“¿Qué es esto?” (What is this?)

“Una cámara aérea.” (An aerial camera.)

“Siga.” (Go ahead.)

And so my journey to Ecuador with a drone started. I was so excited about the thing. It was the new, top-of-the-line consumer drone on the market: the DJI Mavic Pro (affiliate link here).

Fast forward a few months and I’m in Cuenca, Ecuador, and the drone is stored neatly in its case, with an awesome flight record of under two hours. Fast forward again, and it then rested in a locker in a hostel in Baños de Agua Santa, Ecuador.

A few videos are still around, and they look great, but when I flew back to California to get my work visa for South America last year, I sold the drone.

Seller’s Regret is a Real Thing

I don’t usually get attached to material things, but the drone is something you worry about when you have it up in the air. The cool-looking robotic evil-looking spider suddenly becomes fragile, and you watch its every move just to make sure that it won’t lose control and crash on its own.

Plus, it almost looks alive when it’s up in the air.

So at that Starbucks in Norwalk, California, I tested out the drone one last time in front of the buyer. He loved it. He gave me $950 and a stomach ache, and then walked away.

“It’ll just sit there gathering dust,” mom said.

A couple of months ago, a local gringo who has been living here for years was making a trip back to the United States, which is the easiest way to get yourself loaded with orders for stuff to bring back. Trust me, I sometimes do the shopping for the hostel that I run and we travel an hour away for dry-cured ham, so a run to the United States is a gold mine. So I did what any person with common sense would do, I ordered the new DJI Mavic Air.

He brought it back without paying the tariff, which was nice.

I flew it around here and there, earning a few bucks with people who absolutely needed drone video for school projects and for vanity ideas for their businesses, but mainly for fun and to get some cool video of the area where I live.

But ever since I made a trip to Perú with Carla last month, the drone lost its sense of direction. The compass won’t calibrate. And a fix won’t be available until I fly back to the US or when DJI releases a firmware update that fixes the dumb issue.

Great Moments –Uncaptured

I’ve been at the top of ancient Incan plazas with a drone in my lap. I’ve been at the crater of a volcano with a lake, with a drone in my hand and a frustrated look on my face.

People look at you when you have a drone, and all they see me is “dancing” with the dumb thing trying to calibrate it, and then neatly putting it back in its case.


Don’t buy the DJI Mavic Air (affiliate link). Prices will drop a lot, and it will be tempting, but the thing won’t work with just one compass.

I’ll update once I get my DJI Mavic 2. Just kidding.

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