With winter fast approaching in the south I’ve been looking for a place to stop off and stay put for a while. While in Quito I learnt about The Secret Garden Cotopaxi (check the photos), a beautiful hostel in the foothills of the massive Volcán Cotopaxi (5897m), Ecuador’s second highest peak. As luck would have it, a volunteer position has presented itself.

When I first dreamed of this adventure and decided to write a blog I really wanted to capture my feelings and emotions along the way. I wanted to make sure I wrote about the good and bad times to paint an accurate picture of solo life on the road and my state of mind along the way. I don’t think I’ve done a good job on that so far, because I’ve been so busy visiting places and taking photos to share it’s just been easier to write about happy times.
Here goes.

To be honest, I feel the need to stay put for reasons more important than winter. The last couple of months have been the hardest of the journey for me, mostly due to loneliness and a bit of monotony has crept in. Constantly going new places and seeing amazingly beautiful things is great, though not being able to share it with anyone is getting kind of hollow and meaningless. On top of that, things are starting to feel the same day-to-day and I think I’m stuck in a bit of a rut.
I haven’t seriously thought about giving up, mostly because I have nothing else to do and nowhere to go, but it does cross my mind from time to time. I’m definitely not enjoying myself as much as I was for the first six or eight months, so I want to change my setting for a while to break out of the ‘funk’ I’ve found myself in.

By staying in one place I hope I can get my fill of things I miss from the ‘normal’ world, to recharge my batteries and get me back on the road full of excitement for the final stretch through about four more countries to Tierra Del Fuego.

In no particular order I’m looking forward to:

  • Lots of fitness related stuff.
  • Eating really well.
  • Learning more Spanish, which might be tough with so many English speakers around.
  • Meeting a ton of travelers and potentially a new friend to jump in the Jeep for a while.
  • Waking up every day and knowing that I’m already where I will goto sleep at night.

It sounds like I’ll be doing anything and everything; painting buildings, setting the table for meals, manning the phone, taking guests hiking, working on ‘projects’ around the place and anything else I feel like doing.

By the time you read this I will have already started, and have no idea how long I will stay. A month sounds great right now, and I’ll see how I feel after that. There is no electricity or internet out there so regular updates here are going to be tough.

If I don’t update the site as often as normal, please don’t worry – I’m perfectly safe living the simple life.


22 Responses

  1. Jim K in PA says:

    Dan – thanks for sharing this bit of your state of being. Like many others, I check your blog regulary, although I do not post much. “Sharing” your trip with an indeterminate number of faceless followers on the WWW is certainly not the same as sharing it in real time with a real friend. One of the things I was impressed with was the fact that you chose to do this primarily solo. I, for one, would not enjoy such a trip alone. I have been fortunate to have a wonderful friend to explore the world with me since I was 16. She is my wife, and we are now in our mid-40s. I could not imagine taking a trip like this without her.

    I think your decision to stop and make a “home” for yourself for a while is prudent, and reflects well on your state of mind and decision making process. Pushing on now when you feel like this would most likely propel you to that “Q” word you mentioned. I suspect you will reinvigorate your spirit and re-start your journey in due time. Such a situation is a perfectly human thing to find yourself in. And you are only human, after all.

    BTW – you probably are already aware, but Nick Rapp is on a similar journey, and is currently in Africa. http://www.transworldexpedition.com is his blog site. I suspect that about now he may be having similar feelings to yours.


    Jim K

    • Dan says:

      Thanks Jim, your thoughts help a lot.
      I’ve been ‘living’ for 2 weeks now and already have my head in a different place.
      Another month or two of this is going to work wonders :)

      Heading out solo was not exactly a choice, so much as a necessity – all my friends thought I was crazy and would never have come with me, so it came down to going by myself or not going at all. I’m still 100% certain I made the correct choice.
      Next time I’ll have a companion.

  2. Oscar says:

    Hello ! Dan
    How are you doing?
    I think what you are about to do is very good. If you decide to quit I don’t blame you, but remember that quitting is not an option, keep going and everything will pass.
    I have learned in my life that the more you give the better you will feel.
    i am really looking to read more about your travel stories and you may already know I wrote you before
    about my trip from Austin, texas to Venezuela. I would like to tell that I finally got all my paper
    the only thing I need is my passport, then I will be on road very soon.

    I wish the best and keep going


    Here my website

    • Dan says:

      Thanks for the encouragement Oscar, it really helps.
      My batteries are charging and after only 2 weeks I already have itchy feet!
      All the best on your massive adventure, you’re going to have the time of your life.
      If there is anything at all I can do to help, feel free to ask.

  3. Brian from New Jersey says:

    Your journey has been amazing so far and I’ve really enjoyed following every post since I stumbled upon this blog last August. Best wishes with your volunteer job, I hope you enjoy it and are able to recharge a bit.

  4. Chris says:

    Hey Dan,

    Enjoy the read! Hope you’re well and you’ve managed to avoid the Tungurahua volcano erupting!


    • Dan says:

      Yeah man, we heard all about it and tons of people are telling me how loud it was and how much smoke, but I didn’t see anything here :(

  5. Jen says:

    Hey Dan, This place looks amazing! I hope you enjoy having a home base for a while! We all miss you here. Sending lots of love from LA ~ Jen and fam.

  6. Ron Parker says:

    Hi Dan,Keep going when it feels right for you,You will kick yourself till the day you die if you quit.Life isnt allways one big party,the ups and downs keep rolling by,as long as there are more ups,your on the right side of things. Keep happy

  7. Sierra says:

    Aloha Dan! itchy feet already?? How is everything at Cotopaxi? So glad to have met you…you are an inspiration!

  8. Pat Casey says:

    Hi Dan,

    I am recently writing a final report for school. I writing it on Christopher McCandless someone very similar to you. I read your visit to the magic bus and I was wondering if you would mind me using you as a source in my report? I would just need your first and last name so I can authorize that you are a legitimate source. Thanks for you time, Dan. Wish you all the best on all your ventures, keep it up, you’re making a lot of proud with what you are doing.

    Best Regards,

    • Dan says:

      Hey Pat,
      No problems at all. The URL says it all – Dan Grec
      If you have any questions about Chris or the bus I’ll help however I can.

  9. bazza says:

    hey dan,
    i haven’t been diligently following your entire journey, but did recently tune into your recent post.
    i was struck my your comment about life feeling hollow or meaningless without someone to share it with.

    it seems ironic considering you set out on this adventure alone and you seem rather independent. or maybe it’s a recent discovery as a result of your time on the road? plus it seems you’ve had more travel companions than originally planned? i’m just curious.

    my advise is to really relish these alone times, because that’s when your head is the clearest and you’re solely dependent on your own thoughts and decisions. not influenced by others… i feel it’s when you learn the most about who you are – because you are the most vulnerable – and perhaps that was a hope of your adventure?

    only you have 100% control over your feelings and reactions – you can’t count on others to provide meaning. they can assist and compliment, but can not be responsible for… so maybe if you’re open to appreciating the lonely, hollow times, you’ll enjoy the not-so-lonely even more! maybe. just a thought.

    keep adventuring – and trust your gut. this is your journey. i hope you find what you are looking for while living the the simple life. thanks for sharing and i’d love to hear more about your day to day thoughts and observations.

    • Dan says:

      Hmm I didn’t think you were reading this 😀
      It is a really interesting topic you bring up, I did set out alone and get myself into this entirely. Maybe I did not know exactly what I was getting myself in for..? It’s certainly going to take a heck of a lot longer than the 1 year I thought at the beginning.
      I certainly have learnt a lot.. A LOT.. about myself from my time on the road. I’m not sure that was the goal of the trip, but I’m really happy about it.
      The more I think about it, the more I think there is no goal to the trip. Get on the road, throw myself out there and see what happens. That sounds more like it.
      Thanks for the thought-provoking once again.

  10. Scott T says:

    Dan _ I guess as a reader of your blog the relationship is one sided and doesn’t benefit you much. I enjoy every one of your post and would comment every time, but that seems odd to do so I just enjoy them and wait for the next post. I’m glad you’re sharing that the trip isn’t all laughs, and that sometimes it’s difficult. That’s an important part of discovery and important for others to know that may be planning their own expeditions – throughout the world or internal.

  11. Mike says:


    Happy to hear that you found a great place to plant yourself for a bit to get yourself out of this rut you’ve found yourself in.

    This may sound silly, but when I found myself feeling lonesome, tired, or an inkling of doubt I found friendship in the trees, the rocks, the waterfalls, and the mountains that were all around me. They also complained much less than the average person, weren’t consumed by materialism and never contradicted my thoughts. There’s always the chance that I’m simply a little bit nuts.

    Wishing you the best and as always I enjoy reading what you’re up to.


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