Following my Heart

A few years ago, after spending a month in Australia, I flew to New Zealand. And then I flew back to Australia. And then to Fiji. And then to New Zealand again. And then I skipped a flight I had back to Australia to stay in New Zealand longer, and then finally, I took one more flight back to Australia, months after I meant to.

Why?

Because I follow my heart when I travel even if it means doing silly things that usually cost me more money and don’t seem to make sense. But it doesn’t need to make sense to make me happy.

I’m a mish-mash of hyper-planning (Miss Super-Prepared) and having no plan at all (Miss Spontaneity). I have a general idea of where I want to go and what I want to do, but I despise actually planning things and setting them in stone until usually a day or two before I want to go and do it. (re: Trip Planning) This also surprisingly causes me a lot of stress as I don’t always think it will work out or things get booked up, but then, magically, it really does always fall into place.

With my South America trip, I thought about it non-stop for months before I actually boarded the plane. Each country I’m going to, there is a specific reason (Spanish school, Inca Trail, Galapagos Islands, Amazon, Iguazu Falls, Easter Island…. There’s a lot!) so I planned my trip based on these major activities and decided to fill it in with other things along the way. However, a few days ago, in mere moments, my entire general trip plan just crumbled into pieces that I now need to re-arrange into a new puzzle.

Never in my 16+ months of backpacking have I ever wanted to remain more than 7 days in one location.  Now, I think I may have found a place that has truly captured my heart and changed how the rest of this trip will go for me.

The Galapagos Islands seem to be a bit of a dream destination. My expectations of these islands were incredibly high before I even arrived, and somehow, these islands have smashed through every single expectation I could ever have and every day I seem to stumble around, overwhelmed at the incredible things I’ve been experiencing and seeing.

Miguel and I in front of a painted map of the Galapagos Islands.

Miguel and I in front of a painted map of the Galapagos Islands.

After an eight day cruise I found a diving shop kind of by chance, and the pieces just fell into place. After less than two days of diving with the company, somehow the topic of doing my rescue and Divemaster course came up and before the evening on that second day, I had re-booked my flight out of the Galapagos to sometime in January.

It completely changes all my travel plans, but I can honestly say I can’t remember a time I’ve been happier. Diving every day with schools of dozens of hammerheads, rays, and fish of all kinds, as well as octopi, turtles, sea lions and so much more. Can it really get any better?  Well, considering how awesome my dive shop is and how great the whole crew is, it really can! They’re all Ecuadorians, some indigenous to the islands, and the owner and his nephew originally from the Amazon region. With their other interests in white-water rafting and kayaking, fishing, surfing, and of course diving, I think I fit right in. And this gives me the perfect opportunity to work on my still-lacking Spanish skills.

A photo of the dive crew as well as the owner of the hotel where I' staying. We had a big BBQ on the terraza of the hotel for Alvaro's birthday.

A photo of the dive crew as well as the owner of the hotel where I’m staying. We had a big BBQ on the terraza of the hotel for Alvaro’s birthday.

Now, I guess the real question after all this might be, can I get my visa in Ecuador extended and will I pursue the PADI Instructor course? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see where my heart takes me!

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