06/12/2016: Last Weekend in Ecuador

June 27, 2016

Friday was my last day with the abuelitos. I was sad saying bye to them! It was fun getting to know and work with them the past few weeks. Hearing some of their stories really shows the poverty that they face. A lot of the time, the abuelito's children barely have enough money to feed themselves and their family, so the abuelitos are left to fend for themselves. It has been a great opportunity to work at the Abuelitos de la Calle. It has shown me the importance of listening, that sometimes all people want is to talk and someone to listen to them. I learned to be patient when helping the abuelitos with puzzles and other games, that is important to let them go at their own pace. I am so grateful for the opportunity and will carry the skills I learned into my future career as a social worker.

Friday after work I headed to the market with my two friends Eric and Tori! Tori and I got a dish with corn, beans, pico de gallo, and chorrizo, it was delicious!!! After wandering the market for a while, we saw something that looked interesting. It was a spiritual cleansing to rid you of bad spirits, for only $5!!! We decided to try it. The woman at the stand gave us all an egg and told us to wait for a minute and we would be taken to where they perform the cleansings. We were then lead down a hallway in the back of the market and up some stairs. We were then lead to an area that looked like a dressing room and a waiting room combined. Tori went first into this little stall, the size of a bathroom stall. Eric and I waited outside. I went next, I went in the room not knowing what to expect. The woman told me to stand still she grabbed a bundle of plants and started hitting me with the plants while chanting quietly. She then sprayed me with some green, sweet smelling spray and then rubbed the egg all over my face and neck all while continuing to chant. She took the egg and said it was over. I didn't feel any different, but it was definitely a once in a lifetime experience. 

On Saturday morning Eric, Tori, Ben and I met in Plaza Foch at 6:30 to head to Mindo. Mindo is about a 2 and a half hour bus ride away from Quito. It is a little town in the jungle. We got to Mindo and checked into our hostel. It was awesome, it was like we were sleeping in a tree house, mosquito netting and everything! After we settled in, we headed to a butterfly garden! It was a 40 minute walk, but it was a very pretty walk!!!

After the butterfly garden we walked back to the hostel. A woman at the front desk told us about whitewater rafting for only $6! We decided to do that next. We changed and then got a ride in the back of a pickup truck to the river. The raft ended up being five inner tubes tied together and the river was very rocky, but it was so fun!!! The river was beautiful and we were surrounded by cool plants and flowers the whole way. I thought it was a great deal for $6!!! I didn't get any pictures because I didn't want to bring my phone to risk getting it wet. We went back to the hostel got dried off and found some playing cards. We played cards on a deck outside right next to a little river until dinner time. For dinner we went to a place right down the street and got two pizzas to all share. We went back to the hostel and played cards until we went to bed.

Today (Sunday) we wanted to do a big hike. We woke up around 7:00am, went to a convenience store and bought some homemade bread and peanut butter for breakfast, with some fruit and yogurt. We packed up all of our stuff and headed on our hike. We were hiking to a zip car that would take us to waterfalls. We hiked for about an hour to the top of a mountain to the zip car. 

Once we got to the other side, it was an hour hike down to the first waterfall. Once we reached the first one, we sat and put our feet in the water and had some snacks. Then, on to the next waterfall!

We packed our suits in the backpack just in case there was a waterfall we would want to swim in. There were people swimming in waterfall #2 so we decided why not?! There were little changing rooms, so we all changed and got in! The water was very cold, but once you got used to it, it wasn't too bad. We swam around for a while enjoying the view and decided to head back. The hike back was heard because it was mostly uphill, but we made it! We took the zipcar back to the other side and started to hike back town to our hostel! We walked for about 10 minutes and then a car pulled up next to us and said they could take us back down! It was a family that we met at waterfall #2, we got in and as they drove us down we chatted about where we all were from and about their 3 year old son. They offered to take us all the way back to Quito, but we had all ready bought our bus ticket. They dropped us off and we offered to pay and they refused to take it! I was amazed by the kindness of that family!!! After the hike we had a few hours to kill before our bus left. We changed into some clean clothes and relaxed on the hammocks at the hostel. Then, we got on the bus and headed back to Quito!! Mindo was so relaxing and the perfect place to go for a weekend trip. I had so much fun and it was a perfect last weekend here!!!

I can't believe I am leaving on Tuesday!!! My time flew by here. I am constantly being amazed by the beauty of Ecuador. I have loved being immersed in a new culture and I think it will be a little weird to return home.

Thank you so much for reading!!!