It’s not that we haven’t had community while we’ve been here, but you can imagine the difference between community with long held friends and the local residents of a foreign country. Two types of community that are both precious and necessary in their own ways. Last week we both greeted and bid farewell to these polarized versions of the same concept. We left La Luna to travel Ecuador with our friends from Arizona. Tears were shed as we said goodbye to La Luna, a place that has played a very special role in our lives. The familial staff of La Luna has become close to us, especially for Rio, who has adopted them as his surrogate aunts, uncles and cousins. The fields and roads and trails of the place have become as familiar as some of our old walks back in the states, and Rio had noticeably gotten comfortable with thinking of our rooms as home. Still, we couldn’t help but feel excited has we jumped in the back of a truck with our friends from AZ to make our way to the bus station. These are friends that we have history and story with, friends with whom we very readily looked foreword to traveling with. We have already created new bazaar and beautiful stories with them since they arrived, and we still get another week together. It really could not be a better transition to our move back to Arizona and gratitude fills our hearts. Gratitude towards being enriched by so many different positive versions of community. I´d have to say humbled as well since it doesn´t seem like there is anything you can do to deserve a positive community. I guess in that way we have had a profound experience with the grace of God.
Breathe in and give thanks, awaken the dawn.
Take a moment, forget your fear and let your heart lead.
Think about the connectedness of all things and if you can see it.
Is it a soul or just the sense of a soul that we hold in this burning vessel?
Feel the rotation of the planet beneath your feet, spinning spinning spinning.
Is it a soul or just the sense of a soul
that is held in this burning vessel?
“Was the shape we see in our lives
there from the beginning?”
Or is it all just carried along by pretty horses and señoritas?
Is it all just fiction fiction fiction?
I guess I´d prefer it was,
written in the sky where the condor flys
protecting us as we walk through the cloud,
over the sierra, into the valley,
following the sendero into forests,
where we find the power of an ancient god,
that gave life to the trees through carbon and fire.
And am I the fire or am I the carbon?
Or are they the same? are we the same
are we the same are we the same?
Walking the road together into a blood red sun,
clouded by smoke that belches forth from the core of the earth.
Wearing ponchos and eating heladitos,
thinking how strange, and how beautiful.
Thinking about the connectedness of all things,
and if we can see it.
And if it is the rotation of the planet underneath the feet
that causes life to circle back around?
Spinning spinning spinning,
following orbital patterns after a fashion of time.
Then the blowing dust interrupts our thoughts.
The wind howls like a wolf,
the only catalyst for change, where the days remain the same.
Darkness and light here, locked in stalemate
wrestling for our hearts.
Wrestling en la frontera de estrellas….
Under their blanket we gaze
upon their light and their truth.
Under their blanket we find our souls,
breathing in and breathing out
breathing in breathing out,
Here is a fun slideshow of “Paredas Ecuatorianas”.
“Los ojos! Los ojos!” Exclaim his admirers, in every market, village and bus ride, and Rio just eats it up. If by chance someone isn’t praising his beauty, he starts waving to the passerbys, as if he just claimed the crown of the Miss Ecuadorian Pageant. The attention is great for all of us, Melissa and I are used to a much different kind of attention, such as a blatant silent stare or increduous efforts to get into our pocketbooks. Rio attracts quite a different crowd and making connections has taken on an ease that is quite refreshing.
Travelers often find themselves in the paradoxical position of being outsiders with the intention of having an insider experience. In times past these experiences have resulted from some combination of luck and charm. In general babies perform universal behaviors, so when someone on the bus sees Rio waving or breast feeding or trying to walk, they immediatley relate to the same experiences they have with their own children. All of a sudden we are no longer outsiders, we are part of the global village and cultural differences are forgotten. Conversations then have a common thread and flow freely, it’s really great! So, all that being said, we have now figured out how to fund our travel bug, Dohse Baby Rentals: “Tired of being ignored by the locals or worse given a grimace and a smirk? For only $100 a day you can rent a baby to instantly have the “in” you’ve always wanted!”
Other aspects of traveling with a baby have been quite challenging. Sleep training has all but gone out the window, and though Rio seems to be enjoying himself and has adjusted quite well the the nomadic lifestyle we can tell he notices. The third time we packed up his bed he gave us a bit of a fight and tried to pull it back out. We’ve found that he has a three hour time limit on buses and a 12 minute limit for eating at restaurants. By now he’s eaten all kinds of market food and has traveled on trains, planes, buses, taxis and even dune buggys. He’s slept as high as 12,000 feet and can sleep through pretty much anything, including all night Quechua festivals. Most of all he has made plenty of friends, and it’s a complete joy to see him interact with so many people and see all the cultural differences and boundaries set aside for play.
The city in the clouds. From the airport we wound our way through the fog at one in the morning into the sleepy town of Quito. Under the watchful eye of the virgin of immaculate conception we unloaded into our hostel. The smells of the panaderia nearby wafted into my nostrils along with a heavy wave of nostalgia transporting me back 14 years to my last stint in South America. I wasn’t expecting such a visceral memory and tears welled up in my eyes. Our room at the Community Hostel was on the third floor and was pretty much all windows looking out towards the Basilica de la Vota Nacional, a neo-gothic church made famous by its syncretic use of local flora and fauna in its architecture, for instance, in place of gargoyles condors and tortoises keep gaurd. We of course hit the ground running, with a three-hour walking tour starting at 10:30. Rio slept in the ergo like a champ as we explored the highest capital city in the world. Rio, in fact, has been a champ the entire time. He is a little more easily bothered when Mamacita leaves the room, however if she is in sight he is making friends fast and sure and we have already been given a phone number from a local woman at breakfast for a play date! We have already been faced with some of the, shall I say, joys of travel? First thing we did upon arrival is give Rio a drink of water offered to us, only to immediately freak out because we were not told if it was filtered or not, thankfully it was and our trip will continue as planned. Next, our iPad was disabled while traveling which I will tell you has almost made me swear off Apple forever, as I spent an entire day visiting internet cafes to fix it. Lastly, tonight we took a taxi that didn’t have the “safe” orange license plate and after Melissa and Rio unloaded the driver promptly kept driving with me still inside. Melissa was certain that a kidnapping had just taken place and I was uncertain exactly what was happening, turns out, he was only finding a better spot to pull over out of the way of traffic, it just happened to be around the corner well out of sight from Mel and Rio.
Over all though we are adjusting quickly and it is joy to be out of our comfort zone and facing new learning environments. We are already getting a sense of how the exploration section of our trip will need to have a slower pace and we are glad that most of our time here will be spent in one location. Banos is next on the list where we are told we will find waterfalls and hot springs!
Note: All text highlighted in blue leads to a link with more information about that place or activity.
As part of our blogging experience we will be keeping a video diary, the following link is the first episode taken the second week of May. This will be a tool for us to express our feelings in a more personal way it will also serve as a platform to show some video of our experiences. Check it out! Packing Phase
As we packed up all of our material possessions the tensions of being homeless started to unpack, in subtle curious ways. Transition is always a bitter sweet time in life, as you say good bye to people and places that have impacted your life and look forward in hope to new people and memories. This specific type of transition that we are facing has unique challenges of its own. Such as, not having jobs lined up or not having a specific place to call home. In the last week I have noticed that every time someone is talking about work there is a little longing in the back of my mind. A little voice saying, “oh stability, routine, consistency, that sounds nice”. There is some provider/father instinct in me that resists transitioning to the nomadic.
This is the subtle curious voice. The louder, obvious voice that empowers us to move forward is the voice of our tribe. As far as I know there is not a nomadic community that doesn’t travel without their tribe, even in the animal kingdom. The reason for that is what I’m learning: nothing happens without community. Community, even writing the word kind of bothers me. It is such a buzz word these days, people describe community like a hipster barista describes a pour over, using words that sound really nice like, floral, honey notes with a tinge of kiwi. Well, our tribe is far from honey and kiwi, to be honest it would probably take an entire anthropology department to figure the nuances of our tribe. It’s patched together across states and countries by social media, generosity, and fond memories. But it exists nonetheless, and it’s a powerful enabling force.
So, while routine and consistency will probably elude us in the next few months, stability will not. Being nomadic creates a vulnerability that helps to reveal how dependent on our tribe we really are, it gives feeling and emotion to something that is to often silenced by the volume of self-sufficiency. I’m confident that this phenomenon created by being nomadic happens in other ways as well. In fact there are countless ways it can take place in our lives. It happens during weddings, it happens when a child is born or when someone is suffering an illness, it happens when fortune or misfortune strike. These are all catalysts, but all that is really needed is an invitation. It’s humbling, sure, and awkward at times, but no one is complaining. There is a positive anticipation for the impact that experience will have on the tribe, stories are being created, stories are being shared, and nothing in life is much more exciting then that.
Surprisingly enough no one has yet to confront us about taking our 1 year old baby to South America. My supposition is that this is a result of our non-confrontational society, maybe it’s that our reputation precedes us, or that the world is so small now that it doesn’t seem like a big deal. I will say this, i think it is a big deal, and nothing to sneeze at. There are some real risks involved that we have to honestly weigh and grapple with. I’m sure many of those reading this have spent their time traveling in developing countries, i’ve joked with many about dangerous buses on mountain passes with only two lug nuts on the wheels. Well, what does it mean to subject an infant to those risks? Someone who has no ability to voice their own objection? So far however, we have been only encouraged to make this trip, even by our pediatrician! We are especially encouraged by the peace that we have in our hearts about this choice, even given the weighed risk, we even feel that somehow it is important for Rio Grande (the infant) that we go.
So with the heavy-revi out of the way let’s move on to the decisions and questions that have developed as we prepare to travel with a one year old. First of all:
Based on a quick google search “diapers in Ecuador” we will be able to buy disposable diapers while we are down there. However, we need to do this on the cheap, and my guess is that western style diapers aren’t that cheap. For all of you not familiar with cloth diapering it’s a crazy world, and i for one can not possibly keep up with all the different names for all the different types. Names like “Bum Genius” “Bummies” “Soft Bums”, it’s ridiculous. After exploring our options though we are going with “pre-folds” because they dry the quickest and we are not sure about laundry facilities.
1. The backpack
Good for longer hikes, which we will do a lot of, but also very bulky, we’re not sure what we would do with it on the bus.
2. The Ring Sling
Super sexy and probably the most similar to what the Quechua moms will be using when we get down there, but it is not as supportive for longer days of exploring. It does fold down nice and small though, which is a huge plus.
3. The Ergo
Probably our best bet as it can work on the front and back and folds up super small. We don’t feel that it will allow us the opportunity to do the longer hikes that may present themselves during the trip.
Lastly and a little more serious are immunizations. There are three recommended immunizations by the CDC.
A food born version of Hepatitis. We were going to wait until Rio was older to get him the Hep A immunization here in the States, however, we decided to get it for him now since food is a big unknown when traveling.
This is recommended when traveling east of the Andes and below 7,000 feet in elevation. Mainly in the Amazon. This is where we have chosen to let traveling with an infant limit our experience. I’ve had a great longing to see the great Amazon river and experience it’s culture. Still, we feel like it opens up to much health risk for an infant. So we will not be going to the Amazon and not getting Yellow Fever shots.
Typhoid and Malaria:
These are also only recommended if traveling to the Amazon. The Malaria immunization is actually a pill that you take, which Rio is not old enough to have, and based on what we know of Malaria medication, we probably wouldn’t want to take it either. He is also not old enough for a Typhoid shot, which makes our decision to not travel to the Amazon even more obvious.
I’m sure that as we near our departure many more unthought of dangers and dilemmas will rear their ugly heads, but what would any journey be without a few trolls to outwit? Please let us know if you yourself have any wisdom, thoughts or concerns on these decisions as we are certainly open to suggestion.
Thanks for reading!
Nearly 4 years since we last left the country and we are finally getting ready to embark on our next cross cultural experience. This time though, it’s different. This time, we have an adventure seeking, curious, full of energy-for-life one year old who has expressed his sincere interest in accompanying us as a third companion throughout the journey. This will clearly be a transformative aspect to the way have to travel and so given the new nature of our story, i am extremely excited to be able to share our experience via “the wandering”. I also thought i’d start the story a little earlier this time, as it might be interesting to at least a reader or two to see the preparation aspect of this journey, since there will be quite a few extra details to go over as we progress towards our departure. First, the synopsis.
Time Frame: June-August
Purpose: Sabbatical for Melissa and refinement of our Spanish language skills.
Significant Activities: We will be doing a work trade for room and board at a hostel in Otovalo for two months. We will spend three weeks traveling around Ecuador and i might bag a peak or two involving some mild mountaineering. Hiking, trail running, market going and nursing with Quechua mamas are on the top of our list of goals, oh, and iguanas (Rio Grande, the one year old, has expressed his sincere desire to ride an iguana, if possible).
So whether friends or family or fellow baby-beta-seeking travelers, i once again welcome you to wander along with us though this incredible little journey we call life.
Next up: Diapers, shots and baby wearing (i told you, it’s different this time).