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Bird eating tarantulas, army ants, anacondas

March 4, 2013

A couple of years ago my boyfriend and I signed up for a shared account on a credit card and proceeded to put every expense we possibly could on it. The idea was to cash in all the points every year or so and go someplace wonderful, and indeed we racked up enough that first year to buy two plane tickets to Rome. This year, we considered various options. Hiking in the Julian Alps was one; the outrageous airfares to Europe made it less appealing. A week in Iceland sounded grand, but before we could get our shit together it got too cold (and while I know Iceland has its wonders even in winter, the thought of long dark cold nights didn’t exactly thrill me). We kept looking around. Where could we fly that was reasonably cheap? For a week, only a week? (My old backpacking days make me feel any trip under a month is terribly rushed and inadequate.) Finally, we copied my mother and stepfather, who’d booked a trip to Ecuador.

Ecuador! I’ve never been to South America. Apparently Ecuador has the greatest biodiversity of any country in the world. The bird book alone weighs about fifty pounds. (There are pages and pages of tanagers, unbelievable. And the bird I want most to see is called a hoatzin, known for its bad smell and its clumsiness and its general goofiness and the fact that the chicks still have claws on their wings.)

We’re off tomorrow. We fly to Miami, then to Quito, arriving late at night. A day and another night in Quito, then a short flight over the Andes to a town called Coca, then three hours down the Rio Napo to the Sacha Lodge, a kind of birdwatcher’s mecca. No phone. No internet. You have to cross a lagoon in a dugout canoe to get there.

I have a million books, and if you have any last minute suggestions, I’m sure the airport in Miami has a decent bookstore. And I even brought my younger son’s Kindle, per your suggestions, this time, so again, suggestions are welcome. I can download them at the airport.

If I’m not eaten by enormous spiders, I’ll post as soon as I can when I get back. And if you have been to Ecuador, please leave a comment. Where should we eat supper in Quito?

14 Comments leave one →
  1. March 4, 2013 11:14 pm

    Wow. I CANNOT WAIT for your post when you get back. Please take a million pictures and share them all. (Have an amazing trip!)

  2. Annette permalink
    March 5, 2013 5:10 am

    Briefly (because Safari just ate my comment and now I don’t want to type it all again): yes, have a lovely trip! Read Kent Haruf who, thanks to the Wash Post’s Ron Charles, I have just discovered. “Plainsong” is staggeringly good – moving, wonderful language, great characters. There is a sequel of sorts, “Eventide”, which I am actually a little scared to attempt because I loved “Plainsong” so much. So, highly recommended.

    • BrandNewDay permalink
      March 6, 2013 12:11 pm

      Go ahead and read “Eventide.” You won’t be sorry. Such wonderful books!

  3. March 5, 2013 7:02 am

    Do you need me to tel you to read anything by David Sedaris? Also, One on One by Craig Brown is wonderful. Easy to dip in and out of. Not unlike the Amazon itself, I’d imagine.

  4. SarahB permalink
    March 5, 2013 9:39 am

    Gosh, I just finished The Domesday Book and picked up Blackout and All Clear, I believe at your suggestion, so you’d think I could come up with a new one for you. Let’s see… Have you read Ann Patchett’s latest, State of Wonder? It takes place in South America, and it’s a beautiful and wild ride.

    • March 5, 2013 10:33 am

      I really enjoyed State of Wonder, and that was my first thought for a book to take, too.

  5. March 5, 2013 1:42 pm

    Sounds wonderful. And possibly a little sticky. I can’t think of anything besides State of Wonder and Bel Canto that wouldn’t be also obviously on your reading list.

  6. Irish girl permalink
    March 7, 2013 7:44 am

    The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch by Anne Enright is a wonderful read. Fascinating story, very well written.
    I really love your blog. Enjoy your holiday!

  7. March 7, 2013 10:13 pm

    State of Wonder by Ann Patchett is set in a similar location, but of course you’ve already left by now. Can’t wait to hear about the trip!

  8. Sarah permalink
    March 16, 2013 1:18 pm

    There. I have finally caught up. Three years of your life gone in less than a week. What am I going to do now? Separate, I guess.

    Thanks for writing. You write beautifully. As you might have guesssed by the million posts I am at the stage where I seem to know what to do but not how. Or better, there’s only one how, and that’s the terrible part. You have been of great help and support, for that I am extermely grateful. (Plus I’ve discovered I am not as well read as I thought I was – no matter, an excuse to buy even more books).

    • irretrievablybroken permalink*
      March 18, 2013 1:14 pm

      It will all be all right–eventually, it will. To me, agonizing over whether to divorce (years of it) was worse than the divorce….if only because it felt as if it could go on forever, whereas the divorce itself was a finite event. Remember that you don’t have to think about all of it all at once. Just keep asking yourself: what can I do today? What do I need to address right now? You’ll get through it, but it’s impossible to see through to the end…you really do just have to take it step by agonizing step. Good luck. I’m pulling for you.

  9. Sarah permalink
    March 20, 2013 7:13 pm

    I was just about to leave a comment saying: “come back!! I need your wise advice!” and then I saw your comment. Thanks. (And now I think, sod my problems! All I want to ask is “did you have a good time?”) Without boring everyone with too many details, that’s exactly it. This back and forth and total ambivalence of feelings is soul destroying and mind numbing. I do not hate my husband and he is a wreck. Should I give him a hug,acuddle in the night, try again or keep walking the path I can see opening in front of me. Am I doing the right thing? Am I just on a path of destruction? Is it an illusion of happiness the alternative future I can see in front of me? Will I repeat the same mistakes? in ther words, “Is it me the problem?” Oh how understand when you say you wished yourself back in the ‘safety, security and predictability of marriage. A part of me already wishes for the person I was two months ago: not necessarily happy but not in this position of seemingly no return. (and even that who knows…). What I fear the most? My own voice from my future self which tells me “you were happy and you didn’t even know it.”
    Thanks for taking time to reply and I am looking forward to the next post.

  10. ultimatedivorceparty permalink
    March 27, 2013 2:30 pm

    I have written an ebook I would love to send you if you’d like to read and/or review it. It goes with your blog theme for sure!

  11. sarah permalink
    March 31, 2013 5:33 am


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