Falling in Love with Ecuador

Jennifer Bass
September 7, 2019
Cuicocha Lake

Two weeks have passed, and every day I fall more in love with Ecuador. When I first hopped off the airplane my mind was filled with nervous excitement, fear of losing my luggage, and a cautious sense of serenity. But, within a few minutes I found my luggage, was greeted by my incredible host mother, and made my way to my new home in Cumbayá, Ecuador.

I spent the first few days here slowly adjusting to a new environment and getting to know my host family. My family here includes my host mom, two older sisters, and three wonderful dogs. They are the kindest people I have ever met, and always speak slowly so that I can understand and practice Spanish. While it was a little awkward to jump into family life at first, it has become one of my favorite parts of studying abroad. My host mother has lots of maps, pictures, and books about Ecuador, and we fill every evening with conversations about culture, history, and social issues in the United States and Ecuador. She is also a wonderful cook and has made delicious food including Locro, a traditional potato and cheese soup. Before leaving home, I was a little worried about being vegetarian in Ecuador, but upon arriving I was surprised to learn that one of my host sisters is also vegetarian. She has made finding food here incredibly easy and even helped find a restaurant across the street from the school where you can get lunch for three dollars every day.

After one short day slowly wandering around Cumbayá, we started our week-long Spanish class and series of orientations. One morning, orientation consisted of a city tour of Quito’s historic center which took us to Itchimbia Park, the President’s Palace and the Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus. As we wandered through the historic center we had a few opportunities to overlook the vast area that Quito spans and the surrounding mountains. Quito is nestled in the Andes mountains and seems to find a perfect balance between the surrounding forest, rolling hills, and chaotic city life. The narrow shape can make navigating a bit difficult, but every moment of uncertainty makes for a new adventure!

Before I knew it, the week-long Spanish class was over, and we embarked on a program-organized adventure to Otavalo. On the way to the Otavalo market, we stopped at the Peguche waterfall which is a traditionally spiritual site for the Otavalo people and was absolutely beautiful and completely unexpected. After a short time at the waterfall, we proceeded to the market which was filled with artisanal goods, people, and vendors. At first, I was incredibly uncomfortable bartering, but slowly became more comfortable and made my way through the crowded streets. My favorite part of this journey came just after the market, when we visited Cuicocha Lake. We had the privilege of taking a boat around the lake and watching as the clouds came in and the sun slipped away in the late afternoon. The feeling of looking out over the lake and watching the water drift up onto the mountain shoreline was almost magical, and was the perfect way to end the day.

I still cannot wrap my head around everything that has happened over the past two weeks. Time seems to move differently here, with every moment lasting a lifetime and each day and week passing in a flash. I am looking forward to field trips, getting lost, and embracing every moment in the coming weeks!

More Blogs From This Author

View All Blogs

Jennifer Bass

<p>I am a music and environmental studies: policy, culture, society student at Pacific University. In my spare time I enjoy playing violin, hiking, tap dancing, reading, and exploring this wonderful planet as much as possible! I am also passionate about sustainability, social justice, traveling, and old movies or I Love Lucy reruns.</p>

Home University:
Pacific University
Tempe, AZ
Environmental Studies
Explore Blogs