Saying that this program was absolutely NON-STOP seems inadequate. We truly had 0 time to think about anything other than the activity or class for that given day. After arriving home from Tiputini at 7:00 PM, I immediately did laundry (because I honestly felt ashamed to walk into my host family’s house smelling as repugnant as I did) and then started to repack because my family wanted to take me to another city in Ecuador the following morning called Baños (no not the bathrooms, but yes I was very confused when she first told me).
Before getting into my adventures, I of course have to introduce you to my incredible host family. From left to right, my younger sister Katherine, my mamá Lila, my older sister Michelle, another one of their previous students from three years ago who was visiting at that time, and then my dad Germán!
Baños is an extremely popular city for tourism being that it has hundreds of different tourism agencies allowing people to do things such a canyoning, mountain biking, insane hikes and explorations of the waterfalls. My sister had told me about an awesome zip-lining park there and of course I HAD to check it out. The place was called Parque Aventura San Martín. We got the chance to do 2 zip-lines, climb up stairs on the canyon wall, and walk across this very thin, very scary bridge over a rushing river! Talk about an adrenaline rush.
After the adrenaline rush, what better way to celebrate than head to the discotecas right? Michelle and Katherine were familiar with Baños and the different discotecas there so they took me to probably the best club I will ever set foot in called Leprechaun Bar. This place had 3 separate rooms, both two stories each, all playing different types of music. You feelin’ some Latin American pop? Go to the Latin American pop dance floor. You feelin’ salsa? Go head to the salsa dance floor. My favorite BY FAR was the salsa dance floor even though prior to this night, I had never once even tried to salsa. BUT, with a great teacher and a couple drinks in me, I’m happy to say I am proud of how quickly I caught on lol. I will definitely be forcing Jackson to practice with me so next time I come back, I’ll be a salsa pro.
Needless to say, it was an amazing little vacation spent with my amazing family!
After one day of recuperation, it was time for some more learning and exploration! Monday morning we left for Santa Lucia.
Santa Lucia is a beautiful little reserve with a small community who decided to build an ecolodge in order to grow their tourism industry, make a living, and spread conservation and environmental sustainability knowledge and practices with the visitors of the lodge. The placement of this lodge is in the middle of the forest, making wildlife, especially birds easy to come by. However, because of this tranquil placement of the ecolodge, traveling to it requires an hour and a half hike up the mountain with mules carrying your bags up. Before making the hike, it was a GORGEOUS day out. Sunny, clear, and warm with a nice breeze; absolutely perfect hiking weather. Yet after the hour and a half hike, we were completely immersed in clouds, hence the name the cloud forest.
Before the cloud cover….
Literally five minutes later…
We spent the weekend exploring, learning about the communities living in and near the reserve, and soaking in all that Santa Lucia has to offer! It was definitely a unique experience and getting to see all the beautiful orchids and hummingbirds whilst literally resting in the clouds was so amazing! Also a little side note, this lodge is always looking for visitors to learn about the wildlife in the cloud forest and about the community who built the ecolodge. Anyone is welcome and I promise, making the trek up is definitely worth it!! If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, take a couple minutes to check out their website and make it happen!! Click here for website
After getting home Sunday, it was time, yet again, to unpack, do laundry and then repack…FOR THE GALAPAGOS! However, that is for the next post 😉
Keep your eyes peeled for my final post in this series because I PROMISE you will not want to miss it!!!
Keep those smiles on your faces and those brains curious and open to adventures! ♥
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Till next time ツ