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.
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:
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:
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 🙂
El Panecillo- hilltop statue. It was gorgeous lit up at night- don’t just take my word for it:
I was here the shortest amount of time, but obviously there’s no shortage of museums, cathedrals, basilicas, plazas, and wonderful cafes to experience.
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,