How many new people, places, and experiences can a person absorb in one week? Our first week in Quito has definitely exceeded any easy answer to this question. Within four days, we traveled from Quito to Otavalo to Mitad del Mundo, with everything from the old town to USFQ in between.
Quito is a bustling city that sits in a long, narrow valley in the Andes Mountains, with buildings and roads crawling up and through the hills. Outside our apartment window, the Pichincha Mountain towers over the western edge of the city. The juxtaposition of a busy South American urban center with huge, green mountains gives Quito its breathtaking natural beauty and modern charm. If you come from a flat Midwestern suburb like I do—or even if you come from somewhere a little more exciting—the views here are amazing.
From the roof of La Basilica in the old town we stood above the city and saw El Panecillo, a statue of the Virgin Mary with wings, which locals claim is the only statue in the world of its kind. At Mitad del Mundo, we looked out over the sunken volcano Pululuhua and the surrounding mountains. Even on our bus ride to the Universidad San Francisco de Quito campus every day, we jostle through the mountains and catch ourselves staring out the windows at the valley below, each time seeing the city with new eyes.
Even after all of the predeparture readings and the orientation lectures, nothing could have prepared me for experiencing Quito firsthand. Tomorrow we leave for the Amazon Rainforest for four days. Even though we’ve been learning more about the Amazon region in our classes here in Quito, I know that the experience of walking through an estimated 10 million species of plants and animals in a region so remote it requires a flight, a bus trip, and two canoe trips to get to will exceed any expectations I could even imagine right now.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">I'm a sophomore from a small Midwestern university with one hand on my notebook and pen, and the other on "the big picture." As an International Studies major with a concentration in Environmental Sustainability and a student writer on campus, I love using my writing to connect the dots between my own life and the lives of people across the globe. I explore, I discover, I observe--and then I write.</span></p>