The goodbye dinner was fun and very sweet. The program directors all said very nice things about how they would miss the group, and we all knew we'd miss each other. It was no doubt a very special and great group that I got to spend my entire abroad experience with in Ecuador. At the dinner we all got to bring our host moms or another family member. We ate a delicious meal and watched a slideshow of some pictures together, and then when it was all done the students boarded a "chiva" or a bus with music and lights and space to dance around in the back for a final night of celebration together. It was the perfect way to say goodbye to some. I had some more time with others because I was going to be hanging around all weekend with my host mom waiting for my boyfriend to arrive.
Finally, Chandler came to Quito and I picked him up at the airport late that night. After a day in Quito, we took a bus down to a coastal town that only had minor damage from the earthquake, the destruction was barely visible. Only a 20 minute drive from the town is a beach that lies within a national park called Los Frailes. They only allow a certain number of people on the pristine beach with its perfectly soft sand and warm ocean water. The whole day we never saw more than 7 people at one time. This beach was like paradise!
Then we continuned on to Cuenca and the surrounding Cajas National Park for some hiking and city-touring. It was a lovely place, even if the mountains were a little cloudy and chilly at times. Finally, we bussed back to Guayaquil and flew from the airport there to Cusco, Peru. After arriving the day before a religious holiday called "Corpus Christi" we watched celebrations and hiked up to the hills that look over the city. Eventually we started working our way to Machu Picchu, which involves a van to a town called Ollantaytambo, and then a train from there to Aguas Calientes. Each town was unique and tourism had affected it in different ways. The day we finally made it to Machu Picchu was incredible! The mountain itself is so beautiful and the day was sunny and warm. We even hiked up a stone staircase for 45 minutes to summit the mountain called "Machu Pichhu" that stood over the ancient ruins.
We traveled back to Quito for a last day of taking in the city and saying goodbye to my host mom and the family. We ate a final small dinner, and said some tearful goodbyes as I got in a van that would take me to the airport. Two weeks earlier, I was almost ready to say goodbye to Ecuador and come home to Vermont, with its lush green surroundings and quaint lifestyles, but then when I had to leave and my mind began to understand that I don't know when I'll be coming back, it became a lot harder to leave. (Not to mention, I left my boyfriend there to do research in the jungle all summer without much communication).
I will never forget my host family and the incredible experiences I had in Ecuador. From so many good times to a couple of bad, I appreciate everything that the Ecuadorian community has done for me. The earthquake was a tragic time, and the survivors on the coast are not fully healed yet, there is still a lot to be done, but seeing the way the country could come together was spectacular. Everyone who felt compelled to tell me how great Ecuador is because of the amazing diversity was very right. I would go back to Ecuador in a heart beat! Now I am home and have no one to practice spanish with, and not many people want to hear me constantly share about my experiences, or hear the comparisons of lifestyle that I have been mentally making. I am definitely going to miss Ecuador, and be missing the abroad experience all the time.
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<div>My name is Chloe Trifilio. I am an Environmental Science student with a minor in Recreation at Ithaca College in New <span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">York, but for one semester I will be studying abroad in Quito, Ecuador! I am originally from the great state of Vermont </span><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">where I love to hike, bike, climb, kayak and generally explore the Green Mountains. I am also on the Ultimate Frisbee </span><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">team and I'm very excited to see how Ecuadorians get down on the field. I hereby promise to use this blog to show </span><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">everything that I see and do in Ecuador, which will include climbing, playing frisbee, exploring the city and a trip to the </span><span style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 1.538em;">Amazon!</span></div>