Friday, June 30, 2017

Taking a Vacation from Our Vacation

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To me there's a big difference between a "trip" and a "vacation." Taking a trip means you're out and about seeing and doing things. A vacation is more about kicking back and relaxing.

During our working years Cynthia and I most often chose the trip option. I especially tended to get antsy after a few days of hanging out, so even vacations ended up being filled with activities. In both cases we would return to the daily grind more exhausted than when we left.

Our move to Ecuador only slightly altered old patterns. We're living on a different continent, for gosh sakes, in a new country and city. So much exploring to do. Let's get busy!

And we've certainly seen and done a lot--cruises in the Galapagos and around the tip of South America; excursions along the Avenue of the Volcanoes, in the cloud forest of northern Ecuador, and up close and personal with humpback whales on the coast; adventures from hiking to horseback riding to zip lining.

There have been numerous vacations as well, but they've as in the past been less than totally relaxing. Last trip to the beach, for example, I found myself hang gliding along the Pacific coastline.

When we were booking flights to Quito for last weekend's International Living conference we decided to stay in town for a few days afterwards. There was some business to take care of on Monday, but beyond that we made no plans and figured we'd visit friends, museums, and the city's other attractions.

It hasn't worked out that way. In fact, since we got back to our living quarters Monday evening we haven't set foot outside the property except to eat lunches and dinners. And I'm writing this on Thursday afternoon before we head to the airport for our return flight to Cuenca.

What happened? Well, a lot of it has to do with the place we're staying. Friends who are developing a finca near Mindo offered us their residence here, and what a wonderful place it is. Make no mistake, Quito is a big, busy, noisy city. But their home, located only a couple of blocks back from "the action," is a peaceful oasis in a quiet residential neighborhood.

Although listed on Airbnb (check it out here), this is light years beyond the typical rental that feels like a sparse hotel room and mini-kitchen. The totally renovated space is a real home filled with artwork, books, decorative accessories, tasteful lighting, and exquisite furnishings.

We've been to Quito many times already so Tuesday we decided to stay put and recover from the rigors of the conference. Then Wednesday, well----. And now today, uh-----.

It's not like we've done absolutely nothing. Just almost nothing. Each day we've slept late, then sat out in the sunny patio with our morning coffee (Attention Cuenca expats: Quito has the weather you thought you would find in the southern highlands. While the additional altitude makes the evenings a little cooler, almost every day has been warm and sunny with blue skies.).

After breakfast we've done yoga before relaxing in the steam room (Wow, what an amenity!) and getting ready for the day--just in case there was something to be ready for. We ventured out a few blocks for lunch, and before you know it, time for a siesta. A little computer work, some chit chat, a glass or two of wine, and it's off for dinner. Taxi home, maybe another glass of wine, then early bedtime.

We often joke that going out of town is taking a vacation from our vacation, since expat life generally isn't particularly taxing. But this is maybe the first time ever that we've given ourselves permission to simply--be. No chores--no errands--no agenda. Nada.

I have to admit I don't know why I've felt the need to be so damned busy all these years, because the past few days have been transformative. I can't recall feeling simultaneously so invigorated and relaxed. Great news: after going home over the weekend we're off with friends on a three day 4th of July getaway in Yunguilla. And this time I'm told a hot tub overlooking the valley is involved.

Life may never be the same------.

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