A different kind of life style far far away…Part 2

Our Normal Schedule

This is really cool! Usually the crab catchers tie up the crabs so that they are fixed but still living for selling. One pack is a dozen and they sell it for $5~$6 in the markets. Then the intermediaries sell it for $10 to the customers.

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This is what we do with crabs. We measure it twice or three times a week to make sure crabs in the mangroves are growing properly.

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Us trying to look professional.

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Usually they tie up the crabs right after they catch it and while they are leaving for the city to sell. You can see the crabs are muddy.

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Us patrolling during the day.

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Checking sizes again. Usually the crabs are 85cm wide and 63cm high.

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Putting up the black list or people who haven’t paid their $5 a month fee for catching crabs. We had to go out really early around 6am so everyone could see it before they left to catch crabs. Black list is for people who haven’t paid like for a year!

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People showing us how to catch full-grown crabs in the mangroves with hands. They were so quick! We had 28 crabs in less than an hour! Crab feasting tonight!!!

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Aren’t the mangroves really pretty and intricate?

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On our way to clean islands. Rubbish flows across the river from different communities and accumulate on the banks of mangroves. Why can’t everyone just use the rubbish bin!!

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Packed boat. We need as many people as we can get to go cleaning!!

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Picking up bottles filled with unidentifiable liquid in them…

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More cleaning! We had to evacuate soon after because there were so many bees and wasps!!!

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Piles and piles of rubbish!

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What a productive day!

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Finally back home!

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A different kind of life style far far away…Part 1

I want to share what has been recently going on in my life and travels while the memory is still fresh

I just came back from a volunteer trip fro 2 weeks on an island close to Guayaquil, Ecuador.

The community is a big community with two streets and with 1000 people living there where half the population is kids. It’s normal to see six or seven children in one household.

The community mainly makes money through selling crabs caught in the mangroves nearby. It’s a very macho community so only the guys work and women stay home. Guys will go out to work early in the morning, catch 50-60 crabs, go to the city to sell it and come back around 2-3pm to spend time with the family. Talk about a good lifestyle!

We were the CHINOS of the community:) All asians are considered Chinos.

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So I had the fortunate experience to stay on the island eat delicious and fresh caught crabs.

I also got to hang out with the kids. ALOT. Sometimes I played soccer all day long and just ran around. Revisiting my childhood.

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Catching shrimps in the nearby river. Using just a string, a slice of meat and a little bit of patience.

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We caught one….ONE.

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Anyways back to what I did while I stayed in Puerto Roma, the community.

My life consisted of waking up at 6am, going out to patrol with two police officers, president of the crab association and other people from the community.

People should only catch crabs with hands in the mangroves to make sure they join in the sustainable development cycle. Patrolling was a way to catch any illegal activities going on in the mangroves, mainly catching crabs with traps and nets.

If people caught crabs with hands, usually they let little crabs or pregnant females ones go to keep the crab population stable in the mangroves. However if you use traps or nets, the crabs soon die so there’s no way of letting them go.

So we patrol for those people working illegally. Then we come back do some documentation and go back to patrol and clean up the mangroves after lunch.

Patrolling….That’s  a real gun by the way…

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People taking a break after catching many crabs.

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Walking in the mangroves is not fun. Falling…falling…and more falling. The mud is like quick sand so you need to jump around to get the hang of it.

I never got the hang of it sadly. You jump and you fall.

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Have been in the same place for 5 minutes.

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Maybe it’s easier to walk on the trees…hmmm….

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That’s not all. I was unfortunate enough to wear black pants to the mangroves and although I smothered myself with mosquito repellent, I was a feast for the tons of mosquito residents residing in Mangrovelandia. ARGH!!!!! From top to bottom I was scratching like a maniac, hoping if I made wounds out of them somehow it won’t itch. Not a good plan.

More to come…:)

FOOD #1…and beverages

Normal meals in Colombia and many countries in South America consist of soup or fruit salad for the first round. Then for the second round it’s rice or fries (sometimes both) with a choice of meat and beans/lentils with salad and BBQ plantains on the side. The meal always include juice as well!

Columbia is a little expensive considering the prices in the surrounding countries. This plate was $4. The usual price for street restaurants for lunch.

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A normal meal in Colombia

I just needed to put this up to show how HUGE avocados are here and just wanted to emphasis how much I LOVE avocados!

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Huge avocados!

Now on to beverages….BEER!

Beer is pretty cheap in Columbia and really good too. Although I can’t really say I know what is good beer and bad beer…as long as it gets me drunk and does the job well 😉 Usually for a six pack it’s $5~$6USD.

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Beer section

Someone really needs to tell me what this drink…or dessert is called! It has a lot of different fruits in it such as strawberries, papaya….a lot of papaya. They’re all mixed in cream and topped with shredded cheese. What is this? It looks really sweet but actually it’s not at all and very creamy and fruity. $1 on the streets.

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Cool fruit…cream…drink?

My favourite manzana (apple) soda. Usually fast food places ask you what kind of soda you want and ask between coke or this soda! Mmmmm! They have similar variations of this in different South American countries.

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Apple Soda

My ultimate favourite drink in the whole of South America! Guanabana!! They have these drink carts everywhere in Columbia and usually sell between Guanabana and Mandarina juice. Get the guanabana one! Tastes like drinking yoghurt! Mmmmm! Usually 50 cents to $1USD.

Those green huge spiky things are guanabana and the inside is white. I have never seen this in my life until this trip! So many fruits to try in this world!

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Juice carts-guanabana and mandarina

PS. I just thought I should share what I usually eat when I’m broke and am trying to live cheap. Always the rule of thumb is to eat in! Restaurants will be always expensive. If we go to supermarkets and buy loads of vegetables and fruits for the same price of a meal at a restaurant, it can feed us for two days straight.

This is rice with stir-fried veggies and minced meat in sweet soysauce. Yum….

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Random cooked meal #1

Spaghetti! We have been making so many different kinds of spaghetti because it’s the easiest and cheapest to make. Usually the noodles sold in supermarkets are 80cents and can feed two people. Just sauté garlic and chili pepper first and add all the other ingredients soon after (onions, tomato, mushrooms, spinach) and finish it off with ready-made tomato paste. It can never go wrong.

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Random cooked meal #2

Apples we bought in the fruits/vegetables market for 40 cents.

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I love Bogota

Vang Vieng Adventure #5

Most of the restaurants in Vang Vieng is very tourist oriented. So many of the food and services made are very Western like. There are a lot of places where you can sit, chill and they have Family Guy and Friends on 24/7. Although I don’t really like hanging out where all the tourists go to, it was so relaxing to sit in, chill, sip my mint shake and watch Friends. I actually caught up with 3 seasons of Friends lol. It was so addictive!!! I was sitting there thinking, okay just this episode. This one and I’m going. And then another would follow right after that episode. And my brain would go through the same process again. Just this one. One more and I’m going…one more…one more…ARGH!!!! So that’s how I ended up spending the whole day watching Friends 😀

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I saw more foreigners than local people. Vang Vieng is notorious for tubing and all the drowning accidents that increase every year. But even though tubing and drinking might not be in your agenda, it is great to go sight seeing, ride a bike to the caves and the blue lagoon. Also for those people who just want to read a book and chill, the town is actually very quiet and relaxing–this of course is during off-season . I cannot say the same for peak-season.

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I happened to wake up really early the third day. I walked along the street my guesthouse was on and saw three restaurants in a row. Guess what? Lots and lots of locals all eating together. They were eating noodle and rice porridge.

Yes!! A chance to try out the noodle place. My one and only motto in a foreign country is to always try food where the locals eat–where a lot and lot of locals eat. I guarantee you the food is going to be amazing!

So this is what I ate for lunch, beef noodles. They call it Pho!!! Same as Vietnam. Possibly because they share a border?

There is a difference though. This Pho had tomatoes in it. There is also a side of mint, greens, and french green beans (okay…put that to the side because I hate the taste) with a side of a sweet soy bean paste looking like thing. The greens are eaten with this sauce and it’s so good! It’s like the Hoisin sauce you eat with Vietnamese Pho but chunkier.

The bottom line is: the Pho was soooo good!!

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