Ecuador, My Life In The Jungles- The Sequel 1

This day brings into remembrance of my time in Ecuador. I wrote about my first leg of the trip on Kiss From The World but of course, time and perspective holds even more colorful stories.

As I lay in bed trying to go back to sleep because it’s 7am on a Saturday, I suddenly saw myself on a truck riding to the jungles of Tena. My mind replayed my trip in vivid details as if to remind me of all the adventures I’ve had in my life. For some reason, people accuse me of my inexperience and youth because I look young….but if they heard what I’ve been through. But it’s really none of their business.

So here goes.

Backpacking solo as a women.

  1. Do research, but don’t RESEARCH TOO much. Don’t ask too much of other peoples’ opinions. It was my first time backpacking in a “3rd world country”. My last backpacking trip before Ecuador was Australia. I asked a few Asian women and was filled with more fear than excitement. My boyfriend at the time gave me pepper spray and told me to hold onto it at all times. My experience was contrary to those opinions…I met the kindest, most welcoming people I have ever met.

A kind man offered to help me translate, my Spanish was quite broken. I finally arrived at a local hotel, it was $10 a night with 2 beds. One for me, and one for my backpack. The plastic walls separated me from the grandma who owned the hotel and was watching some drama. I could see the technicolor bouncing to my wall, as if to welcome me. My bed sheets were thin and crinkled from the 1970s and hot red florals covered my second bed. Please excuse the quality, I don’t think I had an Iphone back then.

My days in the city of Tena was a blur but after visiting my sponsored child, I roamed the streets and attempted to eat street food without getting sick. I was successful. Ecuadorian salsa is BUENO. Almost as good as Mexican salsa out here in LA. They also love animal innards, and as a Taiwanese person, I could get with that, no problemo.

I decided to visit the jungles, there was another $10 hotel over there. I asked my new buddy whether he wanted to go with me. He was hesitant as he was very American, even though Ecuadorian American…and also he had gotten robbed once at an Ecuadorian bar. Oh I meant, he got roofied and robbed, and woke up in the bushes without his Iphone or wallet. So he was pretty petrified at the thought of going with a strange Asian woman to another city hours away.

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First we were to wait in front of my hotel for a yellow taxi. We waited. 1 hour, 2 hours. Wow. Okay, we called a few times and finally taxi came.

Second, we were dropped off at a bus station where tons of people played volleyball or was it basketball, I can’t remember. Now, we were transported into a truck but we had to wait for the tour guide. Now, this was another hour or so.

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The trip took 2-3 hours, riding on dirt, rocks and rickety paths. Towards the end, we were pretty much off-roading and the sky was getting dark. We finally parked and the tour guide took out his flashlight. In these photos I think they were carrying gas into the hotel.

We walked into the jungle and I thought “that’s it, I’ve met my time of death”. (No, actually I was a lot more positive back then since I was young and inexperienced (LOL)). A huge castle jungle house appeared before my eyes.

I was in heaven.

The individual rooms were not fancy, but it was enough. Mosquitoes roamed around me as I quickly sprayed myself. The bathrooms had concrete gray walls and straw walls surrounded me in the bedroom. All I could hear was birds, bugs, snakes and whatever else was out there. I could feel my soul spreading into the jungle and saying hi to each creature. I was becoming one with the earth. 

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The one part of the jungle that had reception was on this outdoor patio on the second floor. You had to put your phone on one point of a statue.581041_10151770635875603_255176119_n

The next day, I was expecting my friend to be there but after some looking and asking, I found out he had left. YEP, I am not kidding. My new friend left the jungles early in the morning, I think he was SO scared by the whole journey that he decided to leave. 

And yes, he was a male person. And yes, I am a female. And it just so happened I was the only person staying there. So I had a whole castle to myself. SO please LORD, do not judge people based on gender.

“hey what the fuck? you left?” -me on the phone.

“yes, well my mom needed me for something, so I had to leave right away”

“oh okay, whatever. Have fun!”- me

So my friend for the next few days was the tour guide, who I was not paying because I did not want to go on a tour. However, as a friend he still showed me a few things like how to cut down cocoa.

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He had escaped from a life of American gang -hood to live in the jungles. He saw friends get shot, and the most horrific of all, children being trafficked in crates. There was nothing he could do about it because he could get gunned down right there and then. This was no Narcos, this was real life. Then we talked about Jesus and I showed him how to hear from Him directly. Jesus and gangsters all in one day.

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To be continued…..

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You Have A Clean Slate for 2017

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In 2016 I was healed of FOMO (fear of missing out). 

I had probably read too many travel blogs and was hoping my 2016 would be non-stop traveling and well, it wasn’t. In fact, I rested, wrote and painted a lot. I actually stayed in LA for a consecutive 3 months. Yes I did fly to Paris to film a travel show, Morocco to backpack, and then to the Philippines for another show…but when I came back from Cebu in June, the most out of state traveling I did was a cruise to Mexico.

Also the last few years, I happened to be traveling during the holidays. On my birthday 2 years ago, I traveled to Catalina Island and spent a few days alone.

Instead of the “hoo-haa I want to party and dance”, I did not feel that way this year. I was okay staying in and watching Netflix. I was comfortable with the peace of just being with God. Peace was something I attained more of in 2016 and I realized it was better than the crazy drunkenness that comes with partying.

Peace was better than dating guys that messed up my peacequilibrium.

Peace was better than forcing myself to attend family events where I would be attacked verbally.

Peace was better than spending time with people who were constantly striving because they don’t know their worth.

Peace was better than the struggle of speeding into other peoples’ lanes because of jealousy. You see, there are dreams that people have that are not YOURS. Know your vision, know your dreams, know what you want and don’t go hopping into other peoples’ lanes because you have a minute of jealousy.

Shut off your phone, laptop. Unplug for a minute. Sync with God. You are enough, here and now….not when you achieve something else, when you attain something more, or when you meet the right person…you are enough now.

Stay in your lane, focus on your life. Don’t go “but they’re doing this or that….”.

I learned that if it is God, it feels peaceful. I learned that if it was the right way to go, it is peace. Yes, new paths might be scary, but deep down there exists a tremble of excitement. A scary excitement. 2017 will bring new levels of promotion, love and joy.

I see your past wiped out, you have a clean slate for a new life. Forgive yourself. Let the past go. Let’s move forward together. Are you in? 

Your Breakthrough Is In Your Presence

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How do you deal with uncertainties? Life is full of unknowns.

God often surprises me by destroying plans I had, even for Christmas. I might have assumed something but then those plans are easily pulled away from me. This week I woke up with horrible vertigo and puking. Yes, it was awful. I thought I was going to die and I prayed really hard. The sickness came and went, tried to come back again, but finally left.

I was grateful. It humbled me as well. Sickness is humbling. It reminds you, you are fragile, weak. 

I felt that the puking was like a cleanse to the negativity in my life. I realized it also stemmed from my not eating when I would get hungry. Deep down, I had some insecurities about my recent inability to exercise and was afraid that I was gaining weight. But I think deep down I felt that I was not good enough. 

During my time in bed, I kept hearing “you are good enough, you are enough” over and over again. In my inability to do anything, I soaked in God’s unconditional love for me. I was reminded that I had been trying to figure my life out again, even by planning my days, I was trying to control my life. I wasn’t handing over the reigns. 

Soon enough God heard my prayers and my mom actually took me to this Chinese medicine woman who gave me a diagnosis and some herbs. Soon enough, I was also alone again. This time a little disappointed that I would probably spend the holidays alone. I didn’t really understand what was happening.

I know that 2017 is a year of alignment, but even in those days where I’m writing, painting, watching Elementary, I’m wondering what my life will even look like soon.

What no eye has seen,
    what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”[
    the things God has prepared for those who love him- 1 Corinthians 2:9 

But today as my flesh and mind finally let go of plans and the need to KNOW, I went to the movies (which always calms me down), cried my eyes out watching Moana and Collateral Beauty (good for emotional cleansing, the movie seriously left the whole movie theater room sniffling), and then in following my desires for some food and boba, was led to divine appointments with strangers. One lady I met when I asked her about this hat I wanted to buy, I said “just to make sure, this is the English flag right?” and then I continued the conversation by asking if she was Irish and she said German. Well, since I was born in Germany, we had no lack of conversation.

Our need to know always ruins the moment doesn’t it? In the story of Adam and Eve, that is what ruined their life at first….the need to know without the relationship with God, which is based on trust. We are unable to live in the moment, to see all the beauty and love around us when we are in our head, figuring every detail of our lives out.

I remember when I was dating an ex, we went to an Italian restaurant in Santa Monica but his mind was absent. The bill was over $100 but I could have stayed at home, watched netflix and ate mcdonalds for $5. It wasn’t about our surroundings, how delicious the food was, or even how romantic the ambiance was. I thought the food was okay, but my ex said it was a waste of money and that the food was horrible. To be honest, if I was eating by myself, I would have enjoyed everything a lot more. His energy totally killed my vibe.

His mind was somewhere else and I was unable to connect with him. 

We can truly enjoy the moment when we choose to be grateful, to notice the miracle around us. Everyday is a gift. When we are present we are able to connect with the people who are around us. That is one of the reasons I love traveling because I am usually present. I see the world with wonder, everything is new to me and I am not thinking about anything else. I don’t plan either, I usually allow spirit to lead me to the right place at the right time. I follow my bliss, I follow the adventure. When I am tired, I sit down at a cafe and observe the beauty around me. By being present I meet the most wonderful people.

When I was in London, I ate at a market in Brixton and met this girl. She asked if she could share the table with me. Turns out she worked at the Globe Theatre and she invited me to watch a play with her. I was truly grateful because she gave me free tickets and I had made a new friend. I was reminded that God was watching over me in every step of my journey backpacking through Europe. I have thousands of stories like this, divine appointments I call them.

Solitude

open-mic-night

I like being alone.

I can spend 2 weeks alone, and the few encounters with strangers. I like solitude because it clears my mind. I can hear God clearly again in the chaos of human voices.

Sometimes when I spend too much time with people, my mind starts to sound like their voice, their troubles, their worries. I have learned to set boundaries and say “I need to be alone” and “I need alone time”.

Sometimes people get offended. They take it personally. They get mad.

I don’t care. I’m good with people, people love me, but I also love myself. I need to hear my heart. I enjoy my company more than most people. I really enjoy my voice, my words, my time.

I feel confident in my identity with God. Sometimes people ask me if I’m dating yet, I have no desire right now. Sometimes I just really love netflix and chill with myself time. A cup of ramen, some fruit, cheetos.

My love language is not quality time, too much quality time makes me cranky.

So if you like being alone, don’t feel bad. Some people are just made that way. Some people like coffee shops and a book. They like small group setting, meaning +1 only. 

Purple Weed Cake

My craziest, well, I’ve HAD A LOT OF CRAZY travel experiences as a solo backpacker, but the weed cake in Amsterdam was PRETTY crazy.

I am not a drug user, I’ve never tried any hardcore drugs. I’ve only drank. And smoked weed (socially). But THE WEED CAKE from Amsterdam did me in. I only planned 2-3 nights there because the hostels were really expensive compared to the rates I was paying in other cities. After a 9 hour bus ride from London (in 2014), I got picked up from the bus station by a friend I met at King King (LA), which used to play really cool house music, but it is unfortunately now CLOSED. I used to go to King King with my older friends (well, not much older…haha, like 2-3 years older). My younger friends didn’t really understand what the heck it was about, you see it was about the MUSIC and the DANCING, not instagram.

Anyways, we had a meal, caught up and I went up.

It was the cheapest hostel in Amsterdam, which meant you literally lived across a 24 hour club banging loud music….I don’t know how I fell asleep at all. 

But you know being semi- adventurous, I met some random friend in the lounge the next day, which happens to be purple, and he was like “hey, I heard there’s this really good weed cake, want to split one?” We found the cafe, owned by Armenians, I think, and we bought the famous weed cake he was talking about.

Anyways, we split it. We actually split it.

The last time I ate weed was when my friend made a cookie, I only ate a bit of it and when I was trying to drift off to sleep, I felt like there was a bug crawling in my stomach. Talk about paranoid.

Anyways, nothing happened.

But then I got really hungry and went to the only place I could afford with my budget, Burger King. Stupidly, I got a freaken coffee! And a meal. I devoured the load.

The coffee came sweeping up on me like a explosion of heartbeats and stars. I remembered my friend Munir told me not to drink coffee.

I was NOT okay.

I had to lie down fast or I was going to faint or have an epileptic attack.

I walked to my hostel mixed dorm room and climbed up to my bunk bed. I don’t know how much time past, but I literally saw my hand shaking. I called my boyfriend at the time, who I met in London, I said “I’m going to die, I’m dying”. He said “you sound okay to me”.

No really I’m dying.

I don’t know how much time past, but I kept staring at the clock scared that I would miss my bus tomorrow. I climbed down once, threw up, stared at the mirror, my eyes bloodshot. Was I dreaming? I climbed up again, how did I manage not to fall. I was not used to be out of control. I was a control freak really, I mean how else could I backpack on my own and not get kidnapped?

I projectile vomited a few times, one time I couldn’t hold it in and sort of sprayed into some of those Australian mates’ massive pile of stinky clothes and bags, there was even a doll in there. Like what?

The worse was when the purple swirly Victorian style wallpaper turned into Buddha. My heart was racing and this nice Samaritan gave me a drink of her water. 

Later we would bump into each other in Berlin. 

It was in the afternoon. I found myself playing worship music and praying in tongues. I forgave all my enemies and asked God to forgive me for hating on people.

I got my heart right somehow, I don’t know why, but I felt that if I died in that Amsterdam bunk bed, next to filthy stinky shit that belonged to these filthy mates, I’d be okay. Apparently, I even talked to some people, but half way I’d stop.

“where are you from?” – said stranger.

“I’m from LA”- Said me.

“How long are you traveling for?”

me- “uhhhh”. Blank out, I’m dying, I think.

Ran to bathroom, throw up, stare at mirror, ran back to bunk bed, am I alive, am I in some sort of Tom Cruise movie? Everything was like seconds of a film, it was a movie.

This is what came of that day.

download

You can order your own print here: https://society6.com/product/amsterdam-wz8_print#s6-2691391p4a1v45

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The sketch, the cafe, and the hostel cat and I recovering.

I’ll always have stories to tell. Moral of the story, some good art might come from a horrific experience, and sometimes they wake us up to a spiritual reality.

Who Loves Beer? Ticket Giveaway!

Win Free Tickets

I love beer. I was born in Germany, I mean obviously. I love dark ales, IPAs, craft brews. That is why I’m giving tickets away!

Visit https://www.instagram.com/p/BJMd8YeB4K3/ TO ENTER!

In partnership with The California #Beer Festival@californiabeerfestival I am giving away 2 sets of CRAFT #BEER HEAVEN SATURDAY (sample 85 craft beers) tickets (2 per person, $100 value) and 2 sets of 4 FUNDAY SUNDAY tickets (4 per person, $40 value). This is all you have to do! 
Visit The INSTAGRAM POST HERE! 
1. Follow me @rebekkalien
2. Comment below- Tag 1 person you’d love to go with and and tell me which pack you’d prefer, the Craft Beer Heaven one or Funday One!

WINNERS RANDOMLY PICKED ON AUGUST 27, 2016! I will announce winners on August 28! 🙂 Tickets will be emailed to you!

To buy tickets or for more info! 
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/california-beer-festival-los-angeles-county-sept-10th-11th-san-dimas-tickets-23125795878#tickets

Craft beer heaven saturday : ticket includes CBF tasting cup, 3 ounce samples of 85 craft beers, live music and entertainment!
Sunday funday: music and entertainment! No sampling this day but food and drinks are for sale.

Love, Rebekka Lien #beer #craftbeer #la#foodie #losangeles #free #giveaway

Happy 5 Year Anniversary To Me!

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5 years since I left that moldy office.

As a celebration, the super self published ebook is $9.99 for today only. https://payhip.com/b/6zoT

Here’s an excerpt of a 100 page book I have not touched for a year, that still needs some writing..

May 15, 2012- On my adventures in Ecuador. 

Hi Friend!

I ́ve finally got the time to blog about my first 2 days

in Ecuador. The manager of the internet place just

asked me if I ́m married, it ́s not likely that random

strangers will make conversation with you by asking

about your boyfriend or spouse. He said, “your

boyfriend is in Ecuador?”. To which I said “America”.

I ́m in a random hole in the wall internet cafe, except

there is no coffee. It ́s called a “cabina”. I rode in a 5

hour bus to Tena from Quito today.

What I ́ve fortunately realized is that Ecuador is

probably the most beautiful place on earth, and

also the people are one of the kindest people on

earth as well. Unlike the pre- warnings that “omg”,

you are going to get robbed and beware of men

there, men in fact, especially the older ones have

been like papas to me. Today on the bus, I met a bus

driver who helped me find a hostel and find my way

around Tena. Then previously, a medicine salesman

helped me get to the terminal and take the right bus

to Tena.

He was very kind, though I don ́t understand why he

said he wanted to see a movie with me when I

already told him I had a boyfriend.

I paid 10 bucks to stay at a hostel. The hostel has a

little gap above the door so you can hear what drama

the owners are watching. The amazonias get really

cold at night, though during the day, it ́s like living

24-7 in a hot steam bath. I feel yucky. It feels like

living in Taiwan. The night, the markets do resemble

Taiwan markets from 15 years ago. Though Taiwan is

now much cleaner and more modernized.

I was thinking about how I ́m the only asian woman

walking on the street.

Sometimes you start to feel like an exotic animal

that everyone stares at. Now I know how white

people feel in Asia, except in this case, it ́s an Asian

in Ecuador. Staring is very normal, it seems.

The concept of private space does not exist here.

Personal space? What? When people point to tell you

something, they definitely cross your American

space, bypassing the normal boundaries of your

boobs. Of course, I ́m crossed and pissed. Though I

have realized, hey, they are not the only ones.

Sometimes they don ́t stop talking until you tell

them, ”I ́m going to take a nap”.

This morning, I was freaking out about how I would

get to Tena, I prayed. Then, when I was buying a 30

cent comb the medicine salesman happened to be

going there. Thank god! I would say, Ecuadorians are

WAY more hospitable than people in LA. I mean no

one in LA would take the time to help you.

Plus, if you think about it, no one goes walking in

Skidrow at night anyways. All the things you do at

home, is what you would do in a foreign country.

Speaking of foreign, I hope that I never act foreign,

besides the language barrier. I hope I ́m never

someone that treats locals with disrespect. I was

analyzing and observing today, and thinking about

what it means to be foreign.

And of course, how everything my American friends

warned me of, happens to be 99 percent not true. Of

course, we have to be careful wherever we go, but my

time in Ecuador, for the two days, have proven to be

positive…besides feeling like an exotic animal and

the sometimes ̈freaking annoying remarks

“cheennnnaaa” as in Chinese. Because the very idea

that a Chinese would come from Los Angeles seems

so foreign, I have to try really hard to be patient.

539984_10151770627425603_205951160_nAt a salon in Tena where Asians are rarely sighted. 578312_10151770574405603_631750852_n

The nice man who helped me find a hostel