Absorbing all that is Ecuador:
We have been in Ecuador for about a week. We have had a great bonding experience over this time, beginning at the airport and through tour travels in Quito and Mindo. We had two days to acclimate to the altitude in Quito while enjoying interactive Spanish lessons at EIL, a language and cultural exchange school. Our Spanish teacher gave us the opportunity to hop on the bus and practice our Spanish in the local markets and shopping mall. After a few days in Quito, we headed to Mindo Cloud Forest where we did a lot of hiking, tubing in the river, visited several cascades and enjoyed the beautiful flora and fauna that Ecuador has to offer!
Memories from us:
We spent three days in the lush, green forests of Mindo, living in an open cabin. CEA owns these cabins as a way to immerse people into the colorful life of the vast forest. Their agenda is to conserve the mountain territory that hosts hundreds of species of birds and other fauna. They keep the rivers clean and promote an eco-friendly environment to promote sustainable tourism and conservation. Living in this cabin allowed us to fully experience the Mindo forests, and understand how the community thrives off their land.
Finishing off our last day in Quito, we traveled to the equator. At the equator, we explored the indigenous history of Ecuador. We learned about the old process of shrunken heads as well as the rituals practiced in the past when burying a chief. We were truly in awe learning the diverse history of the Ecuadorian people. We also witnessed some thought provoking science experiments right on the equator, including one where we witnessed the Coriolis effect in action!
The first two days we were in Ecuador we went to Spanish classes with a language school called EIL. We took a test then separated into two classes. We practiced three to four hours with our Ecuadorian Spanish teachers. We learned learned a lot about them personally. Practicing at the school helped us later when we wanted to talk to our guides and teachers. We also went to the mall where we all bought Ecuadorian food on our own, we were able to do so pretty easily! For example, with our background knowledge we were able to order flat water or “sin gas”. We also went to the market and tried different Ecuadorian fruits. We really enjoyed trying different juices. They were literally the best! During our short stay we have learned so much Spanish!
We have gone on two different chocolate tours, one at the equator and one in Mindo. We learned that there are two different kinds of cacao plants that grow in Ecuador, the yellow and red cacao. The yellow cacao fruit is the plant that they mainly use in Mindo. We also learned that eating and drinking chocolate dates back to the Incas and the Mayans, learning that in ancient times only the important members of of society had the privilege to eat and drink chocolate. We also learned the process of chocolate production, from the raw cacao fruit to the final product aka a delicious chocolate bar. We were spoiled by the many flavors of cacao that we got to taste.