Posts tagged ‘preparation’

to Ecuador i go in 6 days

In less than a week i’m going to Ecuador! The purpose of my trip is to study Spanish intensively so that i could finally be fluent in the language i started studying haphazardly 16 years ago (in 6th grade). The school is in Quito and i’ll be taking private lessons 5 times a week 4 hours a day for a month. But i am not sure about what to do afterwards. Options are:

– look for work in Quito (NGO, teaching)
– look for volunteer/ethnographic work in rural Ecuador
– just travel around Ecuador, write more and see what comes

I feel nervous. Did i feel this way when i was leaving to Southeast Asia 2.5 years ago, or to Azerbaijan 10 months ago? I can’t recall… I have everything that i need, which is really just my backpack, passport, a good pair of sandals and the few cosmetic items i prefer. Every other item can be obtained elsewhere or not obtained at all. I’ve been in a disconcerting state lately, fleeting periods of insecurity about every aspect of myself (my intelligence, worthiness as a friend, place in society, prospects) along with periods of ambition when i feel i can do so many interesting things if only i apply myself…

I’d like to:

– Improve my memory by writing about what i learn and read, summarizing it for someone else, rather than just going on to the next interesting lecture, book, article
– Not withdraw from intellectual arguments as readily as i do because either i “don’t know enough” or have little interest in many current socio-political issues


I’m listening to some talks by Wade Davis, a Harvard educated Canadian anthropologist of the liberal persuasion, discussing the decline of cultural, linguistic, and ethnic diversity in the world. His insights into the people and rituals he’s studied over the past 30+ years of his career are fascinating and i am overwhelmed with delight that there is so much more than what i can see through my sheltered life. He’s keen to point out the difference between real indigenous people and the overly simplified concepts of them such as Rousseau’s noble savage or Thoreau’s contemplative native, yet he maintains that all indigenous cultures have something to offer the realm of human experience. His ultimate conclusion is that multiculturalism is the way towards a better life for us all.

I’m skeptical of this conclusion and the viability of co-existence amongst societies obsessed with technology, material possessions, and lifestyle oriented towards individualism and instant gratification (generally the same societies that maintain a large army to ensure this “progress”) and societies oriented towards some other value. My hypothesis is that the former will supersede the latter one day. The loss of cultural diversity is inevitable (either people will be attracted to the flashy gadgets and humanistic values of Euro/America or the demise of traditional livelihoods by deforestation or globalization will coerce them to pursue occupations that entangle them in Euro/America). Whether this is a bleak future or a progressive one is debatable…

So what can i do as a traveler and (poorly trained) anthropologist in Ecuador that will contribute positively?


February 7, 2011 at 6:43 pm 2 comments

10 hours

10 hours left until departure and i’m still unpacked! i need to do laundry and clean my room before i can pack. there are clothes, books, trash all over the floor and i haven’t made my bed in a week. out of disgust at the unsightly condition of my living space, i threw everything from my bed on the floor two days ago. but the only change since then is that the pile on the floor has grown. i’m awfully itchy all over for some reason. nerves?

oh yea.. i hate airplane food so for long flights i like to prepare my own.  i have a whole picnic in progress:

cheese doodles, guacamole, crackers, luna bars, some other kind of natural bars, dried mango and papaya, dumplings, a green salad, fruit…

silly, yes!

August 20, 2008 at 2:12 am 1 comment


NYC -> Bangkok
Aug 20

Bangkok -> Tokyo
May 20, 2009

Tokyo -> NYC

May 26, 2009

August 4, 2008 at 6:38 pm Leave a comment


I’ve been buying things online for my trip, primarily through I really like this site. I have an Arc’teryx backpack, but it’s so big and organized that i can easily overpack it and make it weigh too much! I want to pack light. Everything i take needs to be light, multi-functional, fast drying, etc.

I plan to hand wash my things if there are no washing machines available for my use. I hate to give my clothes to other people to wash… because it always comes out with that strong stench of detergent.

I’m not good with budgets but i’m planning on living on <1000usd a month. Air tickets depending on whether i get ‘around the world’ or not will range from 1600-4000. My preparation for the trip will cost about 1000.

I don’t have the support of my family. One thinks i’m never going to return because i’m going to die, another thinks i’m going to be forced into an underground brothel, another tries to talk me out of it by talking to me like i’m 4 “Ты же разумная девочка” (you are a clever girl aren’t you)..

My traveling alone is a fact that they often bring up. “Why don’t you travel with someone?” “Find a boy to travel with.” “Don’t you have any friends to go with?” “No one travels to these countries alone” …. i am so fed up with their pessimism that i’ve stopped trying to explain that i don’t want to travel with “just someone,” that having a travel partner is a big commitment and being the difficult person i am i fare a lot better traveling alone and choosing when to part with the friends i’ve made and go off to and make new ones. I hate feeling trapped, misunderstood, and responsible for someone else’s mistakes… and if i don’t have the right travel partner all of this will be my burden. Why should i bother when traveling alone makes me more responsible, perceptive, and stimulated. I found a quote from the Dhammapada, a scripture thought to be written by the Buddha himself.

Travel only with thy equals or thy betters; if there are none, travel alone.

August 3, 2008 at 8:25 pm 2 comments

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