I’ve had Buddy Holly’s “Everyday” stuck in my head.
Everyday it’s a-gettin’ closer
Goin’ faster than a roller coaster…
Everyday seems a little longer
Every way love’s a little stronger
Come what may
Everyday here has had its ups and its downs and many of the days have had more downs that I was expecting. But now, nearly three weeks into this adventure, the days are getting a bit easier and we’re feeling a little stronger.
A major reason for our improved perspective is our new location: Otavalo. We should do a post on Bahia and Quito, but we’re more excited by Otavalo. As we traveled out of Quito the other day and started to see massive flower farms, it put a smile on our faces. Continuing towards Otavalo, the mountains started to get greener and the trees taller. We came over a ridge top and saw this:
Jamie and I both looked at this, then looked at each other and took a deep breath and a deep sigh of relief.
Once in Otavalo, we settled into our historic, clean, cool and cheap hostal and we took another deep breath and shared a drink. Amazingly, Luke did not interupt the moment with any sort of bodily injury. After some more breathing and smiling, we went for a walk through the market and this little city connected with us again. Latin American markets are amazing. Colors, smells, varity and life hit you from all directions. This was the best one yet. And the nice ladies were so impressed that these niños were only six and four years old. Muy grande!
The rest of the evening and the following days have been just as charming: beautiful friendly people most of whom are indigenous, clean town, slower traffic, less honking, cheaper everything, huge mountains and an amazing climate which is sort of like Crested Butte in July all year with warmer nights. The beach, Cuenca and the big cities of Guayaquil and Quito seem to be out of the running (another post maybe). We’re going to give Banos, Loja and Vilcabamba their chances, but Otavalo is the current leader.
While our new locale is helping, we’re also getting in the new rhythm. Disconnecting for a week plus from the outside world including no internet, TV or other media was good for me. Jamie and I started forgetting what day of the week it was and just focusing on what was right in front of us…good, bad or otherwise. After we moved into our fifth hotel, the boys stopped asking when we’re going back to Crested Butte and have started asking, what are we going to do today. The answer to their new question almost always involves amazingly fun and equally unsafe playgrounds.
Jamie and I are starting to carve out little bits of time so one of us can go for a walk or work on researching where to settle down. We’re also getting little mini-dates like last night when we left the boys in the room watching Spy Kids 3 on the Mac and we had a few mojitos at the restaurant just below our room. Speaking of mojitos, good rum is cheap here. So are flowers. These babies cost $9 and I overpaid because I didn’t want to walk a few blocks to the actual flower market:
Now, that I’ve let you know that we’re okay and doing a bit better, let’s keep in mind that this is still a roller coaster. After being pretty hard on Jamie about losing our camera, I managed to lose our other good camera along with the boys’ coats, hats and sunglasses (I already left my hat and good sunglasses on a beach in Canoa). Yeasterday, Luke caught a wicked cold that seems to be spreading among the four of us. More than all of this, we’re all suffering from what seems to be culture shock.
I’ve heard and read a bit about culture shock, but I thought we were vaccinated for this ailment since we were so excited about this big adventure and since Jamie and I have traveled enough to know that different is often fun and sometimes even good. What I did not appreciate was the fact that we’re not “traveling.” We are looking for our new home (even if for only 6 months). When every element of your day, from the taste of your coffee or simple lack of coffee in the early morning hours to the sounds you fall asleep to are different, it is stressful but part of the joy of traveling. However, when these little and almost constant differences combine with the fact that this trip has no end in sight and that they are your new life, it hits you in the gut. When you realize all this strange stuff and interesting people are now your stuff and your people…your new life, that is when the culture shock kicks in.
The trick is that you don’t know that it is culture shock. You’re just tired, edgy and longing for the familiar. As we longed for what we we’re used to, much of it was around the basics, like food, so when we heard about this GREAT pizza place in Guayaquil and ordered a large pepperoni and got this strange and massive collection of lunchmeat, bad cheese and half “oven cooked” dough, we were not impressed.
While we were all gropping in the tropical Ecuadorian heat with our unnamed culture shock in a search for a new home we also had the pleasure of doing it with two massive bags, two large bags, three backpacks and a purse full of stuff for when we find this home. I felt like a settler moving west with all we owned, not needing much in any moment, but bring it all for that some day when we find home. I needed an ox to pull all of the stuff! This combined with the boys understandable need for daily stimulation, play, edible and familiar foods and we’ve been getting our asses kicked.
So that’s my take on the other part of this roller coaster. Would I ride the last few weeks again? Maybe. Am I happy to see us rally after all of that and be more engaged and more connected? Yes.
P.S. The backpack with the other camera and coats was returned to the restaurant the day after I left it there. Let the roller coaster continue!