I spent the better part of my afternoon exploring the beautiful city of Quito. My original goal was to walk all the way to the Metropolitan Park. I just got back to my hostel after walking nearly 10km and getting a lot more familiar with the city surroundings. It was a beautiful warm day during my exploratory walk, people were outside enjoying life on a Thursday afternoon, and I got some amazing aerial photos too. The weather in Quito averages 68-78 degrees year round and it's located directly on the equator. That's one of the reasons I've wanted to visit this place since childhood. Well, here I am, I made it! Now I'm sitting at a roundtable in the conference room in the empty coworking space on the top floor at Selina Quito. I always stay at hostels during my travels abroad. They are affordable, convenient, and a great way to meet people from all over the world. This one is also brand new, clean, comfortable, and my favorite part is the cinema room with a projector and Netflix. I look forward to working together with Selina the organization in the near future! I love the whole concept of living and working from anywhere in the world! On an unrelated matter, I've been having connectivity issues on my laptop recently so hopefully I can finish typing this blog post before it decides to give up the ghost. Another day in the life of a digital nomad...
I arrived back in Quito yesterday, August 8th, after staying a few days in Mindo, a small town in the rainforest about 2 hours outside the city. My adventures included mountain biking on dirt roads, zip-lining through the rainforest canopy, taking the leap on a Tarzan Swing, and chasing waterfalls. I met two women, Lauren and Lyreen, during my hike through the rainforest to reach the cable car. We struck up a conversation easily. Turns out they were both from Australia. During our waterfall hike, I shared my unique story about crossing the border from Ecuador to Peru and forgetting to get my passport stamp. Lyreen was immediately reminded of a story her friend told about meeting a guy during the Salkantay Trek with an identical story. That's because it was me haha. Just so happens we had a mutual friend with Nathan Lowe who was one of the team members on the epic 5-day hike to Machu Picchu! They were both from a town named Darwin in Australia. In the words of Disney, it really is a small world after all. After hiking for over an hour and swimming in a waterfall together, we made our way back to the cable car, continued our hike in the rain, hopped in a truck bed back to town, and grabbed lunch at a chocolate restaurant. I checked into the same hostel they were staying at. It was only $6 per night. Dirt cheap. Definitely worth the adventure!
The next day, I woke up early in the morning, flew my drone after fixing it the night before, walked into town, grabbed a few snacks, and waited patiently for my bus to arrive. It was a pleasant relaxing ride back to Quito. I then caught another bus from the Ofelia station to the downtown central area. I got off at the wrong stop and wandered the streets for over an hour (my phone was dead) before finding my hostel. Most people would simply consider this "getting lost", I prefer to think of it as "building character". The more often you can get out of your comfort zone, the better off you will be in life. You will gain so much wisdom and meet lots of interesting people along the way. Turns out I got back just in time for Fiesta de la Luz (Festival of the Lights), which is a celebration in honor of the Ecuador New Year from August 8-12th. I look forward to celebrating this local cultural tradition and taking photos. Here's one I took from the highest point in the mountains above Quito at Teleferico.
I'm still trying to decide where I will go next after Quito. I've already seen most of this beautiful country. I was tempted to hike Cotopaxi, one of the tallest active volcanoes in the world, but last time I was there I got elevation sickness while horseback riding. It was not a pleasant experience since I was throwing up and sleeping all day. My original plan was to fly directly to the Galapagos Islands. I found a one-way flight for only $130 but American citizens also need a return ticket. Those flights are about $400. Apparently it's possible to get a cargo ship from Guayaquil to the islands for cheap but it's over 3 days in poor conditions. I'd rather not. The 5-day island-hopping tours are also very expensive. You're lucky to find packages for $1200. So, rather than spending money I don't have on a short trip to possibly the most famous islands in the world, I've decided to go for Plan B. You know what they say, don't make an island unto yourself. I will probably stay in Quito for another week and then continue further south through Peru (yet again!) to Chile. It will undoubtedly be the longest bus ride of my adventures so far! Over 26 hours to Lima and then another 20 to the border!!! But it's also way cheaper than flying directly to Santiago for $450. Last time I was in Tacna, they wouldn't let me cross the border since I didn't have that stupid passport stamp, so my only viable option was to go all the way back to Ecuador. Luckily I met a girl in Mancora on the coast in Peru who was in a similar situation. Together, we crossed the border illegally in a speeding taxi and before customs even knew what happened. The only downside is now I can't return to Ecuador for 2 years unless I pay a hefty fine and get my tourist visa. If you're interested in my top picks for places to visit in Peru, please read my previous blog post Peru Adventure Capitalist.
Hopefully you enjoyed reading my blog post! The first part of my South America travel documentary is available for viewing on YouTube!