Moving slowly through dark water we watched for movement in the tree canopy. Branches rustled overhead and we scanned the horizon until it became clear that we were being watched – but by who? This is just one of the questions you must ask yourself when doing a tour in the Ecuador Amazon, or more specifically the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve.
It’s not adios Puerto Rico, only hasta luego. We spent a wonderful 3 weeks in the Caribbean island state and we’ll be sure to come back. From crystal clear waters, to endless white sand beaches, scenic stretches of mountains and coastline, beautiful people, and picturesque towns, Puerto Rico is a worthy destination for any traveller seeking endless summer. As easy as it would be to stay in Puerto Rico, hurricane season is approaching and we’ve got a lot left of places on our bucket list left so see, so we had to reluctantly leave the island behind.
Ecuador is for the birds. The relatively small country holds about 16% of the world’s bird species, so if you’re a bird nerd like us, you’ll enjoy the heck out of Ecuador. And while you can spend thousands on a pre-arranged tour, it is easy enough to do DIY birding which makes it an affordable location. One of the best places in Ecuador to go birding is Mindo’s cloud forest.
We just finished two weeks volunteering with All Hands and Hearts in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico and it was an incredible experience. We met so many amazing people and helped make close to a dozen homes safer and more resilient to future threats from hurricanes. We even got to help clear away rubble for a new community garden! People often ask us what we have been doing since we arrived here, so let us walk you through a day in the life of an All Hands volunteer.
It’s only been about a month since we left it all behind. Getting prepared to travel for 14 months was both challenging and freeing. As we sold off a lot of our stuff, we realised just how many things we had that weren’t missed. Despite making some progress on clearing the house, we still had a lot of work do to during our last weekend in Calgary. Frantic packing, recycling, and cleaning aside, it was still a worthy sendoff with some nice visits with dear ones before we took our first flight.
Travellers are blessed in so many ways and paid in experience, so what better way to give back than to volunteer while travelling? As we planned our 14 month round the world adventure, Mr. Zen and I pondered ways we could give back to the world that has given us so many incredible experiences. My previous time spent volunteering with All Hands and Hearts (All Hands) in post-earthquake Haiti was easily one of the most profound experiences that I have ever had while travelling and I was eager to volunteer with the organisation again, because their commitment to responsible volunteering is commendable.
We have been a little light on posts lately for good reason; we have been making arrangements to take just over a year off for a trip around the world!
We were hesitant to put it out there on the blog until all things were finalised with our work, landlord, etc, but we have been planning this for some time now. Announcing it is both unbelievably thrilling, and a little nerve-wracking at the same time. Telling you all now just makes it so much more real!
Something we’ve noticed as we’ve told our friends, families, and colleagues about this adventure is that many people seem to respond with similar lines of questioning and comments, which we will share with you here.