I must be doing something right. Or maybe just meeting the right people.
Since I started this journey, and it’s only been three months, I’ve been asked to stay longer or to stay indefinitely in several places I’ve so far visited. And truth is, I have been tempted. It’s hard to leave people who genuinely like you as a friend and want you in their lives.
Ana and Chucho in Medellin – well, they actually live in the suburb of Envigado – were ready to circulate my resume to have me stay in Medellin. I miss Ana’s smile and sense of humor and Chucho’s hip, jazz coolness. Medellin was a tempting offer and I at one point even considered the option, but it was way too soon in my journey to stop now. I snapped out of the Medellin spell and moved on after more weeks there than I had originally intended.
Mauricio in Bogotá was also fantastic host. He went way beyond the call of friendship to show me the city and to make me feel comfortable. Mauricio – whose mother and other relatives live in Medellin – even drove me to other cities and towns and introduced me to his family and friends. We partied together. Ate together. Had a great time in Bogotá, Medellin and the place where he grew up, Supia. He’s a genuine good guy.
And I hate to start naming names because I know I’m going to miss somebody, but there were countless others in these short months that open their homes and their hearts. Most recently, Daniel and Catrin of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz island in the Galapagos.
They couldn’t have been more gracious, taking me into their homes just because my host in Guayaquil – Veronica – asked if they could. Were it not for Veronica, I never would have met Catrin and Daniel. And were it not for Catrin and Daniel, I never would have met a long list of their friends on the island. Whenever I walk down the main street of Puerto Ayora, I now get greeted by name by people on just about every block. I feel like a local 🙂
But Catrin and Daniel, without even knowing anything about me said I was welcome to stay and have placed no limits on my stay. And some of their other friends now want me to stay in Galapagos, offering to help me find a place of my own for cheap rent. I even got an offer to stay on another island for three weeks with a group of friends, in a hotel rent free. I love Galapagos. But I’m also positive I wouldn’t want to live here. Too small town and everybody knows and is in your business.
Anyway, now out of the blue I get an e-mail from a guy in Guayaquil, Ecuador. He’s been traveling since 2007 by road from Canada to South America. He took a break somewhere in Mexico after falling in love with the place. When you travel you land in places that beg you to stay.
He says he is bored driving alone and if I am interested, I can meet him in Cuenca, Ecuador, and we can travel south together to Peru and beyond. He happens to be going to the same places in South America I was planning to visit. This is absolutely perfect! He drives a Dodge minivan he picked up in Boston, he says. Would be really cool to do this. No more buses for a while.
So on Saturday I return to Guayaquil. That day or the next I leave for Cuenca, where I will meet my new road partner, but also meet Paul. I first met Paul in Cartagena, Colombia, after he contacted me through the couchsurfing.org Web site. He ended up hanging out a bunch of times, even getting hammered at a birthday party. Then we went our separate ways, me to Medellin, he to Barranquilla.
Last week I heard from Paul again. He is now living in Cuenca! How in the world? I know he was looking to leave the United States for a while to live somewhere in South America, but how did he end up in Cuenca? I guess I will find out soon enough.
In the meantime, one more trip to another island in the Galapagos – Seymour – which I’m told is small but packed with wildlife. I’m looking forward to that. Then it’s back to Santa Cruz for the evening and a flight Saturday morning to Guayaquil. Thanks Galapagos! You are my dream come true!