Mitad del Mundo

We decided to sleep in and take it easy for the day. We went to a wonderful place named the Kallari Cafe. It was a cafe and chocolate shop that benefited Kichwa women who harvested the beans. 

After that we made our way to the center of the world. We took three different public buses to get there, and at times we thought we were lost, but we made it. 

It’s a geeky tourist trap, and it’s not even the accurate center I know, but it was kinda fun. 

  
Although the line wasn’t dotted like I thought…

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Cotopaxi

A bad thing to happen abroad is to get sick. Unfortunately for me I had the whole shebang, stuffy nose, sore throat and all I wanted to do was sleep. Of course this was the same day I needed to climb an active volcano.

We stayed the night in a town called Latacunga, full of historic buildings and planes landing on top of your head thanks to the international airport nearby. 

We organized a trip to Cotopaxi through our hotel with a guy named Vini. He told us first we would drive in his pick up truck to his mother’s house to drop off our luggage, then we will go to Cotopaxi. 

Sketchy I know, but at this point the only thing valuable I had in my pack was an Ecuadorian poncho for my mother. 

We dropped off our bags at Vini’s childhood home, waved to his mom, then headed up Cotopaxi. 

  
The drive up is difficult for a new car, and sure enough, Vini’s old pick up truck broke down before we got to the trailhead. We waited at the museum at the base of the volcano, and drank coffee and tea while he called up his friend with a new truck. 

That’s when we met our new guide, Tomas. He was a sweet older man who didn’t speak a lick of English but was the best tour guide I could ask for.

He went slow with us as we ascended the steepest trail I have ever been on. There would be heavy wind one second, threatening to blow you into a canyon, and the next second it was still. It was probably the most difficult trail I’ve done, especially since I couldn’t breathe, but we made it. 

  
After that we headed back down and rode mountain bikes back to the base. By the end of the day I couldn’t keep my eyes open. We went back to Quito, ate dinner, then had the best sleep I’ve ever had.

Banos, Ecuador Day 2

I have an irrational fear of waterfalls and caves and I experienced both those things on my second day in Banos. 

We started the day off by going to one of the hot springs in town. I let the minerals infuse with my skin and prayed to the Virgin Mary that my ailments would all disappear, as one does.

  
We then visited the Basillica Reina del Rosario de Agua Santa. For such a small town, this was a big and beautiful church. My favorite aspect of it were the murals that lined the walls depicting local miracles.

  

 Our last stop in Banos was the Pailon del Diablo. This is where my fear of waterfalls and caves comes in. 

We took a public bus for $1.00 and took a hike to the falls. We dodged branches, crossed rivers and swatted mosquitos. Finally, I heard the roar of the waterfall and my heart began to pound out of my chest.

  
 This place was magical. We had to crawl through a cave to get a closer look at the waterfall, which I hesitantly did in order to stay with my companions. All the while I thought of what an adventure this has been, and what more fears I need to conquer in order to get the most out of life.

I definitely recommend a trip to Banos since there is something for everyone. Whether you like soaking in a hot spring or zip lining across canyons you are bound to have a great time.

Quito, Ecuador

Ecuador is the most beautiful country I have ever visited. I’d like to now admit that I am completely biased since I am half Ecuadorian, but as the plane approached the runway, the sun illuminated the beautiful mountains and I felt at home.

We arrived at our hostel with growling stomachs, and decided to go to a restaurant two blocks away called Achiote Ecuadorian Cuisine. 

We went all out. Llapingachos, Patacones, Fritada, all washed down with a tall glass of Chicha. As we ate a man played sad love songs on on the guitar.

  
I am so honored and excited to have the privaledge to visit my mother’s country, and I can’t wait to explore more. Next up, Banos.

Machu Picchu

We walked the empty streets of Aguas Calientes to the bus that would take us to Machu Picchu. The ride up was unnerving. With every sharp turn I thought of how the bus could fall down the mountain or crash into another bus making its way down. Of course we made it to the entrance safely.

The climb was actually a lot easier than I thought. With all the horror stories I got before my trip, I was prepared for anything. Since it was early in the day, we decided to walk up to the sun gate to watch the sun rise. It was hard to make it in time, since with each step I noticed something picturesque. 

  
Of course there were mountains and ruins, but also flowers and wildlife. I even saw a hummingbird for the first time. 

I had to pinch myself a few times to convince myself I was there. All your life you look at pictures in books of faraway places that you wish you can visit, that when you are actually there, you feel like you are in a fairytale.

   

Lima, Peru

l awoke at 6:30 to the sounds of birds singing and my stomach rumbling. We didn’t eat dinner the night before since out taxi got lost, leaving us at our hostel at 11:00pm. 

We checked in, left our things at our room, and walked to the water. There is an indescribable feeling I get when staring into the dark abyss where the ocean meets the sky. As if melancholy and fear meet on the horizon. Oddly enough I love this feeling. Staring into the unknown while knowing you are safe at shore. 

The next morning we walked along the coast and got breakfast in Miraflores. A place called Haiti, which had a large menu to choose from. I had the “Desayuno Espanola” which was a delicious frittata with onions and chorizo. I washed it down with cafe con leche which revived me with every sip. 

 
We then headed to the airport to catch our plane to Cusco. Lima has left a good impression on me. I wish I could have spent more time exploring its streets, but more adventures await me at Machu Picchu.