One of the many advantages of an unexpected layoff is the freedom to choose your own vacation days and not asking your boss for two weeks off when everyone else wants the same thing. Concluding the longest year of my life, Diane and I are off to her family’s homeland for the holiday season. With an approaching cold front promising minus 20 degree temperatures by Christmas Day, a tropical holiday with margaritas by the pool is not in the cards this year. Disclosing our plans to sell the house in March and file for an MM2H visa is part of the mission since Diane chose to keep her parents in the dark until now. (No, I don’t know why; I think it’s an Asian thing to keep secrets or something like that).
Wishing everyone a healthy and happy holiday season, please follow our holiday posts these next two weeks but please forgive any delays in responding due to our “hotel accommodations”. As first generation immigrants approaching their 80th birthdays, Diane’s parents are not likely to embrace the concept of home WiFi this season so we’ll be relying on Starbucks, the mall and eventually my sister-in-law’s house for New Year’s Eve.
Anticipation was high as we awoke on the third day of the South American leg of our annual Expat Research Destination Vacation. Planning only a single day of sightseeing in Quito, we left the jackets and long sleeve shirts behind and headed for a totally different climatic zone. Realizing Ecuador’s boundaries include a large chunk of untouched Amazonian jungle, we jumped at the chance to experience our third different rainforest adventure. Freshly embedded memories of Borneo’s jungle excursion remained strong and having already visited Costa Rica in 2002, that leaves Madagascar as the only rainforest we have yet to explore. Probably too far and expensive for early retirees in Malaysia, we’ll settle for orangutans over lemurs.
Sunset at Sacha Lodge
Understanding human encroachment remains the biggest threat to the world’s rainforests, there’s a handful of lodges that personify sustainable ecotourism at its best. Not to be missed, Sacha Lodge, in Ecuador’s Napo Valley Region fits the bill. Located on a pristine piece of privately owned land and bordering Yasuni National Park, one of the world’s most biologically diverse regions, the lodge is accessible only by navigating the Napo River for 50 miles, hiking inland on an often muddy boardwalk and crossing a scenic lake. Beginning the journey in Quito, Diane and I boarded a 25 minute flight over snow-covered peaks to the small town of Coca where guides met us for the start of a 4 day, 3 night adventure that exceeded our expectations.