How a hobby led to travel fever (Marc’s Story)

I have rock climbing to thank for introducing me to the travel bug. I began rock climbing when I was 12 years old and had no idea that it would engulf my entire life. At that age, all I did was go to school, come home, and then walk to the rock gym. Thankfully, I lived about 100 yards from the nearest gym and it had me addicted. Within a year I was competing in competitions all around the northeast and loving every second. Climbing seems to have that same, gradual effect on anyone that sticks with it.

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Throughout middle school, high school, and eventually college, I would spend my weeks daydreaming in class about where to climb next.

 

Upstate NY?

 

New Hampshire next weekend?

 

Maybe Maine the following?

 

Soon, the climbing bubble was vastly expanding. The northeast could no longer quench the desire to explore and hop on new types of rock. Traveling to California, Nevada, West Virginia, Kentucky, or even Canada was now the norm. All along the way, meeting different people and getting into trouble.

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Through climbing, I was lucky enough to meet some of the most amazing people. During college, I was working at a local gym with a strong climbing crew. Part of this crew had just moved to the states from Ecuador but had been climbing for a couple years.

 

We should all go climbing in Ecuador!

 

Deal!

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Everyone mostly just shrugged off the offer as if it was just an exchange of pleasantries. Well, I didn’t. I was completely serious and motivated to plan a trip to Ecuador. The goal was to hit as many climbing spots as possible. Somehow we decided on going in June, mostly because school was getting in the way. But we all agreed that if we were going we would spend a couple weeks. Well, that idea didn’t last long. Soon we all agreed that a minimum of 1 month would be necessary.

Like most trips we currently plan, it all started with a suggestion. It grows bigger and bigger until you can no longer make any excuses and you just need to go for it. I was a full-time college student and only worked part-time at the gym. How could I afford it? Easy. Just open up a credit card!

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I had no credit but randomly saw an offer from Barclay Bank for a new credit card that was offering 0% interest for the first year. Score! I opened up my first credit card and was only given a $500 limit. I was so stoked. This card is my ticket since I was only able to save another $500 in cash. Luckily, our awesome friends would be hooking us up with places to stay in most of the cities so we knew we could stretch about $1000 each for 1 month.

 

As a college student with that amount of money at my disposal, I felt invincible.

 

Let’s fucking go!

 

Besides some random beach vacations with our families, that was the first time we all truly left the states for something more exotic and foreign.

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After landing in Ecuador, I had to hire a taxi to drive 4 hours into the mountains to a city called Cuenca. I have never been so scared in my life. We drove through the city of Guayaquil, trying to avoid other motorist making up their own rules and people walking armadillos on leashes. That’s right, fuckin’ armadillos. Most of the drive was spent chugging beers and marveling at the lack of visibility while driving up the narrow passes into the mountains. The driver explained that the roads could not be repaired because the rockfall made it redundant, so we had no choice but to try and avoid tire-popping holes the whole way up.

 

I spilled so much beer on myself.

 

We climbed so high that at one point it felt like someone flipped a switch because we eventually broke through the fog and were staring down at an ocean of clouds. Bright blue skies and clouds below as far as you can see. I was hooked. We haven’t even touched a rock and already I knew that traveling here was one of the best decisions of my life. I went to Ecuador thinking that climbing was going to be the highlight, but I was wrong. It was everything and everyone in between that made me love traveling. The destination was rock climbing but the journey was the most memorable.

 

Most hobbies can serve as the catalyst for traveling and I owe the origins of my travel bug to rock climbing. Snowboarding, skiing, etc….anything can be used as an excuse to go see other parts of this amazing earth. Find that dream destination to go scuba diving or mountain biking or dancing or running or watch your favorite sport. It doesn’t matter. Just go! You won’t regret it.

 

Unfortunately, all my photos of Ecuador were lost when my external hard drive crashed. So pissed! But I do have one. Enjoy.

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