Latacunga, Cotopaxi, Ecuador.
I am in Ecuador! Mountains surround me. Well, mountains have surrounded me for a while because even Cali was mountainy and the area where the shamans live even more. But this time it is a bit more serious, I think. Tomorrow I will go to a volcano that is 5500 meters high. That is high for a guy from The Netherlands!
I think that for the first time I feel like a backpacker, a traveler. Passing the one-year mark gave me a sense of freedom. The first year was about me challenging myself and I made it and simultaneously I lost everything that I found important. I have not much more to lose and not much more to prove. I feel pretty confident and free.
There are a lot more backpackers in Ecuador than in Colombia. People outside Colombia still think it is dangerous there, I am noticing. I left Colombia on Monday morning after a private ayahuasca ceremony with Byron and his brother and his uncle. So a lot has happened since. Many buses, taxis, beds and transitions, some good sleep and some short nights. I met two girls from Argentina and we went site seeing. I danced on the equator. The next day I went to Latacunga.
Want to hear a bit about Latacunga, where I am now? I just copied this from Wikipedia:
Latacunga is a plateau town of Ecuador, capital of the Cotopaxi Province, 89 km (55 mi) south of Quito, near the confluence of the Alaques and Cutuchi rivers to form the Patate, the headstream of the Pastaza. At the time of census 2001 Latacunga had 51,689 inhabitants, largely mestizo and indigenous.
Latacunga is an hour and half south from Quito on the Pan-American Highway. It was previously also on the old road from Quito to Guayaquil, and has a railwaystation between those cities. It is 9,055 ft (2,760 m). above sea level. Its climate is cold and windy, due to the neighboring snowclad heights, and the barren,pumice-covered tableland on which it stands. The active volcano Cotopaxi is only 25 km. away, and the town has suffered repeatedly from eruptions. Founded in 1534, it was four times destroyed by earthquakes between 1698 and 1798. The neighboring ruins of an older native town are said to date from the Incas Empire.
I have nothing profound to share. I am looking forward to go hiking tomorrow. It will be nice to walk in fresh air. It is quite chilly here and I don’t mind. Meanwhile I am preparing my arrivals in Argentina, New York and Hong Kong. It was very nice to hear that a friend in New York was very enthusiastic about hosting a workshop. It makes me happy. Another guy from New York, a martial artist who once friended me on Facebook because he read my post on masculinity, is looking at doing the same. It thrills me that these things manifest.
Maybe there is a little insight that is worth sharing. I was exchanging messages with a friend from Amsterdam. I did not talk to him in a while but he has been quite supportive in the months before I left. He asked me if my journey had brought me the things I hoped. I said it was a tough question to answer. The only thing I have done is to be as honest as I could and to be true to myself pretty much unconditionally. When we do that things change around us and inside the people we are interacting with. I told him I witnessed so many miracles that is has become ordinary. It is nothing special. So at the end of the day I just feel very, very ordinary.
He had responded that what I was saying was quite extraordinary in his perception. And that many people only dared to dream of such achievements. I proceeded by telling that is was really nothing special, that even the exceptional people I met were very ordinary. Just nice, kind people, sometimes gifted with an extraordinary talent but never in some way inflated or arrogant. As I am telling him this I could almost hear the penny drop. In Zen there is a saying: ordinary mind is the way. Perhaps I was discovering the secret that there is no secret.
I will have a piece of apple pie and will go to bed early.