My first long-term experience abroad was during a study away program in 2009. I went to Ecuador with a small group of college students who were learning Spanish. It is by far one of the best experiences abroad I’ve had. Unfortunately, I didn’t bother to keep a journal of my experiences and now I’ve forgotten half the places we saw and visited! This is what I do remember:
We stayed in Quito, and I was not prepared for the change in air pressure. You’re so high up that breathing becomes difficult. I didn’t realize just how out of shape I was until I tried to walk up a flight of stairs! We visited many of the main cities in Ecuador including Guayaquil, Baños, and Otavalo. Sadly we didn’t get to see the Galapagos Islands, but it’s on my list for sure. I think my favorite experiences were white water rafting in the river and going to the equator.
It’s hard to remember all the things we did since the itinerary was packed so full, but thank goodness I have lots of pictures!
We had a great view atop part of the Andes mountains looking down on the city below.
We visited the very wet city of Baños and played in the waterfalls.
We saw many museums, attractions, and sites, but I think my favorite was on the equator.
One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in my life (which I used to have a video of but seem to have lost) was watching water being drained in a basin. One side of the hemisphere it rotated clockwise, and just a few feet over the line it flowed in the opposite direction. But on the equator the water went straight down. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.
In one city we actually got to watch a volcano erupt from a distance.
We spent time working with a group of children in a local community. This one enjoyed playing with my sunglasses.
I had a blast on the train ride, but sadly I ended up leaving behind a souvenir hat that I really loved.
One of my favorite experiences was going to the fruit market and sampling all the interesting and bizarre fruits.
I can’t believe it’s been almost 10 years since my first major overseas experience. I would love to go back to Ecuador someday and see what’s changed. I wish I could remember the names of the cities and museums I visited. From now on, I’ll carry a travel journal!