Travelling solo in ECUADOR!

5 Aug

How do you distill an amazing 3 week adventure to a blog post? How do you try and communicate what positive and life affirming experience that you had without seeming like a crazy hippie? How do you tell everyone that if they can, they should get on a plane right away and go somewhere beautiful and experience something new –  without seeming preachy and condescending?

Leaving on a jet plane....!!!  (all by myself! eeeekkk!)

Leaving on a jet plane….!!! (all by myself! eeeekkk!)

I’ve been home for less than 72 hours and I still can’t fully process everything that happened, and how lucky and grateful I am for my experience in Ecuador. Grateful for being given the opportunity to go, and lucky for how well it went, and overwhelming both feelings about the people that I met. Half of my Ecuador trip was for work, which is amazing! but… it was only confirmed 3 weeks before I left! I was permitted to extend my stay to double the time I was working – which was fantastic but also left me with a small window of time to be very productive before my departure. While I had to prepare for work abroad in record time, I also had to plan my own time away and make quick decisions about what I was doing when I was there, and where I was going to stay.
(Please note: on the blog, I’ll only be discussing the parts of the trip that I planned and paid for myself.)

One thing I knew for sure: I had to go to the Galapagos! Who can dream of going to Ecuador without going to the Galapagos?!

I LOVE TURTLES! (not just the chocolates! the real endangered ones like this guy)

I LOVE TURTLES! (not just the chocolates! the real endangered ones like this guy)

But planning the first few days was trickier: it couldn’t be too out of the way, I didn’t want the experience to be too draining, but I still wanted it to be interesting before I had to fulfill my work commitments… A Globe and Mail article about Quito came out 2 days after my vacation time was approved – that decided it for me! The capital, work… and then the Galapagos!

I should also point out that for the vacation portion of my trip, I travelled alone. Initially, I wasn’t worried about this – I speak Spanish well enough, and I’m friendly. But doubt crept in a couple of days before I left : was I crazy to go to Quito, a city renown for its day time mugging, by myself? Would I be surrounded by honeymooners and researchers in the Galapagos?! What if I finished the 3 books that I was bringing with me before I got home and was desperately lonely, or worse, BORED??!

During my 10 days of travelling by myself, I was never lonely, and never bored. For that, I have all of the wonderful people I met to thank and be grateful that they passed through my life, be it for a hour or a couple of days.

Thank you to A-C who I met in the airport, after both our bags were lost!, and spent my first day of vacation with.

Thank you to all the two older Ecuadorian gentlemen who redirected where I was walking – because I was about to walk into an area reknown for its muggings!

Thank you to all my fast friends in Quito: from Ireland, France and America, you welcomed me into a leg of your trip and shared a wonderful time with me.

Thank you to the American couple that I played cards with 3 nights in a row… and Stance, sorry that I kept beating you! I hope the bartender gave you those extra drinks that I asked him too after I left!

Thank you to all the people who pretended to understand my broken Spanish!

Thank you to the couple who let me crash their honeymoon in the Galapagos!

And the thank yous really could go on forever…

I loved you all for how you enriched my life and let me see and understand the world around me in a new way. It was the personal connections, with Ecuadorians or other travellers, that made this trip so memorable. Alice calls this short intense connections “friendship flings”, while my friend Alexis likes to say that we all have “best friends everywhere”.

I plan to dedicate a post to Quito and then another to the Galapagos, but my first needs to be dedicated to the people who made my trip the trans formative experience that I didn’t even know that I needed. Too all my new friends, who I might see again, or might just dream about: you injected a new feeling of hope and excitement into my life – all without slipping me illegal drugs! And that, is quite an honourable achievement in South America.

Who can ever feel alone after a Happy Hour volleyball match?!

Who can ever feel lonely after a Happy Hour volleyball match?! (Isla Isabela, The Galapagos)


7 Responses to “Travelling solo in ECUADOR!”

  1. magali August 5, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

    yay! so glad you had such a wonderful trip!!

    • yyz cherry August 5, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

      Thanks so much Mags!!!

      It really was a cool experience to travel alone, but never actually be lonely or alone at all. Nothing quite like that to regain your faith in humanity!

  2. @TravelEater August 14, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    Solo travel is the best – you get to do what you want when you want (and no one complains when things don’t go perfectly!). And it is easy to meet great people when you want some company.
    I’m planning a trip to Galapagos for spring 2014 – thanks for the info !

    • yyz cherry August 14, 2013 at 11:00 am #

      Thanks for the feedback, TravelEater!!
      I was surprised at how much I enjoyed travelling alone, I will definitely be doing it again in the future.

      I’ll be doing a post specifically about the Galapagos – I will be sure to let you know about it!


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