Up, Up and Away in My Beautiful Balloon – er, plane. I’m off to the world’s third highest capitol city – Quito, Ecuador – at 9,350 feet. From there, I drop down to Cuenca, Ecuador at 8,400 feet. The big news is I bought a one-way ticket. Yes, I have left Panamá to spend the next two years in Ecuador.
Panamá gave me the joy of traveling, of experiencing a new culture, and a permanent visa with e-cedula (permanent residence card). I will miss all the wonderful friends I made in Boquete. However, I can see them when I return every two years to keep my permanent visa active.
Why two years in Ecuador? Besides the acquisition of a permanent visa, I want to further exercise my goal to travel slowly. Slow is a concept originating with food – the desire for better food cooked well. It has extended to all facets of life, advocating slowing down and experiencing a simpler life. This idea began with Carlo Petrini in Rome when he protested the opening of a new McDonald’s fast food restaurant. The year was 1986. From that protest, the slow movement grew fast.
In the book, In Praise of Slow, Carl Honoré describes the movement as a philosophy which
is a cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better. The Slow philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace. It’s about seeking to do everything at the right speed. Savoring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting.
Slow travel is not about traveling from one place to another but immersing into an understanding of a place. How long should this take? There is no answer to the question. Some say a week, others say a month or more. I say six months or more. The real joy of traveling is to have no agenda but to stop and smell the roses. This is my aim for Ecuador. I hope you’ll come along for my slow experiences.
I will begin my stay in Cuenca, the most European city in South America. It has also been called the “Athens of Ecuador,” implying Cuenca is famous for its architecture – churches, cathedrals, cloisters, and homes – and its literary and artistic novelists, poets, and writers. I’m excited to find out for myself why these attributes have been assigned to Cuenca, and you can feel certain I will be sharing these with you.
Fact: Lhasa, Tibet is the highest capital city in the world at 11,995’
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