About the Blog
I´m a big believer in karma while travelling. It´s sort of the glue that holds a good trip together. When the bus doesn´t come, the plans fall apart and I´m left stranded in a remote town on the coast in Ecuador and some good Samaritan suddenly appears to help out, that´s karma.
Today I am writing an article about the post office on Floreana in the Galapagos. The basic idea of it is that people leave addressed post cards in a barrel for others to pick up and hand deliver. People find cards from their hometown and take them to the recipients. You should hear the stories!
I mention the previous because it´s an example of how I learned to travel. Before moving to Ecuador I went on several road trips with a friend who was in the Peace Corps and then worked in Refugee camps in Africa. When stateside he would pack up his van with camping gear and supplies and hot the road to explore as many states as he could in the time that he had free.
I joined him on a few legs of his journeys and one of the most fun things we did was pull out the free blanket whenever we stopped to go to a concert.
The Free Blanket operates out of karma. My friend has a lot of friends that know he likes to travel every summer in his van. He makes it a point to visit them if he´s in the area and inevitably they invite him to stay. Usually when he leaves they give him something they think he needs for his journey. Clothes, camping equipment, trinkets, you name it.
Joel takes these gifts but doesn´t really know what to do with them. One day it occurred to him at a concert that other people might need them so he came up with the free blanket.
The Free Blanket consists of finding a good spot in the parking lot of outdoor concerts and setting up shop. The Blanket is spread out in front of the van. Camping chairs are brought out of their storages spaces, and all the things that have been collected are spread out on the blanket along with a sign that says free stuff.
What commences henceforth is a comedy of karma. People don´t know what to do. They stop, they look, they double-check the sign, and then they ask..
“What do you mean it´s free?, Do you want something in return?”
When we explain that, no, we don´t, that everything is free for the taking, people can´t accept it. So, they dig through their bags and take the item they are looking at and replace it with something they brought.
To date I have seen tickets to show, beers, money, tapes, shoes, food, and the odd bit of jewelry put on the blanket in return for something that was offered for free.
With new items on the blanket, the show goes on. People stop and wonder and then can´t help but ask why a dollar is sitting on the blanket for free. It´s a refreshing way to remind people who there are good people in this world who want to help for the sake of helping. After all were all in it together!
When I moved to Ecuador I tried to keep the spirit of the free blanket alive in my work at The Secret Garden Hostel and the bars and restaurants that attract a lot of people travelling here.
At the garden I developed resources for the guests that listed great people living in Ecuador who understood that travel was about people reaffirming their faith in their fellow-man as well as taking a trip to the Galapagos or the jungle. There are more of these people here than you think!
From that list I also started online resources for the bar where I worked. I made it a point to find people who were travelling here and had questions about apartments, people to talk to about trips, or were looking for opportunities to volunteer. For me, it was simply a matter of finding a friend who was up for helping and getting the two parties connected.
So far I have answered questions about volunteering, found a few people a place to stay, made some introductions that resulted in people finding jobs while they were travelling, and have helped someone with a foundation that gets street kids into school hooked up with some people that wanted to help.
Like the free blanket, the show goes on as I get more and more people emailing me asking about Ecuador. because of this I started this blog.
The purpose of this blog is to get people information about travelling, living, and exploring Ecuador. Sometimes this isn´t the easiest thing to navigate as there isn´t a lot of information out there about the things I write about. For example, did you know that there is a three-week trip to the Galapagos that combines volunteering and travel that costs about the same amount that an eight-day cruise does? Or that you can volunteer at a three hostels for room and board in exchange for helping to run the hostels? Or even that The Blacksheep Inn and Santa Marta Animal reserve are now closed? (The Blackshhep Inn is going to open again in a month!) I didn´t when I came here!
So if your still reading this and planning a trip to Ecuador, check out the articles in my blog and if you have a question, get in touch with me, Jon, at firstname.lastname@example.org. It´s important, after all, we are all in this together!