1. Turn off your phone.
2. Head straight for Otavalo and book a room at Casa Mojanda. Room 1 is rad because it has a fireplace and is closest to the food. Also, the llama. If you’re coming in around midnight on a Saturday, you might catch an indigenous rave and smile at the baby riding in a pouch eating meat on a stick. Ask your driver if Ecuador likes to party and witness an emphatic string of positives: Yes, !si, yeah, yeah, !si!
3. Curl up under wool blankets with an open fire blazing in the corner. Your allergies will kick in first thing the next morning, but it’s worth it. Rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat. Fuego forever.
5. Try your first vegan taco (I knowwwww) and add walnuts and lentils to your grocery list pronto. Also, google recipes for cashew sour cream. (This one’s a winner for now!)
6. Witness the brown tinge landing on your white sneakers and realize how long it’s been since you’ve allowed your shoes to get super, super dirty. Mentally schedule more explorations for later (and then mentally note to bring baking soda for your smelly feet).
7. Visit the local markets; find an alpaca blanket for your mother-in-law who is watching the dogs. Over-spend a dollar on a gold rock for the toddler’s collection, and pride yourself on a $3 striped overall investment.
8. Realize that Striped Overall Investment makes a lovely band name.
9. Get a massage from a Shaman healer, and book an extra for your very deserving husband who will tote the toddler on his back up the side of the Andes mountains.
10. Speaking of the side of the Andes mountains, stay there forever. Do not leave. Standing in the tall grass with cold ears, you’ll feel like you did when you were 23 in Ireland, which is never a bad thing to feel.
11. Leave the tiny backpack of toys in your room for dinner, knowing your kid really only wants to draw pictures with the effervescent yoga instructor.
12. Try a new date brownie recipe that is crazy better than your go-to recipe. Attempt to convince raw food chef Tony to write a cookbook, and fast, preferably before you leave in three days? (No go.)
13. Learn many things; remember two: (1) everything is sand, (2) except for love.
To my sweet, loving, committed friends Danny and Mara – thank you, thank you, thank you.