Taking a Chance

Two years ago, I took a chance.

For the first time, I solo travelled to another country and continent.   Although I considered myself an experienced traveler, I had always traveled with someone. This time I was on my own.

The destination: Ecuador.  The plan: Volunteer.

To be honest, I was nervous.  I had gotten used to traveling with the Mr., as we each had our designated jobs.  I com up with crazy ideas of things to do and he would figure out how we’d get there.  Like the one time I made him go on a wild goose chase to find the Megaliths in Portugal or hiking up the world’s largest ice cave in Austria. But this time it was all on me.

Fortunately, I speak enough Spanish to get by.  I am by no means fluent, but with a few words and some hand gestures, I can (usually) get my point across.

With some research and a little help with logistics from the Mr beforehand, I made it to Ecuador without a hitch. The trip ended up being one for the record books.  I had the most amazing time.

Standing on either side of the Equator

After landing, I managed to get to the hostel in Quito and jumped in on a walking tour in order to get the lay of the land.  It didn’t take me long to discover a fantastic local brewery in town, that just happened to be directly across from my hostel.  I also quickly made my way to the equator since I only had a few hours in Quito before going back to the airport to catch my ride to Ibarra, the town I would be volunteering in which was about two hours by car north.

Bandido Brewing

While volunteering, I worked alongside a recent occupational therapist graduate and two OT students.  We saw kiddos with varying diagnoses, assisted at an adult day-care center and spent some time at a senior center. We also got to tour local facilities that make adaptive chairs and prosthetics using local resources.

All in all, the trip was life-changing. I met many wonderful people, including the clients and families I worked with, the therapists and students, as well as people I came to know in the town.  One such place was the coffee shop I frequented almost everyday. The husband and wife team who owned and operated the shop welcomed me with open arms every time.  Not only were the owners awesome, but their cinnamon hot chocolate and brownies were incredible!

I call this the hot chocolate and brownie diet

After my time in Ibarra, Mr. Wow flew down to meet me and we made our way to the Galapagos. We spent an amazing week scuba diving with schools of hammerheads, gazing at massive tortoises and lounging with marine iguanas.  We barely scratched the surface of all there is to do there, but we did come to realize that the Galapagos is definitely a special place!  We even met some folks from the town of Manta (yes, where the rays are from) that invited me to come and work at their medical school.  I have yet to take them up on their offer, but with every passing day, I contemplate it more and more.

These guys were huge!

Some of the coolest creatures I have ever seen

Almost two years later, I am excited to announce that I am headed back to Ecuador at the end of the week. I will spend one week volunteering at the same place, this time bringing along my own student.  I can’t wait to share this place that is so special to me, especially since my student has never been out of the country before.  He is in for a treat!  Then Mr. Wow will join me as we attend our first Chautauqua.

To say we are excited is an understatement.  First off, I can’t wait to be in Ibarra and to be able to give back and help the people in this city again. Then to top it off, I get to meet and hang out with other FI-minded individuals for a whole week.  Meeting some of the FIRE founders will definitely be a highlight.  I’m super excited for all of it!

Volcanoes and sunsets

I am also excited to have a week where I can just focus on me. Work has been super busy, stressful and chaotic and I really haven’t had much time for life outside of work.  It will be nice to have some time to reflect and hopefully gain a sense of clarity, a rebalancing of life and the motivation to continue this quest for FI.

Two years ago, I took a chance. And I am so glad that I did.

“Take a chance because you’ll never know how absolutely perfect something could turn out.”

10 Comments

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach September 27, 2017 at 6:17 am

    Chances are scary but almost always somehow work out for the best. Have fun!
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…The High Cost of FameMy Profile

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    • Mrs WoW September 27, 2017 at 7:48 pm

      Thanks Tonya, I can’t believe it is already here!

      Reply
  • Gwen @ Fiery Millennials September 27, 2017 at 6:21 am

    I too, took a chance and went to Ecuador. I went to the Chautauqua in 2015. I didn’t know anybody (other than “knowing” the big Bloggers), I’d never been to Ecuador or S. America before and I don’t speak a lick of Spanish. People at work told me I’d get kidnapped and sold into the global sex trade, BUT that definitely didn’t happen. Instead I had an absolutely incredible time! So incredible, in fact, that I felt I had to go back again…… see you in 2 weeks!!!!!!
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    • Mrs WoW September 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm

      Woohoo! I am so so so excited!! Cheers to taking a chance on Ecuador and finding out how amazing this place is.

      Reply
  • Miss Mazuma September 27, 2017 at 6:27 am

    I’m so excited for you!! I know we talked about the Galapagos before but these are the first pics I have seen of your trip – now I am super excited to go!! I am hoping to attend next years Chautauqua so take notes for me. 🙂
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    • Mrs WoW September 27, 2017 at 7:46 pm

      And these pictures do not even scratch the surface. I have plenty more fun ones to share! I will definitely take notes for you for Chautauqua, which you were coming this year.

      Reply
  • Mrs. Picky Pincher September 27, 2017 at 11:59 am

    This is awesome! I think there’s is so, so much value in doing something exciting, unknown, and tremendous by yourself. This week at work has been really pushing my boundaries, but it’s been interesting to see the growth. It’s a similar feeling you get when you have to be strong when you’re on your own. It’s cool. 🙂
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    • Mrs WoW September 27, 2017 at 7:37 pm

      I totally agree! We need to be pushed out of our comfort zone in order to grow. It can be difficult during that time, but once on the other end you can really see how much you have changed.

      Reply
  • Mr. Need2save September 29, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    We need to add scuba diving off the Galapagos Islands to our bucket list. That would be awesome!

    I’m impressed by your solo trip abroad, without speaking much of the language. It’s great that you’ve been able to volunteer in Ecuador and enjoy the true local favorites. I’m really interested to hear how the Chautauqua goes, so take good notes 🙂
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    • Mrs WoW September 29, 2017 at 8:15 pm

      Yes, diving in the Galapagos is a must! Are you guys certified? If so, we need to plan a dive together. I will definitely keep you posted about Chautauqua, I am super excited!

      Reply

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