Get away from time to time, relax a little, because when you get back to your
job, your judgment will be more accurate; because if you always work you will
lose your ability to analyze.
Get away, because your job will seem less, in an instant
your perspective will be greater, and the lack of harmony or proportion will
be better perceived.
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
Quito : Dear friends of Ecuador and the world:
As you know, last May 1st, 2008, when I got to the summit of
Dhaulagiri at 8,167 m, I had the chance to finish my great project CHALLENGE
14 by reaching the summit of the fourteen highest summits of the world without
On May 3, along with my expedition teammates we were back at
Base Camp to celebrate this achievement and since then, until January 3 this
year, I decided to take a break of seven months after twelve years of
The great Leonardo da Vinci, painter, sculptor, architect,
musician, engineer, mathematician and scientist with an incomparable capacity
for creativity and work, would give us the impression that he was a work
addict and that all his time was dedicated to invent, paint or sculpt.
However, his advice tells us otherwise. To my knowledge Da Vince suggests
that from time to time we get away from the daily work, from the daily routine
and that this distance will let us be more efficient and productive. I think
that in this suggestion from the Italian master, the key word is EQUILIBRIUM.
I have always thought that extremes are bad, that they have a pathologic
side. Those who work hard all the time and all their lives, they have
something wrong. Or that one who trains all the time and all his life, doing
exercise and getting better marks, he has something bad.
The human being can be more productive when he or she has a
sense of equilibrium and harmony in life.
The seven months I decided for this parenthesis have been
very valuable, I have been able to enjoy the simple and daily things, like
staying late reading a book, watching TV (something I never do) or chatting
with my dearest friends with the pretext of seeing if the Malbec is better
than the Cabernet. There were nights when between the wine and the music we
did a review of these long years of expeditions, trips, adventures, defeats
and achievements, of satisfactions and disappointments; each one of us telling
and sharing the happiness and difficulties of our own Everests and our own
Eight-Thousands. Proving that in this wonderful life we act like mountain
climbers, going up or down between the cold and the shelter, between doubt and
certainty, between storm and calm, between the summit and the lowest point,
and that in this process of climbing in life what really supports us is the
faith in ourselves, the smiles, will, enthusiasm and good vibes to fight for
In these seven months I enjoyed my nephews even more, my
little sister, my dear kids, I traveled with them, we laughed a lot, we had
fun the same way and I also reviewed those twelve years with them. I thanked
them deeply for the company they gave me, for the love they offered, because
they showed solidarity to me in those first years of scarceness because dad
only worked to pay for the expedition debts.
In this time I broke the routine, I loosened my hair, I had
one or another pleasure like a Gin Tonic with Sprite and not with tonic, BBQ
ribs with French fries and not boiled fish with vegetables, I went to bed at
three in the morning and woke up at ten, went to Ambato market and like a good
Ambatian that I am, ate tortillas with a double topping of chorizo.
In this time I have more time to cover the path to gratitude
to all of you, great friends, who I met on the way of my CHALLENGE 14, noble
friends, generous, with solidarity and even unconditional who accepted me,
helped me, supported me, who cheered me when I was failing and that above all
accepted me with my errors and my forgetfulness.
In this time I went out jogging, riding bicycle, went to the
mountains and never took the chronometer or the Polar watch (my teammates and
my executioners in these twelve years). I went out for exercise just for the
pleasure of it, for the simple fact of enjoying it, because I didnít have to
improve timings, because I didnít have to increase heart beats. In this time
I changed my home, in the literal sense and metaphoric sense of the word.
First: now I am writing from a place in Quito that, when the sky is clear, I
have in front of me the precious silhouette of my dear Cotopaxi and by night,
when the lights of Quito turn on, I see this city like a gigantic Christmas
nacimiento where the angels and the Sacred Family are hidden behind the
stars. Second: in the metaphoric sense, I am in a home from where I can see a
wider horizon, looking for options to help others, to share this four things I
have learned in these twelve years of expeditions on the Himalayas.
These seven months of rest have been my seven months of
Today I begin a new history, with a new title and new pages,
to share mountains, to share dreams and projects.
Today the project WE ARE ECUADOR begins.
With great affection, from my home in Quito.
IvŠn Vallejo Ricaurte
Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera