We rode in silence along the city’s Northern ridge. Our hands lightly clasped, but our eyes stayed fixed on the city, our stillness a permission allowing each other the space to savor our last few moments in our own way. For two months, we had been drinking Cuenca in. Our glasses had been all but emptied. We swirled the last lingering drops and took a final swig.
Ecuadorians’ adoration of fairs and festivals is only surpassed by their devotion to Catholicism. Subscribing to the Catholic credo that there ain’t no party like a Jesús birthday party, these passions intersect in a three-month celebration around the Christmas holiday that exceeds the birthday week excesses of the most self-indulgent sorority girl. Cuenca is the heart of these festivities, upstaging the larger cities of Quito and Guayaquil to draw people from all across the Andes.
The kitchen is a no-fly zone, where space to craft a punch or charcuterie spread has to be carefully usurped at the margins of the vast empire. The best time to sneak in is when my father is updating his tabulation of butter used thus far. A true student of the tradition of Julia Child, he delights in giving us a painfully honest breakdown of precisely how the sausage was made, as waistlines strain against belts. The only time I had ever missed my family’s Thanksgiving before was to share a Turducken with a friend who was stranded and alone under house arrest. Now, thousands of miles from Cleveland in Ecuador, the reality of the glamorous traveler’s life came with a complimentary jar of maraschino cherries.
There may be moments where it’s up to you to offer a counterpoint to crass generalizations and cultural falsehoods. That obnoxious Uncle in the MAGA hat who keeps suggesting Latin American countries are dangerous (whilst never having traveled beyond the tri-state area) is wrong. You’re well within your rights to let him know how wrong he is. Diminishing an entire group of people based on cultural differences is, to put it lightly, fucking bullshit. But do it gently and respectfully. Remember that we’re all human beings working towards similar goals. Far from being polar opposites, most of us are reasonable people, occupying some spot in the middle ground of the human experience.
It’s not always easy to fit an extended camping trip into a busy schedule, but it’s certainly worth it. Whether you’re thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail or canoeing through a network of lakes, these longer trips are truly singular experiences. Whether you’re a veteran of the outdoors or sizing up your first big excursion, our Advanced Camping Gear Guide sets you up for success and covers all the bases.
While there’s no shortage of accessible camping grounds around the world, there’s something to be said for the solitude of some backcountry camping. For those more confident in their outdoor abilities, these serene places are only a few miles along a trail but represent an entirely different world. Far from the sound of cars or any sort of cell of wi-fi reception, this level of camping can both challenge and enhance your skills. Our Intermediate Camping Gear Guide aims to dull the challenges of the outdoors while sharpening your enjoyment.
Camping overnight is a great way to explore the natural beauty of the world on a more intimate level. Even if your car might be a few feet away, there’s a definite thrill of being a little exposed. While some creature comforts obviously get sacrificed the wilder your experience gets, camping can still be a comfortable change of pace and a wonderful way to unplug for a few days. Our Camping Gear Guide for Novices helps make sure you enjoy your visit with Mother Nature in the high comfort.
Camping can be a daunting prospect. It’s important to be able to tip your toes in the water before trying to swim upstream. We’ve composed an accessible gear list for the semi-agoraphobic that’s perfect for day trips, RV camping or hotel stays and light hiking or walking tours. If you’re Glamping and sleeping under a solid roof during your outdoors experience, this list is for you.