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What to Pack on Your Next Travel Expedition

If you have yet to take an expedition, it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

With an emphasis on adventure and exploration, it is not your leisurely lie on the beach vacation. There is usually a great deal of physical activity (long hikes, climbs, etc.). Expeditions usually appeal to people who want to explore destinations that offer more wilderness and wildlife than human contact. The trick is to prepare for your expedition accordingly. Since every trip will be different, here are some universal (and unisex) basics.

Boiron Arnicare Gel and Tablets This gel is great to rub on muscles after a long day. It’s perfect for reducing muscle pain and stiffness from minor injuries and overexertion. The homeopathic tablets are another must have. Take it before your daily trek into the unknown, or as soon as you notice any discomfort. 

Jao Hand Sanitizer First introduced as a hand sanitizer (refresher), it is now known as a portable sink. This is a superstar product that you should never want to leave home without, once you try it. It is a disinfectant that kills germs and freshens hands without drying. The aromatic property keeps you calm and smelling good (you can also use as a deodorant in a pinch). This blend of lavender, tea tree oil, eucalyptus, geranium and ethyl alcohol is great on your next journey. Available at Jao Brand

Cabeau Evolution Cool Travel Pillow This is not your ordinary travel pillow. You really arrive rested and ready for the day, and arriving to your destination well-rested is important! The air circulation vents in this pillow keep you cool while you sleep at any altitude. The pillow is super soft with memory foam and even comes with ear plugs. Available at Cabeau.

Digestive Bitters by Urban Moonshine This will make sure your digestive system stays on track when you travel. Who wants to miss a day in the great outdoors due to stomach discomfort? Digestive Bitters inspires your body’s own production of digestive juices and enzymes. It is also helpful for occasional gas bloating, indigestion and nausea. Available at Urban Moonshine

Raw Organic Perfect Food Alkalizer & Detoxifier by Garden of Life This organic alkalizer blend delivers seven organic ingredients, including lemon juice, coconut water, RAW Calcium algae, cracked wall chlorella, ginger, spinach, and kale.

It also blends 7 organic detoxifying herbs, including fennel seed, burdock root, dandelion root, turmeric root, radish tuber, red clover blossom and yellow dock root in significant amounts for cleansing and detoxification. It is great for mixing in water and juice every morning for energy and making sure you get all of the vitamins you will need on a daily basis, while exploring. Available at Garden of Life

mykind Organics Vitamin C Spray by Garden of Life Keep your immune system boosted with this convenient organic vitamin c spray. Available at Garden of Life

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Activated Charcoal by Natures Way This is another must have in case you eat something that really disagrees with you. It has been know to assist with mild food poisoning, by absorbing toxins in the gut before it enters the bloodstream. Available at Natures Way

Detoxifying Charcoal Wipes by Yes 2: Whips go a long way with travel! This detoxifying charcoal wipe is great for both men and women to put in their bag and go. They are great when climates are dry or sticks or when you feel like you just want a clean face. wipes also! They also are great to remove makeup. Available at Yes2

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Mongo Kiss Lip Balm by Eco Lips Lip health is very important when you are exploring (especially in changing altitudes), This lip balm features certified organic ingredients and Fair Trade Certified™ Cocoa Butter infused with Mongongo Oil, a nutrient-rich oil from Zambia, Africa. Available at Eco Lips

Aukey 30,000 mAh Charger Power is key! This charger will power up multiple devices. It charges 4x’s faster than conventional chargers. Fully charge your iPhone 7 10 times before this device has to be charged. Available at Amazon.

CamelBak The M.U.L.E.® This best selling backpack is perfect for any of your travel expeditions. This bag was first introduced as a mountain biking bag back in 1996. It is lightweight and carries everything you need including three gallons of water. It has air channels to keep your back cool, universal bike helmet hooks and compartments for keys and electronics. Available at CamelBak

Merrell It is very important to research and wear the correct shoes. Merrell is the first place to start. Backpacker Magazine named Merrell boots, “the most comfortable and functional boots in North America.” They offer something for every expedition. Available at Merrell

Expectations are a great way to travel, and having the right essentials makes it smooth. Please share your essentials with us.

This post originally appeared on The Organic Spa Magazine Blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rebounding Your Way to Wellness

Have you ever noticed how happy babies are when they simply hold onto something, and just bounce? As an adult, I’m now as happy as a baby all over again, because I have discovered bouncing (aka rebounding). Rebounding is a term used to describe bouncing, jumping, running and other forms of exercise on a mini-trampoline, also known as a rebounder. Rebounding is beyond what most of us have come to know as a full body work. Some of the benefits of rebounding include: Strengthens bones Low impact on joints Strengthens core Strengthens the heart muscle Detoxifying Improved digestion Weight loss Improves balance and posture Promotes sleep Anti-aging Balances nervous system   Rebounding is also known to stimulate all internal organs. When you jump on a rebounder, you are working against constant gravitational pressure. Every time you land, every cell in your body contracts, which helps to pull waste from the cells. In return, your cells are fed oxygen and nutrients from the blood stream. The up and down motion of rebounding also activates the lymphatic system, which is the garbage can in the body. Everything that is bad for you, such as heavy metals and other toxins get filtered out through the lymphatic system. Unlike blood that gets pumped by the heart, your lymphatic system has no pump. The lymphatic system requires movement to activate the flow of lymph, and human beings have more lymph in their bodies than blood. Rebounding is also known to stimulate all internal organs. When you jump on a rebounder, you are working against constant gravitational pressure. Every time you land, every cell in your body contracts, which helps to pull waste from the cells. In return, your cells are fed oxygen and nutrients from the blood stream. The up and down motion of rebounding also activates the lymphatic system, which is the garbage can in the body. Everything that is bad for you, such as heavy metals and other toxins get filtered out through the lymphatic system. Unlike blood that gets pumped by the heart, your lymphatic system has no pump. The lymphatic system requires movement to activate the flow of lymph, and human beings have more lymph in their bodies than blood.

Have you ever noticed how happy babies are when they simply hold onto something, and just bounce? As an adult, I’m now as happy as a baby all over again, because I have discovered bouncing (aka rebounding). Rebounding is a term used to describe bouncing, jumping, running and other forms of exercise on a mini-trampoline, also known as a rebounder. Rebounding is beyond what most of us have come to know as a full body work. Some of the benefits of rebounding include:

Strengthens bones

Low impact on joints

Strengthens core

Strengthens the heart muscle

Detoxifying

Improved digestion

Weight loss

Improves balance and posture

Promotes sleep

Anti-aging

Balances nervous system

 

Rebounding is also known to stimulate all internal organs. When you jump on a rebounder, you are working against constant gravitational pressure. Every time you land, every cell in your body contracts, which helps to pull waste from the cells. In return, your cells are fed oxygen and nutrients from the blood stream. The up and down motion of rebounding also activates the lymphatic system, which is the garbage can in the body.

Everything that is bad for you, such as heavy metals and other toxins get filtered out through the lymphatic system. Unlike blood that gets pumped by the heart, your lymphatic system has no pump. The lymphatic system requires movement to activate the flow of lymph, and human beings have more lymph in their bodies than blood.

Rebounding is also known to stimulate all internal organs. When you jump on a rebounder, you are working against constant gravitational pressure. Every time you land, every cell in your body contracts, which helps to pull waste from the cells. In return, your cells are fed oxygen and nutrients from the blood stream. The up and down motion of rebounding also activates the lymphatic system, which is the garbage can in the body.

Everything that is bad for you, such as heavy metals and other toxins get filtered out through the lymphatic system. Unlike blood that gets pumped by the heart, your lymphatic system has no pump. The lymphatic system requires movement to activate the flow of lymph, and human beings have more lymph in their bodies than blood.

I had the opportunity to meet with Joanne Schmalenberger, who runs GravOxy Fitness Studio in the Boston area which, as the name suggests, incorporates gravity and oxygen into wellness. Schmalenberger has been working with rebounders since the early 80s and she is trained in reboundology.

OSM: What first attracted you to rebounding?

JS: Having a dance background but not liking gym class in high school, I wanted something that incorporated movement and fun. When I was first introduced to rebounding I thought it was too one dimensional and stationary and just involved jumping up and down. Boy was I wrong! You can run, kick, dance and do every kind of movement on the rebounder all while achieving a full body workout that’s low impact on the joints. And it’s fun!

OSM: What are some of the health benefits of the rebounder, beyond just fitness?

JS: There is no other machine that harnesses gravity the way the rebounder does. When you jump up you’re weightless, but when you land you’re two to three times more than your actual body weight, this puts positive stress on the body. It’s also cellular, and every single cell gets oxygenated, and strengthened, at the same time. It cleanses your whole entire lymphatic system in two minutes.

OSM: What effects does it have on the nervous system?

JS: Rebounding calms the nervous system. At the end of a quality rebounding session done correctly, you will feel like you just did yoga and had a massage, and just want to walk down the street singing. Just like any other sports modality, your intentions have to be clear when rebounding (I want to cleanse, I want to relax, I want to balance). You can also rebound to loud jarring music and just focus on the physical element, and have it disrupt the nervous system.

OSM: Does it work well with the elderly?

JS: I do a system with them called the buddy bounce that even works with someone in a wheel chair. Each person starts off with a time that works for them. Sometimes it might be as little as 15 seconds. I check their oxygen levels during the process. They find it very powerful because not only is it medicinal, but it’s fun.

OSM: How well does this work with people with injuries and illnesses?

JS: Very well, it’s extremely easy on the joints, and movement is still important to everyone. I have a client with MS that sits in a chair all day, so when we meet, I sit him on the massage table while I stand on the rebounder, I hold his hands while bouncing. You should see his eyes light up, he always wants more, more,more because the body needs the movement

OSM: What makes a rebounder ‘good’? I recently purchased one for about $60 in a sporting goods store. Will I be able to get all the benefits you discussed?

JS: No! You want to research getting a quality rebounder. There is also a proper technique that goes along with rebounding to ensure your body is in alignment and you’re getting all the benefits.

OSM: Is it true that you set up a rebounding station at The Boston Marathon?

JS: Yes! I have been doing this for the past 18 years.

So now do you want to rebound? I know I do. I will do a 30-day rebounding challenge starting mid-September with Joanne as my coach via SKYPE. She will share tips, and routines so I can get the full benefits from my daily rebounding. We will also discuss the benefits of the quality rebounder I will be using for this challenge as opposed to my $60 inferior version.

For more information on Joanne Schmalenberger, please visit the GravOxy Fitness Studio website.

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Brazil: Beauty, Culture and Racial Divide

Brazil is a colorful nation! Everyone knows that many beauty trends originated in Brazil. We have all heard of The Brazilian Blowout, The Brazilian Wax and the infamous Brazilian Butt Lift.. have some of the most well-known supermodels in the world, such as Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, Barbara Fialho and, of course, Gisele Bündchen’s. If you only think of these women as representatives of what Brazilian women look like, you miss a much bigger picture.

Brazilians can trace their origins from three sources: Africa, Amerindians, and Europeans. Brazil imported more than 4 million slaves from Africa. The United States and Canada only imported 400,000 slaves total. Brazil was also the last country in the world to stop the import of slaves. This complicated history makes it common for colorism and racism to be problematic. Brazil currently has the biggest black population outside of Africa.

The Globe and Mail Shared a true story of a Brazilian woman named Daniele de Araujo. When she found out she was pregnant with a girl like most mothers wanted a healthy baby. She also told God that the one thing that mattered most of all was that the baby was white. Ms. de Araujo considers herself and her brother to be “really black” She has a white mother, a black father and two sisters that can pass for white. Her husband has one black parent and one white parent, but is light skinned enough to check “white” as his race on forms. Daniele feels that in her country Black is beautiful, but white - white is just easier.

There was another reported incident of a college student, Ana Carolina Bastos Soares, who claims she was the victim of racism at her school, where she was not allowed to enter because of her hair. The director told her that she would not be allowed to attend with her ‘Black Power’ hair. At this year’s 2016 Summer Olympics, some people were more impressed by Gisele Bündchen’s mile-long catwalk than when Rafaela Silva won Brazil’s first gold medal summer. Rafaela has shared on several news outlets that she grew up enduring racial abuse.

The good news is we are seeing a positive change towards women in Brazil embracing their natural hair and moving away from chemicals. In an interview with The GuardianCassia Marinho, owner of the Iporinché salon in Rio de Janeiro, shared this: “In our salon, there has always been a mission to strengthen self-esteem and the idea of black beauty,” she said. “The first thing I say to my clients is: your hair is pretty. You don’t need to use a chemical process.”

Luana da Costa Fonseca, a student in Rio, shared this with The Guardian : “ I started questioning straightening my hair after joining a student group for black Brazilians, who have natural hair, and who have gone through a transition, who have stopped straightening, I think this is the first step for facing racism.

Wanda Malhotra co-founder of Surya Brasil (a sustainable Brazilian beauty company) shared this with me:

One thing I want to tell you about Brazilians is that despite some racism that still exists the African culture is strong in our country. Everyone loves Lemanja Goddess of the ocean. All races and religions throw roses to her and make wishes on New Year’s Eve at the beach. The tradition is to jump seven waves and for each wave you jump you make a wish. Also, the darker women are considered the best dancers and sexiest! Brazilians who don’t have a dark skin tone spend hours tanning to get as dark as possible. I grew up worshiping the dark skin tone and the African culture, and my group of friends felt the same. There is so much diversity in Brazil and I believe the more mix there is, the richer the culture gets.

So what’s the answer for Brazil and beauty equality for all? It’s in the beauty of the land that is appreciated by all. Stay tuned for part two, where we visit sustainability and the natural beauty ingredients that Brazil produces.

The photos in this story are courtesy of Russian photographer Alyona Gamm. When she arrived in Brazil she didn’t understand racism. The more time she spent in the country, and as she began dating a black man she realized how difficult it was to deal with this issue. She used this opportunity to capture the beauty of black women in Brazil. Follow her on Instagram.

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Anti-Aging Part One: The Importance of Collagen

Every woman over 25 (and some men) are constantly reading about collagen pertaining to beauty products and anti-aging. But what does it all really mean in your personal everyday quest in finding the fountain of youth?

First, let’s examine what collagen is. Collagen is a protein produced in the human body. It is in the bones, tendons, muscles and skin. It is also found in the cornea of the eyes, blood vessels, gut lining, teeth, and nails. The word collagen is derived from the Greek word “kolla” meaning glue. So basically collagen is the “glue” that holds the entire body together. The body produces collagen naturally and it is in abundance when young, but unfortunately production starts to decline at about age 25, and continues. It decreases even more in women after menopause. Collagen also decreases with other factors such as smoking, sugar and ultraviolet rays. This decrease leads to wrinkles and sagging skin. There is no way to prevent collagen decreases in the body.

Don’t panic you are NOT doomed! While there is no way to completely stop aging, there are ways to do so more gracefully. You can help your body maintain and build collagen, once you have some of the basic information. There is a great deal of misleading and debatable information when it comes to collagen. One fact that most seem to agree on is that collagen skincare products do NOT add collagen to the skin. They are basically “hope in a jar”. Collagen molecules are simply too large to penetrate the skin. They can help moisturize your skin but they will not help build or replace collagen. The active ingredients will just sit on top of your skin. If the active ingredient is collagen it is always from an animal source. Most of the creams and dietary supplements on the market come from either cowhide or chicken bones. Since collagen is a form of protein, It also can not be digested whole. It has to be broken down by the stomach just like every other protein we eat. This basically means you can not eat collagen to build collagen.

It is very important to consume adequate amounts of protein so your body has the amino acids it needs to produce collagen. It’s also very important to consume a diet rich in antioxidants (vitamins E, C and beta-carotene) B vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and zinc also play an important role. Foods like blueberries, dark leafy greens, mango, eggs, are also great collagen boosters. You should also consider switching your current oil to avocado oil. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Rheumatology found that avocado oil “significantly increased type II collagen”.

If you can not always eat a collagen producing diet supplements are another alternative. The best ones would be a plant-based supplement that helps the body in production. Garden of Life recently launched MyKind Organic Plant Based Collagen Builder. Not only is this supplement organic but the ingredients are non-GMO and, suitable for both vegans and vegetarians. It basically contains the vitamins and minerals needed to help build collagen. Take this with a good protein source and your hair, skin, and nails will love you!

There are other ways that collagen production can be stimulated in the skin (specifically the face) by visiting a plastic surgeon or medical spa. Fillers such as Radiesse and Sculptra both make claims to increase collagen production in the skin. There is also Microneedling which is a technique to increase the body’s collagen and elastin. The procedure uses micro needles (hence the name) and is minimally invasive. A trained professional makes thousands of minuscule needle puncture marks on the skin stimulating your body to make more collagen in that area.

Next week, we will ask an expert to give his expertise about collagen production through alternative measures. Dr. Ramtin Kassir is a prestigious New York City board certified plastic surgeon. According to ABC News Dr. Kassir is one of the top plastic surgeons in New York City. He treats patients that are trying to look younger and increase collagen production. There are so many procedures on the market, that it is best to make an informed decision (so ask an expert). Next week in part 2 of this series, we will get expert advice from Dr. Ramtin Kassir. Until then, I wish you lots of love and collagen.

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Spring Cleaning: Five Questions You Need to Ask Your Body

I had the pleasure of spending time with the author of Eat with Intention: Recipes and Mediations for a Life that Lights You Up. Her name is Cassandra Bodzak, and she is awesome! She is a healthy cooking expert, wellness coach, meditation teacher, TV personality and blogger, and a mom to a five-year-old goldfish. She helps people create a life that lights them up from the inside out. With spring on the horizon, it’s a great time to think about new approaches to life. Here are some words of wisdom from Cassandra.

Before you head on over to the diet section of Barnes and Noble and pick up the hottest new fad diet, how about trying something different this Spring? What if I told that you have had the secrets all along, you just have forgotten how to ask for the answer. In my book, Eat with Intention: Recipe and Mediations for a Life that Lights You Up, I teach people how to reclaim their relationship with their body so they can access their inner wisdom for living their healthiest, most vibrant and happy life!

The first big step to this is starting to have a conversation with your body. You can’t find out the answers if you don’t start with asking the questions. So I wanted to provide you with five juicy questions to get you started on your body love conversation and help you get into this loving ritual for Spring and beyond. First off, I highly recommend creating a sacred space to begin this conversation. Find a cozy nook, light a candle, make a cup of tea and get a beautiful journal to jot down some notes in. Once you are comfortable, begin with a meditation. My clients love to listen to my guided meditation for loving and accepting your body (you can listen to that here), but you can do whatever feels best to you to unwind and center into your inner world. When you are ready, place one hand on your heart and one hand on your navel and one by one ask yourself the following questions. Allow whatever comes up to come up without judging it or trying to manipulate it, just let it be and feel free to journal what comes to mind first, allowing the responses to flow organically without second guessing what is coming forward.

1. How have I been treating you?

2. How can I take better care of you?

3. Am I doing anything right now that’s hurting you?

4. What foods would be most nourishing for you right now?

5. Is there something you have been trying to tell me?

Truth is, you can go on forever with questions, and I encourage you to keep asking as they naturally pop up for you. It takes practice. It’s like any relationship in life, you need to build up your connection one day at a time. Keep showing up, keep asking and most importantly, keep listening to what your body is telling you. I welcome your comments, questions, and feedback.

Here is a bonus for you! A recipe and meditation from my book.

Life can drag you in a million different directions each day, but you can stop the treadmill of insanity whenever you take a moment, connect to your breath, and choose to do what you love—what your soul wants and what ultimately is for your highest good. Our life expands when we start choosing to do things we love with the time and energy we have.

MEDITATION FORTHE POSITIVE MIND

Sit in easy pose. Curl your ring finger and little finger into each palm with your thumbs holding them down, with your two standing fingers held together instead of spread apart as in a peace sign. Bring in your arms so that your elbows are by your sides and your hands are by your shoulders with the two standing fingers of each hand pointing straight up. Your forearms and hands should tilt forward slightly to an angle of 30 degrees from the vertical. Press your shoulders and elbows back firmly but comfortably and keep your palms facing forward. Close your eyes and focus them on your third-eye point (the space between your eyebrows). Take slow deep breaths and mentally chant “sa ta na ma” from the third-eye point outward. This is a common Kundalini mantra that describes the cycle of life: “sa” means infinity, “ta” is life, “na” is death, and “ma” is rebirth. Start by practicing for 11 minutes, gradually building up to 31 minutes. Take a deep breath in to close, hold it, and then exhale and relax.

Pumpkin Quinoa Pancakes (Yield: 2 servings)

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup (120 ml) unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 teaspoons flaxseed meal
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) water
  • 1 cup (112 g) quinoa flour
  • ½ cup (123 g) pumpkin purée
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) pumpkin pie spice (for homemade pumpkin pie spice, mix ½ tea spoon ground cinnamon, 1⁄8 teaspoon ground cloves, ¼ teaspoon ground ginger, and 1⁄8 teaspoon ground nutmeg)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla extract
  • Coconut oil cooking spray, for greasing

FILLING (OPTIONAL): 8-ounce (237 g) container vegan cream cheese

  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) date syrup
  • Sprinkle of ground nutmeg and cinnamon
  • Dash of vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In a small cup, combine the almond milk and cream of tartar and set aside
  2. To make flax “egg,” mix together the flaxseed and water in a small bowl and set aside for 5minutes, until thickened.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the quinoa flour, pumpkin purée, pumpkin pie spice,coconut oil, vanilla extract, and the flax “egg.”
  4. Spray a medium frying pan or griddle pan with the cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add the almond milk mixture to the mixing bowl and thoroughly mix. Pour 2 tablespoons of the mixture into the pan and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until bubbles start to form and the edges begin to crisp. Flip and cook for another 30 seconds, and then transfer to a serving plate.Repeat with the remaining mixture.
  5. To make the filling, if using, combine all the filling ingredients in a stand mixer and beat untilsmooth and creamy. To serve, I love making silver dollar pancakes and stacking them with layers of the filling in between.

“I choose to do things I love.”

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24 Hours of Beautiful People, Historic Parks, Amazing Food and Iguanas: Guayaquil Ecuador

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24 Hours of Beautiful People, Historic Parks, Amazing Food and Iguanas: Guayaquil Ecuador

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If you are planning a trip to South America, Guayaquil Ecuador should definitely be on your radar. Guayaquil is a busy city with colorful people and lots to do.

10:00 am - Arrived at Guayaquil Ecuador airport, which was unique and even hosts an indoor garden. After I picked up my luggage, I went outside to catch a cab and, wait....is that a lizard? This is when I was first informed that my lizard sighting was actually an iguana and that I would see them everywhere during my stay in Ecuador. I headed over to Hotel del Parque , about 10 minutes from the airport in the Samborondón District of Guayaquil.

11:00 am - When I arrived at Hotel Del Parque which resembled an estate from either the Mediterranean or the movie Scarface, I immediately felt like royalty. The building was originally built in 1891 and was a nursing home for the elderly. In the 1980’s the building and its unique architecture was reconstructed as part of Parque Histórico. The boutique hotel opened its doors in December 2016 with 44 guest rooms spread over two floors. It even has a cathedral inside the hotel (making this the perfect location for a destination wedding). I knew that I needed to take a picture in front of my new digs. As I start to say ‘cheese’ for the camera I look to the left and there is my iguana friend again.

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11:30 am - I checked into my beautiful room (that included welcome snacks), dropped my bags and headed out.

11:45 am - I walked over to Parque Histórico which is on the same grounds as the hotel. It is a fascinating park that is divided into three zones; The Endangered Wildlife Zone which is home to species of birds, reptile, and animals (Saw quite a few more iguanas during this portion of my adventure). The Urban Architecture Zone which has a restaurant and showcases the Guayaquil architecture in the early 20th-century. The Traditions Zone focuses on traditional customs, crafts, and agriculture. The grounds are also made up of ponds, sculptures, playgrounds, gardens and a river view. It is one of the most extensive urban-renewal projects in South America.

1:00 pm - Next, it’s time to jump back in a cab and head to the next location: Malecón 2000. This is the old Simón Bolívar boardwalk. The renewal project hosts several historical monuments, as well as gardens, museums, restaurants and shopping malls. It also has the first IMAX theater in South America. It is a very common place to visit while in Guayaquil.

The real jewel in Guayaquil is located right across the street from Malecón. It is the boutique hotel Manso. Hotel Manso is not just a boutique hotel, it is a movement. It hosts an art gallery and an artist residency program where artists can stay while creating their art.

There is a plethora of information at El Manso on urban ecotourism, and places to explore while in Guayaquil. They offer a delicious agroecology cuisine (local ingredients grown by small producers).

2:30 pm - After the most amazing lunch the owner of Hotel Manso, Ricardo Cevallos, graciously agreed to show me around town with the hotel’s publicist Yuliana Ortiz. Little did I know I was about to see Guayaquil by bike. This was truly an adventure (there are no bike lanes, and motorists are not that friendly towards bikers). The adventure reminded me of biking around New York City in the early 90’s.

2:45 pm - We begin by going to Seminario Park (aka Parque de las Iguanas, which translates to ‘Iguana Park’). The park also hosts a statue of Simón Bolívar and is in front of the historic Catedral Metropolitana. This park was truly a unique South American experience. The iguana is native to Guayaquil and can be seen all over the city. Biologists say that iguanas settled here during the colonialism era. The collaboration of water, willow trees, and mangroves was perfect for the breeding of iguanas. It was very interesting watching people (even very young kids) feed the iguanas the way Americans feed pigeons. There were hundreds and thousands of iguanas in this park! I wanted to stay all day because it was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I even became an honorary Ecuadorian that day and begin to feed the iguanas. They really love lettuce, which you can purchase from women in the park. I even came up with nicknames for my new found friends.

4:30 pm - Next stop was to a local supermarket. If you can’t get to a farm, I stopped by the market so I could see the local produce. I got a huge education on what different fruits and vegetables were, as well as their uses.

5:00 pm - It was now time to say goodbye to my new friends from El Manson and head back to Hotel del Parque, where I needed some serious relaxation after the day’s excursion.

5:30 pm - I felt like royalty longing in the courtyard and taking in all the day had to offer.

6:30 pm - Took a walk down The Pier 1900. Cobblestoned with 270 original pieces. It hosts an amazing view and was the perfect beginning of a wonderful evening.

7:00 pm - Dinner at Hotel del Parque created by chef extraordinaire Juan Carlos Ordoñez. The food consisted of an array of different tastes infused with Ecuadorian culture and seasoned with the colorful people that originally created it.

9:30 pm - At this point, it is time to hit the hay and prepare for my trip tomorrow to Galápagos Islands (the final destination on my journey).

9:00 am - Enjoyed a wonderful breakfast at the hotel before heading back to the airport to catch my flight to Galápagos Islands.

Conclusion: 24 hours is a lot of time to explore a city. I originally thought that my time in Guayaquil was a layover on my way to Galápagos Islands. It was NOT. It was what every great trip should be: An adventure on the way to the destination.

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