Spotless hiking boots, new backpacks, life couldn’t be more exciting and terrifying at the same time, as we stand in Quito’s airport. Just like new parents read too many baby books, all our knowledge of what a journey of global proportions like this should be, is from numerous paperbacks with pictures of hikers on mountain peeks, shot at an upward angle. I will never forget those first steps out of the airport. It was as if I began learning how to walk all over again. Stepping out was not just entering Ecuador, it was stepping into the world the way I never done it before. Not as an immigrant, not as a tourist, but as a traveler – I could only hope.

A one way ticket is all there was to the plan. If fact, it was decided that the plan is not to have a plan. Nevertheless, we knew our next destination – Galapagos Islands. I called no hotels, made no arrangements. It was like walking off a cliff gagged and bound. Barely having done even any organized travel before, I felt completely naked and vulnerable in a foreign country without knowing that somewhere a room reservation has my name on it.

Stepping off the cliff of the habitual and into the abyss of the world, there was no magic carpet to break the fall. Landing smack in the middle of a stone hard bed in a freezing dinky hostel the night was spent wandering how come it is so cold on the equator, and the morning brought the only thing missing in our array of nuisances – a financial blunder: paranoid and scattered we managed to forget a hundred dollars hidden under the mattress.

First steps are always the hardest. Toughen up, or go home.