Saturday, August 7, 2010
Ecuador was "great... just great"
In a world where life can easily become mundane... wake up, brush your teeth, eat breakfast, go to work, come home and maybe work out, shower go to bed only to do it all over again the next day... having a trip like this is imperative in the process of shaking life up a bit. I've never been on such an adventure... and to be honest the best thing about this whole trip was the unknown. I woke up every day in Ecuador not knowing what my day would hold, what I would encounter, what I would do and that was so refreshing! The unknown was exciting, nerve racking, adventurous and illuminating all at the same time. Along with that, there was an abundance of "never's" that I had while on this trip some of which being:
-slept in a pad-locked room before
-walked the streets of a foreign country by myself
-bought a coke for .45 cents
-ate beans for 2 weeks straight
-had so much fun before!
It all started with a series of 3 flights to get us to our destination of Quito, Ecuador. I told my best friend Margot who I had never travelled with before that if we're friends after this trip that we'll be friends for life. Somehow I managed to hold it all together during those flights... I figured because of the claustrophobia, lack of sleep and 3 flights I'd either make a scene or jump out of the plane just to spare her the hassle of having to deal with me. Somehow though I managed to get through it without harming anyone and she and I are as close as we've ever been. We spent a few nights in Quito and our hostels were... I guess everything you'd expect a hostel to be... loud, semi-dirty, uncomfortable beds and incredibly cool people... in other words.. good times. We even got invited to play lazar tag with a group of Israelis who joked that it'd be the Israelis vs. the Americans (apparently the impression is that we're born with guns in our hands). The game was insanely ghetto and so bad... but at the same time we had a great time with this group of people!
One 15 minute cab ride, a 2 hour bus ride through the Andes and another 10 minute cab ride later and we arrived at the Comuna de Rhiannon. Thank goodness that 2nd cab ride wasn't too long. The guy was driving so fast I just about peed myself and was happy to arrive safely at the farm. There were three different categories of people at the farm: the insanely spiritual, the sex and drug obsessed, and the down to earth people. We had representatives from several different countries: Canada, Spain, Ecuador, Argentina, Mexico, Germany, France, Columbia, England, Chili, Australia & Paraguay. I guess you can say we had our own little U.N. living in this electric free house.
I spent my days doing a number of things... harvesting Quinoa, picking and shucking corn, making compost for planting, working with my girls Ursala and Luna (the donkeys), planting trees and watering everything on the farm that needed to be watered. It didn't seem like a lot of work at the time since it was only 4 hours each day... but at the same time it was pretty tiring mostly because of the high altitude. We were nestled in the middle of the Andes surrounded by a few volcanoes one of which being Cotopaxi... she was just beautiful on a normal day... stunning on a clear day!
My favorite time of day was around 4:30-5:00 when the clouds would roll in. We were so high up that they would either be at level with us or directly below us... the views were magnificent! I imagined people looking up from the ground level at the clouds thinking that must be where heaven lies... and knowing that it's where we were. I took hikes down revenes. The first one was with these 2 guys from England... as we were walking down I asked one of them "how are we gonna get back up?" to which he responded "well we'll go back the way we came and then go straight up!". He said this in such a chipper manor that I wasn't sure if he was serious or not. He was though... and I asked him what I did to make him not like me and he just laughed... said I could do it... and funny enough... I could and I did or else I guess I'd still be stuck down there which wouldn't be such a bad thing considering how beautiful it was.
The most treasured experiences I had were my conversations with a man named James who was very spiritually wise... I learned a lot from him and he gave me the gift of having one of the most profound spiritual experiences of my life... I hope James that she's right... on all counts! Also, the walks I had around the farm with a man named Fernando who would not let me speak any English to him. Needless to say I know a lot more than "donde esta el bano" now... he was incredibly sweet and gave me the most beautiful gift before I left... a shell which I understand is magical and brings luck to whoever wears it. To spend time with both these men was such an honor.
This is James aka mountain man
This is Fernando who I'm pretty sure hates Abba for writing that song
The best experience though... the one that beats out anything and everything... the one that I'll hold nearest to my heart for years to come... was the time spent with the individuals who were with me during this experience: Margot, Sarah Grace and Trevor. I've never laughed so hard in my life... and to be perfectly honest... it had been such a long time since I had felt free enough to laugh like that on a daily basis that to have that laughter and those experiences at this time in my life was an incredible joy and I'm so appreciative to them for giving me the priceless gift of love and friendship. Between the symphony of farts, singing as loud as we can and simply loving each other... to be honest there are no words. I love you guys and I know this experience was magnified by your presence, your laughter and your love. :)
In a nutshell... Ecuador was just great... and the memories I made there will last me a lifetime. With hope and luck... I'll have more trips in the future to foreign countries... I doubt that they'll teach me nearly as much about myself as I learned in my two weeks in South America... but maybe I'll be lucky enough to be proven wrong. <3
"Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” – Mark Jenkins
“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson