Adios, Ecuador

Trip Start Apr 25, 2009
Trip End May 31, 2009

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Where I stayed
Finca Punta Ayampe
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of Ecuador  , Manabí,
Friday, May 29, 2009

Well, it looks like I never wrote anything about the end of my trip so I'm adding some final words as I sit here in Australia compiling these stories and uploading photos in May 2012:  

At some point in that last week at Jatun Sacha, I wasn't feeling well so I ditched volunteering that morning  and spent the day at a little "museum" type of place just past the conservation center. (As in, I left the reserve to start my morning duties and then walked straight past the conservation center, having decided along the way that I just didn't ef-ing feel like working that day!) I learned a bit about the indigenous tribes in the area including the Huaorani and looked at ancient artifacts like woven baskets, gardening tools and weapons. I also made friends with a very cheeky monkey name Luke, who is perched on my arm in the photo I used for my profile on this blog. He stole my sunglasses a couple of times that little devil but I had fun playing with him. I then took a day trip to a local zoo near the reserve. It was a boat ride away so I'm thinking it was some kind of island animal reserve where some of the animals roamed free,  like they did in Tena. I remember seeing volunteers there carrying around pales of slop to feed the animals and thinking that I was glad I volunteered at a place with no animals to care for. It stunk and the volunteers looked pretty miserable with their clothes covered in unknown substances and I realized that the blisters on my hands from raking all those leaves really weren't so bad.  

Katy and I had made plans to leave a couple days early to see the beach in Ayampe.  Our last night at the reserve the volunteers all packed in the back of a truck and hitch hiked our way to a night out in Tena.  After a very long bus ride (I feel like I remember an overnight ride to Guayaquil, followed by another ride for several hours to Ayampe), we arrived at a very nice guest house called Finca Punta where we were the only guests, so the groundskeeper and the chef took very good care of us.  We ate our meals on the porch overlooking the beach and at night we drank caipirinhas, a rum drink with mint, soda water and lots of sugar that I had never had before. From what I remember, we spent our days hiking into the valley behind the guest house, snorkelling around some coral reef in the next town, surfing at the beach (this was the first and last time I attempted surfing which I feel requires no explanation) and generally taking it easy after three weeks of performing manual labor in the rain forest.  I also recall the grounds keeper (wish I could remember his name!) taking us to try a local dish which turned out to be a weird tuna tamale type thing that I did not enjoy at all.  But it was interesting and that was very kind of him to go out of his way for us. Ayampe was a wonderful place to spend the end of my trip to Ecuador plus I got to see a large part of the country on the bus ride along the way.  I remember heading back to Quito on an overnight bus and spending the afternoon shopping for gifts in the city before I flew back to Los Angeles.  

I wish I could say that it was good to be back, and while it was good in some ways, I distinctly remember returning to a house full of stress and disappointment.  That trip marked the beginning of the end of my relationship with my boyfriend at the time and confirmed my desire to live and work abroad. But as I sit here now looking at the photos from back then, I can't figure out why I look so horrible! My face looks pale and puffy and painfully listless.  Besides not wearing any makeup (gasp!), one thing is for sure: this trip was in May 2009, shortly after the end of my fourth season as a tax accountant and I think I always looked and felt that unhealthy during this time of year. While I've always remembered how the three months of working 50-55 hours each week of tax season made me feel, these photos very clearly illustrate how tax season made me look and that is undeniably not good.  And reflecting on these photos is sure confirmation that leaving public accounting was the right decision for me. It's not that public accounting is a bad profession in general, I think its right for some people, but I am now seeing first hand the physical effect that the profession had on me and I know it was just never right for me. Not that I ever doubted it. 

Over the last two years since I left the States, many people have asked me how I had the courage to do what I did: quit my job, travel to Asia alone and establish a new life in Thailand. I always say that after five years in public accounting and even more time spent becoming a CPA, I realized that I just wasn't happy with the choices I had made and didn't know why I had done it all. In America, we are taught to get an education, get a profession, find a mate, buy a house and make a family.  And I had done the first three but had found it all entirely unrewarding. So I wasn't sure what I wanted to do next but I knew for certain that my life as I knew it in Los Angeles absolutely could not go on. I just couldn't proceed with the rest of the items on that list before I travelled a bit and experienced a different part of the world and a different way of life. So I tell the people who ask how I did it that it really wasn't courage that I felt at all, but rather desperation. To put it simply, I felt extremely compelled to change everything.  

One of the most valuable things I learned from that trip was how other people manage the logistics of long term international travel.  The ease with which they all quit their jobs, put their relationships on hold, and packed their belongings in storage or got tenants for their houses, helped me to put it all into perspective. So I stopped trying to control my future (as we Americans are so good at doing) and I realized that if I just let go a little bit, it would be much easier than I thought. It was simply up to me to decide to go. I knew that as long as I followed my heart, everything else would fall in to place.  So I spent the next year trying to apply for jobs and making plans to move away.  One year and a couple of failed attempts later, I left for Thailand and the rest is history!

My Review Of The Place I Stayed

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