Friday, October 7, 2011

A new trip - Ecuador FAQ!

Ahhh.... Here we are, back to present day. I am in the middle of preparing for my next big adventure. Leaving in 11 days for a three-week trip to Ecuador.

Why Ecuador?
  • It's in South America. So I will get to cross that continent off the list that is a part of my larger travel goal (make it to every continent by the time I am 40).

  • Diversity. I'll get to experience the Andes and the Coast all in one trip. Not the Galapagos though, unfortunately. Don't quite have the available funds to add that to my itinerary.

  • Otavalo - South America's largest indigenous market.

  • Language - I've read that Ecuador is one of the best places to learn Spanish. I already have a lot of basic Spanish from taking classes through high school and college. I am hoping that three weeks of immersion will help me improve my skills.

  • Cheap! I'm unemployed, so I definitely wanted a place where the US Dollar would go far. And since Ecuador uses the USD as their official form of currency I won't even have to worry about conversion rates.

Why now? And why for three weeks?

Well, I am unemployed. Which means I have time on my hands. Once I get a job (which hopefully I'll have when I get back!) I will be stuck with only being able to take long weekends off for my various trips... with maybe an opportunity here and again to take a week off. Being able to go for three weeks means I'll have TIME. Time to go on adventures. Time to just kick back in a hammock with a book or open up my laptop if that's what I want to do. It means I'll have time to explore and branch out and see more than just a single location.

Where will you be going?

My home base will be a hostel called The Secret Garden in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. From there I intend to head up to spend a few days in Otavalo. Then back to Quito. Then several days in BaƱos, then back to Quito. Then five days in the coastal town of Canoa before going back to Quito to prepare for my trip back home.

What do you have planned for while you're there?

Zip lining! Canyoning! Horseback riding! Surfing! Visiting the Equator. Going shopping in Otavalo. Taking the Teleferico in Quito that will take me higher than I'll probably ever go in my life.

You seem to have it all planned out!

Well, I love to plan. I have always felt that a trip can be experienced multiple times. First is when you plan it. The preparation and planning allows you the chance to experience everything before you're even there. It builds your excitement and it gives you an idea of what there is to do or see so you have at least a good starting point before you arrive. The plan can go all to hell once you arrive! But that's where the title of this blog comes into play. When something unexpected comes up, just roll with it. Rigidity gets you nowhere. Traveling solo also helps with this.

You're going alone?

I love solo travel. It means I get to go where I want to go, when I want to go. I get to do the things that intrigue and excite me. If I change my mind about something I don't have to consult with a partner I can just change directions mid-step.

Aren't you afraid?

My parents raised me to be independent and to trust myself. When I travel I listen to my instincts and my common sense. I know better than to walk around alone at night. I know better than to leave my belongings out of my sight. I pay attention to what's going on around me and let mistakes teach me a lesson for the future.

Besides... I may be afraid of certain things, but I try not to let fear get the better of me. I know that if I mess up, it won't be the end of the world. If I fall I can always get back on my feet and call it an experience. Also, since I'm kind of an adrenaline junkie... I am able to turn fear into adrenaline. So I actually enjoy doing things that scare me!

What have you done so far to prepare?
  • So far I've read as many blogs as I can find. Reading about the various places I plan to visit. I've read stuff from other solo female travelers in particular to get an idea of what to expect.
  • I've been practicing my Spanish. To the point where I have now been dreaming in Spanish for the last several months! It's kind of hilarious because my dreams have English subtitles. I have been working specifically on practicing both sides of a conversation for various situations. I also have an English/Spanish dictionary to help me out once I'm there. But I am feeling pretty confident about the basics.
  • Got myself a good pair of hiking boots (Merrell Moab Mid Waterproof) and a pair of sturdy, close toed sandals (Venice style Keens). I'll let you know how these work out after I get back!
  • Decided to invest in rechargeable batteries for my camera. After the debacle in Paris with the batteries I picked up in Dresden I am never going to let myself be in that situation again! So I have four sets of Duracell AA rechargeables.
  • Since I'll be gone for so long, I want to make sure I am reachable. So I talked to AT&T about my iPhone. Made the decision it will be cheaper to pick up a local phone once I get to Quito. E-mailed the folks at the Secret Garden and their advice was very helpful and they'll direct me to where I can do this once I arrive.

Sounds like you're pretty excited!

Oh gods, you have no idea! *laughs* Well, you might. The adrenaline pumping through me is more intoxicating than anything else I can imagine. I've never done anything like this before. I can't wait for the 18th to get here!

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