Our OJz Ambassador, Rebecca aka Womanwanders, continues tackling mountains, moutain-biking down treacherous hills, and shares her dream packing list after being on the trails for a few weeks. Take notes ladies (and gents), as one of the biggest challenges pre and during our adventures has to do with what happens to be strapped to our backs.
Did I leave enough room for memorabilia? Did I pack the right essentials for being out in the middle of nowhere for days at a time? What are the best pants for jungle trekking? Are there items I should strictly avoid due to cultural differences? Are my things safe, do I have a plan B in case items get stolen or lost? The questions pile up, and the only way to ease the anxiety is to:
1. get out there and just try it
2. share your experiences with fellow travelers both newbies and experts.
We decided to pick her blog and brain for a few recommendations on places to stay and food to eat, as she is currently in the middle of the jungle this will be brief yet sweet.
Hostels in Quito: Minka Hostel : located in Old Town. “The hostel was very chill, three floors with a big kitchen/common room, hammocks, pool table, and a nice balcony for BBQS and smoking with a great view of the mountains and city. I would have preferred to stay at Community Hostel, though, due to its proximity to the Mercado Central and the overall vibes of the place. Community Hostel is a big, clean hostel with a lot of opportunities to hang with fellow travelers. They offered the free walking tour, a free food tour, nighttime activities, twerking 101 classes, etc. I made friends there whereas in Minka Hostel, I felt like people kept to themselves. However, the staff made me feel very welcome and had many suggestions for activities. They booked my tour to Cotopaxi.
Food to Eat: “seco de pollo but they have seco de jamon y de chivo (lamb) also. It’s this slow roasted tasty meat over two Ecuadorean tortillas, which are basically mashed potatoes pressed down on the skillet to flatten them out a bit /The soupy ceviche de mussels and shrimp is to die for /jugo de mora (blackberry), naranjilla (no real English translation), and coconut juice smoothies from the open market at Mercado Central between Esmeraldas and Manabi” So, let’s jump back in to Rebecca’s world as she finishes her Cotopaxi experience and find out what her dream backpack would look like…
The second part of our adventure tour was soon underway. After a short bus ride that I slept through, we stopped on the side of the road, amid some smaller mountains and plateaus. Those who felt up to the challenge of mountain biking were asked to step off the bus and put on helmets. Our guide sternly reminded us of the waivers we had signed stating that we were physically fit and trained in the exercises of hiking and biking. I’m a competent city biker, so naturally I wanted to join the mountain bike trip down to the lagoon. The second I parked my ass on the small, hard bike seat and felt the back wheel skid on the gravel without my permission, I knew I was in trouble. But I don’t give up. The procession began with a tall blonde German boy in a bright orange vest. I was second, but not for long, because I soon ate it and tumbled off my bike. I took the rest of the way down easy, and thankfully it was all down hill. The road was unbearably rigged and bumpy and covered in small and large rocks. I dodged these obstacles, gritting my teeth and screeching most of the way down, not daring to look at the beautiful scenery around me for fear of missing a curve in the dirt or a bump in the road that would send me flying. The image of a girl from my hostel who had cut up her face falling off one of these mountain bikes seared in my head. My hands were killing me from holding onto the handle bars for dear life. 60% pressure on the right for the front wheel and 40% on the left for the back wheel. That’s what my instructor told me to do, and pretty soon I understood why and was flying down, able to glance up every now and again to take it all in and realize that I was alone and could see none of the other bikers ahead of me. For some reason I wasn’t worried. I had control of my bike, and though it was physically challenging, I had my bike and a general idea of where I was headed. After all, I had seen this very road ending with the lagoon when I was climbing the mountain.
I was the last one to make it but at least I made it. One girl had to stop and get on the bus before she reached the finish line. The lagoon was cool, the day was cloudy, and I looked up at the mountain that I had climbed, happy that I came to Ecuador and ready for more adventures.
FUN FACT! Youth Backpacks are cheaper and can sometimes be a much better fit for those with a smaller frame!
Almost two weeks into my trip, and I’m already wishing I could make edits to my backpack contents! Below you’ll find my fantasy packing list. (Please note this is a personal preference from my travels, and the list continues to change as I embark on my four month journey!) Clothes:
- 4-5 tank tops
- 4 t-shirts (some printed/fashion to wear socially)
- 3 long sleeved shirts
- 2 sweatshirts, 1 cardigan
- 1 thin rain jacket
- 3 pairs leggings (why did I pack so many?? Did I think I would be doing yoga the whole time?)
- AT LEAST ONE PAIR OF JEANS (one backpacker blog insisted that jeans were useless cargo to have in South America, and I took him at his word. But I wished I had a pair when going out at night in cities like Quito, where the temperature drops when the sun does.)
- 1 pair comfy cotton pants (instead of flannel pajamas)- wishing I brought my fashionable cotton harem pants to lounge around in.
- 1 pair transformer cargo pants
- 3-4 pairs shorts (2 comfy and able to get wet, 2 jeans)
- 2 swimsuits
- 1 skirt, 1 sundress (happy with these)
- 3 sports bras, 1 good VS sports bra
- 10 pairs underwear (moisture wicking, fast dry, etc)
- 2 pairs flip flops; perhaps even 1 flip flop and 1 comfy gladiator sandals
- 1 pair hiking boots (wore these everyday in Quito- not fashionable, but other backpackers know you mean business)
I’m pretty pleased with my essentials. I haven’t gotten around to using everything in the list, such as the sink plug (because most hostels offer laundry services) and my first aid kit (because I haven’t gotten too cut up yet), but I have faith that I will get around to all of my supplies. So far, I am most thankful for my hand sanitzer, my water filtration system, and my ibuprofen. I briefly wished that I had brought some antibiotics after catching a case of strep throat that is running rampant at the hostel I am working at now, but if you’re good at self diagnosing, it is fairly easy to acquire antibiotics at the pharmacy without a prescription. Hope this helps any potential travelers! As my trip expands, I’ll make sure to update this list some more.
Want to find out more about Rebecca’s essential travel gear and see what she packed pre South America trip? Head to her womanwanders post.