Off the beaten track: Marco Island couple rate their latest adventure as most remarkable
By QUENTIN ROUX (Contact)
Sunday, July 20, 2008
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While many travelers are content to assess other countries cocooned in the comfort of an air-conditioned bus, Dave and Jackie Patison like to do it a little differently.
When they’re in Rome, they do as the Romans do, you might say.
The couple, who have a lifelong interest in traveling to other countries and absorbing their cultures, recently ventured to Ecuador and Peru for a trip Dave Patison said was like going back in time.
On the itinerary was the Amazon River, the rain forest of Peru, a visit to the Machu Picchu Inca ruins and an eye-opening sojourn in the Galapagos Islands.
“The trip was arduous, but it was an adventure trip and was the most significant of any we’ve had,” Dave Patison said.
He said visiting with native river people who have little contact with the outside world was one of the highlights.
“They live in a primitive state in home-made thatch roof huts in mud flats, with no electricity or running water,” he said. “They feed on fish from the Amazon and fruit from trees in the forest.”
Patison described Machu Picchu as “one of the wondrous sights in the world, revealing the genius of the Inca civilization,” and the Galapagos islands as truly intact in the way that Darwin originally encountered them.
The Amazon River trip had a measure of luxury, because the Patison couple traveled in a classic riverboat dating back to the 19th Century.
But there were no frills once ashore.
“One mother in the village made her little girl put on a special dress just for the occasion when they saw us coming in,” Dave Patison said. “It was a big event for them.”
Most impressive aspect of the Machu Picchu ruins, he said, was that they grew crops on the terraces, and had a sun dial to measure the seasons in order to plan their planting.
He likened the experience of conjuring up the past to that of walking around the city of Pompeii in Italy.
“You’re seeing the remains of great civilizations,” he said.
For the Patisons, the Galapagos highlights were the lack of fear of humans on the part of the animals.
“They just ignored our presence,” Patison said. “It’s like you’re part of the scene.”
In the islands’ favor against typical tampering by man, Patison said, is the fact that 97 percent comprise park land.
“But they’re still worried about the increase in tourism,” he said.
A former Florida News Service Washington correspondent who also worked in the Nixon White House for four years, Patison is also pretty handy with a camera, as is evidenced in his colorful photographic contributions to this article.