I’m sure every post at this point in the semester is going to say the same thing, but I can’t believe how 5 months has come and gone so fast. When I got here, it seemed like time would stretch on forever, that I had all the time in the world to live in, get used to, explore, and fall in love with Ecuador. And I did. Except time, as always, snuck up on me, and December hit me square in the face. I spent the first part of December in Lima, Peru, visiting friends from the place I worked at this summer. It was wonderful, but as soon as I got back, I had 2 final tests, 2 presentations, and 3 papers all to do in 2 days. As soon as that was over, we had our farewell dinner at a nice restaurant in the north part of Quito, where our directors said some heartfelt parting words, a student sang a song she wrote about her time in Quito, and we ate, reminisced, and talked about how much trouble we are going to have with our English when we return to the States.
Some students leave tonight, I still have a few days left to relax, do some last minute gift shopping, say goodbyes, and go on one last hike in these beloved mountains.
Looking back, I am astounded at all the amazing opportunities I had this semester. Some of these include:
Hiked from the mouth of a volcano to a tropical forest
Saw Justin Bieber in concert. In Quito. (What??)
Learned how to keep bees with my host dad
Accidentally ate cuy (guinea pig)
Rode through the Andes on a horse with no name
Snorkeled with sea lions, iguanas, sea turtles, and sting rays
Hiked through the Andean paramo
Saw and hiked more volcanoes than I thought I would in my lifetime
Saw the stars and constellations in different positions
Stood on the equatorial line
Slept inside of a volcano crater
Stood in a clearing where something like 30 hummingbirds flitted around
Got more homesick than I thought I would
Had more fun than I thought I would
Became fluent in Spanish and learned un monton of Ecuadorean Spanish
Hiked to and swam in a waterfall in the Amazon, lead by a little indigenous man…and then got caught in the famous torrential downpour
Had the best meal you can get for $1.25
Ate fruits I never even knew existed before
Mastered the art of crossing crazy South American streets, taking the bus from anywhere in the city and knowing where it will drop you off on the other side
Learned to treasure the little things, and appreciate what I took for granted pre-travels.
Designed a line of t-shirts (www.zazzle.com/kristianachan) for my internship
Slept in a tent at almost 16,000 feet above sea level…and our water turned to ice. So did our toes.
Woken up in a tent to the sound of bears, and alpaca waiting outside.
And so so so so so much more. The last five months have been some of the five richest, most challenging, most rewarding months of my life. So much has happened, I doubt that I will be able to process much right away; it’s definitely going to take some time. Something that struck me last night at the dinner was that it really didnt feel like goodbye. I know my time here is coming to a quick close, but somehow, it just doesnt feel like a final “adios”.
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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 studying studio art, entrepreneurship/social enterprise and international studies at Wake Forest University (Go Deacs!). Born and grew up in Canada by Malaysian born parents, I've always had an awareness of other cultures, countries, and customs. I've always wanted to travel South America and after spending the summer interning in Lima and volunteering in Kenya, I am excited to stay in one country for a while and live out some new adventures. I enjoy everything about the outdoors--camping, rock climbing, hiking, biking, running, hammocking, and have recently taken up surfing while in Lima. I also love all things art-design, painting, photography, and film, and hope to be able to share my experiences in Quito through my words and images.</span></p>