Piranha Rivers With A Side Of Flying Balls

This is it! I arrived back in the city of Quito yesterday and will be leaving Ecuador tonight to travel to my next destination.

I just spent 3 nights in the Amazon rainforest which has been a truly unforgettable experience. It’s a place you have to visit at least once in your life if you ever get the opportunity. It’s such a different world to what we are used to in today’s modern world.

I was lucky to stay in a beautiful ecolodge called Sani Lodge which offers unique rainforest experiences. It took a flight from Quito to Coca, a 3 hour boat ride then a short walk and canoe ride to get there so I was really deep in the jungle. What most impressed me was the quality of the ecolodge which had electricity, shower/toilet facilities and even wi-fi. Plus good food of course 🙂 The wi-fi was a good thing so I could let my close family and friends know that I was safe and not been eaten by anything haha.

I couldn’t believe I was in an environment with wildlife which you only usually get to see in movies and documentaries. It is so diverse there you could spend several visits and still have lots to see.

Being in the jungle like this was a big stretch for me in a lot of ways but I welcomed the rainforest with open arms and made the most of it. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity after all.

I was in awe of what I could see all around me. No amount of photos I took could ever capture the wonder of the rainforest. Everything was so big and tall. I was mesmerised. I saw caimans in the water, lots of birds and monkeys in the trees. Even creepy crawlies at night such as tarantulas, beetles and many more insects. It was equally scary and cool at the same time.

I didn’t see any piranhas or anacondas but I knew they were there in the water. You had to travel everywhere by canoe to hike the trails. The thought that there was only a canoe that separated my ass from the piranhas scared me at first but I got over that pretty quickly. I knew I was in good hands with my guide Danny and all the staff at Sani Lodge. In fact, I was more concerned about dropping my phone in the river (which contains all my photos), when I probably should have been more concerned about the piranha-ass situation. Typical me 🙂

The best part of being in the rainforest was the people I connected with. I met a lovely couple from Australia who are currently travelling around South America.  Together we had a great time on all the activities. I couldn’t think of better people to share the Amazonian experience with. I miss them already!

On one of our activities, I remember walking up the Canopy tree, a 100ft tree, and being absolutely terrified. That’s all I could do was focus on the person walking in front of me when walking up and down the steps… nothing else, receiving lots of encouragement and smiles. I didn’t want to miss out on this experience so I faced my fear of heights. It’s such a great metaphor for life.

When you face your greatest fears, somehow everything else seems easy after that.

We also had the privilege of visiting the Sani Lodge community which was really inspiring. Profits from the ecolodge go towards this community creating opportunities especially for women to work and education facilities for young children. That really touched my heart to see this. Keep up the great work Danny from Sani Lodge. You are amazing!

Ecuador has changed me for the better. I love this country! I would like to say I chose to come here but somehow I feel Ecuador chose me and I am so glad of that.

I couldn’t leave Ecuador without saying a special thanks to my guide Danny Noriega (the other Danny) who has been by my side for most of my trip – in Quito, the Cloud Forest and Otavalo. He looked after me, kept my spirits up when I felt very unwell and shared his vast knowledge of Ecuador with me.

Danny this is for you – a picture of us with one of your many crazy faces. I think the picture says it all haha. Thanks for everything 🙂

My stomach is feeling much better than it was so I have been making the most if it whilst in Quito. I could finally try some of the local Ecuadorian cuisine which I am most happy about it. Although I think my food last night had other ideas… my fried ball appetizer was so hard, when I tried to be all ladylike and cut the ball it went flying in the air and then landed on my lap. It was so embarrassing! At least it didn’t hit anyone in the face or worse.

They were delicious balls by the way!! I also tried the famous Ecuadorian potato soup. Ecuador is very well known for their soups. Heaven in a dish!

I have one more opportunity to sample more Ecuadorian cuisine before I leave. What a way to finish the trip and quite symbolic with my journey with food.

With love and flying balls, Lisa

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Cacao Dreams

Written 3rd Oct 2016:

I am currently on the second part of my trip and spending my last night in Otavalo. I am in love! Otavalo has captured my heart from the places, buildings to the people I have met. It has a traditional earthy feel which makes your soul light up no matter how you are feeling. It has been a magical experience in more ways than one.

Before I arrived to Otavalo I took a detour and went on a chocolate tour (naturally) despite still feeling unwell. Ecuador has been challenging for me with my stomach and the effects of the altitude but every moment I have spent here has been worth it. And I certainly wasn’t missing out on chocolate for anything. I really will do anything for food 🙂

I loved seeing how they make the chocolate, which takes a process of 30 days – from raw cacao to seeing it as chocolate bars and powders. This was supercool and absolutely tasty. I sampled some of the different chocolates as well as being offered chocolate tea and a chocolate brownie. How could a girl resist?!! Seriously the best chocolate brownie EVER!! I am still thinking about it as I am writing this as it was so good. I am hoping to recreate the brownie one day when I get home so friends you better place your orders now otherwise I will eat it all haha.

Upon arriving in Otavalo I made a decision to fast for over 24 hours to give my stomach a break. That took some willpower for me, watching everyone around me eating such great food. 

Fortunately I am eating again (although I am being more careful). I have been blessed with such beautiful surroundings and delicious food at Casa Mojanda where I am staying. It is so nourishing for the soul. There is a lot of love here and Casa Mojanda has become so special to me. It has an energy that simply restores you and connects you to the natural equilibrium of the earth. It is so wonderful, just like that chocolate brownie (yep still thinking about it).

I spent a lovely day today in nature with my crazy new hat which I bought from Otavalo market yesterday. Had to be done! Everybody needs a bit of craziness in their lives sometimes!!!
I felt physically weak but invigorated in all other ways. I hiked around Mojanda lake with my guide and it was spectacular. It was worth keeping going for the views and so peaceful.

After lunch we walked to Taxapamba waterfall. The day just got better and the views even more spectacular. I felt so soothed by the sounds of the waterfall. Simply divine! 

I am so looking forward to the next part of my trip.

Listen to your heart and let it guide you to your Highest Dreams.

May you find your chocolate!

With love from Ecuador, Lisa

Ecuador’s Best Kept Secret

I am currently travelling in Ecuador on a dream holiday that I have been working towards for nearly 2 years. I can’t believe it’s really happening. It has taken a lot for me to get here but I am loving it.

What most people don’t know is that the original trip I planned was cancelled on me right at the last moment which left me devastated. During that time I felt so lost and unsure of my next steps. It made me question everything and I wondered whether I would be going at all. It really tested my faith but I knew I had a choice… I decided to trust exactly like I had done in the last 2 years.

As I allowed myself to be guided, it led me to a company that created personalised itineraries in South America and it happened so easily I knew this was it. My excitement was back! I literally had one week to bring it all together and I went for it.
That’s all I can say is that the experiences I have had so far is beyond anything I could have imagined or planned for myself. Life is like that sometimes.

It led me to the most beautiful place on the first part of my trip… El Monte Sustainable Lodge in Mindo, right in the heart of the Cloud Forest. This place has deeply touched my heart and it’s all thanks to the most charming couple, Tom and Marriela who built and created this lodge. I am so inspired by their dedication and the love they have put into it. You can feel it when you get here.

This place is like no other. Firstly you have to cross a river via a cable car to get to the lodge. I screamed like a girl when I crossed for the first time, which made me laugh. Now I’m used to it and it’s such a cool part of the experience.

The lodge itself is paradise – a place to unplug and really appreciate what nature has to offer, to go back to simplicity in the best way and to connect. You have views of the Cloud Forest all around you, nearby nature trails leading to amazing waterfalls, as well as a choice to see THE Cock of the Rock. Yes that name really exists and it’s a famous bird in this area.

I love the surrounding sounds of nature. It gives you time to relax and hear yourself think. It inspired me to want to write this blog post and to not worry about how it would be received. Expression is art in so many different ways. The cabin I am residing in and the entire place itself is living proof of what is possible when you move towards your dreams.

Always believe in yourself and know that anything is possible. And if life takes you on a detour, no matter how big or small, please don’t be discouraged.

Had my original planned trip to Ecuador not been cancelled I wouldn’t be where I am today… absolute paradise (I’m sure there’s a metaphor here somewhere).

The best part of the lodge for me is the food (surprise, surprise). It is out of this world and some of the BEST food I ever tasted. They use fresh ingredients mostly from their own garden and you can tell. I feel very nourished by it and it has been just what I needed since I have been unwell before arriving at this lodge. The food is so good I will probably be dreaming about it for a long time to come. Life is delicious!

With love from Ecuador,

Lisa