Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Despedida a Ecuador

In just eleven days, I'll leave Quito. Tomorrow marks my nine-month anniversary here and it's starting to feel very strange to be leaving for good, or at least indefinitely. Lately I've been thinking a lot about my time here and my decision to leave and realizing how much I'll miss this time in my life. 
I'm finally totally comfortable at UDLA and feel confident being a professor there. It's taken me awhile, but now I know the university's policies, my department's policies, which forms to sign when, etc. But more than that, I see old students in the halls and talk to them; I chat with the security guards; I bring my aunt coffee to her office; I'm comfortable. It's a home. 
As far as Quito itself, I'll miss the city a little--probably Centro Historico, some favorite restaurants and parks--but I'll mostly miss the friends I've made here and my daily routine. I feel like I know Quito much better now and can get where I need to go and do what I need to do. In fact, Ecuadorians have been asking me directions lately, and I've always known where they were talking about, which boosts my confidence. 
There are also little things I'll miss about the country in general, probably most of them involving fewer restrictions and a more relaxed way of life--namely, hitchhiking in the countryside, drinking every kind of drink out of one container, and just listening and talking to interesting Ecuadorians and fellow travelers. 
I'm equally aware of the things I won't miss and of how excited I am to go though. It's time to run. 
Here's my tentative plan:
Leave for Loja (southern Ecuador) August 25th on a night bus. See Loja Monday, stay there in a hostel that night, and either go to the small town of Vilcabamba the next day or head to Peru. 
Once in Peru, I'll be making my way south to Lima. I might stop on the way for a few days out of a bus, possibly in Trujillo or somewhere on the coast. I'll probably spent a night or so in Lima, but I'm not terribly interested in that city. From Lima I'll go to Cusco and from Cusco I'll head to a farm in the mountains to volunteer for two weeks. 
I found this farm through the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms and contacted them. They live high in the mountains and they have goats. They mentioned something about needing people with "calloused hands," so I knew right away it was for me. 
After two weeks there, I'm going to meet a friend in Cusco and head to Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, Arequipa, and various other tourist destinations. After two weeks or so of this, this friend and I will head into the jungle to volunteer at another farm for two weeks. This one is a coffee, cacao, and mango farm with no electricity but with access to awesome jungle adventures. Time to get some malaria meds! 
After this, we will head north and pass quickly through Ecuador, probably stopping for a week maximum before heading north, to Colombia. I suspect this will be the end of October/beginning of November. I want to go to Medellin and possibly Cartagena, as well as a few other places in Colombia, before flying out of Bogota and back into the US at the end of November.
As I said, tentative plans. I'll be traveling solo for the first 3-4 weeks then with my friend until the last 1-2 weeks. But everything is subject to change. I will have no job and no responsibilities aside from feeding myself and making it to Bogota in time to fly home. I'll be traveling for about 3 months in total. This makes me incredibly happy. 
Anyway, I'll post once or twice more before I go, but after, I'm not sure. I'll try to post things about the different places I go and people I meet, but I won't have a computer and I don't know how often I'll use one (also very exciting). 
Wish me luck and look for postcards in the mail! 

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