Finding My Balance in Ecuador

Something I constantly struggle with is finding balance in my life. When I visited Ecuador in January, I had an itinerary drafted. I knew, as a weekend warrior trip, that I couldn’t make it to the world-famous Galapagos Islands. But I knew that I wanted to visit the equator (of course!) and chase thrills in Baños, Ecuador’s adventure capital.

Still, you’re never really prepared for what could happen on a trip. What could potentially go wrong, and all the things that could go right: the people you never expected to meet, adventures you hadn’t accounted for in your plans, connections made that now will forever cement you to that moment or place or person.

One thing I’ve always struggled with in my life is balance. This trip was filled with small discoveries in just that: early mornings alone before a late night out accompanied by new friends; the rush of a fast swing over a town far below to quiet moments writing on an overnight bus; indulging at a cafe after hiking underneath waterfalls & standing breathless at the tops of mountains. The blending of two languages, feet between two hemispheres. Always learning. Always challenged. Always grateful.

I flew in and out of Guayaquil just because it was cheaper, but I’m so glad I did because it allowed me the opportunity to see a city I otherwise wouldn’t have.

Highlights in Guayaquil:

Malecón 2000- expansive boardwalk overlooking the Guayas River

Parque Seminario- THERE ARE SO MANY IGUANAS IN THIS PARK. If you want to see one, go here. It’s bizarre.

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Torre del Reloj- (Torre Morisca) iconic clock tower

La Perla- giant Ferris wheel right on the shore of the Malecón

Las Penas- sprawling colorful houses built into a hillside. I loved this view:

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Then to Baños!

Highlights in Baños:

La Casa del Arbol- Swing at the end of the world. No doubt the most famous tourist attraction.

 

There are actually a couple swings here at this location, so make sure to keep walking for the one you want!

Columpio Fantasias de Volar- a mechanical swing, like a roller coaster. A great thrill and unique view of the city all at once. There’s a video of me screaming like a little girl, which I will spare all of you.

Parque Palomino Flores- The main park at the city centre

El Pailon Del Diablo- also known as “Devil’s Cauldron,” an impressive waterfall. Here’s me hiking the path down:

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Cascada Cabellera de la Virgen & Termas de la Virgen- a waterfall & hot springs to bathe in? Sign me up.

Cascada Manto de la Novia- this was an experience like no other- a cable car ride over this waterfall is not for the faint of heart!

I tried canelazo, a hot alcoholic cinnamon beverage, and it was delightful.

Lastly, was Quito. I took the a bus to get there (Ecuador Hop, similar to what I’d used in Peru- highly recommend!) to get there, and we stopped to view Cotopaxi (volcano) and Quilotoa, a water-filled caldera on the way.

Quito highlights include:

Ciudad Mitad del Mundo- “Middle of the World” This is the monument & plaza marking the equator.

Mitad del Mundo- It’s a bit confusing, but this is where the actual latitude and longitude lines are. If you go to Museo de Sitio Intiñan, you’ll find tons of science experiments you can do & learn neat facts about the equator.

TelefériQo- gondola lift with amazing views at the top! I loved being able to see the city down below. Plus, they have swings at the top that make for really neat photoshoots 🙂

Plaza de la Independencia- a cute plaza lined with cafes and shops, the central square.

El Panecillo- hilltop statue. It was gorgeous lit up at night- don’t just take my word for it:

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I was here the shortest amount of time, but obviously there’s no shortage of museums, cathedrals, basilicas, plazas, and wonderful cafes to experience.

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Some new friends in Baños!

Thank you, Ecuador 🇪🇨

Also, I took home an unknown souvenir. I got SO SICK you guys. Day later, I passed out after getting off the bus on my way to work. I couldn’t eat anything. I turned down free dessert at our staff meeting– that’s how you know it’s real.

I have no idea how I got it. I was always very cautious of drinking bottled water, only eating thoroughly cooked food, and fruit that you could peel to open, etc.

Anyway, as someone who has been to over 40 countries and can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve gotten food poisoning or sick, I consider myself #BLESSED.

Hope you’re all finding balance in the world, wherever you are,

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Lesson of the Weak

These past couple weeks, I am struggling with self-love. I am learning to set boundaries, and what I can and cannot accept. Learning that it is all part of the struggle…

 

Struggling to feel beautiful, when a surgery on my mouth has left my face swollen and bruised.

Struggling to keep healthy, when the pain killers are causing waves of nausea that leave me doubled over on the bathroom floor.

Struggling to deal with ghosts, people and things that I cannot continue to keep in the past.

Struggling with homesickness, knowing that when I go home, it isn’t the same as it once was.

Struggling with distance, and the many spaces it puts between my family.

Struggling with money, knowing that it is the cause of so many problems, and how it shouldn’t be.

Struggling with time, wishing it away for the next big thing, and in the same breath, wanting it to slow down.

Struggling with standing up for myself, when I can’t do so without apologizing or explaining.

Struggling with friendships, to let go of those that have dissolved or no longer serve me.

Struggling with the definition of womanhood, with the looks I receive when I say I do not desire children.

Struggling with balance, of always being present but planning for the future.

Struggling with work, of paving the way to my dreams, or letting them pass me by.

Struggling with saying no, because it would mean admitting defeat and weakness.

Struggling with saying yes, because it could bring the unknown.

Struggling with death, what to take from it when it takes so much from us.

Struggling with change, how to channel the energy into the things I can control.

Struggling with worry, that robs my days and nights of happiness.

Struggling with peace, and how we will have to create it out of nothing if we cannot find it in this world.

Struggling with my mind, to put anxiety to sleep when it is the culprit of my lack thereof.

Struggling with acceptance, realizing that not everyone will see your heart the way you do.

 

These struggles, among others, will continue to be there the next 25 years of my life and more, in a larger capacity, with deeper cuts, and in more complex ways.

I believe that the most difficult struggle is not these things against me, but myself. For me to convince myself these small battles mean nothing on the war I’m waging. That to believe feeling everything so deeply does not mean I am weak, or insecure. That I do not have to apologize for my thoughts, or anchor my heart where it is not meant to be. And to stay true to who I am, when I am sometimes not sure who that even is. None of us have

 

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