Most days, seeing a couple of tourists in my neighborhood makes me happy. It means that the world is starting to abandon the stereotypes that have obscured the beauty of Colombia’s culture for so many years. It means that people are giving Colombia a chance.
When my partner and I heard about the devastating earthquake in Ecuador last spring, we knew we wanted to help. But we were also wary of throwing in with an organization that might do more harm than good. The earthquake damage was more apparent with each mile that passed—cracks in the road, rubble, half-houses spilling reminders of normal life. It was obvious how much help was needed, and we hoped that All Hands Volunteers Ecuador Earthquake Response was doing a good job. They were—and they are.
Gualaceo, a town known for its crafts just a couple of hours away from Cuenca, was the perfect antidote to the crowds. Our first sign that we’d made a successful decision was the lack of tourists on the bus.
For the next 12 days, we swam with baby sea lions, watched marine iguanas munch underwater, observed blue-footed boobies dancing, passed among enormous albatrosses, and contemplated the ages of giant tortoises. Each island was truly its own world.
Most of my travels happen outdoors. The places I feel most alive are sidewalks, trails, courtyards, and parks. The women below are simply the women outdoors who have caught my eye as I wandered in the world.
The best thing about traveling alone: It’s all about you. No deferring to this friend or that lover. No pretending you are up for another church when all you want to do is collapse. No agenda but your agenda.