I have always had a passion for seeing new places and experiencing different cultures. So when I was asked to join Sam and the eNRG management team for a scouting trip down to Ecuador my reply was “Hell ya!!”. I’d never been to South America and this would be a paddle-focused trip. Let’s go!
Sam and I arrived early, to enjoy a little “us” time before the others arrived, and to make sure logistics were good to go. He had hired a personal driver with a 10 passenger van plus secured accommodations everywhere we were visiting (another treat as I’m typically the person figuring logistics for personal and client-based trips). In Quito I was pleasantly surprised to find our lodging really cute–a clean hostel owned by a Dutch man who had run this little venture “Aries Cabins” for 27 years, having married an Ecuadorian woman and relocated there. While his bedside manner was “sharp” he knows his stuff and his service is great.
After a much-needed night of sleep Sam and I ventured out, with Favian, our Ecuadorian driver who was to become the backbone of our trip. We first went to the Center of the Earth–the equator. It was a fascinating visit and learned fun facts relative to the equator that I’d never known, and even though explained, still holds mystery and thoughts of “what the f$#k!”?! How? Why? For example, we learned that you are about 2 kg lighter in weight on the equator. We learned there are contingencies of Ecuadorian people who practiced “head shrinking” and finally, never, ever pee in the rivers in the Amazon basin! (I will spare you details but if you’re interested Google “candiru”)…
On to Quito!! Sam and I arranged to meet up with Favian and his brother after a few hours so we could explore, at our pace the sites of Colonial Quito. It is a beautiful and vibrant city (reminiscent of many towns we’d explored just a few months back in Europe). A fabulous experience nonetheless. The opportunity to speak Spanish and learn the city from a local’s perspective is, in my mind, priceless even considering Favian drove us WELL out of way to pick up and drop off his brother. That’s alright…kind of how this stuff goes.
A side note here for anyway new to travel and reading this blog as a resource. My luggage got lost. Again. Same as our flight into Paris. When flying internationally I recommend you pack a minimum of two pairs of underwear, toothbrush/toothpaste and a change of clothes. It helps a ton, particularly when you get run through the many iterations of where your luggage is. I was told no less than four stories…none true…regarding the location and arrival time of my pack. It did finally arrive around noon about 36 hours later. Do yourself the favor and prepare. Just in case. Good luck.
The rest of our crew arrived about the same time as my luggage. After some repacking we left Quito bound for Banos (a small town which reminded me vaguely of Sayulita, Mexico…a sort of hippie, international traveler-welcome town with cute shops and a friendly energy). However, we stopped along the way for lunch at a traditional restaurant serving a standard, single lunch option. Rice, salad (don’t eat lettuce or tomatoes in South America) and a meat/gravy entree. The meat, we were explained by Favian, was stomach. I will always TRY everything. While I didn’t prefer the taste, others in our group enjoyed it. This wouldn’t be the first of many diverse meals we ate. And as I said, I’ll always try.
We ventured on…and if you’re interest is peaked, please stay tuned. The adventures began from there.
Thanks for listening…