That’s my basic plan in South America – four months of travel starting in Ecuador; roughly 6000 miles around the continent; around $4000 in my travel account; and 60 liters of space in my bag. The idea of traveling after completing my degree is something that started brewing since I quit my job in 2009. Specific plans have changed since then, and they still are as I’m writing this in Quito.
Not to be a hypocrite, but the idea of a concrete plan bothered me for this specific journey since I wanted to explore just going with the flow. I slowly realized I needed some agenda when I impulsively bought tickets to Quito almost 5 months ago and needed a list of places to go. I won’t bore you with a long itinerary, especially since I don´t have one. But, the goal is to find my way to Buenos Aires in early May and before that – trek around Patagonia, do some volunteering, find some answers, and maybe even discover some questions which I’m currently unaware of.
Before yesterday, I’ve been mentally simulating how amazing this trip will be, and once I’m back in the states, I’ll probably be doing the same process of simulating the past by forgetting the low points. But, I can’t. I shouldn’t. I need to remember what trials I’ll end up facing. I need to be in the moment, make the best of every situation and let that deflate my ego.
In the same breath, I was thankful of my headache yesterday. As a result of my minimal planning, I found myself unable to shake off the headache after landing in Quito. Six hours later, I figured out that Quito has an average elevation of over 9000 feet and my headache was probably a result of the high altitude. A little water and shuteye did the trick.
Today, I had the chance to go north of Quito via an amusing taxi ride with Marcelo. Quito is a lot like Kolkata with its constant honking, old cars billowing heaps of smoke, and warm people. Marcelo and I managed to exchange words with my broken Spanish and his patience to explain. I told him I just finished my studies in California and he was pretty persistent in asking me about how many hours I usually studied per day and double checking. I found that to be an odd question and proceeded to tell him that it was usually not a lot, but sometimes during exams it was more than 8 hours. He then wondered what I was doing here in South America. I told him what countries I was planning to visit and he just responded with, ¨Aye-ya-yay!¨
Later on, I found out from him that he was born and grew up in Quito, and that he´ll never leave because of his love of the mountains here. I then asked about his kids. He has two boys who are 19 & 15 years old. He also mentioned being worried about his older son. Could that be why he was asking how much I studied? If so, I hope Marcelo doesn’t lay the law down too harshly with his hijos.
We ended up going north to Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World) which is surrounded by mountains, volcanoes, and clouds above and below. The equator runs through here, and it’s how Ecuador got its name. See picture below from the museum. Ciao.