Week 5 (July 1-July 6)

I had finally finished my program and was able to take a week off for enjoyment with my boyfriend! For a week, my boyfriend and I traveled around Quito, Banos, and Mindo before heading back to the States.

We spent 1.5 days in Banos.

Day 1 Banos: We woke up at like 5:30AM and took an uber to Station Quitumbe and then took a 6:30AM bus to Banos. We got to our hostal, and went to have breakfast.We roamed around Banos until we went to the Casa Del Arbol at 1:30PM. Then we roamed around some more and had a delicious dinner…at a place I don’t remember the name of.

Swinging at Casa Del Arbol

Day 2 Banos: We got breakfast and hiked Pailon De Diablo. Afterwards, we had some cuy (guinea pig) for lunch and a smoothie for dessert. The skin of cuy is very tough, like leather, while the meat inside is of similar texture to chicken. Based on the price ($20-$25) and the meat itself, I wouldn’t get it again, but it was something interesting to experience. Afterwards, we took a 2:30PM bus to Quitumbe and took an Uber back to our hotel. The bus ride from Banos to Quitumbe is about 4 hours long, so it’s definitely something to consider.

We spent 2-3 days in Quito exploring.

Day 1 Quito: We went to the older Mitad Del Mundo and the newer Mitad Del Mundo (a museum), which is a 45 minute from our studio, Aparthotel Walter. Then we went to Old Quito to visit the Basilica Church, another 45 minutes away. Afterwards we went to Teleferico, which was my 3rd time going. Then we met with my Pastor’s niece at Crepe’s and Waffles.

Me looking out from the Basilica Church to the Angel Statue

Day 2 Quito/Mindo: We went to the Artisan Market to buy touristy goodies, then we went to packed up to go to our hostal, Hostal Cecilia, in Mindo. They’re awesome because they can prepare all of your activities for you if you tell them what you want to do and when. We did the 7:00PM night walk, 6:30AM bird watching, 10:00AM water tubing, and 12:00 ziplining (10 ziplines). Then we took the 3:30PM bus back to Quito! I highly recommend the water tubing ($6), but I wish I put on bug spray more often because I got at least 15 bug bites! As for dining, I highly recommend the $2 Arepes at a place right across a bar/club.

Bus schedule: from Ofelia Terminal in Quito to Mindo.

Bird watching: Can you find the bananas?

Ziplining

Day 3 Quito: We went back to the Artisan Market to get last minute stuff and to a MegaMaxi / SuperMaxi to get snacks for the flight back. Then, we went to a food tour with Strawberry Tours, which lasted ~2 hours, and we got to try fruits, bakery goods, an entree, chocolate, and candy. The tour guide, Carlos, was informative and friendly. I would recommend this tour! Then we had dinner and took a taxi to the airport.

Free Food Tour with Strawberry Tours. You pay for the food and tip the tour guide.

After 11 hours, I arrived back in Boston. It was a great program and trip overall and I’m hoping to return back to Ecuador in the coming years. 🙂

OH! Also, I lost 5lbs from this trip!

Ciao,

Kimberly Ng

Week 4 (June 25-29)

This is my 4th week in Ecuador and I finally completed my program: 4 weeks of clinical, volunteering, and Spanish classes. There were definitely ups and downs for me, but overall it was amazing to spend time with my new friends and work with professionals! 🙂

Orientation Day

Last lunch with my classmates at La Ronda restaurant, right next to the school.

 

I would like to especially thank my host mother, Maria, for being so patient and welcoming. I came to Ecuador not knowing any Spanish (the program mentioned it was not required), and it was pretty difficult. For 4 weeks, we went from a lot of hand gestures, to using google translate, and finally to having conversations about our days and our past (…and still some google translate). She is a sweetheart and I hope to visit her again in the future.

Day 12: June 15

For the past 2 weeks, I have had to honor of working with Fundacion Esperanza Hope Camp, a school for physically and/or mentally disabled children. The staff members treated us like family; the children were the sweetest, and I started tearing up when Tia Sylvia presented a card and gift to me!

They have so much patience and work so hard! I can’t thank them enough for this amazing opportunity! I will miss you all, especially Alexander, Danae, Aylin, Ariel, Brigith, Estephano, Fernando…Sara, Danielle, and Tia Sylvia.

 

Days 6 + 7: ‎June 9 + 10 (Weekend Trip)

My classmates and I went to Baños de Agua Santa, Ecuador for the weekend, which was about a 3.5 hour bus ride towards and 5 hours back. This is considered a small, very touristy town and definitely has a night life. We went ziplining through Puntzan Canopy, hiking at Pailon Del Diablo, shopping at the markets, clubbing, swinging in Case de Árbol, and chilling in Baños’ famous hot springs. Don’t forget that you can try to bargain for cheaper prices! Some places charge you more because they know you’re a tourist.

Apparently a Jurassic Park movie was shot in Baños.

The view outside arriving in Baños.

Map of where we ziplined.

Ziplining with my classmates.

Lots of choices of ice cream!

Took this picture for the cooked guinea pig behind me.

La Casa del Árbol map.

La Casa del Árbol. You get to do the big swing for $10 (I didn’t).

Me swinging at La Casa del Árbol.

Baños is known for its hot springs!

Clubbing at Baños.

As for the clubs, please be alert! There are many cases of drugged drinks, stealing, etc. My classmates found a girl who had been drugged at a club, but were able to bring her home safely. Traveling as a group is best.

At Pailon Del Diablo, a gigantic waterfall. It’s about 1-2 hours hike, but we didn’t go to the top.

At Pailon Del Diablo

There are a good amount of wild dogs that live in Baños. 

The hostel the 16 of us stayed at was called Plantas y Blanco for $9 per person per night. The only problem is that they don’t take credit cards.

*A lot of these places, in Ecuador in general, take cash only. However, more expensive places like nice restaurants and hotels take cards. It’s better safe than sorry to carry more cash than you need, but to store them in different pockets or locations.

In total, I spent over $50 in Baños de Agua Santa and only brought $30, so if you’re staying for the weekend, I would recommend bringing $75-$100.

 

June 2: Preparing

Day 1: June 2

This is the order of my day!

On the right is this cheesy…snack that’s popular in South American airplanes. Something similar to peanuts. The other stuff is breakfast goodies. I met a college traveler who has been traveling around the world since he was 16 and was going back to his home country for the summer. (HEY JAVIER!)

Something about this being one of the best South American airports? The altitude in Bogota is 2,640 meters, while the U.S. altitude is 43 m.

Menu at a cafe in Bogota, Columbia airport. Note that their currency is pesos, while Ecuador’s is US dollars.

Breakfast # 2 on airplane. They called it a ham and cheese burrito.

View from outside of Quito’s airport. Quito’s altitude is 2,850 m.

I thought it was interesting how the car had 3 seats in the front.

Driving to host family’s home.

Driving to host family’s home.

Driving to host family’s home.

There is a woman selling fruits (I think?) to drivers. She is wearing traditional Ecuadorian clothing.

My room at my host family’s house.

Grilled cheese and ham sandwich with a glass of water.

Bought 5 1.2L of water with my host mother, Maria. Because of the high altitude and being on the equator, you can get dehydrated and fatigued quickly.

I definitely got altitude sickness — headache, nausea, lightheadedness — which continued for 2 days. I took one Motrin tablet and had to lay down in bed for a while. In general, I brought petrolium jelly for skin dryness, hydrocortisone 2.5% and 1.0% ointment for inflammation and itching, benadryl tablets for severe itching or inflammation, claritin tablets for minor itching or inflammation, some chinese medication (because my mom said so), neosporin ointment for cuts, personal medications, and diarrhea or stomach ache medication. Then there’s the typical first aid, sunscreen, bug spray, etc. The only vaccination I got was for typhoid. I wish I had gotten malaria and yellow fever vaccines as well. Luckily, I can get the malaria vaccination over the counter here “for cheap” (what my school says) — doxycycline, but the yellow fever is hard to get.