Cayambe-Coca Hot Springs

Termas Papallacta

Quito, Ecuador was a crazy fun adventure, from meeting other people in the field of ecotourism, to touring the city alone, to going on a field excursion at a hot springs. I was continuously inspired to experience all this world has to offer and connect with people from all walks of life.

First Day in Quito: I wandered by myself for a few hours down to the Old Town and became hungry. The Airbnb hosts had told me about a nice little cafeteria that they enjoy, so I decided to check it out. From the moment I walked in the door I was lost and wondered how I was supposed to go about ordering and receiving my food. A nice looking lady stepped in off the street behind me and I let her go ahead so I could repeat her actions. I was able to follow her example to order at the register, but by the time I was finished ordering she was gone and I had no idea how my food would actually make it to me. I found an empty table and plopped myself down feeling discombobulated. I looked around and noticed that every other table that didn’t have food yet had their receipt out, so I laid mine in front of me. After a couple of minutes a lady in a uniform came by and picked up my receipt off the table. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but then she came around the corner bearing a tray of food and looking at me. Success!! I thanked the lady and dove into the plate of Seco de Chivo.

Misty Termas Papallacta

Another photo of Termas Papallacta. It was quite cold and misty that day.

Cayambe Coca National Park and Termas Papallacta: The third day of the conference was the field excursion day. There were many options available from mountain biking, to visiting a volcano, to bird watching. I chose to visit the Cayambe Coca National Park where I spent the day walking, and a little slogging through the mud (I was only muddy up to my knees 😉), to a beautiful lagoon and then detouring to a waterfall on the way back down the mountain side. After a lovely lunch, it was time to soak in the Termas Papallacta hot springs. I even tried the cold pools which I have always shied away from before. Most of all, I relaxed and absorbed my almost surreal surroundings. The mountains of Ecuador are hard to fathom (the photos don’t do the place justice) in just how high they truly are. The mountains seemed to tower above the valley floor where the hot springs are at 10,000 feet above sea level.

Conference Final Evening Celebration

Final Evening Party. Look at the amazing detail in the Ecuadorian costumes

The “Joy” of Cab Rides: The fourth and final day of the conference held another not so pleasant experience in store for me. The final celebration was in a different location than the rest of the conference events and in a sketchy part of town. I hailed a cab and told him Yaku Museo del Agua, but he seemed perplexed. I pulled out my map and showed him the location that I had circled. He pondered the map for a minute and then off we went. I started to get nervous when we got into the sketchy section of town, but got really nervous when he kept calling people on his cell phone. My initial thought was “Here I go, I’m in for an express kidnapping”. That thought was quickly intensified when he pulled the cab over and we were clearly not at a large conference hall; but then he asked a young man for directions. My fearfulness of dealing with an express kidnapping turned into frustration that this guy should have indicated that he had no idea where I needed to go and should have taken a different cab. He ended up stopping and asking for directions twice more before we finally arrived at my destination. Once I arrived, I shared my experience with the friends I had made and they had similar experiences with their cab drivers, which made me feel a little less frustrated with my cab driver in the end. The party turned out to be a hoot and I even received compliments on my dancing from an Ecuadorian gentleman.

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JayJay and I at Mitad del Mundo

Final Day in Quito: I started by packing up my belongings, stowing them in an empty room, and heading out to meet my friend Jay-Jay. We took a cab to the Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World) Monument. Now, I know that the monument was built in the wrong location and is 240 meters off of the actual equator line, but we weren’t able to find the correct location, so we wandered around the monument and enjoyed the day anyway. I dropped Jay-Jay back off at his hotel and decided to walk to mine since it was a lovely day and soon enough I would be stuck in a cramped airplane seat. The walk through La Carolina Park was made especially pleasant because it was May 1st a national holiday in Ecuador (and many parts of the world). Back at my hotel I took a nap in the empty room and awoke famished. I hadn’t spent time in the touristy part of town yet and was feeling more confident about being able to handle it, so I walked down into the Mariscal area of town. I found a place selling cheeseburgers and french fries and decided to see what differences there might be between a cheeseburger in Ecuador and one from the states. The cheeseburger was simple but delicious. After finishing my late lunch/early dinner I headed back to the Airbnb where I met a lady who had check-in that morning. We talked for the next few hours while I waited for my ride to the airport about Nepal, China, Ecuador and, of course, the food available in all of these places. It was awesome to be able to have shared some similar experiences as well as be inspired by her journeys. I boarded my plane at midnight and the rest of the trip finale is here.

It is all of these experiences, and more, that showed me just how strong I can actually be!

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