During the 2018-2019 year, I spent roughly five months backpacking through two South American countries. Knowing I would be income-less before my trip and unsure as to the state of my finances afterward, my goal was to spend no more than $1,000 a month.
It's taken quite some time for me to write this post. Ten months ago, I was pickpocketed on a busy bus in Quito, Ecuador. At first I refrained from writing about the situation because I was still processing what had happened. In my experience, there was a certain amount of self-inflicted shame involved in being a victim of a theft.
The travellers were talking about their prior time in Quito and the adventures on which they embarked, such as hiking up Rucu Pichincha. They recounted that they had hiked with a large international group, and the only person who hadn't made it to the top was an American. Everyone looked pointedly at me, as I was the only one from the U.S. at the table. Well, that's not going to be me, I thought to myself, I know how to hike. Little did I know how wrong I was.
This past February I hiked 72+ kilometers over a period of 5 days to reach the infamous Machu Picchu, a modern wonder of the world. I completed the 5 day, 4 night tour with a group of 16 other hikers, as well as two guides who accompanied us until the end of the journey.
Cotopaxi Mountain was frequently named dropped by a number of travellers I met during my time in Ecuador; it's famous for being an active volcano, the second-highest summit in Ecuador at 5,897m (19,347 ft), and having a perfectly conical shape.
Upon arriving in Cuenca I began talking to fellow travellers and my hostel owners in earnest about how to best cross into Perú. I had already decided I wanted to cross at the Huaquillas crossing, as I had read some not-so-great things about border crossings in general, and this seemed to be the safest bet. I would have loved to leisurely made my way through Riobamba, Vilcabamba, and Loja, but I after spending five nights in Cuenca I was already at my 86th day. Time to ska-doodle out of the country!
The Galápagos Islands are known for being one of the more expensive places to visit, especially when compared to the price of traveling through mainland Ecuador. I knew I couldn't pass up a trip to the islands made famous by Charles Darwin. I visited the islands on a budget that ultimately equalled $79 a day.
So how was my first Workaway experience? Well, it commenced with a somewhat rocky start. After arriving at the entrance road to the farm I finally figured out that everyone on the farm was intently talking about something in Spanish. It turned out one of the power lines was down, which meant no electricity at the farm.
In October 2018 I set out for a multi-month trip to South America of undetermined length. With me I brought only a 40 liter backpack, the clothes on my back, a purse, and a desire to learn Spanish.
In just a week I leave on a one-way ticket to Quito, Ecuador. While this trip is one I have been planning for quite some time, I don't believe the magnitude has yet hit me. Instead, I have busied myself with all of the preparation required for temporarily moving to another continent.