HIGH-ALTITUDE ADVENTURE // travels in ecuador
This past semester, my younger brother did a study abroad program in Ecuador. My parents, S, and I all decided to join him over winter break. For an amazing two weeks, we enjoyed the astounding scenery of high-altitude cities, the fascinating experience of low oxygenation, and probably very unhealthy quantities of hot chocolate (no regrets).

Some favorite moments below (apologies to those of who who've already seen many of these photos on my Instagram account):
+ Climbing up to the top of Quito's Basilica for the view -- and then even higher on rickety wooden bridges and ladders to other views

+ Taking the Teleférico cable car up to the hills surrounding Quito and hiking in the clouds (plus eating more hot chocolate at the conveniently located cafe)

+ Exploring Quito's Old Town and its beautiful churches, squares, and colorful colonial townhouses 
 + Eating the typical Ecuadorian breakfast -- eggs, fresh bread, coffee, and, obviously, hot chocolate if you're lucky. Sadly because I was on a strict traveler's diet (no fresh fruits/veggies or unfiltered water), I didn't get to try the tropical fruit smoothies that were served with every meal. S, who has an iron stomach, has told me they were fantastic.
+ Practicing my high school Spanish with everyone I could get my hands on -- mostly extremely patient (and amused) waitresses and cab drivers.
+ Hiking Cotopaxi, a semi-active volcano, to 16,000 feet (victory!) to reach the lodge that served hot chocolate. It's like they read my mind.
 + Hanging out with our awesome tour guide, Carlos, who grew up on the mountain and knew pretty much everything about it. Apparently the plants above have diuretic properties. We decided not to test that theory.
 +Admiring the views on the way down -- above you can see the volcanic rocks and cooled lava flows from the last eruption.
+ Visiting Capilla del Hombre (Chapel of Man), a museum designed by and dedicated to Guayasamin, probably Ecuador's most famous contemporary artist. He was heavily influenced by Picasso and his paintings deal mostly with the oppression of Ecuador's native people. The quote above really struck me: (so, so loosely translated) I cried because I had no shoes until I saw a child who had no feet. Going to the museum was a pretty intense experience that definitely colored how I viewed the rest of our trip.
+ And, of course, getting to spend time with my family, who unfortunately live way, way too far away
My brother achieving lift-off at 13,000 feet!

I'd definitely like to travel more to South or Central America -- have any of you traveled there? What were your favorite places to visit?

xo Diana
Topics: travels, ecuador
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