Dangerous Business

It’s dangerous business going out your door. You step onto the road and there’s no telling where you might be swept off to.

Some guy named Danny Rozan wrote that on a wall in a hostel in San Juan, Puerto Rico last January, maybe just days before Haley and I read it. A quick google search will yield the origin of the quote, which was much more eloquently and fully stated by none other than our very own (my very own?) Bilbo Baggins:

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

I know a few of you reading this will find some irony, or at least some comedy, in the fact that a hobbit spoke the phrase I decided to lead this post with. Believe it or not, I just figured out good ol’ Bilbo said it seconds ago, after getting a feeling that Mr. Rozan isn’t as philosophical as his quote may imply. I find it only fitting that I unwittingly use a hobbit’s words as I begin to detail the events of the Hobbit in Adventureland, as Mariana so wonderfully titled this summer’s trip. Maybe that’s self-deprecating to a degree, but I’m accepting my unwanted nickname/description with only a little reluctance.

It’s been a month and a half since I stepped out of my absurdly un-Ecuadorian apartment in Gringolandia to find what else this chunk of South America has to offer. Now that this first chapter is nearly complete, I can only really speak to how absolutely little I know. Matt always says that the most important, and maybe sole, thing he learns through his elite (my words) education and varying internships is how little he actually knows. After this summer, I can attest to the validity of his statement; the more you learn, the more you realize how little you actually know. I can understand how that can be a daunting and possibly discouraging realization to some, but to me it only amplifies my reluctance to go home. Becoming aware that I know relatively nothing makes me think this trip was an overall success. Though, thinking about everything I didn’t do yet wanted to, didn’t do but should have, or did do despite that I shouldn’t have leads me in the opposite direction, and is the root of the majority of my reluctance to leave. There’s so much more to do, see, and learn and I’m sitting in a creaky, whistling room on the edge of Calle Larga writing about not doing it. Obviously, I haven’t quite made sense of it all yet. I’m sure that will come at some point, and I’m hoping writing about it will spur that process.

The last time I wrote I was sitting at a creaky–everything is kind of creaky here…it’s how you know it’s authentic–wooden table on a beach in Puerto Lopez, talking about whales, new friends, impending experiences, and getting ready to catch a bus to Mancora, Peru. At that time, I thought I was going to be going to Bolivia. Instead, nine days later I found myself on a boat climbing the Amazon river toward Colombia. Looks like I didn’t keep my feet. But should I have? I don’t think so. The only thing you must keep down here is your wits. And don’t forget where the line is. If not, well, we’ll get to that. I can picture my father sighing as I write this.

Cuenca (31)–Guayaquil (1)–Montanita (3)–Puerto Lopez (3)–Bus (1)–Mancora, Peru (3)–Bus (1)–Lima (5)–Iquitos (1)–Leticia, Colombia (1)–Bogota (5)–Santa Marta (2)–Costena Beach (1)–Tayrona (2)–Taganga (2)–Santa Marta (2)–Minca (7)– Santa Marta (2)-Taganga (4)–Santa Marta (2)–Mompox (3)–Bus (1)–Medellin (3)–Bus (1)–Quito, Ecuador (1)–Latacunga (5)–Cuenca (13)

That’s a list, in order, of all of the places I’ve spent at least one night since arriving. If I included day trips that list would have been much larger. The number beside the name is the number of night’s I stayed there. The math may not check out, but that’s the best I can remember. That list doesn’t really say much, since some of the most important and memorable things happened in the places I spent very little time, like Iquitos, and vice versa, such as Minca, although that latter thought is debatable.

In the past two and a half months I’ve seen horrible poverty, shameful prosperity, unimaginable love, hate, happiness, sadness, and everything in between. I’ve seen star and puffer fish, uncomfortable foreign people, road blocks set by small mn with large guns, bugs bigger than my face, and almost my death, although since I don’t want to be melodramatic don’t take that last part too seriously. But really I almost died a few times. The thrill is quicker than you’d think. No different from any other summer, though. Like I said, keep your wits and know the line. And your feet, if you find yourself wanting to. But think twice about that one. Dangerous business is just that, although a good story never came from playing it safe.

It’s going to take a while to detail all of it, so bear with me. I’ll get it all out eventually. While this could realistically be pinned in any of the myriad moments in the past, the most important and substantial beginning is just a while back, a couple of weeks into my first stay in Cuenca:

It all started with a Chilean musician, and soon to be one of my best friends, Dario.

Dangerous Business




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