Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Two weeks in Ecuador

Beer tastes better on the road. Even though we've only been drinking domestic Ecuadorean beers. The import tax is so high in this country (which successfully promotes domestic production) that even a Corona costs $6 at most bars. Instead we've been drinking Brahma Grande, Club and Pilsener, all for around $1.50 for 20oz of lite deliciousness.  
Traveling through this country has been very eye-opening as it marks my first visit to South America and seeing how many people live in conditions much different than mine in the US.
Long bus rides unfold displays of living at what I can presume is folks living at likely less than $2 a day. Many houses wouldn't even pass for abandoned shacks in the states. Dogs roam freely, barely surviving the cars, trucks and buses passing each other up hills and around tight curves. Trucks pass by loaded with families. Babies riding shotgun on siblings laps. Entire families sharing a tiny motorcycle to get around town. Yet so many people we encounter are happy and more than content.  Makes me realize how much of consumer-based society we live in in the US. Without our iPhones, iPads, and whatever anyone else "needs," we consider our lives incomplete (Admittedly, I'm currently typing this on my iPad, though when I realized my iPhone was in my pocket playing in some large surf, I didn't sweat it). Just check out Facebook. How many posts in your feed include somebody complaining about their sports team losing, or their phone being lost, or the the traffic on the way to work. Really? If that's what warrants complaints in your life, than stop and realize just how fortunate we are to live in a country where we have access to unlimited clean drinking water.  That alone should put things in perspective. 
We could all (by all I mean many citizens of first world countries) learn something from traveling through countries poorer than ours. We could learn that happiness is an intrinsic thing. Strip away all the perceived necessities and see what kind of happiness you're capable of producing. 
For now, stop and smell the roses. I know I do.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The journey continues!

So let's see...a year ago, I was starting a Master's in Social Work program.  In October, I had a three week break and delivered a Eurovan for friends to Colorado and then spent almost a week in Iceland.  By November is was snowing, I started skiing, and couldn't stop.  A trip into Baxter State Park in February sealed my fate.  I dropped out of school, got a job bartending, and started putting away money for a new adventure.  I wasn't sure what it would look like, but I knew that I wanted to pursue my passion of being in the mountains with my friends (ideally on skis, bikes, crampons, or rock shoes).

After sneaking out of my cancer diagnosis with a little scar, getting divorced, selling the house, losing many of my belongings in a house fire and quitting my teaching job at Portland High School, I really started to re-prioritize my life.  Fun first, everything else second.  I've sold everything down to the point that the essentials fit in my little Nissan Versa hatchback with my roofrack.  Skis, climbing gear, camping gear, clothes, laptop and camera.  What else do I need?

I've learned that life is just too precious to talk about the things I want to do and now is the time to just make them happen! After deciding to move west for the winter (and potentially longer, I really have no idea), I decided to look into a trip overseas before I started driving west.  A quick search of the interwebs found really cheap tickets to Ecuador!  After a little hemming and hawing, I pulled the trigger and bought a ticket!  Soon after two of my friends decided to join me and now we take off tomorrow!

Let the adventure continue!