It was around this time last year...
Freshly married, ready to explore the world... if it wasn't too expensive. Me and my wife settled on going to Ecuador. I'm actually from there, well sorta. I was born in Queens, pops was born in Nicaragua and mom was born in Ecuador, then their families moved to New York, met each other, fell in love... I digress.
I've never been out of the country before, unless you want to call a going on a cruise "out of the country". My wife planned the whole trip because I was just way too lazy to do it (love ya ashley).
Reading on Ecuador, a few things appealed to us right away: It was relatively cheap as far as food and plane tickets were concerned and it had an awesome mixture of mountainous areas and city life. We figured, yea lets do this.
WE BEGAN PACKING...
I wouldn't call myself a minimalist... but I don't like keeping track of a lot of items. My mind can only handle 3-5 important ideas/thoughts/tasks running around wreaking havoc on my simple mind.
We packed light is what I'm trying to say. Pretty proud of it too, we were gonna be on buses traveling to and from towns, so the less we had to lug around, the better. A camera bag for me, a backpack for wifey and a 30 inch suitcase to fit three weeks worth of clothes in. Yea, you read right. 3 weeks of clothes stuffed in a mini suitcase.
If you're a traveling photographer, I HIGHLY recommend this backpack. I was able to fit my 13 inch Macbook Pro, camera, clothes, hard drive, 5 shirts, 2 pairs of socks and some Pj's (if you're a guy you can pack like this). All my sensitive equipment together in one place, even fits under a plane seat if you're traveling jet blue. I'll link it below if you're looking for a new bag for your summer travels. It even has a built in water-proof cover. You won't regret getting it.
Other things I took with me.
Pro TIP: stuff your clothes in Zip Lock bags and sit on them to get the air out. Nuff' said, you're welcome. I don't know if we are clever... or just cheap. Cheap.
It was both me and Ashley's first big trip together. We went into this entire trip thinking it was just going to be a typical vacation. We would see landscape, experience the culture, etc.
But here... watch this video first, and after I'll explain what I'm feeling.
Now you're probably thinking, ok, that was nice? But to me, this video reminds me of a lesson I tend to forget often, you maybe forget too. Let me explain.
When you land in a new place, you are immersed in different air, a different era, a different world you could say. I got here thinking life was so good, I mean, life is good, I'm not a full on pessimist, I'm traveling with my wife, gonna get some epic footage, get those IG likes filling up the feed. But after I shot this video, I got really sick. Lets just say... I saw my food on the shower floor more times than I'd like to.
On the outside, thats normal. I have asthma, my health has never been great, the altitude caused the sickness. But honestly, I feel like I got sick for a greater purpose. Hang on hang on, context.
When you're sick, you don't feel like making epic videos, you just wanna sit in bed, like...so sick not even Netflix or wifi matters. *GASP* "Oh-em-gee manny you were THAT sick?!"
Yes, yes I was.
When you're sick, you're are forcibly slowed down. You walk slower, you think slower, you breathe and see... slower. I'm glad I did. Look back at that video. Did you see what I saw?
I saw colorfully faded buildings, littered roads, countless dogs with no home, the lack of luxuries we have here in abundance. The air was thick with exhaust from the buses that passed you, and made me lightheaded due to the asthma. Certain parts of the town labeled "red zones", too dangerous to enter past a certain time for tourists.
The more I took this in and embraced this mindset, the more I missed home. The more I took it all in, amongst my hazy vision and because I didn't have a camera in my hands, I realized how good I really do have it. I forget that sometimes.
I forget that I have A/C in my car. I forget that its easy to walk into a bathroom in America and NOT have to pay 10 cents for 2 squares of toilet paper. If I'm hungry, I can order food from my air conditioned studio. It's funny right? We can all easily take these things for granted, I unfortunately do at times.
I was in Ecuador three weeks, and shot two videos. Only two. The second being irrelevant, but this video of my first morning there, makes me remember how awful I felt, how I didn't have the strength to jump and run around the city or walk up stairs. You might be thinking "why would you even want to remember that?" Even though I couldn't do all those things, I gained something more. More appreciation for how good I have it right now, more wisdom into how other people live, more insight into realizing that the rest of the world isn't as spoiled as we are. It forced me to not have a piece of equipment in front of my face, and to actually see the world without technology obscuring what you could call "true sight".
And when I look at this photo, every time I edit this photo...
I remember how I spent more time with my wife just... talking. I'm usually good about that already, but that's so important when your married to someone forever. It's easy to let it slide behind the shadows of your many busy thoughts, when you're surrounded by technology, cameras, social media and an abundance of fast food. Where we were there, there was a lack of all those things. Is that a good thing or bad thing? I'll let you decide that.
My trip to Ecuador wasn't really ideal. But it taught me to appreciate what I have right now. Put down the phone and talk to the person in front of you. Turn off the t.v. Pretend there's no wifi. Don't order Uber Eats, cook a meal with your friends.
We often travel so that we can have some awesome IG photos, or even something to blog about. But the next time you go somewhere, put the camera down for just a second. Listen to the cars driving down cobble stoned streets, feel the textures of the brick walls, read the graffiti on the side of the restaurant, and remember how good you have it.
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