(Somewhere in Ecuador, along the Pan American Highway).
When people think of Ecuador, they think of rain forests, the Galapagos Islands and warm water. I am here to tell you that there is so much more to see in the country, if you just give the rest of it a chance.
was to visit a friend from there, I had grandiose visions of a weekend in the islands, a trek through the Oriente and maybe squeezing in a trip to Monte Picchu. Our first couple of Skype sessions consisted of me asking, “Can we go to the Galapagos for the weekend? How about Yasuni Reserve too?” - and her politely responding, “Okay, well I have family all over the country so we can take the bus and visit different places.” For a minute, I was a little disappointed with her plan. She mentioned cities I hadn’t read of in my travel guides or ones far from the “Must See” list that I so quickly got my heart set on. For a few days after, I mulled over my choices. After paying for an expensive ticket, should I go into micro-managing control mode and plan the whole trip for both of us based on my up-to-date guide books? As I planned for my trip of two weeks in which I Or, should I take a blind leap of faith and let my friend show me her country through her own eyes? Even if that meant maybe not experiencing what the tourist marketing told me I should absolutely be experiencing?
In the end, the universe made the decision for me. On the way to LAX I had a weird premonition that I forgot something. As I searched my bag frantically I realized it felt really light, and that was when I figured out that I had forgotten my Rough Guide to Ecuador. After a few minutes of panicking, I decided I would search for a guide in the airport and also when I got there. It would all be okay. I was going to have to best trip ever.
There was no guide to be found anywhere. So, when I arrived in the Guayaquil airport late that night after twenty hours of traveling riddled with delayed flights, customs procedures and visa applications, I was so happy to see my friend waiting for me at the exit that I forgot all about my guidebook. There is nothing better than a familiar face to greet you in a foreign country that you have never been too. She had with her a young man whom she was dating. He took my bag and we walked to the parking lot. His name is Lennon. Like John Lennon? I asked in a friendly way, trying to get to know him. No Kati, my friend interjected and told me, like Lenin Stalin. Lenin’s parents are communists. With this humbling experience, I realized that anything was possible, maybe even an unforgettable trip with out an itinerary.
As we stepped through the door into the Ecuadorian night, the humidity swept over me like the fluffy steam of a fancy resort sauna and the trees that I saw looked nothing like any of the ones I had seen before in my life. They were neon green with long branches and vines that hung from them that looked like the ones Tarzan uses to swing through the jungle. As we drove through the night in Lenin’s Chevy pick up truck, we crossed long bridges over wide rivers that seemed to flow forever into the distance. The city lights danced around me like fire flies and the view was as enchanting as it was never ending and ever changing. I couldn’t wait to see Guayaquil in the daylight which was only a few hours away, but first sleep was calling my name.
(The city lights of Guayaquil).
My Adventures to Ecuador and Back. Part One.