Are you Traveling to Ecuador? Let me share about the country as a whole inspired and changed me!
I think somehow in the past year…I lost myself.
Sure, I did some really chevere things (that’s Spanish for cool, bro) but I spent so much of my year and trip last year trying to make a man love me…when it just wasn’t never going to happen. If you’re reading this, I’m sure you’ve had that one relationship you know you should have walked away from…but didn’t for whatever reason. I found myself compromising my beliefs, my values, even my ethics. My empathy was challenged, my kindness mocked. When I walked away from this relationship a month ago, I had no idea what I was going to do…except that I knew a trip was in order.
To me, travel is healing. I get time to really think, to do things that can distract me, partake in challenges that normal life wouldn’t provide. Ecuador is easily, hands down, the most diverse and amazing country I’ve ever been to. You have beaches, mountains, jungles. Vibrant Latin American vibes, simple but unique foods, kindness oozing out of the pores of the people. I didn’t meet a single rude person here.
I showed up to Quito, without really much of a plan. I was hurting so deeply inside, I just knew I wanted to drink a lot and meet new people. In stepped my new friend Steph, who is probably one of the sweetest and kindest people I’ve ever met. She’s an Aussie, with a huge passion for South America and a desire to never to return home. I crowned her my personal translator, aiming to learn five new words of Spanish a day. Within 20 minutes of meeting, I told her about my ex and what I was currently trying to heal from.
“What an asshole. I want to talk with him.”
We partied hard on New Years Eve Eve, New Years Eve and then on New Years Day, everyone in the hostel cuddled on the couch, trying to not vomit.
After hanging out in Quito for a few days, I made myself down to Lago Agrio, to spend time in the Amazon. This was about the time I came up with my new mantra for 2016. See, I’ve been picking men for all the wrong reasons. I have serious worthiness issues, so I thought that maybe, if I tried hard enough, I can begin to reverse my thinking. As the bus heading to the boats cruised for two hours, I stuck my head out of the window and breathed in the sweet jungle scent. I thought of every time any man has made me feel shitty and repeated this following mantra:
I am worthy
I am grateful
I do all things with grace
I am fearless
At first, the words made me cry. Then, slowly but surely, any time my ex popped into my head or sent a mean text, I began to angrily think, “But I’m WORTHY!” I think we have success, Houston.
The Amazon was fantastic, filled with beautiful animals. I didn’t really like a lot of my tour peeps, mainly because it just seemed like something to do for them, rather than a wonderful cultural experience. We went on a night walk and their blabbering scared away animals. They would just stare at me with weird judgement…probably because my hair is purple. The water was never hot, I held a tarantula, I came less than six inches of an Anaconda. It really was just an amazing three days, swimming in the river and falling asleep to the coos and caws of nightlife.
After the Amazon, I headed to Banos, the adventure capital of the world. We’re talking $20 zip lining, $20 bungee jumping, $30 rafting, $50 rock climbing. It was cheap, safe and WONDERFUL. I was exhausted most of the time, but absolutely exhilarated. I met up with Steph and some other friends and we jumped off a bridge together, which was amazing. We got drunk and laughed and told stories. I challenged myself every single day, feeling myself soften towards my circumstances, finding the depths of forgiveness finally coming. I had spent a few weeks filled with anger and hate…but that isn’t in my nature. That isn’t who I am. I am the girl who dances while walking. The girl who tries weird food. The one who usually laughed the loudest at the dirtiest jokes. The one who will give you a long hug because she appreciates you. I don’t like hate. It’s fruitless.
Every conversation I had, be it with man or woman, always seemed to be what I needed to hear. I had breakfast with a new friend, him and I discussing love and how muddied relationships can become. When he asked me why I had been with my ex, I stared off into the distant and said, “perhaps I was just distracted by his biceps,” which made him laugh so hard. That isn’t the real reason in the slightest, but gosh, they were distracting. He said something that was so profound to me, a keen observation. Let me paraphrase: “Being in a relationship, being with someone, you’re more weird with your person than you are even with your best friend. Why do people shy away from that kind of intimacy?” It’s true though, isn’t it? Genuine intimacy is a gift, one that is squandered by so many. The conversation taught me that there are men who don’t shy away from intimacy, from good genuine truthful conversation. I walked away from it thanking the Universe for showing me that all isn’t lost, that I won’t be alone in the remainder of my journey.
All in all, Ecuador was amazing to me. It guided me through a tough healing process, giving me time to grieve and then keeping me busy when I needed it. I met some pretty bad ass people, did some pretty badass things. I found new respect for myself, a new understanding of my needs, which will make 2016 just that much more awesome. I’m definitely coming back to Ecuador in the future, I haven’t even skimmed the top of what you can do in this amazing country!