Summer vacation has come and gone. Now that my first official week of school is behind me. I thought it time to share what’s been happening the last few months…traveling the entire length of Ecuador during the month of July. Hopefully I got the travel bug out of my system for the time being. Here’s the rundown…

Súa: Located on the northern coast in the province of Esmeraldas, it was the site of July birthday celebrations for myself and several others from my omnibus. I took my first dip in the ocean, ate some glorious seafood (ceviche & shrimp galore!), drank fruity drinks, danced in some beachside tiki huts (basically open-air reggaeton clubs), rode in a trici-moto for the first time, saw some whales (including one that completely breached about 20 feet from our boat!), and watched the sunset over the Pacific Ocean. It was a pretty fantastic birthday with some pretty fantastic people. It reminded me of how incredibly lucky I am to live in this country and have the opportunities to do such amazing things.

STAY HERE if you’re ever thinking of a beach trip to Atacames. Its called the Chagra Ramos and is located in the quaint town of Súa. Best part? It overlooks the ocean, meaning you can enjoy those patacones and pineapple juice while listening to the waves crash below you. Seriously…DO IT! (Also, thanks for the pic Meg :))

sunset with Margarita

Omni 107 July Birthdays…I clearly don’t live on the coast

Cuenca: The next site of my cross-country Ecuaventure was this beautiful colonial city located in the southern province of Azuay. A friend of mine from all my crazy Spanish/International Studies at Mizzou is a volunteer in Ecuador as well and came to see me at site for a couple days after dropping her parents at the airport in Quito. We made the 7-hour bus ride south through the center of the country and the Andes Mountains on probably the most gorgeous stretch of highway in Ecuador. We spent a few days eating fancy food, drinking good beer, and gringo-watching. Cuenca is known throughout the country, and probably beyond, as a haven for old retired Europeans/Americans. Its a beautiful city, but it honestly felt a little strange for me to see all the gringos walking around. Probably has something to do with me living in a small farming town and never seeing white people I don’t know. We spent a day in Baños at the thermal springs and visited a Panama hat musuem. Definitely looking forward to more travels to Cuenca in the next two years.

Cuenc-town

Cuenca Centro…oh so very Spanish 🙂

Baños from the relaxation of our thermal spring

Catamayo: Nicky’s site, located in the far southern province of Loja, is the farthest south I’ve been in the world…to date. Just a few hours south of Cuenca and an hour from the city of Loja, it was an easy bus ride. I got the lay of the land, the colegio, park, etc. Catamayo’s pretty deserty and a bit bigger than my site but not by much. Nicky made me delicious vegetarian food, I got to lounge in a hammock, and play with the adorable Izo. We spent a day walking around Loja, often claimed to be the cleanest city in Ecuador (and that’s saying something). We also spent some time in Vilcabamba, a relaxing little hippie town where you can see babies in dreadlocks walking around. The story is that all the hippie gringos came because the people in Vilcabamba lived to be over a 100 years old and basically found the fountain of youth. But, as so often is the case, the gringos came in, built their large retirement homes, and the fountain of youth seemed to disappear (if there ever was one?).

hammock + rooftop + view…sooo Peace Corps

Izo!

Ecuaventures Stats:

Time Spent on a Bus: 40 hours (mas o menos)

Longest Continuous Bus Ride: 12 hours

Distance Traveled: 520 miles

Provinces Traveled Through/To: 7

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