Author: Petrina Thong
Occasionally referred to as a hobo, Petrina happily sleeps on cardboard boxes at petrol stations, digs through bins for food, and can go without showering for days, when necessary. She has terrible sense of direction but believes that getting lost can be pretty fun too.
My previous host, Tanya, told me about this riverside paradise in Quito, Ecuador, owned by her parents-in-law and said if I wanted to camp there, she could hook me up. I thought, why not? In my mind, I was about to head to a magical mountain land in an area called Pachijal Forest.
Even when COVID-19 started making headlines, I didn’t take it too seriously. Until it reached the city I was in. And as with every unexpected major change in life, I went through several phases before coming to terms with accepting that this pandemic was really happening.
I’m here in Baños, Ecuador and I’ve only heard rave reviews about it and its outdoorsy stuff. The thing about these sort of activities – it’s more fun in a group. Now I’m back on my own, and I can’t exactly do white-water rafting by myself.
I’ve been volunteering at the same place, Hostel Esperanto, for over a month. Purposely so because I wanted to be in a familiar place with familiar faces over Christmas and New Years.
"There’s really not that much to do in Guayaquil. I probably would’ve been a bit bored being here by myself for a week. It’s the most populous city in Ecuador, but travellers usually only come here as a pit stop before flying to the Galapagos Islands or taking a long bus ride".
Cusco has grown into familiar territory. I wander the streets without checking my maps for directions, wave hello to storekeepers I pass by every day, and bump into friendly faces pretty much every time I go out.
If you ever come to Cusco, Peru, don't make the same mistakes I made.
The worst is always when I enter the cabin only to have my heart stop for a second because I see a tarantula chilling on the wall somewhere or on the clothes that I hung up.
I think it’s official. I’m allergic to water. Me, who drinks water from the taps in India and doesn’t get diarrhoea. Now, my body swells up when I touch the water in Madidi. I wash my hands and they start to itch like mad. I'm ready to head for La Paz.
Did you know that, instead of trains, the metro system in La Paz is cable cars? So cute. Naturally, I got lost. The people have been really helpful too in taking their time to explain what is where.
While we were still in Elqui Valley, unsure about what to do or where to go next, Rodrigo, mentioned he was going to drop by a beach somewhere on the way back to Santiago. So we (just barely) bundled ourselves into a small sedan and off we went.
Judging by how my days in the Elqui Valley started, I would never have guessed it would be ending on such a good note. I was here to catch the total solar eclipse. This was the best place to see it.