“Please be a traveler, not a tourist. Try new things, meet new people, and look beyond what’s right in front of you. Those are the keys to understanding this amazing world we live in.” Andrew Zimmern
Ecuador – As a child growing up in the Misssippi Delta, I was painfully shy and dreaded interactions with strangers. A loner, I thrived when roaming the outdoors, inspecting wildflowers along ditch banks or immersed in the dense canopy of the woodlands, where I might sit for hours in hushed tranquility.
I am grateful for young-adult opportunities of teaching art as well as speaking to groups as ‘A Gardening Artist.’ I realized that we all have strengths and weaknesses, and that unique threads connect us all. Slowly I grew comfortable with interacting with strangers, and now I embrace those opportunities to know my fellow man.
After leaving Yachana Lodge on Good Friday, friends Stephen and Xiomara and I embarked on a journey that presented many unique experiences which almost always included the locals.
One charming and polite person climbed aboard near Yachana. He credited his very-good English skills to Yachana Lodge’s training center! Douglas, the owner of Yachana, had told us about someone in the area that was producing a very nice wood-smoked coffee, and that very person was our guide for the next hour of the trip!
Stephen and Xiomara showed me some of their favorite places along the Sumaco National Park as we ascended the ‘eastern slope’ of the Ecuadorian Andes.
We stopped to see the waterfalls and a stop-over spot they enjoy when working in the Sumaco area or on their way to Yachana or the Yusani.
We continued our drive until we approached the petite community of Cosanga; I asked Stephen to stop at the roadside restaurant to see if my friend Cecilia was there. Cecilia was a life-safer while helping with the Pachamama Bird Journey in March.
She was standing in front as we approached the restaurant, so I ducked while he asked if there was someone named Lisa in Cosanga. “No,” she stated then resumed her tasks.
Stephen went inside, and I sneaked out and waited for her to look up.
Our visit was quite brief, but it was fun to watch her break into that million-dollar smile!
Next stop would be the larger community of Baeza, where we planned to spend the night at Cabanas & Pizzaria Kopal. Stephen phoned his friend to warn him we’d be stopping by, as the restaurant only opens at the end of the day.
We checked in and went for a walk while waiting on the restaurant to open. Across the highway and up a quiet street was a quaint neighborhood. Cascading flowers graced the windows of one tidy home.
While Xiomara visited a little tourist-information booth, Stephen and I enjoyed visiting with the neighborhood children – all hopeful to interact with the gringos!
Over dinner I mentioned to the owner, whose home country is Holland, that I had paints and brushes and would be glad to paint something on the bathroom wall. After tossing around ideas, he wondered if I could paint ivy. The next morning he seemed surprised that his idea had taken root and sprouted during the night!
It will be fun to return to this sweet little area and see if the ivy has grown!
I am so thankful to be cured of my bashful nature! Otherwise I would be missing amazing cultural and human experiences! If you’re stuck and unable to take a wanderlust detour, check out this week’s submissions for the WordPress Challenge.