Tag Archives: #southamerica

#Vanlife After 90 Days

After 90 Days of #Vanlife

Have we really been on the road for 3 months?! There is so much to see, do and experience in Ecuador! I think we easily could have made the first country on our indefinite road trip, a half year stretch. Mountains, highlands, volcanoes, lakes, rain forests, and beaches! It is mind boggling that Ecuador is not bigger on the radar for international travel.

Most of the places, villages, festivals, and people have impressed us. We have come to appreciate with the culture, creativity, and friendliness. So glad that we chose Ecuador as the place to begin our #vanlife.

Adjusting to a new life of full time travel has certainly come with a load of its own lessons! We have learned a lot about ourselves and our travel preferences.

A New Routine

#Vanlife Showers
#Vanlife: Bath time for our kids!

Incredibly, we have a stronger routine with #vanlife than we ever did living in a house. In both our homeland and our expat land, we never had strict rules about bed times, bath times or meal times. We still don’t have “rules” but we have quickly fallen into a well-oiled routine. What is interesting about this routine is that it has nothing to do with a clock!

We are awed by the short amount of time that it took our bodies to find a legit circadian rhythm. Our entire life has now completely adapted to the cycle of the sun. When you spend virtually all your time outdoors, it is easy to see how this is the healthiest and most natural way to allot time.

All of us enjoy so much more of our day when we relish in every minute of the 12 hours of sunlight we are granted. There is so much time to explore, relax, converse, play, and digest. With the setting sun, the yawns sneak in and we nod off barely before the stars are twinkling in the sky.

Food for Thought

Camp Fire Cooking
#Vanlife: Camp fire cooking!

I have always loved to cook, and I had these wild dreams of wowing my family with spectacular gourmet, campfire meals. My imagination suggested that we would come with all sorts of incredible and creative ways to prepare meals.

Fast forward one month. It was obvious that campfire cooking in rain, high altitude, and cold were a bit more complicated than I thought. We struggled to get water boiling or fully cooked meats on our tiny, coal burning grill. We ate many under-cooked pancakes. The dogs ate countless pots of undesirable rice. Not to mention, more than a few nights (and mornings) with grouchy kids that were hungry for longer than a reasonable amount of time! We ate a LOT of fried eggs.

A Surprise Solution

Our saving grace was the day we went to Saturday market in a neat village called Alausi. My husband caught sight of man selling gas stove tops. These are typically seen on the streets and are used by street food vendors.

It is are a very primitive stove top, with two burners and a rack that sit on legs about 6 inches high. The industrial-grade burners are attached with a tube to a propane tank. Normally, on the street they are attached to a waist high cart that people either set up or pull to their desired location. We didn’t need the cart, just the top to set on the ground or on a picnic table when available. The whole kit and caboodle came at the mere price of $30!!

Success!

The stove is so incredible, that it boils water in just a few shorts minutes. I have no problem making a roast, soup, pancakes, or pretty much anything. The stove was a total game changer and it works better than any modern stove I have ever used in my life! Now, I am back to cooking exactly the same way I always did before our #vanlife began (when we had a house and an actual kitchen). We carry both the stove and the propane tank on top of the truck with a couple of bungee cords.

Setting the Pace

Ecuador Road Trip
The highway below the Cayambe Volcano, Ecuador.

1500 miles over 90 days seemed like a reasonably slow pace to us. We never rush through areas that we love, and we usually avoid spending more than 3 hours in the car every day. This is not the Amazing Race, nor do we wish it to be. We are fine with staying somewhere for a week more or even a month longer than we planned.

Originally, we estimated that our journey through South America might take us somewhere between 2.5-3.5 years. This was calculated by spending 2-3 months in each of the 12 countries and 3 territories on the continent. So far, we are looking at over 4 months just in Ecuador before we complete the country. At this pace, if we spend 4 months in each country/territory…this trip will take us more like 5 years! We are okay with that. As slow as we have been going, we are exhausted.

Daily Rhythms

It has been difficult to learn what a reasonable daily pace is. I mentioned earlier, that we go from sun up to sun down. Even without any set time frame or itinerary, we find it quite difficult to just sit still for a day. We are just so eager to see and experience each place for all that it’s worth!

Sometimes, t can be hard to accept that we simply cannot do and see everything that we want to, and we are still inclined to try. With nothing to get in our way, like jobs or school, we have no real reason to stop exploring on any given day. Down time seems like a waste of time, but I imagine eventually we will find more ways to cherish quiet moments at the camp site.

Camping

Camping in Ecuador
Camping in Baños de Agua Santa, Ecuador.

Wild and free camping has not been as accessible as we once hoped it would be. Remote roads are often both unreliable and un-mapped. This makes it a little difficult to just go off on any old dirt road to set up camp.

When we have asked for maps, people look at us like we are asking for the original ten commandments. They just are not common here in Ecuador. We have still managed to squeeze some awesome 4X4 experiences, but usually at the guidance of someone who had trodden there before.

So, instead of winging it like we hoped, we have come to rely on an awesome phone app called iOverlander. It is a bit like searching for a good restaurant by the reviews and a map of the checked in location. But, instead of restaurants, it is a compilation of locations added by other overlanders.

App Over Maps!

This means that other people traveling by road, pin locations and detailed information about where they have been able to either park their rig or camp. Normally the information includes stuff like if the place has wifi, running toilets, hot showers, or potable water. It also includes recommendations for the size of vehicle you have, if the place is dog friendly, and if 4 X 4 is necessary.

Often, there is also an expected price range. Sometimes the places are parks, parking lots, schools, or restaurants. Other times, they are private residences or hostels (small hotels with shared bathrooms and communal kitchens, almost like a Bed’n’breakfast, but without any services beyond check out cleaning).

Adjustments

#Vanlife Kids
#Vanlife kids find comfort in a different sort of living space.

The adjustments we’ve had to make have all been reasonable. Most of them had to do with inexperience and a small learning curve that we had not been exposed to yet. While, they may not be quite what we had in mind; we have adapted. A big part of full time travel is exactly that. Being adaptable.

There are not too many things that are “familiar” in this lifestyle. It is super important that things like food, pace, and accommodations are somewhat predictable, when nothing else is. Our car and our tent are our home, that is what #vanlife means. So long as we  are together, we know we can lay our head to rest, seek shelter from a storm, and find solace in a hot cup of tea; we can create a home life anywhere our wheels lead us.

Cheap Flights to Ecuador
Thinking of Traveling to Ecuador?

Historical Quito in Photos

The Historical District of Quito, Ecuador.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Quito Basilica

Old Town Quito

Interested in more about Quito? Read our travel story: Romanced by the Basilica.

Want to know more about how we travel full-time? Read more on our Travel Lifestyle.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read our blog! We really appreciate your likes, comments, and shares as a way of supporting our journey!


Romanced by the Basilica

Romanced by the BasilicaTip toe, hip hop, scramble to and fro over the willy, nilly hand paved stone roads. Over the hills and beneath the shadows of the Basilica, through the historical streets of Quito we roam. Peering through the peep holes through the castle-like walls and counting over a hundred as up the stairs we go. Standing near the tops of the steeples and hiding behind the pillars that support the bell towers, we feel as small as ever. Why is that in places grand and old, we can’t fight the compulsion to whisper? Even though the closest bystanders are farther away than the other side of a lake?

The kids pull on my fingers, begging me to let them experiment with echoes….just one time. Just one tiny scream into the wonderful, hollow abyss. I admit it, I too would love to yodel at the top of my lungs. To listen to the reverberation bounce from arch to arch, ceiling to floor, window to door, and from the pews to the pulpit. I wonder to myself just how high they would have to scream before the intricate stained glass would shatter and shower around us.

I hush them once more, but secretly cherish the sound of their tiny footsteps clack clacking through the isles and halls. I smile at the vibrant, pink balloon bopping above their heads in the dark, cool rooms. I guide their shoes behind mine, as I lean against a pillar to poke my lens at the priest. He isn’t saying anything but I feel his eyes pierce through the concrete and shame me for my disrespectfulness. I quickly shove the kids back, guiding them in the opposite direction.

They free themselves through a side door, flinging themselves in the courtyard where their grandmother is waiting there. I nod to their Daddy as I slip back inside to capture a few more shots in solitude. I take a seat on a nearby pew, letting my eyes swirl around me in search of the perfect angle. When I’m sure no one is looking, I slide myself onto the floor and lay my head against the cold, clammy marble floors. I understand from within that there is no way to capture this imagery in a photograph. I am just a novice, but like any artist would…I take a moment to imprint this scene in a place just for me, before raising my camera and creating a photograph for inspiration.

 

The rest of the afternoon is a colorful blur of historical buildings, charming parks, and colorful homes decorated in Spanish tiles and miniature balconies. It is easy to forget that this piece of old world imagery belongs to the dirty, bustling third world city of Quito. In my mind, I imagine a Sunday afternoon scene of men in suits sitting on park benches and women in fancy dresses twirling umbrellas above the stone palette streets. And then I think back even further, to the Incan civilization that claimed this place in what seems like a world of time before us.

As the day comes to a close the children are amused with chasing pigeons through the courtyard beneath the great San Francisco Cathedral. A street-clown flirts with our kids and beguiles my husband into accepting his end-of-the-day flowers. Two wilted sunflowers and a stunning, red Ecuadorian rose later, we head down the alley for ice cream and empanadas.

We say goodnight to the city before the streets start to twinkle, and we say thank you to Old Quito for romancing us with this part of her story. Once and for all, against all odds, we have fallen in love with the enemy. These country folks have finally surrendered to the sweeter side of the city.

Read Our Last Travel Story: Raindrops on Roses.