It's been a while! I got back from this trip almost a week ago and I'm just now writing about it! I blame it on the really bad sunburn I got yesterday at the beach…. or just my laziness.
So last weekend I went to Quito, the capitol of Ecuador, to stay with a friend who was an exchange student in South Jersey two years ago! When I met her at RYLA, we got along really great, and she actually helped convince me to go on exchange. But the truth is… that when I went to visit her now I didn't really enjoy her company that much.
--Thats besides the point though!
The point is that I got to see Quito, finally! After 5 months of living here I had never been to the capitol. Everyone else in my city went with their families within the first month!
Quito is in the north in the Sierra (the mountains), and its cold. It was amazing to be out of the heat and in the fresh cold air. But even though I hate the Guayaquil heat, I was pretty homesick for my city by the first night, which was really strange for me. I've gotten so comfortable in my home here that I was homesick for it while I should've been enjoying a visit to a new place.
So the first day I saw the center of Quito which is really old and full of giant elaborate cathedrals and plazas built by the Spanish. It was really nice to walk around and see. We went to a part of that city called la Ronda, which has a few old streets too narrow for cars that are filled with lots of little restaurants and cafes. We drank hot chocolate and ate a giant empanada the size of a pillow, while listening to some lovely live music.
This all would've been much better in different company, I didn't know then, but I was stuck on a date with the most annoying couple in the world for all five days of my visit. Nevertheless, I was happy to see the old city, just had to get that out of my system.
The next day I spent the whole day waiting for them to bring me to do something, and then at night we went to a few lookouts over the city. I learned my lesson from the day before, and started calling other exchange student friends to see if anybody wanted to hang out with me that week. Luckily, I was able to see a friend that night!
Sunday was even better! We left the city and went to Mindo, which is about 2 hours away in the North. Mindo is a big tourist destination with outdoor adventure things, camping, and lots of bird watching and other wildlife. And the best part is, this time we had more company. My friend's mom has an exchange student in her house, and she and her daughter came with us.
In the morning, we went to the butterfly house and took a million pictures and played with all the butterflies! This time, I wasn't as afraid of them. I think I may be slowly getting over my fear, even though I still don't like to have them on me for very long. Later we went to a hummingbird garden and saw hundreds of birds! It was so amazing to see so many so up close. We must have scene over twenty different species, each one more interesting and colorful than the next!
On Monday we headed to the middle of the world, that iconic globe monument. There we took the pictures standing in both hemispheres at once and everything, but thats really all there is to do there. There are a few museums and shops, but after you take your picture the experience is pretty much over. Its ok though, I got the picture! That night I got dinner with two other exchange student friends. It was really great to see them, and we had a few really great laughs.
One of the greatest parts about being an exchange student is that no matter where you go, if theres another exchange student there they'll hang out with you as if you're the best of friends, even if you've never spoken before! I became best friends with a kid I had never talked to before in a matter of hours! It's really such a wonderful amazing thing!
The last day, as the saying goes, was definitely the best. I went to the Teleferico with five other exchange students. The Teleferico is kind of like a ski lift, but enclosed, that goes up the side of the mountain giving you a beautiful view of Quito. Once at the top, there are trails to walk and even horseback riding. We walked up to the top where there are horses for rent and went on a long ride around the mountaintop, passing a volcano. It was so beautiful at the top. The view was absolutely incredible, as well as the scenery.
It was really nice to get away from Guayaquil, but I was also very happy to get home! It's nice to be back to my normal life now that I have a bit of a schedule. Not for long though, as this weekend is Carnaval and I'll be traveling again! Will report when I get back!