A group of us here in San Clemente went on a day trip to the Calceta area. Calceta is a good sized town close to Tosagua here in Manabi. Our area along the coast is fairly flat and dry most of the year, but just an hours drive up into the foothills and farmland reveals an entirely different ecosystem with completely different flora and fauna. After a nice breakfast art Zona Zero we all piled into a van and drove up to the reservoir. After only an hour and a half drive we stepped out to see this:

The fishermen had already spent the early morning hours catching talapia and other fish.

Gato (our tour organizer) had a boat standing by for us to tour around the lake. So we suited up and got ready to go.

After getting the go ahead from this young lady we set off for a two hour trip to the other end of the lake to see the waterfall from one of the streams that feeds the lake.

It was overcast when we arrived, but the lake was very calm and the ride was great. Along the way we saw quite a variety of birds and generally took in the natural beauty of the area. After about an hour the sun broke through the clouds and we enjoyed the beautiful weather.

About this time in our trip someone spotted some howler monkeys in these trees.

Try as I might as the boat rotated I could not get in position to get a picture of the monkeys, but about ten minutes later we spotted another monkey in a tree. He or she had his or her back turned toward us, but eventually it looked back to see what we were up to.

This adult swung deeper into the trees and must have called out to a younger monkey. The smaller monkey jumped out of the tree and scurried up a vine to go deeper into the branches. I did get one picture before he moved out of sight.

We pulled over to the shore to take a short walk up to see the waterfall. We had been told that, since this is the dry season, the reservoir was low and the several streams that feed the lake were barely flowing, so we did not know what to expect. What we got was a chance to stretch our legs and see some of the natural beauty of a mountain stream.

We made a couple of other stops, but I will stop this narrative for now.

We debarked and drove a short distance to an small farm (or finca) that promotes ecotourism and keeps up the old farming methods. We had a lunch of chicken tongas (a rice and chicken dish that is covered in a peanut gravy and served up wrapped in a banana leaf). After we were all sated the guide there at the finca showed us how to make chocolate using old methods and natural tools.

I will save the pictures detailing that process for another post, but I wanted to add this picture of our driver and one last shot of the fourteen year old girl who I adopted as my grand-daughter for a day.

What a great day we had touring a place close to home, but a world apart!

Life is good in Ecuador!