The time has come once again for me to hit the road. I am leaving the beautiful place I’m at in order to discover more of the wonders of Ecuador.
This is only a temporary departure. I’m not ready to say goodbye for good to Onda Hostel, yet. After a month on the road, I will be back here for another, final month. My visa, which is already an extension to the three months you normally get upon entering the country, will give me no other option than to leave. This will signal the end of one hell of a journey since I arrived in Ecuador… but I don’t want to think about it yet.
For now, I want to contemplate the meaning that Onda has come to take on for me. Onda Hostel, and the three little words you can read on its front door:
Rest. Explore. Share.
Three little words I will always associate with this place. Onda Hostel’s magical mantra.
At first, one might be tempted to dismiss them as a mere advertising compain, three empty words as you see so often in these types of businesses. ‘Rest, explore, share‘ might as well be ‘laugh, drink, dream’, ‘sleep, smile, surf’ or why not even ‘eat, pray, love’ (sorry, I had to…).
However, after spending several weeks here, I gave those three little words another thought. I came to realise that they took on surprisingly deep meanings.
Sure, when I think of it, the traditional ideas come up: this is an amazing place to lazily rest on the beach or on a hammock for hours on end. It’s a good base to go on exploring the wonders of the Manabí region and beyond. And of course, it’s a great place to meet amazing people and share good times.
There’s a lot more to those three words though, when I think about my experience here, the people I’ve met, how I ended up in this place, the way I’ve come since.
When I got here, I was not only physically tired after getting sick over and over again during the previous months; I was more than anything mentally exhausted. My soul needed a rest, after a long and restless battle against the demons in my mind. I spent weeks on end trying to regain control of my life, but Onda Hostel reminded me that sometimes, the best thing to do is simply to let go and surf the wave, instead of going against it. And it felt like I could finally catch my breathe after swimming under water for a long time.
Resting my body & soul thus allowed me to explore deeper than before what was in front of me, inside of me all this time. It made me more alert to my senses and what they were picking up, the breeze against my skin, the sand beneath my feet, the sun illuminating my eyes. I wake up everyday to the sound of the ocean, tranquilly throwing its endless and powerful waves against the beach, day after day, reminding us of the much bigger forces at play in the universe I exist in.
Reminding me also that there is no rush, that I needed to allow myself to stop and explore the secrets to the questions only my heart has answers to. I woke up from a strange spell I was under, a spell that almost made me commit what my instinct knew would have been a mistake all along, a mistake that would have once more required me to compromise my values and identity in order to please someone else. If there is anything I have learned this year, is that my boundaries matter and anybody not willing to respect them is simply not worth my time and energy.
Therefore, after having taken care of the most pressing issues in my life and reconnected to my true path, I freed a lot of mental space by listening to my instinct and choosing to stay in this place for some time. This allowed me to explore new ways of taking care of myself. With all the health issues I’ve had this year, my body is clearly trying to tell me that something needs to change if I want to keep living the way I have been the last few years. Changing my diet in quite an extreme manner has been at the heart of this process, and with the help of my friends, I am exploring every day ways to cook with new ingredients. Of course, this had brought a lot of frustrations, and I am still learning to adjust, and to not beat myself up if I ever give in and eat what I am not supposed to. There is still a long way to go for me to recover from the chronic inflammation that is hurting my body, but I am at least actively working on it. And lucky me, I am surrounded by friends who, instead of judging or criticising my choices, give me unconditional support.
Indeed, this reconnection to myself could not have happened if I wasn’t sharing this experience with the amazing souls that have been part of the ‘Onda’ family. Others are a reflection of us. I had allowed negative people to bring me down because I didn’t set clear boundaries. Being around supportive, loving people made me realize that this is what friendship is supposed to feel like. No competition, no judgment; being able to disagree without needing to always win. Being around people who share your values and respect each other enough so that situations of disagreement become exceptional.
I shared a lot since I arrived, I have shared moments, laughters, rooms, food, drinks, good conversations. Mainly, I have shared love, and this was the most beautiful gift that Onda hostel has offered me. Of course, a place is only a reflection of its people, and it is clear to me that the magic of this hostel doesn’t reside in its comfortable premisces or its stylish design, its easy access to a beautiful beach, its sunsets that are the most fabulous I’ve ever seen, its perfect weather or the healthy lifestyle it enables.
No, its magic simply comes from its new owners, Maribel & Mathieu, who have succeeded in creating a place that is the reflection of their uplifting spirits, their determination, and their kind hearts.
Though I needed to disconnect for a while and focus on myself, I am also not forgetting that being here is a privilege that most of the world doesn’t have access to. I feel more ready than ever to keep fighting to spread the values I’ve experienced here.
Yes, I am incredibly privileged to be part of this adventure. Wherever the next wave may take me, I will bring with me the memories of this special little corner of the world that I have the honour to now call my home.
And I will always be thankful for all the resting, the exploring, the sharing I have had the opportunity to do here.
Sowanders is back, stronger than ever.
Thank you, Onda.