Hey tribe! When you travel with an open itinerary, you never know how adventure will unfold around you.
Spontaneity and openness tend to be my calling cards when it comes to international adventure. This held true, as I landed in Ecuador with only loose ideas of what I would see and do before an attempt on Vulcan Chimborazo (6310m), the point furthest from the center of our shared Earth and closest to the stars due to the oblongation of the planet along the Equator. I booked a night at a hostel and started adventuring with others. With Amy to Mitad Del Mundo and up the Teleferiqo Where I met Maren and Sarah who would quickly become centerpieces to this adventure when we all discovered, much to our surprise, we were staying in the same Hostel (Vibes Hostel, Quito). It wasn't until the next day that the craziness began, when these two, who would fill my ears with craziness from high school and loud music, walked in stating they were leaving for Baños.
They were planning on leaving with the next bus but, boy, you should have seen their faces light up when I mentioned I had a rental car and wanted to go to Baños. And so a chapter of adventure was born, "Ecuadorian Road Trip!"
Now, if you haven't heard about Ecuadorian driving, it is time...imagine triple passing, a double yellow, on a blind corner and you will see that and more in your first hour...a dozen times. It made me glad for my years of crazy-assed teen driving with my brother and friends, I felt comfortable amidst the chaos. With music blarring, and intermittent intellectual conversation (as you can't spend more than 10 minutes with me without one of these starting) we navigated the wrecking fields of Ecuadorian Highways (5 wrecks, including one we watched happen) arriving safely in Baños. It was Saturday night so we went out Salsa dancing, which, even at 27, was novel and wonderful!
Over our time in Baños, we shared dancing, breakfast on an ornately decorated veranda overlooking a waterfall, canyoning (USA friends think canyoneering/rapelling down waterfalls), and deep conversations on topics ranging from healthy relationship to living a meaningful life to the imperative of adventure in nature for human happiness (along with great coffee and a piece or two of chocolate cake).
It was while Sarah, Maren, and I were in full stride on this chapter of adventure that Avishai made his entrance by moving into my dorm room. Avishai [ah-vee-shah-eee], a courageous adventurer, deep thinker, and carrier of a wealth of experience from his years in the Israeli army, quickly made an impression on me to the degree that within the hour I invited him to be my climbing partner for Volcan Chimborazo. (And we like to say we are improving US/Israeli relations). We all went to dinner together, in the midst of which me and my rental car saved the day again when I proposed I just drive us to the iconic Quilotoa Crater (USA friends, think Crater Lake) instead of everyone paying $80 for the guided tour...and so our adventure of four was solidified, the shuttle door closed, fated to deep friendships and appreciation. The Choose Mountains Tribe was also grown as they each connected in their own right to the heart, spirit, and story behind Tiare beginning the tribe.
Oh Quilotoa, I can let the photos speak for themselves. For my stateside friends, I am sure it reminds you of Crater Lake, albeit smaller in scale, but imagine hiking around Crater Lake if it was instead at the top of Mount Shasta and then you understand the feeling of being here. We shared food, hiking, views, childhood stories, photos, and laid open our souls to share the moment in full joyous, playful wonder with one another. To which all of us astonished in our recounts to those back home, "it is amazing the depth of connect you can experience, out here, with all routine and distraction removed, sharing fully in the moment of the story at hand, letting the full colors of who you are shine, unrestrained, only to see them mix beautifully with the colors flowing from each other...... you feel as though you are as much friends, as deeply, with as much trust, as you can ever remember having...
To my tribe and friends, adventure with an open-heart, be self-reliant, but be confident, free, and excited to joyously invite those who are willing to share the fullness of adventure with you into your story as you never know the significance of the role they may play. Mountain blessings from "base camp" on Volcan Chimborazo as I write to you. Future write up to come.
With a full heart,
Choose Mountains Ambassador
A few photos from his trip! Photo Credit to @marendangeryoung