Monthly Archives: March 2014

Remembering Zorba

At the time, I wasn’t ready to leave Ecuador and I considered spending more time there.  However, 10 days later in Peru, everything is continuing to happen at the right time.

Well, who’da thought??

For the five years I’ve continued traveling, these are the reoccurring things I find:

Amazing people

Beautiful places

Serendipity

Spontaneity

Surprises

Louisiana Hot Sauce (NO JOKE)

I guess those are all typical to life, right?  For me, these experiences are heightened when I witness them all outside of my home and with people from around the world.

The bus from Quito to Paracas took a little over 48 hours.  The direct bus was sold out and so I took the cheaper, longer, and more difficult route.  The second bus from the border of Ecuador and Peru got stuck in the sand about 3 hours into the trip.  It took another two hours and two trucks to pull us out.

It really wasn’t that bad.  I honestly like riding buses even after my close to death experience in Mongolia (where I took a 3 days bus to the border of Kazakhstan and Mongolia in December….it was -42 degrees.)  The buses here are a little claustrophobic but at least they are warm!

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I enjoy seeing the change of scenery and especially on this continent where at one moment you can be riding through lush, green jungles and the next hour, after snoozing, wake up to the desert.

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So, Paracas.  I came to Paracas specifically because I found a Workaway job working in the bar at Kokopelli Hostel.  I thought, well it should be nice to have two weeks in one place.  I work 5 days a week for free room, breakfast, and discounts for drinks.

As beach towns go, there is a lot of partying, relaxing, and swimming.  It is the strong proof that being by the sea is good for everyone’s well being.  This is the retreat town for all the people in Lima who are tired of the city and want a weekend getaway.

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Again (and again and again) I have discovered a place of beauty in my surroundings and in the people that come with it.  I knew this was going to be a great stop for me.  I would have two weeks where I could recharge and prepare for crossing this continent through Bolivia to Sao Paulo.

When I arrived, the stories of everyone were very similar,

“I was supposed to stay two weeks and I’ve been here for 6.”

Almost EVERYONE has said this.  In the beginning it made me nervous because Brazil is still in the forefront of my mind.  It is the GOAL.  It is the Holy Grail.  A month and a half into this journey my timing has been pretty spot on and if I wanted to continue to have good timing, there was no way I could allow myself to get wrapped up in Paracas and stay longer.

So, I turned on my defense and attempted to be withdrawn as to establish my focus on Brazil.  That plan has been thrown out the window and the past 4 mornings I have caught the sunrise with my coworkers here.

I can only disengage so much until I remember that this is my life.  This is what I write about here, this is what I preach, this is ZORBA.  Living in the moment, loving, laughing, talking, and discovering more and more of yourself and the world.

A unifying factor of all the relationships and friendships I have made in traveling is “openness.”  There is no time for small talk and trust is almost readily available for everyone.  These sunrise ventures have been filled with deep stories, secrets, and life beliefs.  This is how we all become so close in such a short period of time.  It is a genuine and beautiful thing and constantly gives me a sense of gratitude and amazement of humanity.

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With all of this love around me, there was no way I was going to attempt solitude for inner work.  There will be time for that….someday.  Most likely when I least expect it.

Another opportunity I have taken advantage of is kite surfing.  The three-day course is more than 50% off for me because I am a volunteer with the hostel.  How could I pass that up?

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This has become my new favorite sport.  I don’t know if it is because I can revert back to childhood memories of flying kites or just the simple fun of it.  But I LOVE it.  The manipulation of the wind is an overwhelming feeling of freedom.  The other day I was picked up out of the water and was flying!  It was truly incredible.

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So, what I have found in my 10 days in Paracas is the reminder that Zorba is my mascot.  The existence of the future is unknown and all I have is right now.  Every time I give into this realization, amazing things seem to immediately happen.

Perfect example, my crush just invited me to go kayaking.  Let’s GO!

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Vivir Mi Vida

After I crossed the border into Ecuador, I took a bus to Quito.  I have HIGLY underestimated the amount of time I would spend riding on buses.  Yes, this is a vast continent but more so there is not a proper infrastructure for all the exports/imports happening.

Several hours are added to the trip due mostly to traffic and bad roads.  There are no other options for truck drivers, other buses, and all ground transportation.

However, I have surprisingly been on “schedule” and now have my Brazilian Visa in hand.

So, Ecuador.  Ecuador was all sorts of beautiful.

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I was especially lucky because I stayed with Alvaro and Pablo.  Alvaro is a friend of Manus (Manus, I met in Mongolia and is from New Orleans…..small world right?!) and Pablo is Alvaro’s roommate from Seville.

These guys could not have been any better suited to become my really good friends.  Every night, when Pablo would get home from work, we would all sit in the living room and discuss every topic under the sun.  From travel experiences, to the cultures of Ecuador and Spain, and how we wanted to be more “human.”  I would play my ukulele, Pablo his guitar, and we would sing Marc Anthony and Juanes songs…ok more like whole heartedly belt out these songs.  It was wonderful.

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After I got all my stuff in order for the Brazilian Visa, the three of us went to Esmeraldas, a beach town where Alvaro’s mother lives.

I think getting the VISA in Quito was a much better idea than my original plan of doing it in Lima.  Quito is a big city yes, but the layout makes it really easy to get around.  I took the bus every day (.25) and Ecuador uses USD so I didn’t have to exchange money for the VISA fee.

Here is a list of the things to have/to do before going to the embassy…

1.  Fill out the VISA application online and print it out

-There were a few websites I found with the application.  Go through the official Brazilian embassy website.  I saw one that asked for a credit card number and I do not think it was legit.  The application only asks the basic questions, passport number, length of stay, etc.

2.  Bank Statement for the past three months

-Make sure you have a good amount as your current balance.  A minimum of $50 a day is expected.

3.  Photo copy of your credit card

4.  $160 to deposit at the bank down the street

5.  An itinerary of your trip

-Now this process completely proved my point about how it always depends on the official that is working with you.  The first time I went to the embassy, the woman who helped me did not ask any questions referring to my itinerary, that I typed up as a word document only siting dates, cities, and the date I would be flying out.  I didn’t have any proof of this flight but she did not question it.

When I came back a second time, I was called to another window with another woman who told me in Spanish that I had to have proof of a return ticket.  I said, well, what if I’m taking a bus out of the country?  She argued that I had to fly out of Brazil back to my own country.  I said, but what if I am teaching in Bolivia and I have to return there?  The first woman I talked to earlier came over to the window to help with translation.  The woman who was telling me I needed the proof of leaving Brazil gave my papers to the other woman who told me, Oh yes, I’m sorry I forgot to ask you about that earlier but let me go talk to the people in the back and see if you really need proof.

I moved back to the window of the first woman who helped me and waited for her to return.  When she came back she told me that the officials said there was no problem and that I did not need a return ticket if I was taking a bus out of the country.

That was that.

With everything in order, we escaped to Esmeraldas where Alvaro had to go to vote for the elections.  No absentee options in Ecuador.  Also, for the entire weekend of the elections it is illegal to buy alcohol.  I guess they just want to make sure there is no impaired judgment when choosing a leader.

Even though the bars were closed, we still found fun things to do.

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One day we went to the beach with boogie board in hand.  It was one of those perfect days of wonderful company, perfect waves, and beautiful surroundings.  I had so much fun with those boys and will never ever forget the awesome week we had.

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A reoccurring theme in this blog is about all the amazing people I meet all over the world.  Before I came to South America I had some anxiety knowing that I would again meet incredible friends and again have to leave them.  Saying goodbye is a difficult thing but it has been proven over and over to never say never.

Manus is a perfect example because we have been able to spend time together in 3 countries in the last 2 years!   He is not the only friend I’ve been able to reunite with in unexpected places.  There were all the people who came to visit in Greece this summer, my cousins in Bogota, etc.

This is certainly not a small world in many ways but having the ability to communicate so quickly makes it easier to keep these friendships alive.  I just hope that someday, I can create an event on some little island somewhere where all of these beautiful people can be all together at the same time!

And definitely this ceviche will be involved too…

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