As I mentioned in my last blog, I had an amazing opportunity to go to Ecuador with 4 of my best friends for 2 weeks last August. My friend Steph has family there and we were lucky enough to tag along during her trip. We've been on so many trips together since we all love to travel but this was our first time traveling together internationally. I'm sure more will come after this!
To start off this series of blogs I need to just put it out there... this was definitely one of my favorite vacations so far. Between feeling unbelievably welcomed by her amazing family, having the opportunity to explore multiple parts of this beautiful country, experiencing a different culture through and through, and traveling with awesome friends this vacation has a special place in my heart now. I can't wait to tell you all about it!
Don't get me wrong... I was so nervous about going on this trip. Mostly because I don't speak Spanish and never took Spanish in school. I knew it wasn't your typical touristy trip so it's not like I could just get through with speaking English everywhere I went. Plus, we were staying with her family and the last thing I wanted to do was feel rude by not being able to communicate with everyone. But I was able to break through that barrier and really enjoy my time there. You don't get the full cultural experience if everyone is speaking English anyway! It's not authentic.
Growing Through Traveling
One of the things I love most about traveling is the fact that I grow as a person each and every time. No matter where I'm traveling to I am always learning, experiencing, and seeing something new. When traveling internationally all 3 hit you more than anything. It can be a scary thing at first but it feels so rewarding in the end. The thing I love most about it is how it affects you after the trip. You become so much more open minded. The world in your eyes has now become even bigger while your problems start to look even smaller. Experiencing different cultures and the way others live really put your life into perspective and make you realize how lucky you are to have the things you do have or even the experiences you're given. Ecuador definitely did all of this for me.
Mi Familia es tu Familia
"My family is your family". That's exactly what it felt like the whole time we were in Ecuador. Steph's family lives in Quito (which is the country's capital) and we were lucky enough to be able to stay with them during our time there. They were so accommodating it was unbelievable. Right from the moment they picked us up at the airport we felt so welcomed.
They brought us right to their house where we were staying for our time in Quito. One of the first things we did was go on their rooftop to see the amazing view they have of the city. You can even see Cotopaxi, an active volcano (which I have a story about in a future blog), from there. One of my favorite things is to see a mix of landscape so having the mountains and city in one was so beautiful.
After traveling it's crucial to have a good meal and man did ours not disappoint. To be honest, pretty much all of our meals were amazing. My Ecuadorian food baby was proof of it 😉. We went to a restaurant just a couple blocks away where we had an appetizer, lunch, and dessert all for $3! What?! $3?! That's exactly what we said! That's probably where the food baby came from. With food that cheap and when it taste so good it's impossible to say no!
To see all of the best spots of Quito, her family took us on a day long double decker bus tour. Before this we went out for breakfast at, what I called, the fruit salad place because they had amazing fruit salad there. I'm telling you... the freshest fruit and juice I have ever had was during this trip. They literally never serve you water. It's either juice or coffee no matter where you go. I'm not complaining! Both were so good! It's something I still miss to this day. We also had empanadas for breakfast which was like a sweet corn bread filled with cheese and rice. They were so delicious!
Anywho, back to the bus tour. Sorry, food gets me excited so you're going to hear a lot about it during this trip 😊. The best way to get a tour of a city is by sitting the top deck of the bus and taking it all in. We made a stop at an art museum where we were able to see this view....
The last stop of the tour was at the Virgin of El Panecillo statue which overlooks the city. Even just driving up to it gave us amazing views! It was such a nice way to end the tour.
No matter where we go we have to see what the nightlife is all about and Quito did not disappoint! We started off the night at a bar called Shot Me (which I ended up finding out that someone I met back in the US friend owns - super small world) where they had a menu full of different mixed shots that you could order. It was so cool! It was like having mini cocktails. Then we put our dancing shoes on and headed across the street to a bar called Lola. It was such a blast! At one point they handed out long balloons to dance with and even gave us a bottle of champagne because we were such fun! That's just how we roll 😉.
I literally had one of those moments where I looked around and felt myself smiling inside. I was only in Ecuador for two days at that point and I was so happy being there. I was in this beautiful country immersing myself in their culture with the best people I could travel with. How does it get any better than that?
Mitad del Mundo (The Middle of the World - Equator)
While in Ecuador you have to go to the Equator. How awesome is that to say that you've been to the Equator? And I have to say, this was definitely the hottest day of the whole trip! Because of being in between the mountains in Quito, the weather was around the mid 60s the whole time we were there, even though it was August, but the Equator was a different story. I actually remember my feet were hot. I'm serious!
It was pretty cool being able to actually split the Equator and say that you were in the middle of the world. Also, you know how they say that you can make an egg stand up when you're on the equator? It's true!
Our trip to Ecuador was already off to a great start and we still have so much left on our agenda! Stay tuned as we head off to green luscious mountains in Baños where adventure begins!