Friday, June 27, 2008

Airstrip - Ecuador

Landing in Amazon Basin, Ecuador


Kawapi Lodge, Ecuador

Ecuadorian Amazon and the Achuar....

I took a flight from Quito, Ecuador to a small town called Shell on the edge of the Amazon Basin. From here a took an even smaller 4-seat plane to the heart of the Achuar Indian territory in some of the most lush, beautiful forest there is.

The Achuar were the last group of Indigenous to be found in the Amazon and still live as they did hundreds of years ago.. I stayed a lodge called Kapawi which was started about 10 years ago with the Achuar as their partners. January of this year, the whole operation was handed over to the Achuar for them to operate and manage. This will give them another vehicle to sustain their culture and educate travelers about themselves and the virgin rainforest in which they subsist.

I fished for piranah, catfish and more in a dugout canoe with a couple Ahuar guys who were leading me through the may waterways among the tributaries of the Amazon river.

The most amazing night was when we took a canoe out at 10 pm and floated for about 3 miles down the river under a full moon. The hydrology of the river in intense! These huge boils of water surface from the deep randomly and create this huge bang and noise on the river, like a submarine surfacing. It really sounds like a tidal waves is about to explode onto you.....

The Achaur believe these are giant Anacondas from the deep rising to the surface gnashing their teeth....

The mist, moon and noises really made this one of the most memorabel experiences of my life!

The mighty Amazon Basin......

Monday, June 16, 2008

Smashed in a Kasbah....

It was an amazing sight flying into Marrakech in the late afternoon. The desert looked endless and the light danced over the wind blown ripples. The airport terminal was completely white and Arabian music filled the air as we walked past the glaring eyes of the customs dude…. It felt like we were in a huge mosque!

I’ve always envisoned myself wandering through Morocco and in an in an instant after I left the terminal, I felt right at home here in this ancient North African country.

We filmed a few quick intros coming out of the airport and then met our driver Sabeel… we loaded up the truck and began our 2 hour drive to the mighty Atlas Mountains! We passed many villages and interesting sights along the way and we stopped at a few beauty spots to film some of my first glimpses if this place called Morocco.

We stayed at one of the oldest Kasbahs in the area. Yes, a Kasbah is a lodge of sorts.
Kasbah is translated into “a fortress or large home”…. I cannot get the Thin Lizzy song out of my head, where Phil Lynott screams ..” smashed in a Kasbah!....” The only problem was that there is no alcohol allowed as this is a full on muslim country. So another song from Phil and crew came to mind...... “Got to give it up…..”

We arrived to the lodge an hour before sunset and the light was beautiful! The Kasbah was built in the 1930’s and has a great, historic feel and all the Moroccan details you can imagine. Cultural preservation is the main goal here in terms of sustainability although the lodge is implementing many great details such as solar and wind power. They are already composting and buying everything local in terms of fruits, vegetables and building materials….

The rooms are all modern and it is surreal to come into this ancient looking Kasbah and then find all the modern conveniences of a fine hotel in New York. My room even had an ipod deck and speakers!
The view from my window was a snowcapped mountain with a red fa├žade village set precariously on a cliff under the looming peak.

Berber people have lived in the area for centuries and were really the settlers of present day Morocco and of course , the Atlas Mountains.
They are living like they have for 1000 years here in the mountains, growing food, raising farm animals and practicing the most beautiful of tradition and ceremony. I had a chance to trek into one village far into a valley which seemed forgotten by modern civilization except for the new electricity brought in only two years ago…

I sipped mint tea in an elders home looking for the village, while sitting on a bunch of hand woven rugs and blankets dyed with eye blinding reds and yellows. I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else in the world at the moment, but looking out from that small Moroccan window into history. Truly and experience I will not soon forget.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

a few days respite...

I have been in transit from Morocco for a few days and am now back in San Francisco.
I am here until Monday to do some voice overs for upcoming episodes before heading to Chile and Ecuador!

I will write soon about my days in Morocco and the stunning Atlas Mountains.

Its great to be here for a bit and see mis amigos...

Here is a little clip from the narrow corridors of old Marrakech, with some music from an old band called Angelwitch.....

A few days in old Marrakech, Morocco....