The bus dumped me off in the wee hours of the morning, and I learned pretty quickly that small Ecuadorian towns are creepy at night (almost tripped over a four-foot snake when I got off the bus). After a Jesus-adorned taxi ride with a babbling, mumbling fisherman-type driver to the sleepy beach town of Canoa, I finally caught some sleep.
Last weekend, I went on an adventure with some Spanish School friends to try our hand at some outdoorsy adventure. Besides jumping off bridges, we repelled down waterfalls in the thick, dripping jungle; zip-lined across canyons on cables two-thirds of a mile long; crawled through muddy stone tunnels behind a monster waterfall to a lookout underneath the rumbling, ferocious spillover point at the top; and rode rusty bicycles through a downpour along the side of the road, blasted by the grit of passing pickups and buses.
On Monday I moved into a hostel in the Mariscal neighborhood of Quito. This particular section of the city is known to the locals as Gringolandia – named “affectionately” after the travelers who congregate here – and is a cross between a red light district and a tourist beehive.
I left Seattle on a Wednesday, the 29th of June, 2011. It was the same as most Wednesdays, except that I was leaving for a year for destinations around the world – a very personal process. Each farewell, each final departure from a well-known room, each “last” moment became something to remember.