Jardín is the kind of place that feels like it has been stuck in time. It hasn't succumbed to the pressures of the outside world (i.e. materialism) nor has it faded into a memory that only the old-timers can recount. It's still a bustling little town, but it feels genuine.
As a traveler, I love discovering little off-the-beaten path gems that feel like the real and authentic country that I’m traveling through. I know there are very few, if any, places left in the world that haven’t been altered in someway by globalization and international travel and I’m not the one to say whether that is good or bad, right or wrong.
When most people think of mountain biking in Utah, what comes to mind are the classic red slickrock trails of Moab. But while there is undeniably some fantastic mountain biking to be had in Moab (I’m looking at you Porcupine Ridge), there are tons of other epic mountain bike destinations in Utah. Enter Hurricane – pronounced ‘Her-ah-kun’ by the locals.
I found the good stuff, woot woot! But to be truly honest, this was actually my second attempt at this loop. The first attempt went something like this: spend 15 minutes backtracking again and again at the start because I wasn’t really sure where the right trail began, huff and puff up a pretty mellow incline that felt like Everest, backtrack again, eventually find the first downhill but grumble and curse because it’s basically a rock pile, hike-a-bike up a ridiculous climb, climb some more, call it quits for the day.
This was another loop through Exmoor National Park which, I came to discover, is a pretty fantastic place. Everywhere I went was stellar: great views of Bristol Bay on the north coast, field after field of peaceful grazing sheep and cows, wooded valleys and grassy hilltops, and (my favorite) wild ponies!
Well, we didn’t make it to Cajas National Park yesterday, but we did enjoy a day of doing nothing. We’ve been pretty much on the go ever since we arrived in Ecuador with the 9-day bike trip, Galapagos (where we were kept busy from 7am to 5pm most days), and bus, plane and taxi travel, not to mention walking around the towns and cities we’ve visited along the way.
What’s with these early mornings when you’re on vacation? We had a 6:30 breakfast this morning and then we were all shuttled to shore at Santa Cruz Island (population 20,000) via Zodiac. As I mentioned yesterday, we were reentering civilization today for a tour of the Charles Darwin Research station, which is home to the giant tortoise breeding program.
It was a packed full day today (or not, if you decided not to do some of the activities). We started the day off early with a sunrise hike on Santiago (or James) Island, which is special because it’s Lindblad’s adopted island! We didn’t see much in the form of wildlife, but we did see a few birds including two Galapagos hawks, and this little guy who was very kind to stay still while I stuck a camera in his face.