Category Archives: Ecuador

Top Destinations by Travel Writers for 2015

Check this out! Top Destinations of 2015 picked out by travel writers from an Australian Publisher! Both Ecuador and Ireland were on the list! Both were the places I went to in 2014.

This is great read for those who have places in mind to go to this coming year, but cannot seem to make a decision. My only comments are that:

Ecuador: Has so much more than the Galapagos Islands. I was so so

Jamu Lodge
Danielle and I at the lodge int he Amazon

disappointed when I had to chop up my trip and had to give up going there this time. I had to use my time extremely wisely. I fell in love with the country though! I will go back to see the Galapagos someday, but there is plenty that Ecuador has to offer! For one thing: the Amazon is in desperate need of support so the oil mongers do not tear it down. Some of the tribes we met were under the impression that if they had more tourists perhaps the area would be valued more and not torn down. And visiting Puerto Lopez and the humpback whales was one of the most influential and best experiences I have ever had overseas.

Puerto Lopez
Humpback Whales!

Ireland: Many Irish folk told me “Relax. Don’t try to see too much. Have a pint” and while that advice is all well and good, there is SO much to see in Ireland. We spent 11 days driving the coast from Dublin, over to Cork, and up the Wild Atlantic Way to Connemara. If we didn’t keep moving like we had, we would’ve missed some of the

Wild Atlantic Way
Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland

best sites I have ever seen. The country is beyond beautiful and the history overfloweth! My best advice is to push yourself a little bit. Not to the point of not having a good time, but try to keep at it. It is well worth the effort!

Quito Food Adventure

“Supposedly the intestines are really good. You can go try them if you want.”

The steam rose with meats cooking from the food carts in the plaza area. We were in the area called the “food market.” Everyone in Quito knows it. When we got into a cab from the airport, Danielle instructed the driver to go to the “food market,” because addresses are pretty useless in Ecuador. The driver’s response was “the one

Quito
Danielle’s street

with the intestine’s” as reassurance. Now, I am a person to want to try new things, but sometimes I get a little cold footed when it comes down to it. When traveling in Africa, we saw boys selling roasted field mice on a stick on the side of the road. Fur, feet, teeth and all. I was curious, but my mom couldn’t chance the idea of parasites on this trip. And I was secretly relieved.

We walked through Danielle’s neighborhood into the dark night. The air in Quito is nothing like any other major city. New York is beautiful but smells of a porta-potty most times. Chicago also has that sewer smell sometimes, or the smell of exhaust. Quito smells of fresh air. Perhaps this is because it is so high up into the Andes, but whatever the case it is a delightful surprise. Most of Quito feels as if you are walking uphill. I am sure that this is an unfair assessment on my part since I haven’t been in high altitude since living in Colorado, but that was how it seemed this night.

On Teleferico in Quito
On top of Teleferico in Quito

I was trying to enjoy my only night I had out in Quito, but I had a very uneasy feeling within me. Sometimes when I am nervous or upset, my stomach turns and is not able to process or settle. (While living through my first bad break up in Colorado, I lost 25 pounds.) Earlier that day, my mother yelled at me over email and called Wayne with worry, which made me really upset. And then I was supposed to fly out the next day, but no ATM was working in Quito. I came to Ecuador with $400 in cash, because I was prepared to be in the jungle and ocean with no ATM’s. Now on my last day in Quito, of course no ATM works. Tomorrow…I have to take a cab to the airport…

My stomach just kept feeling worse. I was trying to calm myself down, but for some reason it wasn’t getting any better. I kept thinking that I was totally over working myself. How could I be this stressed out over something out of my control? We checked 4 different ATM’s. Finally found one that was giving out cash, but at that point the pain in my stomach was so severe I had to sit. My wonderful cousin hurried with her new cash and ran to the store.

Center of Ecuador
My great cousin!

She came back with Sprite, Club Soda and water. I didn’t want to ruin everyone’s time out, so I insisted on going out to the bars still. While at the first bar (which was Mexican), I was curled up on the couch in increasing pain. Finally, after finishing the Sprite, I sat up and ran to the bathroom.

Sadly, I could not find the light in the bathroom and it all started without my permission. I tried to keep my mouth closed but some got on the broken light switch and I turned to the stall. Not sure how to explain what occurred immediately after, but I DID find a light in the bathroom stall. And it was not very good. Well, then it was quite apparent that I work in the restaurant industry (and perhaps a pretty sensitive traveler) because I started to clean it all up. It was on the sides. It was on the top. It was on the floor. I did my best with toilet paper. Still feeling really queasy. It was not very good the rest of the night after this point.

Five days later….I found out it was Ecoli. And my cousin had it too.

Lonely Travelers Unite

After arriving in Quito, Danielle and I hopped onto an overnight bus within a couple of hours. Overnight buses are not a five star type of excursion. There is just no good way to situate yourself while traveling on any transportation overnight. You are tired and keep on waking up from every bit of movement or light. On

Overnight Bus from Quito
Overnight Bus

this particular instance in Ecuador, I had the fortune to be woken up several times by some really rockin’ disco tunes. There was a door between the passenger area and the driver area that seemed to hold the sound extremely well. Once the door opened, there may as well have been disco balls dropping from the ceiling. “Shake, shake, shake…”

We arrived in a small city called Lago Agrio and had to figure out how we would get to the driver who would take us into Cuyabeno within the rain forest. Sleepily, we found our way into a taxi and then outside of the meeting place within the city. After 2 hours, the driver arrived and we crawled into the white shuttle van that wreaked of gasoline. All the windows and shuttle door were open so the wind helped. Danielle curled up into a ball on the short uneven seats. She looked at me with this sleepily yawn and asked if I would mind if she took a nap. I knew I would be right there along with her. I nodded

Jamu Lodge Canoe
Canoe Ride to Our Lodge

and tried to curl into my own little ball. Two hours later we arrived in Cuyabeno, and in a zombie-like state we ate some provided lunch, then waited to climb into the canoe that would take us on another 2 hour ride to the lodge.

Long day. Yes. Although I was so grateful for Danielle. It was as if we were keeping one another going. If I were by myself, I probably would not have been able to nap like I did with her there, or I

Jamu Lodge
Danielle and I at the lodge

would’ve been cranky with all the waiting and long rides, or I would have lost my excitement of being in the Amazon like I was. I read an article about how travel can be a lonely life. I agree. Our friends and family and random interactions are what I yearn for while traveling. It is great to visit a pyramid or cathedral or world wonder, but once I get there I know I am thinking, “Man, I can’t wait to tell so and so about this!” or “So and so would have loved this.”

The article was more about the loneliness one may feel sans relationship partner, and I can relate to that as well. But the fact is that we are meant to share experiences and journeys with one another. There were many moments within my Ecuador trip where I missed Wayne and was wishing he could be there to experience the same thing that I was. However, I had Danielle to talk about everything with and share the moments with her. I wasn’t as lonely

Visiting a Shaman in Cuyabeno
We had to have our faces painted in order to visit the Shaman with the indigenous tribe.

because if I were missing Wayne and wishing he were seeing what I was, I could just look over to my lovely cousin and tell her about it.  It is ok if you feel lonely traveling alone. The world will surprise you when you least expect it. I personally would give in to a vice when I am  feeling lonely and who knows what would happen next. Perhaps you will find yourself sharing a beer with a hysterical German girl on the beaches of  Ecuador when you least expect it.

The best thing that helps me when I am traveling and lonely is to think that love will come to me when it does, so it is best to open up my eyes and truly look at what is right in front of me at the present moment.

Chicago Love
Wayne and I enjoying our home Chicago