flaring accounts for 1.2% of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions.  Our guide said that locals do not like the practice as it also attracts and kills native insects and birds that are attracted to the lights.  sadface.


hammock at sacha lodge

Our lodge had a back patio with a hammock and chairs.  how nice!


mariposario at sacha lodge

blue morpho butterfly chrysalises (chrysalides?)  in the marioposario


platform at sacha lodge

The sun deck at sacha lodge

canoe ride

Heading out for an evening canoe ride


stars and the milky way

The night was so free of ambient light and the first night so clear that we could see the milky way.



Tarantula hanging out by the shower window

sunrise in quito over plaza de san francisco

sunrise over plaza san francisco

a few shots from a sunrise in quito, ecuador:

sunrise over plaza san francisco

sunrise over la plaza de san francisco as viewed from the luxurious mansion-turned-hotel casa gangotena.  Destroyed by fire in 1914, the mansion was rebuilt in 1926 by the prominent Gangotena family.  The mansion was sold and after a $10 million renovation, reopened in october 2011 as a hotel.

sunrise in the andes

a look to the andean hills/mountains dotted with colorful, boxy buildings


sunrise over the domes of la iglesia de la compania de jesussome lens flare as the sun rises over la iglesia de la compañia (the jesuit church: church of the society of jesus)

the fake-tree cell phone tower made me chuckle.


hacienda zuleta

hacienda zuleta cordia lutea - yellow geiger tree?

We made a short day visit via congested highways and a bumpy dirt road to Hacienda Zuleta, self-described as a “17th Century Luxury Eco-farm” in northern Ecuador, about 2 hours northeast of Quito.  They grow almost all of the food that they serve, with one exception being rice.   They’ve got a giant worm-composting area for treating compost and manure.

We did not spend more than a few hours here, but it was a beautiful, beautiful place.

dog at hacienda zuletawelcoming dog, on bench


hacienda zuleta receptionreally nicely done interiors


hacienda zuleta rosesroses everywhere


hacienda zuleta geraniumsgeraniums.  I don’t really like geraniums as plants but they worked really well in this bright walkway.


hacienda zuleta libraryroses in the library


hacienda zuleta


hacienda zuleta dogsleeping dog.  look at those paws!


hacienda zuleta cordia lutea - yellow geiger tree?I think this is a yellow geiger tree – cordia lutea


hacienda zuleta churcha small church



hacienda zuleta flower


hacienda zuleta cheese factory coatsthere is a small cheese factory at hacienda zuleta.  these are labcoats for their tours.  milk is sourced from their own cows and they buy additional milk from local families in the village.


bizcocho in cayambeon the way back to Quito, we stopped in Cayambe for bizcocho.  they were buttery and crumbly and more savory than sweet with a hint of anise.


bizcocho in cayambebizcochos calientes, as the neon sign indicates


ridiculous sunsetas we continued south, we were treated to a ridiculous sunset over the western andes


chifa fenix and cayambe

Just got home from Ecuador a few hours ago.  There are many photos to share but here are two from our first full day there:

Chifa Fenix in Cayambe, Ecuador.  An hour or two northest of Quito.  Seeing “Chifa” made me wonder about the origins of that word.  The wikipedia link says that it’s basically Chinese food adapted to Peruvian (or Ecuadorian) ingredients.


El Volcan Cayambe – the third highest volcano/mountain in Ecuador at nearly 19,000 feet.  Its last known eruption was in 1785-1786.  The fast-moving clouds broke for just a few seconds.


Courier Coffee Roasters, Portland OR

We visited Portland, Oregon a few weeks ago to spend some time with family.   We spent some time walking around downtown in southwest Portland and eventually stopped into Courier Coffee for a break and some caffeine after missing out on Spella Caffe by just a few minutes.  Next time.

Courier Coffee roasts their coffee in Southeast Portland and deliver their coffee by bike.

Latte art with a tulip-shaped rosetta.

The barista and other customers were really friendly and the coffee was great.  No regrets in coming here instead of Spella at all.


My shot of espresso.


Eating About Beer 2012 Homebrew Dinner

January’s 2012 Homebrew Dinner hosted by Eating About Beer was another great evening of good food, good brews and good company.

I arrived early to take photos of the set-up.  Erin’s place in San Francisco had beautiful natural light and nice floral arrangements.




And a big dictionary.


Dishwashing, viewed through the window into the laundry room.


This sauce was for the Yakitori


There is an equal amount of beer in bottles and in kegs these days


homemade pickled mangoes


and carrots


They have a lever that opens the front door.  What are these called?  The internet isn’t helping me.


Yakitori and dipping sauce.  Chicken hearts and “regular” chicken too.


Cast iron coming out of the oven


Guests await more food and beer




“Inside-out stuffed duck”  – Ground duck wrapped in dressing with a cherry molasses reduction.


9Sev Brew – Born in Maine Brewed in  Cali.  This pumpkin spice ale was paired with the inside-out stuffed duck above.


Ginger cake with a poached pear and whipped cream.


The chefs and brewers came out at the end for a toast.


a hike near issaquah

I don’t remember which Washington state park we went to, but we hiked through some gorgeous trails.

moss-covered branches


evergreens and yellow deciduous leaves


downstream from the waterfall


waterfall viewing bridge


yellow leaves


another mossy branch





fall foliage from seattle

We had a lovely walk through Kubota Garden on a slightly overcast day.


burning bush









This last picture isn’t from Kubota Garden but I had to throw it in.  It’s from a walk along Beacon Hill.  The tree was glowing so brightly.