I used to be like you. Sitting in front of a computer screen dreaming of faraway places…the sun on my face…lazy afternoons exploring forgotten seaside villages…or drifting through market towns in search of exotic indigenous rugs and hammocks to adorn my beautiful, colonial apartment.
And then I decided to actually do it! In 2003, I chucked in my day job, bought a ticket to South America, and never looked back.
I’d heard that anybody with my very basic skill could make a living overseas. I didn’t believe it…not for a minute. I had enough money saved to last me a couple of months and I intended to take a well-earned rest, travel around, and see the world. But fate is a funny thing.
I met my first paying client on the airplane. Yep, you heard it right. Jimmy was on a break to see his family in Bogotá, Colombia. After waking the very next morning and strolling around the streets in search of my first Colombian breakfast I returned to my hotel to find Jimmy waiting for me. He was accompanied by his best friend who also wanted to hire me. Apparently, Jimmy’s girlfriend was coming along at 3.00 p.m., his cousin after 6.00 p.m. when she had finished university, and Jimmy’s uncle was popping in the next day. He was the owner of a taxi business and wanted to sign me up to pass my skill on to his drivers.
I spent my first year overseas in Colombia but soon began to get itchy feet. I’d heard many good things about Ecuador and decided to move on. My passion was travel and immersing myself in different cultures. I found a Quechua community just outside of Otavalo, Ecuador who wanted me to help them. The people were shy but friendly and welcomed me with open arms. They still used a native Inca language as their daily tongue and worked the land the same way they did 500-600 years ago.
It’s funny how you soon get used to a different way of life!
I traveled a lot in Ecuador but one of the most memorable experiences was finding my way into the Amazon rainforest. I spent a month exploring a small region in the jungle aided by a fantastic guide called Jorge, who told me that he was a natural spirit shaman. I passed on my skill to him in exchange for accommodation in a traditional Amazonian hut. Jorge supplied me with endless botanical information on local plants and their traditional uses amongst his tribe. Jorge also supplied a local fish called Tilapia which he steamed in banana leaves and served with rice…a beautiful end to any day!
I was lucky to find I could earn money overseas with a skill I had dismissed…and travel as I pleased…but believe me, I have hundreds of stories just like the ones above. If you want to get out there and meet adventure head on then what are you waiting for? You have the very same skill yourself.
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