It started on our first morning at Hosteria Izhcayluma, a small lodge in the mountains surrounding the village of Vilcabamba, Ecuador.  The area has been historically referred to as the “Playground of the Inca’s”, because it was once used as a retreat for Incan royalty.

We were supposed to arrive a day earlier, but after 13 hours of flights to nowhere, delays, miscommunications and many wingman practices to keep us positive, we finally arrived.

After a decent nights sleep we decided some exercise was in order. Our host at the reception desk pointed us on an easy hike, which his “70 year old mother could do”.  It had wonderful views of “Mandango” mountain, the “Sleeping Inca”, which overlooks this “Valley of Longevity”, and whose presence is said to protect the area from earthquakes and other natural disasters.

It’s called the Valley of Longevity because it is widely believed that its inhabitants grow to a very old age. The reasons for this claimed longevity are debatable, with many researchers arguing between the anti-oxidant rich fruit and vegetables and the mineral rich water.

Either way, the locals are said to live a longer life than most.

Fifteen minutes into our hike, and I’m wondering if I’m going to live to see tomorrow. We’re trudging through creeks, slogging through mud and balancing ourselves on trails made for horses. I was definitely a little outside my comfort zone and the comic relief from my thought that his mother must be a “mudder” was the only thing keeping me going forward.

We finally made it to a dirt road, which seemed to be an easier path, other than the fact it went straight uphill. I’d like to blame the 5000 foot altitude, but the extra 10 pounds I’ve gained during the holiday season certainly had as much to do with my huffing, puffing, sitting, cursing and resting every few minutes.

It was at that moment a four-wheel drive truck came cruising up the hill and a man asked if we’d like a ride. Visions of us being chopped up in little pieces and never heard from again lost out to the burning sensation in my legs. Outside my comfort zone, you betcha.
But at least I could breathe for the moment.

Now here is where the fun begins. The guy turns out to be the former monologue writer for Jay Leno and the “Tonight Show”, Buddy Winston. After an uphill drive, a rocky walk with his groceries over his washed out driveway and a mini botany lesson, we arrived at his place at the top of the world with 360 degree views. He invited us in for tea, made from Guayusa leaves, which tasted great and reminded me more of the “T” in THC, than any tea I’ve had in the states. We hung with Buddy and his dogs as he entertained us with stories of Hollywood, this area of Ecuador, and his travels and misadventures in Malaysia and Thailand.

It turns out he wrote a book based on his time in the “Land of Smiles”.

Titled, “An Out of Buddy Experience”, he recounts his “95% true” adventures of accidentally preventing a rebel bombing and being chased by a contingent of monk assassins.

 

I bought the book on Amazon that night and have been really enjoying it since.

Time went by quickly and we said our goodbyes and embarked on the downhill part of our journey. I recall thinking that this is what makes traveling so magical. It’s not just the people you meet, but your expanded horizons, new perspectives and shared adventures. And especially the unexpected experiences that just magically crop up… such as a truck pulling up behind us and driving us to the top of the world.

And so it inspired a new Wingman Minute Practice … “The Magic Begins Just Outside Your Comfort Zone”. The funny thing is, when you step outside your comfort zone, in time, a new level of security and safety is established. What once may have seemed scary or anxiety producing is now your new normal. For me it began a year ago. I mean, I’m a guy who ate at the same restaurant every day, so as we boarded our plane to Thailand for a four-month adventure, my anxiety was so off the charts that Janet kept reassuring me that if I didn’t like traveling we could just change our plans and come home.

Now, here we are, starting our second year of travel and I’m hiking through jungles and can’t wait for more. I pushed through my worries and have found a new comfort zone.

Perhaps this new wingman practice can be the impetus for you to begin extending yourself. Whether it’s travel, a new relationship or ending an old one, public speaking, a new job, or whatever your desire is, this practice is the perfect strategy to start sending out a new vibration, and begin extending your own self-imposed limitations.

Join me by clicking below, and let’s help each other have our own “Out of Buddy Experience”…

Your Wingman,

Michael