The highway disappeared behind us in the rear view mirror as we puttered down the route towards our future. The concept of leaving behind nothing and heading towards nowhere in particular is just a freeing as I imagined it would be. This doesn’t feel like vacation, not even one bit. It doesn’t feel like moving either, not even remotely close. This is a new emotion and I think it must be something like liberation.
The world looks a whole lot different when destinations and dates don’t come in to play. Suddenly, every turn is our home and every face is our neighbor. No place too near or too far, too soon or too late to dream of. Nothing too strange or unfamiliar. All of it is ours for as long or short, and as deeply or surface level as we want it to be.
We have headed south from San Clemente winding our wheels through the beautiful mountainside roads that hug the cliffs hanging over the Pacific. We drift through the quaint salty villages, picturesque ports, and coastal countryside of central Ecuador. We pause to peak down the alleyways that lead to the sea, and to buy local breads baking in the breeze. As charming as can be, but our pores are aching for something different after being soaked in ocean mists for the past year and more. For this, our souls resist the allure of endless miles of deserted beaches that beckon to the travelers passing through. We are clearly craving something with a new horizon.
Just a few hours later, we veer east rather than west, to follow our hearts into the lush, green jungles of the Dos Mangas forests. Barely off the coastal highway, we find ourselves transported to an entirely new dimension. After a quick swerve onto an unkempt dirt road, we plummet down the hillside and right on through an unruly creek spilling onto the road. Then up again and into the thick, green everything.
We pull into a clearing next to a carefully planned fire ring, a massive picnic table, and wonderfully, quirky wooden stools and delightfully strewn about. All around towering trees full of flowers for fruits among nuts scattered on the ground. We park our truck next to a cozy cottage delicately tucked into wild flowering bushes and rows of papaya trees heavy with produce. The air is thick with the scent a medicinal plant the locals called Meringa. The forest floor is blanketed with the dancing patterns of light and shade as they vie for their turn to penetrate through the trees.
The air is warm in a comforting sort of way, devoid of the sticky heat of summer, and laced with blissful ribbons of cool breeze that lift the fingers of the branches. The blissful wilderness was inviting to us all. Paws and footprints scattered quickly through the trees as our kids and dogs emerged from the caravan we call Magma. My love and me, stood motionless, overcome by the serenity of the forest. Leaves gracefully dripped from the sky and swirled in the air around us. We breathed in the cleansing air that tickled our nose and the tips of our hair. It felt like the ideal place to call home…for the days ahead.
This is where we have spent the first days of our adventure. The first week of our life as a full time traveling family. We have eaten birthday cake at that divine table beneath the canopy, climbed ladders to pick ripe papayas, and chased butterflies through the trunks of the forest. We have indulged in play like no other beneath the wonder of the trees. Mud pies and grass salads, and flower teas. Bonfires for fairies and our wee ones, too. Butterflies like stained glass windows, caterpillars from fairy tales, and bowling and bulls eye with dozens of dropped nuts. Fruit made from passion and plants made from ancient medicine. Games made with sticks, lost ropes, and hopping toads. Mornings on a tree swing and afternoons in the creek.
After just one stop, childhood and puppydom have been revived once more. We have found a place where play and laughter still live. Here our children have rediscovered play and our dogs have claimed their roaming freedom. It is everything all of them deserve, in a place where trees heal the soul in ways like soup heals the cold. In these moments we find the simplicity that beckons us to a happier way of life. It is from remote places that we find the tranquility to allow the silence of our worldly duties. Here, we find a calmness that has been calling for years untold. Let our journey officially begin!